Thursday, December 5, 2013

NOLA Day Two

I have mixed feelings about guesthouses (or bed and breakfasts).  On one hand, they can be great bargains and provide a much more “homey” feel than corporate hotels.  On the other hand, they can be a bit intrusive.  Do I really want to share breakfast with strangers in the morning? Do I have to shower first before coming down to eat?  I am not a morning person to begin with.  I had chosen this particular guesthouse because of its location and because of its positive reviews, especially of the breakfasts.  Well, some humongous convention had also driven up hotel prices to ridiculous levels, and that made my choice even easier.

As I woke to the breakfast this morning, I knew that I had made a good choice.  The owner not only maintained a great house, but he was also an inventive cook making historically accurate (and very delicious) breakfasts, a different one for each morning. 

My morning was free, so I took a bicycle and decided to ride over to the Garden District.  The bike ride also gave me a good chance to explore the city along the way.  I biked next to the waterway.

I could not make sense of either the strange fog (huh?) or the curious things along the road, but it was still a pleasant ride.

As I biked further west, I took note of the interesting statues and holiday decorations.

Soon I reached the Garden District, which is the neighborhood of historic Southern mansions.  By this time, it had started to sprinkle, so I didn’t take a lot of photographs.  Moreover, the views of many of the houses were somewhat obscured by fences and shrubs.  I didn’t want to walk to get a closer look, especially in the light rain, so I just biked around and got a feel of the neighborhood.

Historic cemeteries are also a notable part of NOLA.  Lafayette Cemetery beckoned me, especially now that the skies were dark and foreboding.  It somehow seemed mood-appropriate.  I was also getting a bit wet, and thought that the trees within the cemetery would provide some shelter until the raindrops passed.  Some of the graves dated back centuries.  I don’t know which ones were famous people and which ones were just rich commoners, but I still found it interesting.

For lunch, I thought about eating at the nearby Commander’s Palace restaurant, the oldest and most famous of all of the city’s eateries.  Many of the area’s best chefs got their start, including Emerile, also got their start there.  Commander's was unfortunately fully booked.

Instead, I decided to stop at Cochon Butcher Swine Bar, a notable sandwich shop, on the way back to the guesthouse.  How could I pass up a place called a "swine bar"?  The shop served a lively lunch time crowd who shared the few tables in the tiny interior.  I went with what the cashier recommended.  The pork sandwich was very tasty, and the mac and cheese was decadent, in a very good way.  I would go back.

The only downside was that when I left the shop, I noticed that my bike had a flat tire.  Argh.  Fortunately, this was a much more manageable situation than when my bicycle ran into troubles in Myanmar.  I temporarily filled the tire at an air pump in a gas station, and made it back to the guesthouse to get ready for my afternoon meetings.

For dinner, I decided to check out Boucherie, which is well known for its contemporary southern cuisine.  The restaurant boasts many favorable reviews, including a write up in the New York Times last year.  This was also a chance for me to try out the famous New Orleans cable cars, as the restaurant was outside the center district.  The food was quite good, as was the ambiance.  I would recommend this place.

I took a cable car back to the French Quarter.  Perhaps due to a noticeably colder evening, the crowds were a bit thinner than previously.  I stopped into a couple places, but wasn’t really feeling it, so I headed back to Frenchman’s Street.  I stumbled into Bamoulas, where the fine live music was a nice way to end the evening.

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