We arrived in New Orleans on Friday, Jan. 13. Our first order of business was touring
Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, followed by lunch at The Commander's Palace. These spots are
both located in the Garden District, one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in New Orleans.
We parked across the street from this frantic stone face drowning in ivy.

What is it about New Orleans that is so magical? How can I possibly feel homesick for a city I’ve only visited a handful of times? It might be a voodoo spell I’m under, but it sure feels like New Orleans is America’s hometown.

My three days in the Crescent City seem like a dream now, a string of memories connected by music, art, food and the stories of the people who created them. Indulge me as I offer you a trip to New Orleans as seen through my camera lens, for this experience is best told through photos and captions.

Time and space don’t allow me to share the hundreds of photos I took during our three days in this beautiful city. Please check back at my Groovy Gringa Flickr page in the next few days, and I’ll have those photos posted for your viewing pleasure.

And since this is first and foremost a music-focused blog, let me suggest a soundtrack for this journey – the wistful, soulful voice of Louisiana’s own Wendy Colonna.

Now sit back…and enjoy.

Toys left at the tomb of The Society for the Relief of Destitute Orphan Boys in
Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. If you want to visit the cemetery, keep in mind that the hours are
 limited: 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 7 a.m. to noon Saturday. They are
closed Sundays and holidays except for Mother's Day, Father's Day and All Saints' Day.

A shaded walkway in Lafayette Cemetery No. 1.  The cemetery was officially
established in 1833.  There are more than 600 graves of people who died of the
yellow fever epidemic of 1847.

A splash of color adorns a long-dead bouquet of flowers. Lafayette Cemetery No. 1
was featured in the movie "Easy Rider," and is also prominent in Anne Rice's "Interview
with a Vampire" series.
The Commander's Palace Seafood Cakes, featuring Louisiana crawfish, Gulf shrimp,
Texas redfish over andouille, grilled corn, trinity, crispy garlic and a sauce of Creole
tomato étouffée. During lunch weekdays, The Commander's Palace offers 25 cent martinis.
The bar tab for our group of four was a whopping $2. And lest you think that the price
reflected the size or the quality of the drinks, think again.

After lunch, our very attentive waiter, Thomas, took us on a tour of The Commander's Palace.
This included the kitchen, wine cellar and tasting room, and all the dining areas. The
New Orleans native was very proud of where he worked.

Peeking in at the daily chefs' meeting at The Commander's Palace, a New Orleans
landmark since 1880.

The Brevard-Rice House in the Garden District was built in 1857 for Albert
Hamilton Brevard, and bought in 1989 by the novelist Anne Rice.

Each house in the Garden District seems to be grander than the last.

The Roosevelt Hotel is known as the crown jewel of New Orleans luxury. We stayed at a
Wyndham hotel down the street, and while it was nice, it was just a place to stay. The Roosevelt
is a place to experience.

A Sazerac cocktail Friday evening at where else? The Sazerac Bar at the Roosevelt
Hotel. The Sazerac is the Official Cocktail of New Orleans.

Fortified by our Sazerac cocktails, we head out into the French Quarter. Strands of
Mardi Gras beads adorn a utility line.

A statue of Ignatius J. Reilly, the lead character of John Kennedy Toole's 1981 Pulitzer Prize
winner for fiction, "A Confederacy of Dunces." The book is one of my very favorite novels,
and if you haven't read it, please do! Now, if I seem to exude some type of trepidation,
it's because we saw countless street performers that evening who were posing as statues.
I wasn't taking any chances of getting too close and then having "the statue" move.
His eyes seemed to follow you.

On Saturday after breakfast, we walked through the French Quarter into Jackson Square.
To familiarize ourselves with the area, we toured the Cabildo, part of the Louisiana State
Museum. It was a thoroughly interesting and worthwhile part of our trip and
I highly recommend it. This view of Jackson Square is from the second floor of the Cabildo.

We were very lucky to be at the Cabildo during a presentation by The Roots of Music.
This program serves New Orleans' at-risk youth ages 9-14 by providing a tuition-free,
year-round music education and academic mentoring program. We were on the first floor
of the Cabildo when they began practicing upstairs. The music was so vibrant we raced up
the stairs to see who was making all that beautiful noise. I captured this photo as they were
walking out of the building into Jackson Square for their performance.

This future drum major took his role seriously.

This exhibit is called "Message of Remembrances," created by Mitchell Gaudet in 2010 from
cast glass, etched glass bottles, paper, wire, steel and wood. It is located in yet another building
of the Louisiana State Museum called the Presbytere, located on the other side of
St. Louis Cathedral from the Cabildo.
The sign explaining this artwork reads: "In creating this installation, Mitchell Gaudet wanted visitors to feel "as if one is moving up and out from being underwater." "I thought about all the things floating in the water after the storm," he explains, "and all the people in need." The etched
bottles allude to Hurricane Katrina's death toll. The vessels protect messages, delivering them
to a safe haven. Glass hands represent the countless, often unsung, individuals who rendered
aid to the residents of the Gulf Coast. "Even during the storm and the trying times after,"
recalls Gaudet, "people still helped others."
The display greets you as you walk in, and it was very powerful and moving to see it in person.
The entire Katrina exhibit was something every American should experience.

You didn't think I'd go to New Orleans without experiencing live music, do you? What a
treat it was to see, for the second time, Cedric Burnside, grandson of blues legend, the late,
great R.L. Burnside. The Cedric Burnside Project features Cedric on drums and Trenton Ayers
on guitar. When I told Cedric I last saw him at Sam's Burger Joint in San Antonio,
he smiled and said, "I still have a picture of a Sam's hamburger on my old phone.
That was some burger!" Hurry back to San Antonio, Cedric.
Thanks to Charlie Cruz for recommending the clubs on Frenchmen Street as the best place for
live music, and to Tony "T.C." Cuellar for letting me know about this show at the Blue Nile!

Walking back to our hotel Saturday night from Frenchmen Street, we passed
Jackson Square. Originally known as "Place d'Armes' in the 18th Century, it was
renamed in honor of the Battle of New Orleans hero, Andrew Jackson.

On Sunday morning, our last full day in New Orleans, we took the streetcar to the National
World War II Museum. What an amazing place! It had undergone quite an expansion
since I first visited in 2004. This is another must-see if you're in New Orleans. They're open
from 9-5 daily, and there's a 50 percent admission discount if you're military! I would also recommend that before you tour the museum, see the 4D movie, "Beyond All Boundaries."
The film features special effects and life-size props. Your seat rumbles as the tanks roll through
and it actually snows in the theater! Plus, you must enjoy a meal or treat at The American Sector,
a great dining experience by Chef John Besh, a James Beard Award-winning talent. Thumbs
up for the chocolate Nutella cupcake!

After two solid days of walking, walking, walking in New Orleans, we decided to take
advantage of the city's famed streetcars on Sunday. For $3 per person, you enjoy
unlimited rides for one day. 

I found it only appropriate that our last meal in New Orleans was at the famous Cafe' Du Monde. Beignets piled high with powdered sugar and cafe' au there anything better? 


Tamster said…
Thank you for sharing, Annette. I love New Orleans.
Cara Rea said…
Loved the pix and the commentary...I feel like I was there with you! ;-)
Thanks, Tamster! It truly is a magical city.
You know, Cara...I feel the same way! :)

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