Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Easing into the Big Easy

New Orleans, Day 2!

New Orleans, N'awlins, Nw'ollins, the Big Easy, what have you, I love it here.

We woke up—you guessed it, bright 'n early—and decided to take the streetcar around New Orleans. It was like $1.25 per person each way, so it was basically a really cheap tour (sans actual tour guide) around the city. Then we took the free ferry ride across the Mississippi River, just to say we crossed the Mississippi River. On a boat. Free ferry boat, but whatever, it still counts. I decided that I really enjoy the weather in New Orleans.

After all that we went to the Shops at Canal Street, it was a mall but Mika and I didn't find many things interesting there. We skipped on over to the Riverwalk Shops, which is like a mall full of gift shops and a few big name stores (Gap, Ann Taylor Loft, etc). It's a mile long! Mika and I walked the whole way while my dad played slots at Harrah's across the street and my mom stuck to Ann Taylor Loft and Gap. It was pretty awesome, but all my sister and I bought were a few postcards.

Afterward we were dead flipping tired so we went back to the hotel to take a nap.
When we woke up, we decided to walk around Bourbon Street and look for something to eat!

To our pleasant surprise, we chanced upon this place called Preservation Hall. I recognized it because it was on a few postcards, and I knew the history behind it: In the 1960's it was established to preserve the integrity of New Orleans jazz, which lost popularity to modern jazz and rock'n'roll. They were letting people in at 8 PM, so we waited in line outside. It seemed really cool, but I wasn't entirely sure what to expect.

Inside was really small and had a few benches, so my family and I stood just behind the last bench. The setup in the front consisted of a few wooden chairs, a drumset, an upright piano with the front opened up exposing the insides, and various jazz paintings and posters of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Apparently they're really popular and tour the U.S.! Unfortunately they were not performing tonight, and instead the guys who played were the Preservation Hall-Stars lead by trumpter Leon "Kid Chocolate" Brown. They were pretty damn good! Not only did they play, but they sang songs like "Margie" and "Mama Don't Allow No Music Playin' 'Round Here." I really liked that one :D It was like a 45 minute set, and we could come back in whenever we wanted, but we were pretty hungry so we left. Before we did, we gave 'em some money, and then some more money by buying T-shirts and a CD. But hot damn, did I love them! I love how utterly legit the jazz scene is here, I really, really do!

I mean, when we were walking down the streeth we saw a bunch of big black guys in baggy jeans and baggy shirts and do-rags and hats and such... in Los Angeles you might find them suspicious at best, but what were they doing here on the streets of New Orleans? They all had instruments and were playing New Orleans jazz!! It was so, so awesome, I loved it, I loved it all! Why the hell didn't I bring my sax!?

After the Preservation Hall show we went a few stores over to the Old Coffee Pot Bistro, one of the oldest restaurants in New Orleans (est. 1894). It was very quaint and cute, we had HUGE slices of corn bread (me: "Okay, no beignets tonight...") and Mika and I shared a plate of Southern Fried Chicken. Hot damn, it was so delicious. It was breaded with several spices, you can see them. I definitely wanted more after that, but combined with the corn bread I got full enough.

The last stop we made was at Café du Monde. Since we were pretty full we didn't eat any beignets, but instead we bought about a bazillion boxes of beignet mix XD Might as well, right? We also stopped by a gift shop on the way and I got myself a keychain (I collect those) and, surprisingly, Mardi Gras masks! I guess it's another "might as well" thing, since we don't know when we'll be here next.

And I am definitely planning on a "next time."

Perhaps Mardi Gras? ;)

Jolls out, up, and awaaay!
No, I will not flash you for beads.


Lauren Ashley said...

I'm glad you're having so much fun! :D I totally want to go, now. One of my favorite things to do every where I go is find legit jazz bands... I love jazz so much. San Francisco so far has had the best, but I'd love to go hear some authentic New Orleans jazz some time. :) Hope all continues to go well! :)

Chelsea said...

I have a mask from New Orleans too! We can wear them together!