The perimeter of the city is a high ground of earth levee, providing a donut that for the most part survived the flooding. Also, areas along the river were generally not greatly damaged because the downriver flow of the river provided a place for water to flow. On the Lake Ponchartrain side of the city however, the water rose as seawater entered the mostly closed body of water, which is technically a bay not a lake. As levees broke in places, water flowed in and filled the lake side of the city. Damage to the Lakeview district was particularly devastating in this regard. This middle-class neighborhood is much newer than the Lower Ninth in terms of architecture and residency, and at first glimpse many homes appeared potentially repairable. Closer inspection on a walking tour showed broken foundations and other serious damage great enough that most homes would need to be bulldozed rather than repaired. Interestingly, trees often survive the flood. The best way to get to this neighborhood is to take Canal street all the way to Robert E. Lee Blvd, and then turn left. Follow Rober E. Lee until you reach West End, and turn left again. Drive around the neighborhood streets closest to the lake.
At the time of our arrival to the Lower Ninth Ward after Katrina struck, we weren't to concerned about offending the locals in the area because they had left and hardly a soul was around in this vast neighborhood of wreckage. Both renters and home owners had completely abandoned most sections of the Lower Ninth due to the utter catastrophic nature of the flood waters released upon their homes when the industrial canal levee broke. There was virtually nothing to loot even, but we had to be careful about harming ourselves on debris as we walked around. Meanwhile, bulldozers continued to clear the streets of homes washed off their foundations. The easiest way to get into the worst of the destroyed neighborhood from the French Quarter is to head downriver along Rampart until it turns into St Claude. Cross over the bridge and then turn left somewhere. Continue until you cross over Claiborne. The streets from Forestal to the canal are completely gone. No doubt rebuilding will occur sometime in the future because of the close proximity to the French Quarter.
Rent a bike and grab some water and a map to see the city up close. New Orleans is very flat and easy to ride. We rode from the French Quarter to City Park up to the Lake and back again in a few hours. There are a few bike rental places, but our favorite is Michael's Bicycles at 618 Frenchmen St., a short walk from the Quarter. The people who work there are very knowledgable about bikes and it's in a cool neighborhood you may otherwise not see.
Free your mind, the rest will follow.
Keep things simple:
Rule #1: No means No..
Rule #2: You are permitted to watch.
There are more rules, but I just stuck to rule 1 and rule 2 and I was cool with that.
Caution: Very discreet entrance. Trust the street address. Take a cab there and have desk call you one when you depart.
No Alcohol served, but it is BYOB. We brought a bottle of wine.
We went there on a Sunday evening. Since I was a "Lifestyle Virgin", maybe the gods were looking out for me: We had planned to go on Saturday night which in retrospect, might have been sensory overload! But on Saturday morning I woke up w/ an eye infection and by nightfall I was at a local hospital's E.R. instead of Colettes until 1AM!
So Sunday it had to be... and it was "slow"... not a lot of folks. But enough for me to imagine what happened on Saturday night. And there were still some folks there, few that there were... I got to see a little sumthin, sumthin...
822 Gravier Street
New Orleans, LA 70112
I don't know what this building houses, but I've been fascinated with it for the past 20 years. I'm disappointed with myself for not realizing in a sober moment during my last visit, that I should have at least knocked on the door to see what - or who - is inside this place. It will have to remain a mystery until next visit, I guess...
(You'll find this hidden away amongst the buildings along Iberville, near Chartres St)
Since this area of the city was so thoroughly destroyed, residents with some semblance of house left standing should probably bury their heart and opt for a trade-up to a better part of the city. The city services are so remote, that the isolation of living in this part of town would be not good for the soul. Use directions given in part one to find this part of town.
The center of the city is referred to at Gentilly, which is generally bounded by the industrial canal, city park, lakeview neighborhoods, and fairgrounds. Take Elysian Fields out toward Lake Pontchartrain, and various streets and either side are worth exploring for the old houses that suffered from Katrina's wrath. This area of the city is the most diverse in terms of damage, as many houses are destroyed while enough survives that the neighborhood will probably revive itself. But, much traditional New Orleans middle class architecture was lost in the storm.
The boundaries of Marigny and the Lower Ninth Ward were not exactly clear to me, but I noticed that some fine old homes in what appeared to be lower Marigny got lost. This neighorhood has a checkerboard of destroyed and repairable homes. Take Rampart until it turns into St. Claude and turn right into the various side streets.
Although I was already married on my 3rd trip to New Orleans (we went there for our honeymoon) I still required the services of Weddings A GoGo. During the hell of wedding planning my husband and I often talked about how we wished we could just elope to New Orleans... So, when I found that we would be spending our honeymoon there, I decided to surprise him with a very unique, very romantic, Weddings A GoGo wedding.
Mr & Mrs Tony Talavera run this business and they are wonderful. When I first contacted them I spoke at length to Mrs. Talavera to plan a surprise 'vow renewal' on a balcony overlooking Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. She was SO helpful, and her input added romantic touches that made the night the most memorable one of the honeymoon.
Reverend Anthony Talavera preforms the ceremony. Although he was not preforming a legal wedding for us he took the reciting of vows seriously and preformed the ceremony with a well spoken professionalism all his own.
The best part of all was that it was a surprise to my husband! With the help of Mrs. Talavera, a plan was devised to lure my him to the spot and surprise him with this romantic gesture! Once the cat was out of the bag, the Reverand began the ceremony on the Balcony with all of the Bourbon Street revelers cheering us on! It was INCREDIBLE! Instead of rings, we exchanged Mardi Gras masks, and in addition to traditional vows, my husband and I gave an inpromptu speech from the heart. When the Reverend pronouced us man and wife again, we kissed, and a cheer rose up from Bourbon Street. You don't get that everyday!
The ceremony was followed by throwing beads to the crowd, sharing a bottle of champage, and listening to the hired violinist play.
As per Mrs. Talavera's suggestion, I ended the evening with a Carraige ride through the quarter.
If you are looking for a unique detination wedding spot or renew your vows Weddings A GoGo in New Orleans is the best.
Thank you Mr & Mrs Talavera for an awesome experience!!
It was a rainy weekend with brief spurts of sunshine when we came to the city. People walked the streets with umbrellas in hand, as others hurriedly threw on plastic poncho's and continued with their sightseeing or shopping.
When the drizzle would turn to more of a downpour, we'd dash into a shop or stop to pause in a restaurant for a soda or glass of wine. As the wet streets reflected the lights onto the pavement, it created a striking photo. This is one of my favorites!
Rain or shine, New Orleans seems quite different from most U.S. cities.
While not entirely off the beaten path, Magazine Street if missed my many. Once a quaint little neighborhood it's become quite an alternative shopping area with lots of cool cafes and pubs. The street itself may garner fair attention but the side streets are still empty residential areas with great big old mansions.
Traveling the side streets of the city, you'll see a variety of hues on many of the homes and buildings.
In the French Quarter you may see bright lemon yellow paired with pale green shutters; seashell pink with neat white shutters or a creamy white with royal blue shutters all adding so much character to the block on which they sit (pics # 1-3)
These colorful homes and buildings are so much a part of this historic city, that without them it would just not be NEW ORLEANS!
The fanciful balconies or galleries fronting New Orleans buildings are made from cast iron and not wrought iron as some suppose.
Thanks to Mark (ATXTraveler), I learned there was a difference between balconies and galleries. Balconies are supported from the building itself, while galleries are supported by poles affixed to the ground.
As you navigate the streets of New Orleans, you'll soon discover the charm these architectural elements add to a building. Whether festooned with hanging ferns and plants or accented with pots of colorful flowers, balconies and galleries definitely add a distinctive touch to the New Orleans cityscape.
There are three cornstalk fences left in New Orleans, two of which I got to see. The most famous one can be seen at the Cornstalk Hotel, located at 915 Royal Street in the French Quarter. This cast iron gate was installed in 1856 and it's especially popular because of how all the details are highlighted in colours. The story goes that the fence was added for a young bride who had been forced to leave her native Iowa and move with her husband to Louisiana. The groom hoped that seeing the cornstalks would remind her of the cornfields from back home and make her feel less lonely :o)
Hammond is just about an hours drive North of New Orleans - the Louisiana Renaissance Festival will take you even further away! You don't HAVE to wear a costume, but it sure makes it more fun! Cast members, vendors, and other festival goers will approach you and converse in "Ye Olde English" - go ahead and give it a try, it's fun! Definitely get a giant roasted turkey leg, and give the cider a try. I love the joust, even if it is heavily choreographed. Nothing like cheering a brave knight (and jeering the bad knight) to work up an appetite! The Birds of Prey demonstration is always fascinating. The juggler was fantastic - juggling fire while balancing on a rubber ball! This is a great way to spend a Fall day. Check out the website for the dates of the next festival.
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