The first night took me to the French Quarter to a big restaurant called ACME Oyster house. The wait was long, but jazz music filled the air, making it a pleasant evening. As the name leads on, the oysters were amazing! If you go there be sure to get a dozen of the chargrilled oysters; they are covered in a buttery sauce and melted cheeses! The gumbo and jambalaya were not as exciting; the best way to describe the gumbo is a less thick, stronger tasting clam chowder.
The next day I went for a run Audubon park. This park is a 3 mile loop around beautiful swamp lakes and a golf course right across the way from Tulane. I saw others running, although most were walking a running in the VERY humid air is a very sweaty experience. From there, after a cold shower, I headed in to Surrey's in the lower garden district for breakfast. They have great food and drinks! My lumpy crabmeat, avocado, and Brie filled omelette was incredibly delectable.
The highlight of my trip was a bike tour: Buzz New Orleans from which I learned a lot about the city. First off being that drivers hate bikers here, will not stop, and will honk at you if you cross in front of them or flip you off... despite all that going on, it was a pleasant ride.
New Orleans was French for 40 years, Spanish for 40 years, French again for a year, and then it was finally purchased by the USA in the Louisiana purchase for 12 million (for the whole state!). The people the French and Spanish sent over to Louisiana were the criminals (a lot like Australia's founding), prostitutes, and chronically unemployed who were given the choice between jail or the swamp; being a vagrant at that time was also considered a crime. At the time the U.S. took charge of the land the Europeans were unhappy, refusing to become American, and created the French quarter in essence to be exclusively European.That was New Orleans intriguing start, but since then it has faced many hardships. Cholera and yellow fever killed many, which created its former nickname of death hole of the Dixon. It also burned down several times from fires. It was plagued with unstoppable prostitution due to its founding, which eventually became confined to a neighborhood called story time. However, with the coming of the navy during WWI, prostitution was eradicated.
Jazz originated from the Spanish slaves, who were given every Sunday off. On those days they congregated outside the city, which is the only place where slaves where allowed to meet up. They would practice their African tunes, which down the road incorporated European instruments to form what is modern day jazz.
We also learned about the cemeteries in the city, which are built in the outskirts and above ground. This is to prevent resurfacing of human particles due to flooding. Therefore, the style is above ground ornate crypts with cavos at the bottom. Each crypt has a family in it. The casket is put in and must be allowed a year and 1 days for the body to disintegrate. Than the remains are pushed to the back and down a shoot to join the others in the cavo compartment and the casket pieces are taken out. This was the process if your family had money and if not you ended up in a communal wall with a communal cavo at the bottom.
It was a great 24 hours, but hopefully I can return some day to really get to discover more about the Jazz culture, as well as try even more of the interesting local cuisines. Off to Baton Rouge. Bon Voyage!