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Ride the St. Charles Street Car
When we finished eating lunch it was still raining. Determined to not let some gray skies and soggy ground dampen our trip, we took refuge on a trolley headed towards the Garden District.
The future of this system looked bleak after five feet of floodwater submerged all but one of the new streetcars and would cost over $800,000 each to repair. The system was saved by a 48 million dollar grant and the fact that the vintage cars were stored at another location that did not flood. The old green car did the job while repairs took place and the New Orleans icon avoided extinction.
The streetcar rumbled its way out of downtown into a residential area lined with southern mansions with pillars and grand wrap around porches that screamed southern elegance. The trolley rocked the boy to sleep and allowed us a quiet moment to take in the sights. We rode to the end of the line and caught the trolley heading back as we planned to take in some “Jazz in the Park” that evening at Louis Armstrong Park.
Visit Congo Square – The main reason for coming to New Orleans was to to see the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and take in all the good music, food and culture the city has to offer. Learning about and coming to see Congo Square gives you a appreciation for where the music came from.
Congo Square is an open space within Louis Armstrong Park. The ground is a pattern of circles made from stone bricks. During slave days when Louisiana was still under French ownership, there was a more liberal attitude towards slaves than in the American colonies. Every Sunday they were free to gather, to sing, dance and play music openly, this all took place here at Congo Square. With the Louisiana Purchase, New Orleans and Congo Square became a part of the United States and visitors from the colonies were so amazed to see hundreds of slaves dancing and playing freely. A spectacle like this couldn’t be found anywhere else in the states or its territories (slave music and dance was suppressed in the colonies, think Footloose) and tourists would come from all over to witness the spectacle. Its in this square, in this tolerant city that an enslaved people were free of their chains for a day do what heals all pain, sing and dance. So it’s in this square that African American music was born in the Delta.
New Orleans is still performing for the world and this city’s long and intimate relationship with music is evident. It started pouring rain and we took cover in a portico of the Municipal Auditorium facing the square. With nowhere to be we just sat there and watched the rain fall on the square for about a half hour until it let up.
WHAT TO EAT FOR DINNER
741 Royal Street
New Orleans, LA
After the rained passed we made our way back across North Rampart Street into the French Quarter to find something to eat. On the corner of Royal and Saint Ann we found Pere Antoine. We shed our rain gear and took a look at the menu that read like a Cajun and Creole all-star team, crawfish etouffe, beans and rice, seafood jambalaya, blacken catfish and more.
While we looked over the menu I wanted to try New Orleans official cocktail and what is said to be America’s first cocktail, Sazerac. I had never heard of the drink until I saw the chef from the HBO series Treme throw one in food critic Alan Richman’s face. Although I am a big whiskey fan I stand by the expression, “everything ain’t for everyone” and this cocktail just isn’t for me. Commonly made with rye whiskey, bitters, simple syrup, absinthe and garnished with a lime, I have to say it tasted like NyQuil in an old fashion class. With that said, I would probably be inclined to have another one on future trips to New Orleans because when in New Orleans its best to start the evening off like a 19th century drunk.
Mardi Gras Pasta – Shrimp and sausage blended with local seasonings in tomato cream sauce
Famous Bread Pudding