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Old 02-23-2011, 02:10 AM   #1
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New Orleans--A Hometown Trip Report Updated 7/29

Hi everyone!

I've been a little burnt out at work and a little grumpy all the way around. I decided I needed a vacation, but because we are at the busiest season of the year at work, I can't just flit off to WDW for the week or the weekend. So I decided to take a vacation at home. I'm going to visit a ton of area attractions and eat in some of our most famous restaurants for the next few weeks. I started on Saturday and I'm already feeling much better and like I've actually accomplished something each day. I also feel like this will provide some travel assistance to anyone who is visiting New Orleans, either for Mardi Gras or just general travel.

First let me fill you in a little bit on who I am and what I do. I'm Heather, I'm a Disney nerd and a New Orleans bartender. I have the wonderful job of working at a downtown New Orleans hotel. That means I'm much more than a bartender these days. I make dinner reservations, book tours, give attraction advice, and spend much of my time talking about the history of the city and the troubles we've been through lately. I used to be a high school history/economics teacher. The economics won out--I make a much better living as a bartender. I know that sounds hard to believe, but I work for Marriott Int and we are one of the few large companies that made this year's best 100 companies to work for. We've got great benefits and no one in town pays better for any job in the hotel industry!

I started my in town vacation on Saturday, without really thinking about writing a trip report. That idea occurred to me this morning as I headed out for my activity of the day. Plus, if I had bothered with the camera, some of Saturday's pictures would not have been family friendly.

I asked for Saturday evening off and ended up with the whole day off, I usually work 2 shifts on Saturdays. I went to the French Market to do a little supply shopping, and to pick up some gifts for friends I'll be seeing soon. I found a great headband in Mardi Gras colors. It has a green rose, some purple ribbon and a yellow flower. It became my "costume" for the evening.

A little history on the French Market: it is the USA's oldest open air market and was recently completely renovated by the Department of the Interior as it is a historic site. Today there are two areas. The first is made up of a farmers market with fresh produce and some counter restaurants. It's a great place to grab a bite or an adult beverage as you make your way through the Market. The second area is set up like a flea market, but almost none of the stalls are selling used merchandise. The vendors, instead, are hawking jewelry, handbags, New Orleans touristy stuff like T shirts and beads, artwork, luggage, candles, sunglasses and everything else under the sun.

On this trip to the Market, which is only about 6 blocks from my house, I picked up some jewelry for friends, its flower themed. I bought the headband, and I grabbed another pair of inexpensive sunglasses!

I went home to shower and get ready for the evening's festivities! On the Saturday before the Mardi Gras parades start in earnest the Krewe de Vieux makes its way through the Marigny and French Quarter neighborhoods. The French Quarter streets are so narrow that the big parades would never fit--so there is only one. Krewe de Vieux is completely irreverent and somewhat obscene. They take the city's biggest issues and parody them with walking Krewe members and donkey pulled floats (no riders on the floats).

My hairstylist's shop is on the route and she threw a party--so I met two of my girlfriends and we had cocktails and away we went! It was great fun and the parade rolled at 6:30pm so I was still able to make it home in time to get to bed for my day shift on Sunday! Many of this year's floats were about the BP oil spill, the police officers who have just been convicted of murder following Katrina, and the outrageous fees that the Water Board has started charging. I'm going to keep this family friendly and not tell you specifically about the floats. It is quite the sight! I highly recommend this event for grown-ups! Leave the kids at home! It's also a great way to see what Mardi Gras is really all about--plus it's much cheaper to visit the week before the big festivities start! (Although this year it coincided with the Bass Master Classic and a dermatology convention!)

I went home and got to bed at a reasonable hour. Sunday I went to work and then came home to participate in the Passporter Sunday night chat. I didn't do anything New Orleans specific, except maybe have a little too much to drink. (This is a TR about New Orleans right?)

Monday morning I got up bright and early. Why? Breakfast! I walked around the corner to a soul food restaurant, that I recently discovered is open for breakfast AND lunch. I had thought they only served lunch. If you've seen the HBO series Treme, then you've seen Lil Dizzy's. It's the restaurant that the lawyer meets her cop friends in on two occasions. BTW if you've seen episode 2 of Treme, you've also seen my house--as I live in the Treme! If you haven't seen the show I highly recommend that you do!

I ordered coffee quickly! I needed it! Then I sat back and perused the menu. I decided on a hot sausage omelet with the works: onions, mushrooms, and cheese as well as hash browns and a biscuit. Okay, I'll be honest, the biscuit needs work. However, I could eat plates and plates of the hash browns and the omelet was out of this world good. Hot sausage is a New Orleans thing. It comes in patties instead of links and we use it in all kinds of things--most prevalent is the hot sausage po-boy, more about po-boys in a later installment.

Then . . . I went to work . . . work with the corporate restaurant guys in house for an audit--so not fun.

Up next: Tuesday and a visit to the Audubon Zoo! With Photos (I took more than 150, but only have about 87 worth sharing)!

If anyone wants to join me in a vacation in their home town for the next few weeks--that would be really cool! Go out! See the sights in your area! Do the things that only the tourists do! Take pictures and report back here! We'll help the Passporter Boards build a more comprehensive, global touring site!
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Old 02-23-2011, 05:00 AM   #2
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Fabulous Heather!!! It sounds like a lot of fun.
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Old 02-23-2011, 08:45 AM   #3
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Great start!
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Old 02-23-2011, 09:38 AM   #4
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What a great idea Heather! I love Treme & can't wait for it to start up again!

Great start & I am looking forward to hearing more about New Orleans!
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Old 02-23-2011, 10:40 AM   #5
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Great idea, Heather! I've thought about doing something similar for Boston in the past. It would be fun to see the sights in other people's neighborhoods, whether they live in tourist-draw areas or not. For Boston, I'll have to wait until the snow mounds disappear! Looking forward to the rest of the report!
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Old 02-23-2011, 11:02 AM   #6
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Sounds like a great idea Heather!! I know I will enjoy reading about your NOLA adventures, and even though I have visited the city numerous times, seeing it through a local's eyes will definitely give me a much different perspective.
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Old 02-23-2011, 11:30 AM   #7
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Can't wait to read everything! I was hoping to be there this past weekend (I had PM'd you aobut hotels), but that rip was cancelled when my mother was diagnosed w/ cancer. So I will look forward to living vicariously (sp?) thorugh your report.
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Old 02-23-2011, 12:22 PM   #8
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Great start - and a wonderful idea! I often post reports about our trips into London or local visitor attractions, as I think it's fun to share reports from near where we live.
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Old 02-23-2011, 12:49 PM   #9
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Sounds like you are having fun. I know the next 2 weeks will be rough, but you can make it. We really are not going to many parades, I will enjoy following you on your trip.

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Old 02-23-2011, 01:02 PM   #10
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What a great idea Heather - I am really enjoying your TR from "home". I just told Jasmine and she is going to start reading it as New Orleans is one of the top choices on her "places to visit" list. Can't wait to hear more...
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Old 02-23-2011, 07:22 PM   #11
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Like your local trip report - great idea! especially since your timing is so great - it's will be cool to hear about Mardi Gras!
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Old 02-23-2011, 08:17 PM   #12
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How cool Heather! I'll enjoy learning about New Orleans and all it has to offer.
I'm planning on attending the Mardi Gras parade here in STL so maybe I'll report on it for a comparison.
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Old 02-23-2011, 08:52 PM   #13
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Great start and great fun, Heather!
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Old 02-24-2011, 12:17 AM   #14
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I am wearing my Year of a Million Dreams Ears while I'm typing. I'm hoping for a little bit of magic to make my day better.

I ate too much at dinner tonight. You'll get to hear all about it tomorrow! Now on to the zoo!

I drove uptown, about a 20 minute drive using our awful New Orleans surface streets. Seriously time to pave! Everywhere!

I arrived at the zoo just before 1pm, which was perfect. The zoo closes at 4 and I had to be at work at 5pm. I bought my ticket, which I upgraded to a membership after I spent the afternoon wandering around.

First the entry way:


And the little cafe next to the entry:


I didn't eat here, but at another quick service restaurant a little bit further into the park. I will be bringing my own lunch from now on. The food was terrible, and not cheap either. I wish I had waited until I got to the food area in the Louisiana Swamp section of the park--it was less expensive and the menu looked better.

The very first animals I saw:

Interesting to note that I did not have a special setting on the camera at this time. The flamingos are actually neon pink. I discovered that they add pigment to the food in order for them to be this color. Not sure how I feel about that!



As you walk past the flamingos you are greeted by a lovely fountain, which if it had been just a little bit warmer, I would have wanted to splash around in, as it looks kind of like a big wading pool.


I just love the elephant!

I ate lunch and then headed over to the primate section because the gorillas were due to be fed at 1:30.




A Golden Tamarind


Colobus!


Siamang

The Gorillas were all hanging out waiting:



They were quite adept at catching the various veggies that were thrown to them





I spent a good bit of time watching this Sumatran Orangutan fooling around











Then I moved on to the Asian section of the zoo. They are building the Elephants a brand new enclosure right now. I think they look a little cramped in their current space.



Hornbill

The lioness looks lonely to me!



The bengal tigers are beautiful, but lazy. When I walked back through later, they were spooning!



Its not the Animal Kingdom, but there are some nice touches throughout the zoo to indicated the area of the world you are visiting:





Then I got lost. I wanted to head to the swamp exhibit next, but got a little turned around and ended up by the birds--not a fan and then the Jaguar Jungle area.






Strange little water feature--I suppose a mister is nice in the summer here!

And Jaguars!




Very active--must have been almost feeding time--they were pacing the entire enclosure!


Spider monkeys

I love the toucan!


Finally my friend the anteater, who seemed to respond to the same noises I make at my cats when I want them to come closer.


I thought this sign about the bamboo was interesting:


Then there were more birds--I though it was interesting that they did not seem to be enclosed in any way at all--I wonder how they keep them from flying away? Please don't tell me their wings are clipped:



Continued next post:
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Old 02-24-2011, 12:34 AM   #15
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FINALLY I made it to the Louisiana Swamp area. The zoo has really done a bang up job with this area. It's totally worth the $15 admission just to see this!





(too little too late)






A black bear and his bathtub






Can you find the raccoon in this photo?


Cougar?


Yes they are real . . .


And on the menu



Inside to see some of our smaller creatures:






Swamp Monster is all decked out for the holiday!




These guys showed absolutely no sign of movement.


Aren't the bobcats cute? Don't you want to take one home . . . nope--they smell terrible!


More scenery


Foxes: red and gray!


Can you find the fox in this photo?

Then I got what I think are some spectacular shots of the rest of the walk through:












Then my camera battery started to die . . . I did get three more before it quit altogether!

Giraffes! Really Really close to me!





Finally, Monkey Hill:


Monkey Hill is a children's play area, where they are welcome to play in the water, climb on the rocks and sit on the statues.

It was built in 1933 with a Works Progress Administration grant.

It is 27 feet tall and the peak sits at 5 feet above sea level.

It is the HIGHEST POINT in the city of New Orleans. (And I climbed it!)

And now you should too!

I hope you enjoyed my visit to the zoo, because pretty soon I'll be taking you to the aquarium, why? Because the aquarium is free because I joined the Audobon Institute--you get to visit the Insecterium for a discounted rate as well--plus discount tickets at the IMAX. I also have plans to go to the WWII museum with you. I would take you to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, but they don't allow photography. First we're going to have dinner at The Bon Ton Cafe, and then on Friday, because I don't have to work--we're going to see the first Mardi Gras Parade roll down St Charles Avenue. I certainly hope I don't have to work next Thursday because if I don't I've got a ticket to the after parade party for Muses, one of two all female Mardi Gras Krewes. It should be a pretty fun couple of weeks! And you get to tag along!
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My Previous TripsWDW 1985 off property, WDW 1987 Contemporary, WDW 1989 Poly, WDW Sept. 2006 Pop, WDW Sept. 2007 CBR WDW Aug 2008 ASMu Dec 2008 SSR, May 2009 SSR, June 2009 SSR/VWL, Oct 2009 AKVC, Dec 2009 AKV, June 2010 SSR, Oct 2010 BWV, Nov 2010 CR, Dec 2010 ASp, April 2011 AKVC, June 2011 SSR/ASM, July 2011, ASp, Oct 2011 AKVC, Dec 2011 VGC
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