Staring at the spires of St. Louis Cathedral I hear a jazz band playing and smell the sugary sweet smell of pralines from a street vendor. It is a perfect New Orleans moment! Across from the cathedral we climb to the overlook and I see the Mississippi River for the first time. It is flat and muddy looking but still awe inspiring. As the sun sets, our rumbling stomachs tell us it is time for dinner. We stand in line at the Acme Oyster House. After seeing this on the Travel Channel as one of the top “pig out” places we have high expectations. We were not disappointed. The portions are huge, the oysters slide down my throat, and my Gumbo is aromatic and spicy. Exhausted by our long drive from Southwest Florida we collapse at our hotel.
The next morning my family heads to the famous CafÃ© Du Monde. The bitter aroma of chicory coffee greets us as we sit outside. We shuffle our feet in anticipation, making patterns in the mounds of powdered sugar left on the floor. The warm gooey beignets melt in our mouths and we eat until we all get a little silly from too much sugar. Afterwards, we wander around the narrow streets of the French Quarter admiring the lacy iron balconies. We stop in a few shops and in one gallery the owner told us that Nicholas Cage lived a few doors down. His house was featured on several haunted house shows and is known as “ one of the most haunted houses in America”. We were off to celebrity stalk! We didn’t see Nicholas Cage or any ghosts but we did see a note which said “deliveries for Nick go next door”. By this time we were hot, famished and ready for lunch. We waited in line again, this time at Johnney’s Po’ Boys. The sandwiches were worth the wait! Enormous French bread rolls filled with meat and toppings.
After being energized by our gigantic lunch we decided to venture into the Garden District on the streetcar. The streetcar rumbled on its tracks and swayed in the hot, humid air. Once we disembarked from the streetcar we ventured into the tree lined streets of the Garden District. The homes were beautiful with ornate details and elaborate gardens. My mother tried to fill us in on historical and architectural facts but after the first few houses we lost interest. With sweaty clothes and achy feet we gladly boarded the streetcar for the ride back to our hotel.
That evening was time for the world famous Bourbon Street This is my kind of place! There were neon lights glowing from the windows, music blasting, and lots of really crazy people dressed in all sorts of outfits. People threw shiny, colored beads to us from balconies. We saw street people painted silver and gold who entertained us with amazing card tricks. My parents tried to bustle us past windows with inappropriate signs and lewd t- shirts but that made it even more fun… We went in a few tourist type shops and tried on glittery masks and feathery boas. The weirdest shop was a voodoo shop. It smelled of incense and was filled with statues and dolls. It really made me feel creepy and I didn’t stay long. Back on Bourbon Street the party was still going on, in fact it seemed to be getting wilder as the night got later. I can’t even imagine what it must be like during Mardi Gras! Maybe I will need to return and see for myself.
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