Day 3 was a tour!
We’d chosen a tour that was half historical, half hurricane Katrina related, and I think it was the perfect choice for tourists that lean towards nerdism. There are dozens of possible tours to take in NOLA, so do your homework and don’t be afraid to articulate your needs. We wanted something that incorporated general tourism, history, and the hurricane, and that’s exactly what we got.
After having coffee and muffins in the same cafe as the previous morning (La Boucherie on Chartres), we started out the tour in the french quarter. But almost immediately we headed into the Lower Ninth Ward, where so much of theÂ devastationÂ from Katrina was centered. One thing Ruth commented upon, which I second, is the idea that you can’t really understand the full extent of Katrina until you visit. Even four years later, places that were apparently chock a block with housing are now empty–green swathes of new grass sitting where once sat houses. Our tour guide told us that of the 450,000 people living in NOLA before the hurricane, only 300,000 had returned. That’s an amazing loss of population and how any city could survive such traumatic events is astounding.
But while there were still a lot of houses that looked like this:
There was a lot of really great things happening, as well. One thing that really impressed me, to my surprise, was the green houses being built with the help of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. I’m not a big fan of celebrity, and I’m actually quite cranky about it. I don’t own a TV, and I rarely go to the flicks, mostly because I’m crazy and I have harebrained notions. So I wasn’t really expecting all that much, especially when the tour guide kept gushing about where we could see, “Brad and Angelina drinking…and eating…and walking,” etc. But I was really, really impressed with these houses. They are interesting architecturally, they remind me a lot of the green villages (inspired by Scandinavia) that have been popping up throughout the UK, and they’re just a great idea on a lot of levels. They’re also adorable, fresh, and very urban fantasy. At least in my mind.
There were even cooler ones, but my intrepid camerawoman, Dr. Ruth, was having trouble with the bouncy, bouncy bus.
Anyway, we went all throughout the upper and lower ninth wards, and while there is a lot to be done, there’s also a lot to be hopeful for. The best way to help NOLA rebuild is to visit, as I heartily recommend.
Another place we visited was St. Roch’s above the ground burial yard. It was very, very creepy. I’m not religious, but I do love a Saint’s creepy miracle collection. Arms! Legs! Crutches! Hands AND feet! Gark!
And I think there was definitely mojo in the air, for despite having slept about 3 hours and having a bit of a Sailor Jerry hangover (Argh!), Rootie and I were miraculously happy and healthy……..
After the tour we had LUNCH! At Stanley’s, in Jackson Square. I had the Caesar Salad with fried oysters, and Rootie went for a take on egg’s benedict that was positively sinful.
After that we did a little touristy shopping to buy coffee and stuff, when we came across this very sage advice:
Hear that? Give us beignets…… or we’re coming for you.
If you can’t find beignets, you could always substitute theseÂ macaroonsÂ from La Boucherie, which nearly killed us. They were some of the tastiest macaroons I’ve ever had, covered in this absolutely sinful chocolate ganache. Go forth into the wild and find some. They will blow your mind.
After the tour (and the macaroon induced diabetic comas), we went out to dinner at Acme Oyster House with one of my wonderful LSUS students, Cortney. She’s teaching summer school in NOLA and it was great to hear about her adventures:
Cortney, bless her, is actually like a foot taller than me. But she scrunched down to midget level so that I wouldn’t look quite so dwarven.
At Acme oyster house we officially FEASTED:
It started with a cup of chicken and andouille sausage gumbo for Rootie, and a plate of grilled oysters for Cortney and me. All washed down with the Seasonal Satsuma-flavored Abita:
And then, for mains, Rootie had the tasting platter which consisted of jambalaya, more gumbo, and read beans and rice with a big ole’ sausage. I had the red beans and rice with sausage in a poopa (big bowl o’ bread), mostly because I have to order anything that sounds like “poo” in restaurants. How often does that happen, you might ask? Have you ever been to Chinese restaurant with a pupu platter? It can happen quite often, thanks. Cortney got a delightful looking po’ boy. Here’s the money shot:
Then we washed everything down with an order of bread pudding and a root beer float. Glory be to the root beer float….
After we left Cortney to go get ready for another day of teaching, we decided to be quite cheeky and indulge in a little absinthe at the pirate bar, where we met up with Weston. Absinthe is not my favorite, as I’m not a licorice fan. But when in NOLA….
The bartender (Lee? Leigh? Leah?) was an absolute DOLL. Give her a shout out for me if you visit NOLA. As per usual, we talked to everyone and their mother, and Rootie became friends with someone she thought looked like a young Elvis. I think she just had Graceland on the brain!
Then again, it could also be because Rootie thought it a good idea to try a shot of this:
Yes, that is a baby clinging to the glass. But that’s not even the best part. “What IS toxic baby?”, you may be wondering. Well, NOBODY KNOWS. Not the people who work there, like Weston and Leigh. Only the owner knows, and he doesn’t tell. Rootie said it tasted like cherries. I quickly googled what Rohypnol tastes like….
After the pirate bar, we went to Pravda, a very cool Russian themed bar. We just had one drink there, because I was pooped. We said goodbye to Weston, then walked back to the hotel. But NOLA IS NOLA, and somehow we ended up in another bar. It was a curious, wonderful crowd, and we ended up staying out WAY later (I had said one drink! One drink!) than anticipated. But DUDE we had fun. Look at our fun!
I’m throwin’ it up, ole skool. West side!
So that was our last evening in NOLA. I’m always sad knowing I have to leave, because I really, really want to live there. BUT Graceland was waiting for us, as was my family. So we had to go! After a few beignets, of course………………….
I’ll give you a little more powdered sugar action on the ‘morrow. Promise. 😉