City Park and the Mississippi River.

Written Monday, December 28 – New Orleans, LA

On our second day around the city, we woke up bright and early, and took off to one of the large attractions of New Orleans to the north of the city: City Park. We only ended up exploring a fraction of it, but it was beautiful from what we could tell. We took the Canal Street streetcar north, which wound through Mid-City and some other neighborhoods that are more residential. While they did look a bit rundown, they seemed more real and authentic than much of the French Quarter we were walking through. We disembarked at the end of the line and walked down a wide street set with trees on either side to the New Orleans Museum of Art. It wasn’t open since it was Monday, but the white columns and classical architecture were quite pretty. We moved on to explore its Sculpture Garden which was outside and indeed available to enter. There were some very modernist and even surreal sculptures, some plaster statues and giant safety pins and disturbing sculptures of morphed, long-limbed monkeys that had human hands but also limber tails.

Afterwards, we moved on to the New Orleans Botanical Garden, which is a small gem of a garden set within City Park. It wasn’t the best day to go, since it had rained the night before, and water still permeated much of the earthen walkways within the garden. But the conservatory was small and gorgeous, with a Christmas tree of poinsettias in the center. Outside, it was painted butter yellow, and contrasted gorgeously with the stone statue of a mermaid outside in the fountain. We roamed about a bit before coming out to see more of the City Park. It had been well-restored since the destruction wreaked by Hurricane Katrina. Many of the city’s oaks still stand, gorgeous and gnarly with curtains of silver Spanish moss hanging from the branches. We saw a bit more before going back to the streetcar and taking it back down.

Back in town, we rode the streetcar to its conclusion at the other end, where the City of New Orleans met the brown water of the Mississippi River. We walked along the riverside of the French Quarter, checking out the steamboats that still dot the river (offering rides to any tourists interested), the other families strolling around, and the gaudy shops that appear when we moved closer within the French Quarter. We even saw the French Market, which features food stands as well as artisans and tourist-like knickknacks. We thought about buying some pearls and other sorts of things. Eventually, we walked off to a late lunch at Moon Wok, an Asian restaurant with an amazing bowl of pho for just $5.95! We had a well-deserved nap at home after that.

When it came time to go out for dinner, I ended up taking us all the way west, out of the French Quarter and into Marigny, its quieter, hipper neighbor. Frenchman Street is a north-south street that is where locals as well as tourists mingle. More authentic jazz and interesting restaurants are found here. We waited for a table at Adolpho’s, a Creole and Italian joint, for a good while. In the meantime, we perused the Frenchman Art Market, which had all kinds of interesting soaps, art sculptures, jewelry, and such. One man had shaped silverware of all kinds – spoons, knives, forks – into sculptures like animals, cars, and figurines. Another woman took used liquor bottles, and pressed them down and melted them into glass cheese plates with the logos still on them. They were lovely unique pieces of art.

We eventually got a table at Adolpho’s, after a bit of arguing and frustration. However, the food proved to be delicious. My mom got some seabass in a tomato sauce, and I got stuffed trout with their ocean sauce – which is a creamy sauce with clams, crawfish, and shrimp. The whole thing was sopped up with toasted garlic bread and a glass of red wine. It was our one fine dining meal in New Orleans, and it proved very satisfactory. Then it was a long walk back to our hotel on the other side of the French Quarter, and bedtime.

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