New Orleans - Just for it!

Shana had a work conference in New Orleans so what better opportunity for me to tag along and do some deep city exploring into the depths of what some consider the biggest party city in the US (not including South Beach because I said, in the US).

So for Shana, it's off to a very meaningful three day work-shop and for me;  meaningless, directionless and purposeless walking!  But, I did learn about the French Quarter!

There you have it, Bourbon St. before all the party goers wake up from their previous night of collaborated chaos and absolute obliteration, to only repeat the process again.  I guess you could call this "calm before the storm" because that really is what it is.  Although its party atmosphere is mainly concentrated to Bourbon St., there really is much more to see in the French Quarter than just bars and the party stigma associated with it.    I have to say, I have not lost my genetic ability to party but the days of starting at 11:00 pm and ending at 5:30am are a distant past.   Quite frankly, I'm not sure I miss it.  And corporate America tends to put a damper on it!  

Now, I have to be honest.  I had a bit of a negative attitude going into this trip.  I was one of those people that thought the French Quarter was all about the non-stop party atmosphere.  Now it certainly is very much a party scene but there is so much more to the French Quarter than a "hand grenade".  It  has much more to offer the inquisitive vacationer.  You just have to be interested in finding it.  Adventure, is around every corner.  The French Quarter has history dating back well over 250 years. That's older than many US cities!  History, culture, architecture.  The French Quarter has it all.

Here is a statue of Andrew Jackson.  The statue was erected in the late 1800's in honor of Jackson who formed a militia and successfully defended the city from the British.  In the distance you can see the famous cathedral  (Saint Louis Cathedral ).  It has the distinction of being the oldest continuously operating cathedral in the United States.  It is located next to Jackson Square and facing the Mississippi River in the heart of New Orleans, situated between the historic buildings of the Cabildo and the Presbyt√®re. It is one of the few Roman Catholic churches in the United States that fronts a major public square.   Here is a closer look:

And looking from across the street:

So what about shopping?  If you are expecting the experience of New York, Chicago, Miami  or San Francisco you will be disappointed because top clothing trends you will not find in the French Quarter: let alone downtown New Orleans.  But hear me out.  If you are interested in antiques, custom made unique jewelry and a bonanza of art studios to fill your days of window shopping; then stop and look no further.  You have found Shangrala!  Or if you are Columbus, the fountain of youth.  The the art studios, antique shops and eclectic mix of clothing stores are in abundance in the French Quarter and the density is quite superb! Literally, every city block is filled with these  stores and in each store is unique diversity of ownership and culture.  Here is a great piece I bought Shana: 

Here is an iron stick tree with great lightning effect:

Awesome art pieces by Todd White:

Here are some examples of the French Quarter architecture:

This building is the Napoleon House.  It was originally two stories. The third story was added in anticipation of freeing Napoleon and bringing him to New Orleans, however that ended with word of his death.  Now it's a pretty cool  restaurant to grab lunch or dinner.  Shana and I had the mufeletta and seafood gumbo and it was darn good!

And inside the Napoleon House:

Many of the hinges on doors and shudders shared this common design

View from outside our hotel room:

Here are some cool buildings I shot downtown:

If you want to know about the food, well it was excellent.  We got some really good gumbo's and jambalaya's in the French Quarter.  Now Shana use to live in Baton Rouge and has had authentic Cajun style cooking.  In her opinion non of the dishes we had lived up to the real stuff.  That's not to say it was bad but if you want the real deal you are probably going to have to get away from the tourist area and hit where the locals eat.
That's Shana relaxing at Cafe Maspero's after eating (check out her cool hat).
Some of the other places we ate at were the Achme Oyster House, Gumbo Shop and Dick Brennan's Steak House (food was just okay and the service was lousy).
Here she is relaxing at the Carousal Bar at the Hotel Monteleone (214 Royal Street, New Orleans La 70130) .  The hotel was great and it ended up being a really good location to experience the French Quarter and the downtown area of New Orleans.  Royal Street has so much to offer and it's only a couple streets away from Bourbon so you are out of the "war" zone.

Here I am after my hat purchase contemplating our evening out:

Now, I saved the best for last.  Remember the art work by Todd White?  Well that was this studio:

Here is where it gets interesting.  The art director (Bilal McGlothan ) was one heck of a unique cat.  When we walked in he was tuning his guitar and starting to prepare to play it.  Shana struck up a conversation with him and that's when it became sort of cult like.  He was discussing a piece of art work from Todd White and insisted on bringing us into a private viewing room to take a closer look at the painting ($12,700.00 painting Shana fell in love with).  He invited some others in as well that were in the gallery, placed the painting on the wall, dimmed the lights and began to passionately describe a story behind the painting and as we enjoyed looking at the art work he began to play his guitar for us (I thought this was some voodoo ritual and for all I know It may have been).  Here is a couple of pics I got of the dude in his "state" of play:

You can just catch a glimpse of the photo on the wall.  It was weird, like a scene out of the twilight zone and the only thing that saved us is his guitar string broke in the middle of one of his sets.  It was fun, exciting and different.  It was the highlight of a great trip!


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