October 15, 2013

The French Quarter in New Orleans

We spent the last several years traveling in other countries so being here in the United States f or a year we wanted to see more of our country. Lately we have made several day trips out of Washington, DC but Lady Hiva has always wanted to see New Orleans, LA.

So off we go! As you know, Lady Hiva loves Halloween and we often find ourselves in cemeteries so New Orleans—the home of voodoo and several unique cemeteries—was the  perfect spot. To add onto that, Lady Hiva travels for the food and I travel for the history and the buildings. Anyone who has been to New Orleans knows it has both.

It was also Lucky’s first airplane ride! He was such a trooper. The entire trip, in fact, he was easy going. We would strap him to me with the ERGO (if you have a child and don’t have one, it is worth the money) and he was a happy guy. We were delayed out of DC because of the storm and landed in Atlanta late and missed our flight by a minute! Yikes.

Luckily, we were able to catch a flight later in the evening. It was funny to me that now we have Tau’aho things are more worrisome. I am not sure it is just protective parent instincts or if after all Lady Hiva and I have gone through I have some overactive anxiety.  For the first time EVER I was nervous when we were about to land. (And I have landed in some scary places) Despite my unmerited worries, we made it safely.

We stayed at the W in the French Quarter (thank you for the discount Hotwire). The next morning we hit the pavement exploring. The weather was beautiful, matching the historical city.

New Orleans has done a great job keeping the downtown clean—even with all twenty-four hour a day partying.

Jackson Square

New Orleans has such a rich history touched by Spanish, French, African, and American history. The people that live here are a friendly eclectic group. The houses tell the stories era by era. Lady Hiva and I would both love to live in the French Quarter if we were given the chance. The one, BIG, drawback is that most of the city is several feet below sea level and “sinking a few inches a year.” Sounds find until the levee keeping the water out fails (ask Katrina survivors). Maybe we can find the charm elsewhere.

Two of the aspects of New Orleans tourists love we didn’t get to appreciate it—the alcohol and the seafood: alcohol for religious reasons and seafood because I have a deathly allergy. But before you feel bad for us, I just want to let you know, we may not have experienced the “craw fish buffet” or the fresh oysters, but we had some delicious Cajun food the whole weekend. We would just walk around until we passed a restaurant that looked good and we were never disappointed. The open air dining rooms were filled with laughter and fun. Lady Hiva’s favorite was the beignets from Cafe Du Monde.

The whole reason Lady Hiva wanted to come to New Orleans

The people of New Orleans are a happy, durable people. We both loved their kindness and willingness to welcome you into their lives. Of course they loved Lucky. People stopped us randomly on the street to talk about him and coo at his face (poor kid). After church we both mentioned how it felt the closest to being in Hawaii as we have felt in a while. I think the friendly and open culture comes from years of diversity. I was impressed that New Orleans was one of the only cities with free black people even during the slavery era. That made me love the city even more. 

We loved the music. Whether we were in the store, the restaurant, or just walking down the street, I found myself dancing along (poor Lucky had to dance too because he was attached to me). The parades were fun too. 

Lady’s gory Halloween affixation was satisfied. New Orleans is full of ghost stories and creepy historical buildings--People drinking blood, torturing others and practicing voodoo—the usual. We took a tour of one of the cemeteries. The hotel suggested it because the area was “unsafe.” Lady and I laughed when we arrived with the tour guide because after living in a foreign country safety is a relative term based on your situational awareness. We didn’t think it was anything to worry about. But the cemetery was awesome. New Orleans has a water table three feet down so they cannot bury people because they will float up with the high tide. That could create some interesting stories! HAHA.

Nicolas Cage's Mausoleum

We wandered through the rows and rows of burial plots and heard how there is a Spanish/Cajun burial traditions mix to make New Orleans unique. Lady wanted to see the gravesite of Mary Labeau—the proclaimed queen of voodoo. She was an avid Catholic that integrated some of her African heritage religion practices. Sadly people are vandalizing and cover it with graffiti for “luck” which is complete folklore.

We enjoyed the day and went home full and tired. The next blog will be about our trip to the bayou and baiting alligators…stay tuned!

The view from our hotel window

dinner on Jackson Square

Night carriage ride

So tired

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