I didn’t take a lot of photos in New Orleans. But who cares about pictures, right? So, this is what happened on the second half of our trip down south.
When we were approaching New Orleans, I checked possible routes to the city. There are several ways you could take: coming from the west, say, Baton Rouge, you’d take I-10. Coming from the north, for instance Jackson, MS, you’d probably opt for I-55. And then there’s I-59, pointing toward New Orleans from North-Northeast, the Hattiesburg direction.
But then, between I-55 and I-59, there’s this big lake. It’s hanging right above the city. Its name is Lake Pontchartrain, and over it stretches the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge. It “spans 24 miles and is the longest bridge over water in the world.”
When you enter the Causeway on the northern shore of Lake Pontchartrain, you can’t see the southern coast. 24 miles, that’s approximately 39 kilometers, for all the Europeans and Canadians amongst you readers. Looking almost 40,000 meters ahead, all you can see is the partly cloudy sky, and water. And, of course, the Causeway. For a good ten minutes, it appears to be a beeline to the horizon.
After a couple of miles, we were able to recognize the high-rises of New Orleans, just shadows at first, and we were reassured that we’d hit land again eventually. So, after the Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge, and the Tennessee River Bridge in Alabama, this was the third breathtaking bridge we traveled.
Upon arrival in New Orleans, we got stuck in the highway traffic of a megacity — which is odd, since the population of New Orleans is only some 300,000 people. It wasn’t long until we took the exit onto St Charles Avenue, where our Hotel was located. We checked in at the Historic Street Car Inn, which proved to be the perfect place for a short stay in the city.
When we had checked in, and brought our luggage inside, it was already past 6 PM. So we decided to rest for a little bit, and then go out for diner. Our search for good seafood began at a restaurant across the street from our hotel, only one block away. Unfortunately, the first try of getting good seafood was a mistake. Maybe it was just too late — somehow it was past 9 when we ordered dinner — or maybe the restaurant was just not that great, but the oysters we got turned out to be inedible. The main courses were okay, though, but we simply paid too much money for at best mediocre food.
Unfortunately, that seemed to be a preview of what New Orleans had in store for us. High prices, and no culinary highlights. After all, the best seafood we had was in Natchez, MS. But, don’t get me wrong: it was probably our own fault that we didn’t find any good seafood, because our time was short, the preparation was poor, and we were busy doing lots of other stuff during the days rather than researching the New Orleans seafood eateries. The good places are probably just not obvious.
On Tuesday, we started the day with a shopping tour on Magazine Street. Mary shopped for dresses and clothes, I for coffee — everything was in best order. When we were done shopping, we brought the car back to the hotel, and took the street car to Canal Street. Riding the Street Car is without a doubt a great experience. The Historic Street Car in New Orleans is “the world’s oldest continuously operating electric street railway.” The seats are all wooden, the low speed slows you down to a human-fit pace, the clunky sounds of old metal on metal are both impressive and funny, and a 1-day pass only costs $3.
After a quick lunch at Vacherie off Bourbon Street, we strolled down to the Mississippi river. From there, we followed the river downstream toward the French Market, aiming at Frenchmen Street. There, I went to one of the local record stores, as I like to do in almost every city I visit. On Frenchmen Street, I found the Louisiana Music Factory. If you like record stores, you’ll love this place. It has new and used vinyl, CDs, movies, books, and other merch from all kinds of different music genres, and in a wide price range. Unfortunately, I didn’t buy any used rarities or unique things, but rather staple article records, such as a reissue of T.Rex’ “Slider,” a Black Lips LP, and Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.”
On Tuesday night, we went back to Canal Street, where we saw a show at the Saenger Theatre. I am going to write about that concert in a later post. The concert night was an adequate conclusion of this gorgeous trip. Altogether, New Orleans has easily earned its entry in my must-visit-again-list.
(You missed part 1? Click here.)