Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Orleans Trip, part 7

Feb 14
This was my last full day in New Orleans, I was flying home on the 15th. Finally on this day, the weather returned to what it was the week before I arrived. Tuesday the 14th it was a gorgeous sunny day in the 70's, with beautiful clear blue skies. Everyone was out and about in t-shirts and sleeveless shirts, enjoying the warmth after the frigid weekend! THIS is the weather I had packed for! I definitely wanted to spend the day outdoors, so I decided to go to the Audubon zoo.

The zoo is one attraction that was not in close walking distance to the French Quarter and the Business district. It's located in a large park on the western side of the city. So I would need to get there by bus.

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click picture to see full size.
The red line is the bus and streetcar routes and the blue line is where I walked.

I started by taking the St. Charles streetcar line, which is the oldest continuously operating streetcar in the world! I got the day pass for $3.00 which is good for unlimited rides all day on any New Orleans bus line, this is the best deal when you will be getting on and off or transferring. You can ride this streetcar all the way to the park, but I decided to get off on Washington avenue in the Garden District, so I could see some of the mansions and the Lafayette Cemetery.

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click picture to see full size.

Lafayette Cemetery number 1 is laid out much more orderly and graceful than St. Louis cemetery number 1. The tombs are arranged in wide avenues, with trees lining them, so it really feels like a miniature city.

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click picture to see full size.

While I was there, I saw a skywriter who spelled out "You + God = :)"
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click picture to see full size.

Then I continued walking down Washington to Magazine street, where I caught the Magazine street bus. This bus line also goes to the Audubon park and stops closer to the zoo than the St. Charles streetcar.
By the time I got to the zoo it was around noon and it was really warm! This is good news because all the animals were out soaking up the sun. This zoo only has animals from warm places like Africa, the Amazon, etc. It doesn't have polar bears or other cold climate animals. So I just know, that if I had come to the zoo during the cold snap, all the animals would have been in their indoor heated enclosures and there would be nothing to see.
But on this gorgeous day, lions were out sunbathing
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white tigers were out sunbathing
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pink flamingos were out sunbathing
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red foxes were out sunbathing
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turtles were out sunbathing
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alligators were out sunbathing
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everyone except for the white Leucistic alligators, who have to stay indoors so they don't get a sunburn!
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In the great apes area, the gorillas area was right across from the orangutans area. The male silverback gorilla and the daddy orangutan were having a staring contest!

Are you lookin at me??
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I'm look at YOU!
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The baby orangutan wanted his dad to play, this is the cutest thing EVER.

The best place to eat in the zoo is the Cypress Knee cafe in the Louisiana Swamp habitat area. Don't eat at the main food court area, go to the swamp exhibit in the very back corner of the zoo. It's got a big covered shady deck with ROCKING CHAIRS, seriously! You can order your food and a cold drink and enjoy it in a big comfy rocking chair overlooking a swamp full of alligators! And there is awesome cajun music playing! I could have sat there all day it was so relaxing and nice.

When the zoo closed, I took the Magazine street bus back to what I call "The Hipster Quarter". There is a stretch of Magazine street uptown that has lots of little indie boutiques, shops, bars and restaurants. i got off the bus at Magazine and Louisiana street and just walked for a bit, exploring.
I was drawn to this gorgeous little sweet shop called Sucre. It was very crowded because this was Valentines day, so all the forgetful frantic men were in there buying last minute gifts for their ladies!
They also had Mardi Gras King Cake, which was voted the best King Cake in all New Orleans.
I bought a little valentine gift for myself, a box of beautiful, jewel-like Macaroons.
The flavors I got were: Hazelnut, pecan, salted caramel, almond, pistachio, chocolate, and chocolate-covered. I didn't try them until I got home (aren't you proud of my willpower?) and they were all just delicious. My favorites were the salted caramel and the chocolate-covered. This shop is a must if you are exploring Magazine street, and the packaging is so pretty I saved the box and the shopping bag!

For dinner I ended up eating at Joey K's. I got an Abita Fall Fest beer which was very good. I also recommend the apple cobbler a la mode!

After dinner I caught the Magazine street bus back to the business district, and from there it was a short walk back to my hotel.
Then I started packing and trying to figure out how much of the beads and throws I would be able to cram in my bag to take home!
Luckily my flight going home was not as early as the one going to N.O., so I was able to get a good sleep, and the next morning have breakfast at IHOP on Canal street, and do a little last minute souvenir shopping before I had to catch the bus for the airport.

On the flight home, I sat next to a woman who lives in Sonoma (north of San Francisco) and we were chatting about the similarities between New Orleans and San Francisco. She mentioned that both cities are a food lovers paradise, but in New Orleans restaurants everyone is so FRIENDLY and warm to you! I guess that is what they call southern hospitality. You won't see that in San Francisco restaurants very often, it seems like servers here are a bit standoffish or act like they don't want to be there. That is something California restaurants could learn from NOLA... we got the food part nailed, but we could work on the service and the attitude.

I had an awesome time in New Orleans, I just fell in love with the architecture and in the weeks since I have been home, I find myself thinking about the city often. Even having random fantasies about living there, although I know I could not tolerate the heat for at least 4 months of the year. Oh well, maybe if I ever win the lottery, I could buy a little shotgun house and just spend the winters there!

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