July 2nd, 2009


Greetings from New Orleans, Day Two

Wednesday was our 19th wedding anniversary, and we had a delightful day in New Orleans to celebrate. In the morning we went to Jackson Square, where we toured the Cabildo, St. Louis Cathedral, and the Presbytere. The Cabildo is now part of the Louisiana State Museum, and houses exhibits on regional history and music, but it was originally the seat of Spanish government (and later housed the mayor and state supreme court) and the Louisiana Purchase documents were signed here. The cathedral is a Catholic minor basilica and was restored for the American Bicentennial. The Presbytere was built on the site of the residence of the Capuchin monks and currently has an exhibit on Zulu and Carnival, including the most amazing costumes I've ever seen.

We ate lunch in the park in Jackson Square before walking to the aquarium past the horse-drawn carriages, riverboats, National Park Service center, and dozens of French Quarter antique stores and praline shops. I knew nothing about the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas before we got there, quite the opposite of my experience with the Georgia Aquarium, and it turned out to be a nice surprise -- the penguins are very accessible and so are the sharks, rays, and other animals in the big ocean tanks, nothing was crowded (including the stingray touch tank), there were many exhibits on local ecology plus a rainforest with birds and snakes, and in general it's a great place especially with kids.

We walked around a bit in various shops (Voodoo, hot sauce, Mardi Gras souvenirs) but we were very fried from the heat, so we went back to the hotel for some late-afternoon pralines and air conditioning before we headed out again to go to Cajun Cabin, having opted for highly-rated gumbo and jambalaya over live music since the kids wanted to swim. Tomorrow night they're going to hear jazz whether they want to or not. I have bought only the tackiest, most touristy souvenirs for myself and others here and must contemplate proper keepsakes when we get back from Destrehan Plantation in the morning!

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