Sunday, April 11, 2010

Our NOLA Trip - 28th Wedding Anniversary Part IV

Unfortunately, due to being able to post only 5 pictures per post here, I’ve had to divide up the report. And since blogs are arranged how they are, you have to go backwards. So start on “Our NOLA Trip – Part I” and go from there through “Our NOLA Trip – Part X”

Sunday, March 21 - "The Day of the Dead"

I started jokingly calling this day on the itinerary "The Day of the Dead" because the plan was to visit (among other things) 3 cemeteries today. We got to 2 of them. It was a bitterly cold day - the newspaper said a high of 55, but with the wind it felt much colder. It was 76 in Richmond today! We had breakfast at Stanley, just down from our hotel on Jackson Square. Jackson Square is a public park surrounded by broad sidewalks that are populated by local artists, tarot readers, and yet more of the buskers from the Quarter. You could see them settling in to their day, pulling out lawn chairs, setting up signage, and chatting about real life while they cast their nets for tourist dollars. One fortune teller, dressed in black jeans and a black t shirt 3 sizes too small, carried on casual conversations with her friends while a large white rat nuzzled in her arms like a sleeping toddler (Mr. Kim was very squicked out by this - I was not, being a rodent person).

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of this fine gentleman in his kilt:

All this could be seen from the restaurant, which allowed life to pass by and proceed while the diners settled into a nice day at a different pace. It seems that some form of Eggs Benedict is the NOLA breakfast, which is fine by me. I had Eggs Stella (lots of Stella references in this town) - which was just regular Eggs Benedict with Creole hollandaise and a big, fat gorgeous soft shell crab on the side. Again, superlative crab. The breading was a mite heavy for me - almost tempura-style. I prefer just a dusting of cornmeal or flour and pan sautéed softshells and I think this must have been deep fried. But the crab was crazy good. Mr. Kim had the corned beef hash with poached eggs and toasted French bread. Very good corned beef. The poached eggs were perfectly cooked - fully cooked whites and gently flowing yolks.

Mr. Kim: Our waiter, like everyone else we talked with, was natural and friendly. After the initial where are you from/what have you seen ice breaker, his eyes lit up as we talked through our dining plans. He proclaimed that our choices of Willie Mae’s and Parkway and Luke and Gallatoire and Cochon were excellent, rolling his eyes in apparent envy and indicating we had done our homework and he couldn’t recommend better. He rolled of this dish or that dish that we should try at various spots and made a few additional suggestions including Frenchmen’s Street that we hadn’t mentioned. He approved of our plans for the streetcar to the cemeteries, indicating it was like a free tour of the city. He studiously left his opinions about touristing the graveyards to himself. Frequently waiters overstay their welcome or interject themselves a bit too deeply into patrons’ lives. While this conversation may have actually qualified, it left us feeling more excited about our day rather than violated in some minor way.

After breakfast, we walked out to Canal Street and caught the streetcar up to the Greenwood and Cypress Grove cemeteries. Touring cemeteries sounds odd, but they are very popular in New Orleans. Because of the water levels in the city, they are all above ground and the vaults are built in various and beautiful styles. Some are very elaborate and built of brick or stone or even iron. Many of them are built like little houses and so the cemeteries are called "Cities of the Dead":

It sounds kind of creepy, but they really aren't like that at all. They are wonderful and lovingly kept. We saw flowers on vaults where the last time people were interred was in the 1940's. On one grave, we saw a scattering of plastic Easter eggs as a family shared what must have been a special time of year with their dearly loved mother. A couple of the other cemeteries are right in town, a part of the neighborhoods. I found it quite nice, actually. We took lots of pictures, though not as many as I would have liked because I'd forgotten to charge my camera battery and was afraid I'd run out of juice. These were just amazing and sad and awe inspiring. I decided I'd like to be buried in a place like that:

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