A Day in New Orleans

Open your eyes.  The ceiling is purple.  Open the window.  It goes into the ceiling.  Step out on the balcony.  Inhale.  This morning smells like fresh adventures about to happen.  Welcome to La Belle Esplanade.  This is New Orleans.  

Walk out the front door.  The sign on the tree tells the directions.  The French Quarter is in one direction.  City Park is in the other direction.  You head toward City Park.  Walk.  Stroll.  Take your time.  You have all day.  Grow where you are planted.

Esplanade Avenue is a beautiful Street.  Walk past the Degas House, past the old musician’s union hall, past the recording studio in the old church, past Tastee Donuts.

Stop where Bell Street finally branches off Esplanade Avenue, across from the elementary school, across from the house where all the tour buses stop.  It is CC’s Coffee Shop.  Have a cup of coffee and sit inside this triangular building during the winter, or, sit under the live oaks outside and watch the New Orleans go by.  We live on a beautiful street.

Did you see the night herons in the the live oaks in the 2300 block?  They roost there every year.

The Vespa Club is at CC’s today.  They are all parked in the gravel around the tables, a pastel-colored tulip garden.  Hello, neighbor.  It is nice to live in this part of New Orleans.  It is nice to see you today.

Look across the street.  This is New Orleans.

The sun is out.  The sky is blue.  C’mon.  Let’s get something to eat.

Look at that house.  Look at that gate.  Imagine what it would be like to live here year round.  We should have lunch at Liuzza’s-by-the-Track.  They don’t open until 11:00.  Let’s go to Le Ponce.  It’s a French deli.  What’s not to like?

We sit on the balcony upstairs overlooking the intersection where Ponce de Leon Street ends at the intesection of Esplanade Avenue and Mystery Street.  There is no place like New Orleans.  How is your croque madame, monsieur?  

Gentlemen are playing chess in Alcee Fortier Park.  There are parakeets in the palm trees in front of Santa Fe, one block lakeside.   I could sit here all day but we should get moving.  Let’s walk to City Park.

Shall we pop into the cemetery to pay our respects?

The bridge goes over Bayou St. John.  Are there any alligators this far down the bayou today?  Take a look.  Feel the breeze.  City Park beckons.  It is right there through the open gate. 

There is a big lake on the right.  It is called Big Lake.  

The Singing Oak is hung with chimes.

We don’t have to go inside the New Orleans Museum of Art.  There is a free sculpture garden on either side, connected by Bayou Metarie.  It’s beautiful.

Behind the Scuplture Garden is the Botanical Garden.  It costs $6.00 to get in but that ticket also gives you admission to Storyland, which is an amusement park for babies.  It is delightful.  Sweet dreams come to fruit in Storyland.  The laughter of children is balm for the soul.

You can also play miniature golf (putt-putt) while learning about New Orleans history and culture at City Park.  

Nosh on beignets under 500-year-old live oaks in City Park.  Cross the bridges.  Dance on the Popp Bandstand like nobody is watching whether music is playing or not.  Would like to get married under the peristyle where the lions are watching over the lagoon?  

Every day is a beautiful day in New Orleans.  I would not want to be anywhere else.  Who would?  Enjoy the moment as a pelican swoops into the water and swoops out again with a beak full of menhaden.  Hooray.

The red streetcar stops every half hour in front of City Park.  Let’s go!  Clang, clang, clang goes the streetcar.  Ring-a-ding-ding.  

Do you want to stop for a gelato at Angelo Brocato, an ice cream parlor that has been open since 1905?  They have mastered the recipe.  I like the spumoni.  My wife likes the zuppa inglese.

Do you want to stop for a soft shell crab po’ boy?  We can go to Mandina’s.  Hop off at the South Cortez Street stop.  Like a regular, today is the day.

Every day is a nice day to ride the streetcar.  Inhabit New Orleans like you live here.  This is what we do.  We are all in this bowl together.  Let’s make the most of it.

Get off the streetcar at Bourbon Street.  Walk a block or two on Bourbon Street until you get bored with the carnival atmosphere and then walk over to Frenchmen Street.

It has been a long day.  It is time to head back to La Belle.  We keep the lobby lit for you.