New Orleans Part Two
Waking up in a new city, the best thing you can hope for is to stay in or near a walkable neighborhood. This is especially a great thing when the city is historic and full of architecture and the character than only come with time. New Orleans is one of those wonderful places where every house and building is amazingly beautiful and interesting. Day two brought morning sunshine and a walk through our surrounding neighborhood to a great bagel shop just off Magazine Street called Artz Bagelz. There is something magical about artisan bagels and homemade smears (the lox cream cheese has real smoked salmon! the strawberry spread has real berries!) and the magic of Louisiana’s staple of Community Coffee and a smoothie from Community’s own coffeehouse down the street. Note Bo’s insane smarmy/dork face as he bites into this amazing bagel combo. Being able to walk, not drive, from shop to shop is simply the only way to feel a neighborly sense of community that makes one consider a city great.
The Irish Channel neighborhood follows along Magazine Street into the historic Garden District neighborhood. It is an amazing place, with the most beautiful historic homes. We were on a mission to find one home in particular: the home used in a favorite film for us, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Near the famed historic Commander’s Palace restaurant, this stately home was interesting in both the size of it (it is large but seems even larger in the film) and the fact that this neighborhood is a feast for the eyes. From the infamous Lafayette #1 cemetery to the homes owned by New Orleans celebrity, there was no more relaxing morning than taking in the details and intricacies of every single home.
Heading east, we discovered that the best way to experience the French Quarter is during the day. While the night brings out the wild side of visitors to NOLA and an energy all its own, daytime in the Quarter is all about the locals. We saw street performers and arguments between hustlers, we met shop owners with advice and we discovered art on nearly every corner. And art in all its forms is everywhere in the Quarter. We took in the cathedral at Jackson Square and the artists selling painting, drawings and photographs. We tucked down side streets into cool little shops (that were incredibly dog friendly, but more on that later) and ended up at a diner Heather found called Stanley.
If music is the heart of New Orleans, then food is the city’s soul. Stanley is a great example of a NOLA restaurant hitting on all cylinders. Everything is fresh, the menu is one page front and back, and everything is available all day – from breakfast/brunch to diner blue plate staples. We had incredible po’boys from a roast beef on seeded roll to a huge oyster po’boy that was amazing. Great drinks and good food is one of the New Orleans things that once you experience it, you get it. And if Stanley wasn’t enough, a nearby walk along the canal by Woldenberg Park as the evening arrives brings you to the famous Cafe Du Monde for a pile of heavenly beignets and coffee and hot chocolate. There was a moment as the sounds and the lights and the food aromas combined in a perfect moment and we both knew: we’d arrived in the Big Easy.