New Orleans

After 7 hours of sleep in my comfortable suite, my mind was racing in anticipation of my first full day in New Orleans.  I opened the curtain to reveal a clear day over the Mississippi River despite the prediction of rain, and decided that room service was in order.  It didn’t take me long to spot my breakfast of choice, a Belgian waffle with rum & pecan syrup, and while I waited, I prepared for my day in the French Quarter.

After briefly stopping at the Loews New Orleans Concierge desk for walking directions and a map, I realized that it would be extremely hard to get lost in the city as most street corners have very clear signage pointing you in the direction of major landmarks and neighborhoods.  “Very much appreciated!” says the girl who was born without an internal compass.  The walk over to the French Quarter was less than 10 minutes and my wandering mind was entertained by what I encountered along the way:  Canal Street with the Streetcars (much less stressful than NYC’s Canal Street), Canal Shops (a large mall), the Audubon Insectarium (with a butterfly garden!), and lots of other little boutiques that fulfilled my window shopping craving.

After walking on Decatur Street for a few minutes, I came across a large grassy area with 2 beautiful buildings flanking a cathedral.  Jackson Square.  I walked through the iron gates to approach the large statue of Andrew Jackson in the middle of the square and then I strolled along the perimeter to examine up close the St. Louis Cathedral, Presbytere, The Cabildo, and the Pontalba buidings.  As much as I appreciated the historical value of the 3 focal buildings, I was completely fixated on the story of Micaela Almonester, Baroness of Pontalba, who erected the identical brick buildings on either side of Jackson Square in the 1840s.  The apartment buildings are known to be the oldest continuously rented apartments in the U.S.  Despite her fortunate stature and real estate aptitude, her life was stained with despair caused by her greedy father-in-law.  Read the Dallas-like drama here.   

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After admiring the wrought iron balconies adorning the Pontalba structures, I made my way towards The Cabildo.  I was informed by a very enthusiastic security guard that The Cabildo was well worth the $6 entrance fee given its contents include over 200 years worth of Louisiana history.  How could I resist?  As my high school AP history class is now just a vague memory, I enjoyed the 3-floor museum refresher on how Louisiana took shape during the 1700 and 1800s.  It didn’t hurt that while I was perusing the artifacts, I could hear the sweet sounds of New Orleans coming from Jackson Square.  Yes, I was the one tapping my foot to the beat of the music all the way through the museum.    

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After ducking out of The Cabildo, I ventured along what quickly became one of my favorite French Quarter streets, Pirate’s Alley.  One side of the street is the St. Louis Cathedral garden and the other side is lined with traditional ‘American Townhouse’ row houses painted in fanciful colors and accented with shutter doors, balconies, and window boxes.  The charming yellow 3-story house along Pirate’s Alley would be my obsession if I lived in New Orleans.  Not to mention, it houses a bookstore which my mom, a former librarian, would certainly appreciate.  From Pirate’s Alley, I my made way to Royal Street and peered in all of the gallery windows as I walked towards the Gallier House.

French Quarter 004The Gallier House, home to prominent architect, James Gallier, Jr., in the 1800s, is a sight not to be overlooked while meandering through the French Quarter.   Each hour-long tour proceeds through the house, as well as the restored garden and carriageway, while describing the lifestyle of the prestigious innovator and his family.  After the incredibly interesting tour, I headed back towards Jackson Square for a quick bite before heading to the French Market for the afternoon!

Gallier House

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