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Hello, New Orleans!

Our first visit to a great city

How could we all be this old and never have come to New Orleans before? Well, now we have, and there’s so much to explore. Turns out the American aviation system can deposit two people from Nevada and two people from Minnesota in the New Orleans airport within a half hour of each other, so we connect at the baggage claim, pick up our car, and head for the Crescent City.

First stop, the grocery store to pick up a few breakfast eats. The sweet girl who helps bag our groceries asks “How was your Mardi Gras?” but we have to admit we have just arrived, a week after the carnival. Thecottagen on to our shotgun double rental, Les Deux Paumes — so named because of the two palms out front. Parking is rock star on this Marigny street, and the house is as charming as can be, fully outfitted with the exception of a coffeepot, which we can see already is a problem.

We venture out

Our goals — see some stuff and find a coffeepot, in that order. Chef Donald Links’ Cochon Restaurant turns out to be just the ticket for light bites of traditional Cajun Southern, and we are there unfashionably early so there’s no problem getting seated. Afterward, we are anxious to explore, but we are freezing. Despite the fact that two of us have come from Minnesota where it’s only 25 degrees, we are all shivering. So it’s back to our shotgun double to unpack our bags, warm up, and talk about what we want to do and see tomorrow. But first, Walgreen’s pops up on the corner, practically shouting “there’s a coffeepot inside!”

Packing it all into one day

It’s Tuesday now, and we act as if we will die by 5 pm, packing as much as possible into a single day. First, we drive to Vacherie for a tour of the Oak Alley Plantation, an antebellum mansion and former cane plantation with grounds on the Mississippi River. The slave cabins are humbling and the story is heart-breaking. Every American should visit a place like this and see it for themselves. The grounds are beautiful, with an alley of immense, ancient live oak trees that leads to the river. The sumptuous mansion is impeccably kept, and is a stark contrast to the humble cabins of the enslaved workers. We stop for lunch in the nearby cafe, where the special of the day is a breaded, deep-fried pork chop. Mike orders it.

From there, it’s back to town in our warm car, with a brief stop to tour one of New Orleans’ famed above-ground cemeteries, followed by a stop at City Park. Not knowing anything about City Park or why we would want to be there, we happen to see the Morning Call, which looks like a coffee shop (it is) and which will mostly likely have a bathroom (it does). But the Morning Call is another of New Orleans’ fabulous surprises. This 142-year old coffee and beignet “stand” is beautiful, with spiffy waiters, marble decor, and beignets by the happy threes. We are in heaven. Like many places in New Orleans, it’s cash-only.

The Best of Sculpture Garden

More than 60 sculptures by artists from all over the world line the meditative paths of the Besthof Sculpture Garden. We are delighted to spend time with Henry Moore, Robert Indiana, Rene Magritte, and so many more. New Orleanians are blessed to have this wonderful place.

Dinner and home

Our stomachs are grumbling, and we are cheapskates, so we find a great happy hour at Salu and chow down on charcuterie and other good things. Filled with our day’s adventures and great food, we are happy to return to our neighborhood and peer in the windows at Langlois, a local cooking school and restaurant where people cook what they eat and seem to have a very fine time doing just that.

 

 

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Hello, New Orleans!

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