Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Orleans 2011 vacation: part two

Musee Conti Historical Wax Museum
 Monday morning began with more strolling through New Orleans' French Quarter up to Musee Conti Historical Wax Museum, which presented more than 300 years of the city's history and tidbits of information I was previously unaware of. A "haunted dungeon" with wax figures of Dracula, Frankenstein and other fictional monsters was inexplicably added at the end. The figures were generally well-crafted, it was a good learning experience, and it made for a well-spent hour. 

Louis Armstrong Park

We walked north out of the French Quarter to Congo Square and were going to go through Louis Armstrong Park, but it was closed for some type of renovations. We visited the Saint Louis Cathedral and walked around Jackson Square before grabbing a Po Boy (a New Orleans submarine sandwich) for lunch and waiting for our three-hour Hurricane Katrina bus tour to begin.
Saint Louis Cathedral

Aside from driving in and out of New Orleans, I'd never ventured beyond the French Quarter, Garden District and area around the Superdome before, so this tour allowed me to see more of the city. We learned about the levee system as we drove by them, and were also informed about the disappearing coastal wetlands in the area.

We visited a number of neighbourhoods affected by flooding from Katrina -- including Lakeview, Gentilly, New Orleans East and the Ninth Ward -- and saw both where progress has been made in rebuilding and places that haven't changed much since disaster struck in the summer of August 2005. The tour also included a brief stop at a nice park with a sculpture garden that I would have liked to have spent more time at.

After the tour, we walked along Decatur Street and stopped at Turtle Bay for a couple of happy hour pints from the 25 the bar had on tap. Mom likes fruit beers, so I went with a raspberry-based Abita Purple Haze and a Covingtons Strawberry and was quite pleased with both of them.

We walked to the end of Decatur and up Frenchman Street, which is filled with clubs and is apparently where the locals go to hear music. But it was too early for anything to be happening, so we walked back to the French Quarter.

I recalled the famous Hurricane served at Pat O'Brien's (I was with former Who bassist John Entwistle the last time I was there in 1998) was pretty fruity, so I thought mom would enjoy one. But the four ounces of rum in it was too much for her, so I ended up drinking both of ours -- which I had no problem with.
Pat O'Brien's

We went for dinner at La Bayou, a Cajun Creole restaurant where I enjoyed the "Taste of New Orleans" combo of jambalaya, crawfish etouffee and chicken and andouille sausage gumbo for $17.95 and mom had a half rack of barbecue ribs for a dollar less. I washed mine down with a pint of Abita Pecan, which didn't have a strong pecan taste.

We returned to the hotel and then I went to Beerfest to watch Monday Night Football and try an Abita Andygator (slightly sweet and the eight per cent alcohol content wasn't noticeable) and an Abita Jockamo (a complex but pleasant 6.5-per cent beer made from pine needles, brown sugar, tropical fruit rind and black tea leaves).

I wandered up and down Bourbon Street and was enticed into one of its many strip clubs with the promise of beautiful women, a five-dollar cover and three-dollar drinks. The ladies were definitely hot, and one of them repeatedly came over to try and get me to take her into a private room. She turned out to be the dirtiest girl of them all, judging by her stage act, so perhaps I should have taken her up on her offer. I made three rum and Cokes last quite a while before it was time to head back to the hotel at last call.


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