A Week In New Orleans

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A Week In New Orleans Friday 4/21/2017 to Thursday 4/27/2017

Arrived 10:00 last night fumbled around trying to determine if taxi, uber, or lyft would be best deal. Info I had gleaned from travel forums was out of date.. ride.guru gave inaccurate pricing saying uber and lyft cost $21, when I downloaded the uber app I found it was $33., about the same price as a taxi. Decided to take taxi. Since they were already there waiting to go. Turned out that the fixed rate for taxis had increased and was now $36.00. With tip it cost $40.00., same price as the shuttle and A little more than Uber but quicker and easier.

Friday
In the morning, we hopped on the trolley to the French Quarter, walked along the riverfront, watched the steamboat head out, and. Queued up at Cafe DuMonde waited in line for about 15 minutes, and took our sack of beignets and our cafe au laits to Jackson Square where we enjoyed them in the shade of an old oak tree,we viewed the statue of Old Stonewall, and watched a wedding in the square. We then admired the stain glass windows in the Cathedral and walked down to the Old Mint Building.

The magnolias are blooming

We just happened to arrive at the Mint in time to enjoy a fabulous woman, named Gina Brown in rhinestone encrusted gold 4 inch heels with a 3 piece jazz band in a free concert tribute to Al Jarreau. A wonderful little concert, very talented musicians and a beautiful sultry voice. Inside the Old Mint Building is a small museum with displays about when this was an active mint producing coinage, and upstairs is The New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park. with displays about Louis Armstrong one on Louis Fountain. I got a NPS stamp for my passport at the gift shop. We then wandered through the French Market hoping to find lunch. A tourist office recommended Huck Finn.’s and gave us a discount card. We walked the nine blocks to eat there had jambalaya and crawfish etoufee. We then walked along Bourbon Street it was noisy and crowded, and packed with bars that featured $11.00 food dye and artificial flavor laden daiquiris. We cut over a block to royal street, which was much quieter. Ordered sangrias and enjoyed watching the barflys while sipping our drinks in a cozy corner. At one point a roving band and their entourage paraded by


Saturday
I got snared. When you are a guest at a Worldmark resort, your goal is to relax or to get out and see the sights. Managements goal is to, by hook or by crook, to turn you into an owner. This is our third stay at one of these resorts. When you check in you are required to see a concierge to get your Welcome Packet. This concierge acts like they are your friend and because they want you to have a good time they are offering all kinds of discounts and bonuses. All you have to do to cash in on all these gifts is agree to listen to a representative talk about the benefits of Worldmark ownership, while you eat your free hot breakfast. Such a deal!!! You can tell them that you’ve heard it before. You can tell them how absolutely totally uninterested you are. You can tell them that your partner will divorce you if he is subjected to another of these really annoying sales pitches. You can say no a dozen times. In the end you acquiesce because you will be paid for your time. Of course the concierge has promised repeatedly that 1. You will enjoy the presentation. 2. It will absolutely not take more than 90 minutes, and you will be enjoying a delicious, specially prepared, hot breakfast while you listen. 3. You will not, and this is a solemn promise, delivered verbally and in writing, will not be subjected to any high pressure sales tactics. After all, she says,”This is New Orleans. We are all laid back here. No one pressures anyone to do anything. We all just want you to have a good time and to receive all these valuable discounts and bonuses.” Promises were broken, and the eggs were cold, but the cheesy grits were delicious. After 2 hours of intense salesmanship we walked away without signing any contracts and received the payoff- a $100.00 AmEx gift card and 1000 Wyndham milage points plus a 50% discount on the price of the swamp tour. I think it’s worth it, Trog is pretty sure it is not.

Jasmine perfumes the air

Saturday afternoon was spent at the National World War II Museum. It is big and impressive and well worthwhile, featuring multimedia and multi sensory experiences. Afterwards we relaxed on the patio of the museum’s The American Sector Restaurant and Bar.

Sunday
We walked to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in the morning, wandered around the Garden District gawking at the old mansions, and went on the swamp tour.
The tour company is called Ultimate Swamp Adventure. Their driver picked up in front of the hotel and took us to the historic Westwego fishing village of Bayou Segnette for a 2 hour boat ride.

alligator

sunset in the swamp

Monday
Bought all day trolley passes. The trolley is the best deal in town. Only $1.25 for a ride, or $3.00 for a pass that is good for 24 hours. Headed to thequarter. Wandered around Harrahs. Got muffuletta at the Central Grocery. Wandered through Jackson Square to have absinthe at Pirate alley Caught trolley to City Park. strolled around the Sculpture Garden. And admired the ancient oak trees in the park.

andaption id=”attachment_1671″ align=”alignnone” width=”300″] hoping for some of my beignet[/caption]
Wed 4/26
Checked out Lafayette Cemetery #1. Had a crawfish boil at the hotel, walked into the quarter. Enjoyed live music at the Musical Legends Park with beignets . I had a sazarac and Trog had an old fashioned. I got mobbed by beignet craving sparrows, so we escaped and strolled the length of Bourbon Street and had a look at Frenchmens Street. We wandered again through the French Market (Nothing particularly French about it – it was the end of the day for them, several booths had already shut down for the day. Back to the music garden for a mint julep.
below: Lafayette Cemetery # 1

a pile of boiled crawfish
eat right off the table, no plates
the crawfish boil

Thursday 2/27/2017
flying home tonight, but had time for some sightseeing before going. We hopped on the trolley and rode out to Audubon Park. Strolled around the park, saw lots of turtles sunning themselves on rocks in the creek. Saw a woman with a baby feeding bread to the turtles gathered in the creek below with a baby possum on a hand towel beside her. walked out of the park and past Loyola University to get pecan waffles. The Camellia Grill from the outside looks pretty fancy, but it’s a greasy spoon establishment with no tables, just a counter that spans the width of the building. Two waiters take orders and serve up food while a team of cooks work their magic right in front of the diners.


We took the trolley back to the resort to pick up our bags, caught the bus to the airport and headed back to cold, rainy Portland. Riding the bus gave us a chance to see the rest of New Orleans. Once you get away from the tourist areas, it’s a huge sprawling city that doesn’t look much different from any other major city.

Overheard bit of conversation in the French Market: “I was a woman 10 years ago.”
Sign on a building: “Jazz music shakes the dust off of ordinary life.

Food and drink: The beignets at Cafe Beignet are not much different from the ones at Cafe Dumonde, but the line is much shorter. We had the special of the day at Pat O’Briens, a french fry po’ boy. I am not a fan of putting potatoes into sandwiches but, the fries were really good. Too bad they were smothered with shredded roast beef and an over-salted gravy. But it was a fun place to hang out for a while, and the salad and the drinks were fine.

the hurricane

We had the special of the day at Pat O’Briens, a french fry po’ boy. I am not a fan of putting potatoes into sandwiches but, the fries were really good. Too bad they were smothered with shredded roast beef and an over-salted gravy. But it was a fun place to hang out for a while, and the salad and the drinks were fine.
The jambalaya was good at Huck Finn’s, but the crawfish etouffe tasted too fishy for my taste. We tried to go to Parasol’s, where I heard that the cajun cuisine is inexpensive but really good. It’s in the back room of a dive bar off Magazine Street. When we good there it was packed, no place for us to sit and since it was a half hour before closing time, waiting for a table was not an option. So we wandered down Magazine Street and ended up having burritos at Hey Juan’s, not cajun but quite good.

Eating muffuletta is another must do when in New Orleans. It’s more Italian than Cajun, but still a quintessential New Orleans treat. We went to the Central Grocery for ours. It’s a big sandwich on a large round roll that is cut into quarters. One quarter is enough for a very satisfying and delicious meal.
The best deal on food is at the Voodoo Barbecue on St. Charles Avenue. The pulled pork sandwich is just $2.00 on Tuesdays. The pork was tender and flavorful, but made even better with the addition of Mojo Sauce.

Drinks associated with New Orleans: absinth hurricane, pimm’s cup, sazarac, mint julep.

Mardi Gras beads are everywhere. They are hanging from fences, and adorning porches, wrapped around lampposts, hanging from trees, even at the cemetery!

Day 16. Ennis

June 3
Ennis, Ireland

Ennis is a small town but after being in Westport and Doolin it felt quite urban. Ennis also is known as a center for traditional Irish music, and it has a lovely irish history museum.
https://alum.mit.edu/sites/default/files/IC_assets/travel/images/2012/IrelandMap.jpg

Day 15. Doolin

June 2
Doolin, Ireland

Pony decides to attack from somewhere OTHER than where everyone is... and discovers a castle over-watches THIS cliff...
Pony decides to attack from somewhere OTHER than where everyone is… and discovers a castle over-watches THIS cliff…

It’s a small village strung along a highway crossing and leading down to the harbor. You can also catch a boat from Doolin to go to the Arran Islands, but only when the weather is amenable. the distance from Doolin to the islands is shorter than the distance from Galway, but the water is rougher here and the boats are smaller. Although it is small, Doolin is a mecca for lovers of traditional Irish music (Trad). The pubs serve the standard pub fare, accompanied by nightly live music.It is a great place to explore the Irish countryside, being close to The Burren and to the Cliffs of Moher. We took a walk down to the harbor and were rewarded with spectacular views of ocean, and islands, cliffs and rock formations, and an assortment of wild flowers. In the morning we headed up onto the top of the cliffs, past the ruins of a castle, for more great scenery.
North end of the Cliffs of Moher. Maybe not as tall, but MUCH less crowded.
North end of the Cliffs of Moher. Maybe not as tall, but MUCH less crowded.

This was my favorite place in Ireland!

Day 15. Arran Islands

June 1, 2015
Ennis Mor

Rain! We arrived on the island during a torrential downpour. Luckily, I had reserved a room at the inn that was closest to the dock. it was too early to get into our room but they had a lovely lounge (with wifi) where we could wait. Ennis Mor is the largest of the three main Arran Islands. The most popular tourist attractions here are the bicycle rentals, and the horse drawn wagons that take you to the ruins of an old fort. It was much too blustery out for those, so we had a leisurely lunch and when the rain died down we went for a walk and explored the town. There was a charming little church, and the ruins of another. Narrow cobblestone streets lined with cozy cottages separated by dry stone fences led us across the width of the island.

The Arran Islands are famous for their high quality knitted wool fishermen’s sweaters. so we checked out the sweater shop. It also serves as a museum with several displays about the history and craft of knitted sweaters. All the wool is grown and processed locally. Some of the sweaters are knitted on these islands, some on the mainland. Some are still hand knitted, others are made with knitting machines. All are quite lovely.

Downtown Inishmore. Thoughfully erected by islanders in memory of a priest during the famine that told the government that if they couldn't send food, then send wood for coffins.
Downtown Inishmore. Thoughfully erected by islanders in memory of a priest during the famine that told the government that if they couldn’t send food, then send wood for coffins.

Day 14. It’s Not Faire

May 31, 2015
Westport, Ireland

IMG_0419

It’s not Faire, but it’s not bad. The Pirate Queen Festival included a small Midieval Village. It was just a handful of costumed folk demonstrating crafts and fashions from the time of Grainne O’Malley. I enjoyed chatting about macrame techniques with the man who was making a fishing net. He said it is taking him weeks to make it and he is determined to catch fish with it when it is done. I also had a nice talk with the woman who dyes wool yarns using natural substances like woad and onion skins. The resulting colors are quite lovely.

Day 14 Galway

May 31, 2015
Galway

Caught the bus from Westport to Galway, a major port city on the Atlantic coast. Galway is a bustling university town and the center of Ireland’s tech industry. It is a little short on tourist attractions, but is much visited because it is the gateway to the Arann Islands. So we stayed one night in a B-and-B close to the main square and in the morning we caught the shuttle bus which took us to the harbor where we boarded the boat to Ennis Mor.
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Day 12. Mr Whippy and the Pirate Queen

May 29
Westport, Ireland

While in Westport, we got to attend the third annual Pirate Queen Festival, sponsored by the makers of Grainne Ale, and hosted by Gracy’s Bar.

The Grainne Ale Festival was a family friendly event with lots of children in attendance. Unfortunately it was pouring down rain so all the families were crowded into the covered patio at Gracy’s Bar. Along with all the families, was a band playing some sort of jazzy rock music. The music was good, but oh, so loud! We almost left, because there was nowhere to sit and conversation was made difficult by the volume of the music but, we retreated to a sheltered space away from the festival, and checking the schedule and the current time, figured that the band was already on overtime and would surely be quitting soon. I guessed that when the band left that some of the crowd would go as well. Turned out, I was right soon we had a pint of Grainne Ale and some good food and a place at one of the long tables. the woman sitting across from me asked where we were from, we replied “Oregon”. She quipped, “So, you brought the weather with you.” I am accustomed to hearing this from Californians, but had to laugh at hearing it from a resident of a place that receives far more rain than Portland does.

The departure of the aforementioned band was not the end of the festival entertainment. The final act was billed as Mr Whippy! Mr Whippy is a decommissioned ice cream truck that now houses a D.J. and his sound equipment. It was parked alongside the patio and connected to the bar’s sound system. As the band began to pack up, Mr Whippy began to play. He started with some Reggae, then played his theme song, a snappy tune with with indecipherable lyrics about Mr Whippy. He then moved on to some electronica.We had another pint, a Clew Bay Sunset Ale this time, and pulled on our rain gear for the walk back to our charming temporary abode.

Day 11. Westport Regrets

May 28, 2015
Westport, County Mayo, Ireland.

Westport is a great tourist destination; beautiful scenery, bustling pubs, international restaurants,friendly people, live music, festivals, theater, historic buildings, bucolic walkways and bike paths. We had a wonderful time just walking around, taking it all in. However, we missed out on seeing the attractions that lay outside of town, just a little too far to walk to.
Our hostess recommended the walk up Croagh Patrick. Crouch Patrick is a hill about 14 kilometers from Westport where Saint Patrick preached and baptized converts. It is a popular pilgrimage site and the walk to the top takes about 3 1/2 hours to climb up and back down.Near the base of the hill is The Coffin Ship Memorial, a sculpture dedicated to the desperate Irish people who set off to America to escape starvation during the potato famine.If I had it to do over again, I might arrange to rent a car for a day to drive along the coast and to visit these sites.

Day 10. Grainne

May 27 2015
Westport, Ireland

Grace O'Malley, the "Pirate Queen." Resemblance to Pony is intriguing...
Grace O’Malley, the “Pirate Queen.” Resemblance to Pony is intriguing…
Westport’s most famous former resident is the infamous pirate queen Grainne (Grace) O’Malley. As a wee girl she always begged her father the sea captain to allow her to join his crew and travel with him to far off lands. When she pressed him for a reason why girls should not be allowed onboard, he said that their long hair would get caught in the ropes. She immediately cut off her hair. It, of course, grew back and she grew into a strong and beautiful woman. But she had her way, and became a very capable sailor, and eventually took over her father’s merchant business.
The O’Malley clan controlled a broad stretch of Ireland’s Atlantic coastline and Grainne and her fleet of ships made sure (through hook or crook) that anyone passing through paid taxes on their cargo. For this they called her a pirate! She was fearless and shrewd and fought bravely against Turkish, Spanish and English pirates.
During her reign as Chieftain of the O’Malley clan, the English were gradually taking over Ireland, one kingdom at a time. Grainne was one of the last holdouts. When one of her sons and one of her brothers were captured and imprisoned, she went to meet with Queen Elizabeth to negotiate for their release. She agreed to stop fighting against the English in return for the release of her family member. She also demanded, and got the right to hold onto her lands and the properties of her late husbands. She was able to live quite comfortably off the income from these lands and died at the age of 70.
Today, her estate is a popular park which includes a mansion, and a pirate themed amusement park, and a wildlife preserve.

Day 9. The Full Irish

May 26, 2015
Westport, Ireland

The full Irish breakfast is a wonder to behold. It has eleven items: two eggs, two bacons, two sausages, black pudding, white pudding, a tomato, toast, and soda bread; all served with a coffee or tea, orange juice,and plenty of butter and marmalade.

Trog downed one of these every morning
Trog downed one of these every morning

We never had the full Irish breakfast. It is too much food, and we don’t care for the puddings. The Irish bacon looks and tastes more like ham, and is quite good.The eggs normally come sunny side up, unless you have a cook who is willing to break with tradition and scramble them for you. Trog had a modified or mini Irish breakfast nearly every day, hold the puddings, please. I usually had yogurt and fruit, toast and soda bread.

Trog after eating an Irish breakfast
Trog after eating an Irish breakfast

Pudding is a very nice euphemism for blood sausage.The puddings also contain oats, pork, onion and spices, but the black (and it is black) color comes from blood. When we asked about the white pudding, we were told that it is like the black pudding, but with less blood.