28 May 2009

NOLA ii | The French Quarter

We spent the morning of Mike & Tab's wedding walking through the French Quarter. The woman at the front desk gave us a lot of options for a small amount of time and we took advantage of them. First on our agenda: a walk Jackson Square. I enjoy places where the streets are the sights. The streets in the French Quarter are narrow. Cars seem out of place and I think people who dare to drive there know it. The area is defined by the buildings, their balconies, and the flowers thereupon. It's easy to imagine the French Quarter as its own small town. And we didn't have time to see anything else, so for us, it was.

Jackson Square pops up right in the middle of that cozy town. It was renamed for Andrew Jackson sometime after the Battle of New Orleans in 1814. There's a garden surrounded by an iron fence. It has a lot of open space (typical of squares you could say) and benches set in ideal locations for people watching. It's all very southern, with trees and other shade providers along the edges. There's also the Saint Louis Cathedral, the oldest Catholic cathedral in continual use in the United States. It's domineering, and clearly says "the Church is here. The Church is watching." It was less than comforting, considering the debauchery planned.

The Cabildo, where the Spanish leaders met when they ran Louisiana.

Around the corner, past the Tabasco store, and to the river we went. Honestly, it didn't look that mighty but I was not fooled. We sat there and I think I tried to absorb it all: where we were, the history my spot had seen, and the fact that we were almost on a real vacation. Still, I kept thinking "a few years ago, this was all underwater."

When Bourbon Street was Spanish, it was "Calle Bourbon."
There are signs like this on a lot of the streets in the French Quarter.

We walked along Decatur and to the French Market. There were lots of shops selling lots of different types of hot sauce and other condiments. Condiments are apparently a big deal there. We walked through the market and compared fruit prices. We found the Margaritaville and shook our heads. We walked through some residential streets and then turned to walk along Bourbon Street. It was my first sign I would not like what was to come. There was neon. There were bars. The pace was faster. But the buildings looked the same. It was too gimmicky for me and I dreaded thinking about what it was like at night.

And then we were back at the hotel, and it was just about time to watch Tab & Mike get married.

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