Monday, July 21, 2014

New Orleans -- Monday -- July 21, 2014

Across the street from the Convention Center stands the Scraphouse, made by artist Sally Heller as a memorial to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.  A shack stands in the branches of a dead oak tree, which is covered with various pieces of debris.  I took the photo from the upper deck of a hop-on, hop-off tour bus. 

Monday morning we walked over to Canal and Royal and caught car 2002 inbound on Canal Street. 

An outbound car passes 2002. 

My wife likes to say I can't pass a "Take One" sign without taking one.  This rack didn't say "Take One," but I took one anyway. 

This sign was on another car.  I'd like to attend that festival some year. 

Stations on the Riverfront line have especially nice signage, although I'm not sure all tourists would guess which direction was inbound and which was outbound.  Inbound cars were headed towards French Market.  I should also mention that all the stations on the Riverfront line have center platforms.  The cars use their left-hand doors. 

Canal Street is Station 6 on the Riverfront line. 

We found a huge crowd at the station, and it kept growing.  Some people said they had been there 30 minutes.  Riverfront service is pretty limited on weekdays. 

While we waited, a HiRail truck went by on the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad.

Another sign at Station 6. 

This sign indicates the point where inbound cars should stop. 

Outbound cars were headed towards the Convention Center. 

Cars from the Loyola line follow the Riverfront to French Market on weekends.  That is the one line I did not get to ride.  Note that riders can text to check for the next arrival. 

I didn't note the car number, but here is the motorman's station at the back of the crowded car.  The T-handle on the left is the combined controller and brake.  Among the buttons on the panel are the ones that open the left- or right-hand doors. 

When we finally reached the Café du Monde, we got in line.  The line always moved quickly. 

Before and after photos represent two orders of beignets.  Visible in the background is a cup of café au lait. 

After breakfast, we went to look for the stop on the New Orleans Hop-On, Hop-Off Tour.  My father always said it was good to take a tour bus around a new city.  It is a good way to learn the lay of the land and see things one might want to explore in more detail.  We caught a red double-decker bus and the driver said we could buy tickets at the Basin Street Station.  We had seats upstairs, but after Basin Street, we had to sit downstairs.  The bus was packed. 

Sitting downstairs turned out to be a good thing because a thunderstorm broke out soon after.  Here is water rushing down the stairs after a stop.  The narrator's helper passed out ponchos.  The narrator recommended two each for the people upstairs, one to wear and one to sit on. 

We liked the narrator and she said the next bus wouldn't be along for 40 minutes or more, so we stayed on the bus.  She talked about the Faubourg Marigny, the Treme, and Black Storyville. 

We decided to get off at Mardi Gras World, which I thought was going to be a tourist trap.  It turned out to be fun and interesting. 

We bought our tickets in the lobby.  They were strings of beads with a jester figure.  The tour led us into a room surrounded by Mardi Gras figures; some of them looked familiar from Disneyland and Downtown Disney.  Guests could put on costumes and hats and pose with the figures. 

We sat down and watched a video about the Mardi Gras season and the many parades.  Then the guide talked about the origins of Mardi Gras. 

We followed her into the studio, where artists were working on figures and decorations for next year.  I think the guide said that Blaine Kern Studios builds the floats for 16 Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans, and for many theme parks and other organizations around the world. 

Then we were turned loose in the warehouse, where we could see complete floats and many stored figures, like this one representing "How the Elephant Got His Trunk" from Just So Stories.  Most of the floats belonged to the Krewe of Orpheus. 

When we were done, we found that the rain had stopped.  We boarded another bus and got seats on the upper deck.  We passed the Convention Center and went on past the foot of Canal Street and into the French Quarter on Decatur Street.  We liked the narrator on this bus, so we decided to stay on for another loop around. 

We passed Jackson Square and had a nice view of the cathedral and Andrew Jackson. 

We passed the statue of Joan of Arc next to the French Market.  The narrator said locals call her "Joanie on a Pony." 

We passed the site of Congo Square and then Saint Louis Cemetery Number 1 before we returned to Basin Street Station. 

We passed the terminal of the Saint Charles Avenue line, where we saw car 921. 

We passed car 2003 on the Loyola line. 

We passed car 910 as it went around Lee Circle on the Saint Charles Avenue line.  I went through Lee Circle twice on the streetcars and twice on the hop-on hop-off buses and never saw the statue of General Lee, just the base of the column.  Just as well. 

The Confederate Museum was nearby, in a building designed by William Richardson.  We didn't go so I couldn't say anything unfortunate. 

We would have gone to the National World War II Museum if we had spent another day in New Orleans.  I hope we'll visit again. 

As we toured the Garden District, we passed Louisiana Avenue, where passengers transferred to and from Saint Charles Avenue cars because of track work. 

Some of the track work. 

The Trolley Stop Café. 

Back at the French Market, we got off the bus.  We had dinner at a small place where a jazz quartette was playing.  The saxophone player had a talent.  We both had po'boy sandwiches.  My wife's had fried oysters and mine had shrimp. 

We wandered around the French Quarter for a while.  We saw the Old Ursuline Convent, which is supposed to be the oldest building in the Mississippi Valley. 

We liked the buildings in this section of the French Quarter. 

I had to take a photo of one of the funny-looking fire hydrants.  I'm sorry I didn't think to take a photo of the water meter covers.  They were an interesting design that even got made into jewelry. 

The Andrew Jackson Hotel is next to the Cornstalk Fence Hotel. 

We found our way back to the Hotel Monteleone and had a quiet evening because the shrimp po'boy disagreed with me. 

My day-by-day posts:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

New Orleans -- Sunday -- July 20, 2014

On our first full day in New Orleans, we got up feeling good after a quiet night's sleep.  We left the Hotel Monteleone and took a walk over to Bourbon and Canal.  While waiting for the light, I took a photo of Saint Charles Avenue car 972 laying over at Canal and Carondelet.  The Saint Charles Avenue line is the oldest continuously operating streetcar line in the US, having operated since 1835. It uses cars built by Perley Thomas car works in High Point, North Carolina in the 1920s. 

While we waited to catch a Canal Street car towards the riverside, we saw 2002 pass by outbound.  Note the door for handicapped access in the center. 

When we got to the foot of Canal Street, we saw a freight train passing on the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad, which runs parallel to the Riverside line. 

We got on a Riverside car and got off at Dumaine Station.  The RTA does a good job with signage. 

We went to the Café du Monde, which has operated in the French Market in New Orleans since 1862. The entire menu is: beignets, café au lait, coffee, milk (white or chocolate) and orange juice. I would have liked to see their powdered sugar delivery. We ate there three times. I could have done more.  Here we see two orders (six) of beignets. 

After breakfast, we strolled through the shops in the French Market.  We heard thunder and then it started to rain.  We stayed under the gallery and watched the rain fall. 

After the rain slackened, we went to find the Palm Court Jazz Café, where I had hoped to eat, hear some music, meet the Jazzology people in the shop and give my condolences about the recent passing of George H Buck, Jr.  We were sad to see that the Café was closed for summer vacation. 

We went on to the French Market Station, which is the end of the line for the Riverfront line, and saw this nice sign which lists all the stations and the attractions to be found at each one. 

We caught car 2020 back towards Canal Street. 

The motorman at his post on 2020.  The farebox is electronic and it can handle single fares, transfers, or passes.  The first time we used our three day passes, we put them in the slot on the farebox and it validated them and printed the to and from dates in big characters.  The motormen spend a lot of time helping visitors pay their fares.  Most were very patient.  The "Riders Must Exit by Rear Doors" signs are routinely ignored. 

We got off at Canal Street and walked past the ferry terminal to the Riverwalk Mall, which people kept telling us was the biggest urban outlet mall in the country.  It was very cold inside, so while my wife shopped I went out on the levee and watched the river.  I saw the Seabulk Challenge pass on its way up the river. 

I watched the 11:30 ferry to Algiers Point sail about 11:38.  I had to explain New Orleans Time to my wife a few times. 

We took a Canal Street car back up to Royal and dropped off some items at the hotel.  We walked over to Carondelet and got on a Saint Charles Avenue car.  I did not get the number.  Here we see it about to make the turn from Canal to Saint Charles.  A huge crowd got on at the first stop on Saint Charles.  The young man with the Police shirt was very helpful to a lady with a stroller and an older lady with luggage. 

We had to get off about Erato Street because of track work.  I loved the Garden District streets with classical names.  We got on a bus, which took us to Louisiana Avenue. 

At Louisiana Avenue, we got on car 922 to continue our trip to Carrollton.  The tracks are laid in the grassy neutral ground.We saw many impressive houses and churches along the way.  There were a lot of Episcopal churches. 

Whatever it is, I liked this little thing at the Carrollton terminal. 

Car 932 approaches the terminal. 

The motorman raises the rear pole on 922.  Then he got back on the car and reversed the seats. 

Most of us got back on 922.  We repeated the bus maneuver from Louisiana to Erato.  I got panhandled at the latter stop. 

932 arrived at the terminal as we waited to leave. 

Sunday night we went to the Pelican Club on Exchange Place, where we had an excellent three course dinner.  For the appetizer, my wife had calamari with a soba noodle salad. I had crab cakes and shrimp "With a Fried Green Tomato, Pineapple-Jalapeno Chutney and Remoulade Sauce." They may have been the best crab cakes I have ever eaten. For the entrée, my wife had the filet mignon with a crab and shrimp cake. I had seared yellowfin tuna "and Chinois Salad With Soy Wasabi Glaze and Avocado." I'm not a big fish eater, but I enjoyed every bite. For dessert, my wife had vanilla bean and brandy créme brulee and I had a white chocolate bread pudding. The food was all good, as was the service. We would go back.

We went back to the hotel and relaxed the rest of the evening. 

My wife kept remarking that everyone was walking down the street with a drink in a plastic cup.  I was shocked when I saw a young guy with a beer can in a bag.  I guess open beer cans are not allowed in the street. 

My day-by-day posts: