After Palacios, we headed to New Orleans and stayed for 3 nights in Slidell at the New Orleans East Campground. We didn't realize it, but we discovered that the NO French Quarter Festival was going on, beginning the Thursday we arrived (we arrived Wed night)...what a stroke of luck! So Thursday we headed down to the French Quarter...first stop was the Cafe du Monde for a taste of their famous beignets and chicory coffee...yumm! I loved it so much that we went back the next day! I digress...after our beignets we decided to spend the day walking around the festival, which consisted of various artists with their art lined all along the streets and all kinds of musicians, both singular and bands, performing at stages set up all over the French Quarter. So we listened to amazing jazz all day...for free! The streets were packed with people...what a great way to spend the day! We managed to visit Bourbon Street and people-watch too.
One of our stops included a visit to the St. Louis Cathedral...it's origin dates back to 1727. Here's a link for more info on the cathedral: http://www.stlouiscathedral.org/early_history.html. I can't do it justice by giving a history lesson. It's a gorgeous cathedral, which sustained some damage during Hurricane Katrina. The guide in the cathedral told us that the organ, which was originally purchased for 1.5 mil, took 3 years and $750,000 to repair after the hurricane.
For lunch/dinner we found Dragos at the Hilton and Ed had the best charbroiled oysters he's ever tasted while I had a fabulous shrimp pasta dish. After our late lunch, we finished our day by strolling on the riverwalk, which was also alive with bands and food and art!
Our second day was spent mostly taking a buggy ride through the French Quarter as well as the St. Louis Cemetary #1. Our guide told us that because NO is built on swamp land, the people discovered that bodies that were buried underground eventually came to the surface. So they decided to bore holes in the coffins to keep them from floating up...but discovered that the odors from the decomposed bodies rose to the surface. Their solution was to bury the bodies in vaults above the ground. Most families were buried in one vault, because the vaults could fit 100s or 1000s of decomposed bodies.
After the buggie ride, we stopped at Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon Street, which was converted to a pub several decades ago, and is a favorite of the locals. From there we had dinner at Sammy's, another restaurant on Bourbon Street...it was delicious!
We had been very excited about visiting New Orleans and it surpassed our expectations! We will definitely make this a stop on our future treks to Texas.