New Orleans is so much more than the party on Bourbon Street (yeah, I did just say that).
On the first night on Bourbon Street, my head was on the business end of a fastpitched set of mardi gras beads. We participated not once—but twice—in the Harlem Shake during two off-cuff parades—and then realized we were the only ones looking like a car dealership’s waving inflatable tube men on the street. And we were flashed by a set of low-hanging nips, which prompted me to ask, “does your mother know…that those hang so low? Sheesh!”
So, it was no wonder other places we visited in New Orleans were welcomed with waving inflatable open arms.
Madame Laveau’s Grave
Marie Laveau was a famous voodooienne in New Orleans during the 1800s. It is believed that even from beyond the grave, she has the ability to help people with their wishful requests.
Her tomb is in St. Louis Cemetery #1, one of the first cemeteries in New Orleans. The gravesite is unique from others around the country in that the deceased are eternally housed in above-ground tombs to counter flooding, and therefore curb the advent of zombies.
Madame Laveau’s grave is marked with offerings and X-marks. I offered my own gifts—three Kit Kats—and asked for a wish. I can’t tell you what the wish was, but let’s just say it rhymed with “I wish I had…schmun schmillion schmollars…”
Wikitravel suggested to join a tour guide through the cemetery to deter robberies. We felt completely safe without a tour. But, then again, if I’m asking for schmun schmillion schmollars and gifting Kit Kats, I’m probably not the best robbery target.
Old Courthouse in Algiers, New Orleans
Imagine, if you will, historically adorable homes dating back several decades. Each one of them is different from the next, with amazing splashes of color like pink, blue and yellow and matching rocking chairs on the patios. This is the neighborhood of Algiers, which is unlike the cookie-cutter homes speckling Southern California, which is a wash of bland beige and poobrown.
Kids played at the park with their families and a few businesses remained open on Sunday. There was absolutely no sign that this place was historically a slavery trading outpost. Algiers is much quieter than the New Orleans on the other side of the river and there are no flying mardi gras beads.
View from the St. Charles Street Car
The street car along St. Charles is the oldest operating public transportation system in New Orleans. It costs $1.25 (as of March 2013). The best part about the street car was viewing the beautiful mansions and homes along the street.
Audubon Park: These are some brave f(d)ucks.
At one time, the Audubon Park was the very first commercial sugar plantation in the United States. Now, it is home to a cute river, big basking trees, and families enjoying a beautiful Sunday. There’s a bird island in the middle of the park with extremely friendly ducks, who must be used to being fed.
Seeing the ducks march up to us with nary a deference to the obvious divide of human and bird reminded me of a very specific event that occurred in the 8th grade: I was chased off a lawn by a duck. Those rottweileducks (pictured above) instantly transported me back to that moment in my youth. So, I did what every grown adult would do in such a situation: I ran away like a little bitch.
And then the aftermath of the crawfish
“Look, at that, a crawfish place,” I said in passing, to which the mister immediately whipped his head around to view the restaurant. I knew this look. This was a look of quiet determination, a hankering for a certain selection of food that needed to be satiated. We were getting crawfish and he didn’t care how many miles we had to walk to get there.
Our first attempt for crawfish at the French Market Square was unsuccessful, as they had run out of that freakish little lobster and they also charged an “erhmagerd-my-wallet-hurts” $8.50 per lb. Cajun Seafood (there’d be no confusing this place with a steakhouse), located in the seventh ward of New Orleans, was much easier on our wallet at $3.99 per lb.
The mister helped himself to some crawfish, a side of pig’s feet and some cajun corn-on-the-cob. I played it safe with popcorn shrimp. The restaurant is busy, with a line that wrapped around itself, took about 20 minutes to move to the front, and never got shorter the entire two hours we were there.
Now, as you know, lines are a real bitch. We witnessed an argument between some girls waiting in line. The argument’s origins remain unknown, but if I had to speculate, I would think it had to do with either waiting in line or maybe the restaurant ran out of crawfish. Well, the mister was sitting on about 20 pounds of crawfish–but who can blame him since it was so cheap. So, ladies, stop this mindless violence and blame him.
The City Park in New Orleans is a sprawling land of history. It’s home to trees that are over 600 years old, the kind of trees that you can climb on and then break your arm on the jump down (hello, childhood memories). There’s also a stadium, a Gazeboland, a 24-hour cafe and a Storybookland, complete with a little old lady in a shoe. At any time of the day, it’s worth a leisurely stroll.
There you have it, folks, six WONDERous places in New Orleans where you don’t have to fear beads or low-hanging nips blinding your vision.
What are your favorite places in New Orleans?