Monday, 20 July 2009

Week 1 in the Big Easy

My Camera has been out of commission for a while, so unfortunately my blog will be picture-less for a bit longer.
First things first- New Orleans is AMAZING! What a vibrant, wonderful, appreciated city! My favorite part of New Orleans is the people because they all LOVE their city and enjoy sharing their experiences with anyone and everyone. Their passion is contagious and I find myself smitten with the city and perhaps en route to falling in love with "The Big Easy".
I have been here for one week- and I have already accomplished many of the "must-dos", but I also feel like I haven't even touched the surface of what this city has to offer.

Top 10 moments of the week (in no particular order)

1) Audubon Park: This might be the most gorgeous city park that I have ever been to in the United States- more so because of the energetic people than the landscaping. Everyone who lives uptown flocks to this urban oasis to jog, bike, walk their dog, and just sit and read. There is so much energy and happiness in this park that it drapes the oak trees just like the famous Spanish moss.

2) The Bayou: This Saturday the Yale group took a 2 hour drive out into the Louisiana countryside to take a Swamp Tour! This was REAL Louisiana from the smoky bar, to the mangy dogs, to the lakeside camps (or cabins). We saw HUGE alligators, flocks of blue herring and egrets all the while listening to the oldies station and cruising on Richard's (our guide's) boat.

3) Second Line Parade: Particularly in the French Quarter, there is a tradition of the Second Line where a big marching band, or brass band, or just a group of people singing parade through the streets of New Orleans in celebration (This may be for a wedding, a funeral, or just for fun!) There is nothing like the pulsating beat of the marching band drawing you in and calling you to let go and dance in the streets!

4) Po-Boys: Pittsburgh may be famous for Primanti Brother's sandwiches, Yalies may love Wenzels, but New Orleans tops the chart with their Po-Boy sandwiches. I went to Parkway Bakery yesterday to have the infamous Po-Boy Roast beef sandwiches: Necessary Elements include a very crunchy baguette, perfectly marinated and roasted beef, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and mayonnaise. Simple- yet it could rival the food at Antoine's.

5) Snowballs: This is yet another infamous New Orleans treat which is comparable to Hawaiian Shaved ice, or your run of the mill snow cone. But Snowballs are much MUCH better! The ice is so fine and is the consistency of a 'fresh snow fall'. Then (at the Plum Street Snowball place at least) they DRENCH your ice with delicious flavoring...there is no skimpy or halfhearted dressing of this ice! I had Bananas Foster flavoring on mine and I might argue that it was even BETTER than the actual dessert (and a lot cheaper too!)

6) Gospel Choir: So I was riding back home with Andrew the other night and we passed a group of people standing outside of a church-- they were all holding candles and were staggered on the church steps. We decided to make a U-turn and circled back around. As we got closer to the church we could hear the soft yet haunting song being sung in unison” There is no death that can reach them". As we passed by the choir began threading in harmonies to the chorus that made the impact of those words (repeated over and over) even more powerful. It was a magical New Orleans moment that could not be captured in any tourist book or magazine.

7) Degas House: Yesterday (June 19) was Edgar Degas 175th anniversary! (Happy Belated B-day!) We went to the Degas House (or Musson Family House) here in New Orleans to listen to live music and walk around the house (which is now a functioning Bed and Breakfast)

8) Ogden After Hours: Every Thursday, the Ogden Modern Art Museum hosts 'after hours at the Ogden' where you can go and look around the gallery, buy the cocktail of the week, and listen to live jazz music while you stroll around the museum. Fantastic!

9) Bastille Day: July 14 was the French Independence Day and I got to help out with an event that the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SoFAB) was hosting in coordination with the French Consulate. There were 500 people in our quaint little museum on Tuesday evening- most speaking in French, Franglish, and very few in English!

10) Cafe Du Monde: Famous for its fried donuts and its simple yet delicious cafe au lait- this is an New Orleans staple right in the middle of the French Quarter in Jackson Square. A charming place, but unfortunately no French people actually work there.

As the French Say (Bisses!)