The concierge of the New Orleans Intercontinental recommended breakfast at Daisy Dukes on our second day. It’s your typical run-of-the-mill sports bar and the food was pretty decent (we all had omelets). However, it wasn’t very New Orleans and next time I would skip it for delicious coffee & beignet instead.
We had wanted to either see the Audubon Aquarium of the Aquarium of the Americas or the Audubon Zoo. Even though the aquarium has a great reputation and I loooove aquariums in general, we finally decided on the zoo because I was really interested in the local swamp exhibit. So, after breakfast, that’s where we headed. We saw many alligators, even a few white ones, and I got to pet a baby alligator 🙂 Totally cute! Of all the other animals, the fighting giraffes stood out the most. I had never seen them hitting each other with their heads before. Wild fight, I tell you 🙂 First, there is a lot of booty pushing (at which point I thought they were making out), and then there is a lot of head hitting (at which point I thought they were actually hurting each other).
Most hotels are closed to the French Quarter and the zoo is quite a bit further west. We took a streetcar to get there, but then realized that (a) the line I thought was a streetcar on the map was actually a bus, and (b) no streetcar gets you to the zoo directly. However, you could take the St. Charles streetcar, get off at Audubon Park and you are pretty close. That’s what I would do next time now that I know better. The ride in the streetcar in fun and you see a lot of cool houses in the Garden District. This time around we ended up taking a cab after we got off the wrong streetcar. The fare was about $20… Not too bad, but the streetcar is much more fun and only $1.60. Here is a map of the streetcar routes. We got on the Riverfront one (totally wrong) and should have just gotten on the St. Charles (green on the map) which was closer to our hotel to start out with.
We spent quite a few hours at the zoo and made it back to downtown only barely in time for a river boat tour we had booked. We went with the Natchez because it is the only riverboat that actually still has a steam engine. They offer lunch or dinner on the boat, but we were still full from breakfast and it also would have been pretty expensive. The tour is really all you need. You go by some factories, see how boats are loaded and unloaded, and you pass by the lower 9th ward and see some of the damage that Katrina caused close to the river. It was also neat to see the paddle wheel on the boat and tour the engine room. But since New Orleans’ most beautiful attractions are not directly at the river, this is much less fun than, say, a boat tour on the Seine in Paris. However, it did give us an opportunity to rest our legs after walking through the zoo for hours 🙂
After the boat docked again close to Jackson Square, we wandered over to the French Market and grabbed a po’ boy at the Market Cafe on Decatour Street on the way. We decided to eat inside even though they have a nice open-air patio with a Jazz band. The band was a little too loud to sit close to it 🙂 The sandwich was really good though and since we shared one, we had space in our tummies for desert from Southern Candymakers next door: delicious peanut butter cups, and white/milk chocolate/dark chocolate pralines with pecans/peanuts/coconut/etc. So good! From there we strolled over to the French Market which was thoroughly disappointing. I had wanted to buy some souvenirs and spices, but everything was either overpriced or looked cheap. I think the only thing I would maybe buy there are T-Shirts. They had many! Oh well, I think you don’t miss anything if you skip the French Market. It seemed extremely commercial and didn’t have any charm to it – at least in my eyes. From there we walked back to our hotel. And after all that walking, eating, and sightseeing, we called it an early night.
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