Saturday, April 22, 2006

Une promenade par le Vieux Carre

Today we took a walk around the French Quarter (the Vieux Carre - en francais, or simply the Quarter as the locals call it) . There were a lot of people because there is a French Quarter festival going on. Lots of loud music and lots of tourists.

We checked out the Cafe du Monde first. It was packed! We found a seat and ordered beignets. They were OK. Nothing really to write home about. I'll tell you this, it's a sugar buster nightmare. They are basically pastries caked in sugar. It's really a touristy kind of place. I'm glad we went just to say we were there but I don't know that it's worth a 15 block walk. Also, it's another place that only takes cash. What is up with that around here?

After that we just walked around and checked out the sights. There were a lot of shops and people selling stuff on the street. Bands were everywhere so you could just stop and listen if you wanted. Election day is today so we saw a million campaign signs ruining the view. We saw Arnie Fielkow riding down the street in a bus with his supporters on megaphones telling everyone to vote for him. Arnie is a former Saints executive who's running for Councilman at large. This is one of the two councilman whose district includes the whole city. I don't know how many people there are eligible to vote for the guy but at least he's trying. I'll be glad when this thing is over.

We also got a chance to check out the Mississippi river. It was only about a block from the main street we were on. We sat down and watched a few steamboats go by.

Along the way I noticed that every street has three names. There is the Anglicized name, the French name and a Spanish name. For about a 40 year stretch early in New Orleans' history it was controlled by the Spanish. The French got it back during the Napolean times right before he sold it to America with the Louisiana purchase. The French version of the street is basically "Rue _____".
The Spanish version was "Calle d _____" You saw the Spanish name written in markers placed on buildings. They basically said "This road used to be Calle d ____". Also the spanish used "san" instead of "saint" (i.e. san pedro and saint peter). The street signs have the English name in big letters and the French name in smaller letters above it.

We walked down Bourbon street on the way back. It was interesting to say the least. We walked past about a million strip clubs. Hustler has three on one 6 block stretch. I never knew there were specialty strip clubs but apparently there are. We also walked past a million bars including a few gay bars. I patted myself on the back for recognizing them due to their huge rainbow flags hanging near the front door. Along the way we checked out the novelty shirts on the store fronts. They were pretty crude and therefore very funny. Most referenced either Nagin's chocolate city speech or made derogatory remarks about Hurricane Katrina. We laughed all along the way.

Unfortuantely we didn't walk though Jackson Square. We'll have to go look around when there aren't so many people.

Overall the Quarter is very cool. We'll definately be back.

BTW - I hope that title says "A walk through the French Quarter." If not blame I changed the translation a little because that's how I roll.


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