Friday, September 2, 2011

The Garden District

It had to come sometime, but it just came way too soon, our last day in Louisiana.  I have never been so sad about a trip coming to end, well maybe last fall when I was in New York, but I just really didn't want to leave!  I was having waaaay too much fun in NOLA.  Our final day began with a cable car ride around the beautiful garden district.  Cable cars are all over NOLA and are still used as a major type of transportation around the city.

Bethy and I with Reggie, our amazing bus driver

The garden district is where a couple of universities are located, and the students use all the beautiful,victorian houses in the area as student housing.  If only I had known about this option a few years ago, I would have loved living there during my college years!

The garden district is one of the main areas that the mardi gras parades go through, so all the trees and telephone wires, basically everything are dripping with bead necklaces.  I think it's funny that they just leave them there all year long.

After our cable car ride it was time to visit the National World War II musuem.  This was a very sad experience for me.  I hate war.  I have a very hard time discussing it.  Over the course of the trip we had gotten to know a lot of people on our tour, four of them fought in WWII and one, very eccentric, 88 year old was widowed by it and never remarried.  Ron, one of my favorite people on our tour who is pictured below with Reggie, was a pilot during the war, he was shot down and was taken as a prisoner of war.  He told us stories about how he traded things for food and other experiences he had while imprisoned.  He was a prisoner until the war ended.  Guy, my favorite person on the tour,  I sat next to him and his wife Arlis on the bus, proudly wore his WWII veteran hat every day.  He didn't talk as much about his experience in the war but he did tell me where he was when he recieved the joyous news that the war was over, he was on a boat in a river in Germany.  We watched the orientation film, "Beyond All Boundries" that was produced by Tom Hanks and was in 4D.  It was made the war so real.  I cried the entire time.  I can't imgaine how people lived through that horrible time.  The film includes vintage images that chronicle WWII - from Pearl Harbor to the Battle of the Bulge - and took five years to make. The movie just brought the stories and letters of the soilders to life.  I have read numerous accounts and stories about the war, but they never seemed as real as they did in this movie.  During and after the film I thought of Guy and Ron, and what it would be like to relive that time of their lives, and all the awful memories they must have.  I talked to Guy a little bit about it afterward, I really wanted a picture of him in front of the museum with his favorite hat, he didn't say too much about the film, his only comment, "it was powerful."
We were all given dog tags at the beginning of the day, and Reggie made sure we all wore them while visiting the museum

After the musuem our family went out to lunch at Commanders Palace.  My parents had eaten there on their last visit to New Orleans years ago and it was one of my mom's favorite memories from that trip.  It is a very magical place, I can see why she loved it so much.

In the front entry the walls were covered with twall fabric that was embroidered to accent different elements of the scenes.  Such a fun and uniqe wall treatment.

In the main dinning area the walls were covered with the most gorgeous pale blue wall paper with little song birds scattered around to add some personality.  Such wonderful and whimsical decorations.

The food was amazing, I had to take a picture of everything that I ordered because it was just too good.  For an appitizer I got the 1-1-1 soup sampler.  It had two types of gumbo and turtle soup.  I must say over the course of this trip I have come to love turtle soup, it is delicious, I never thought in a million years that I would say that.  But its true, I love it.
For my main course I got a summer tomato salad.  The tomatoes in Lousisana are very sweet, they use a special fertalizer or growing system to them extra sweet so my salad was so yummy and refreshing.  Then for dessert I got a cookie dough souffle. it was just so different I had to try it.  Of course, it was delicious, very rich and decadent, but delicious.

Then we spent the rest of the day walking around and enjoying the peaceful neighborhoods of the garden district.  The houses here are gorgeous.  It reminded me so much of Savannah and Charleston.  To compare click here and here.

Notice how all the porches have haint blue ceilings ... I learned about that when we visited Beaufort last year.  Click here to see that post and learn why all Southerners paint their porch ceilings the exact same color of blue.
Below is a picture of Anne Rice's house.  She wrote Interview With The Vampire along with many other well known novels, she is kinda werid.  This house fits perfectly along with her stories, we read Interview With The Vampire last October for book club, I can picture a lot of the scenes taking place in this kind of house.  The wrought iron design she chose for the fence around her house looks like little skulls.

These are the garbage trucks for the city, hahaha, isn't that great

Tonight was our farewell dinner at Arnaud's, one of the most famous restuarants in NOLA.  We all met together in the lobby of our hotel then took horse drawn carriages through the city to the restaurant, such a fun way to end the trip.
This is one of the oldest buildings in the French Quarter, it dates back to the 1800s.

(Yes this is a picture off the internet, I forgot to take some when we pulled up in our carriage!)

We began the evening with a farewell cocktail reception.  They had a small band playing soft New Orlean's style jazz, waiters with hors d'oeuvres and an open bar. I enjoyed bottomless diet cokes in fancy little glasses. 

Bethy took some nice pictures of some of our tour members.  I have been on a lot of tours, and met a lot of people through traveling, but I must say this was the best tour I have had the privledge of traveling with.  They were all such nice, sweet people with such fascinating live stories.
Blow are Ron and his lovely wife Rose. Ron is 88, I hope I am still hopping around the country when I am 88.
Rose is a very classy woman, all of her outfits were very pretty and her jewlery was amazing.

Ron loved the jazz, he quietly clapped along to all the songs.
Then it was time for dinner.  We had arranged ourselves into different tables and given our groups different "team names." Since our family is big enough we just had a table to ourselves but our name was The Utah Jazz.  haha we were the only ones from Utah on the tour and our basketball team, the Jazz, was originally the New Orlean's Jazz.  Linda got a kick out of our clever name even though she says her city misses the Jazz.

After dinner we went upstairs to view the exquisite Mardi Gras museum. The Germaine Cazenave Wells Mardi Gras Museum, named for successor and daughter of Count Arnaud, opened in the French Quarter restaurant on September 15, 1983. Wells reportedly reigned as queen of over twenty-two Mardi Gras balls from 1937 to 1968, more than any other women in the history of Carnival.  The museum brings together more than two dozen lavish Mardi Gras costumes, including 13 of Mrs. Wells’ queen costumes, one of her mother’s and one of her daughter’s, as well as four king’s costumes worn by Count Arnaud.

As usual I have some random pictures at the end of this post.  These are the windows by the front desk of our hotel.  They reminded me of the candy windows ZCMI used to do at christmas in downtown Salt Lake, everything is made entirely out of cake or fondant!  I thought they were pretty impressive, especially that dress!


  1. AMAZING PICS! love em. I miss this place. There is no doubt you and I will be back.

  2. You got great pictures of the Garden District! I loved the Carnival Queen costumes...I read a book by New Orleans author, Francis Parkinson Keyes that included Carnival in the days before and just after WWII, so it was amazing to see the actual costumes I had read about.