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Cahn: ‘Nawlins’ a worthwhile trip

Posted: June 18, 2015 4:24 p.m.
Updated: June 19, 2015 1:00 a.m.

My father and I managed to arrive before sundown, the downtown New Orleans skyline spread before us on I-10 as it jogged through the city before heading further west. Our actual destination: a small home in Metarie, La., just outside the Crescent City, where we would stay for the next four nights on my first-ever visit to the Big Easy, a belated 50th birthday present from my Dad.

That evening, we enjoyed dinner at a local restaurant with our hostess and some friends. I fell asleep shortly after arriving back at the house.

Among New Orleans’ many attractions are its cemeteries, so off we went to Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 in the Garden District. One of the first things I noticed was a crypt for someone named “John West.” How ironic. The cemetery is famous for having scenes shot (with additional Hollywood magic) for movies and TV shows such as “An Interview With a Vampire,” “Double Jeopardy” and, of course, “NCIS: Los Angeles.” No sign of any actors, though.

Across the street is one of the Garden District’s more notable restaurants, Commander’s Palace. My father had always wanted to take my late stepmother there, but never got the chance, so we ate in her honor. I enjoyed a fantastic lunch of Louisiana shrimp and grits. See, I’m a Southerner, after all!

From there, we moved on to the French Quarter, making our way to Royal Street and the Historic New Orleans Collection. In its interior courtyard, we thoroughly enjoyed a concert by Aurora Nealand and the Royal Roses, a fantastic mainstream jazz band making a name for itself in New Orleans and beyond.

Yes, we walked along Bourbon Street, too, at night. All I’ll say is that it, truly, is a different world. We enjoyed dinner at a great burger/bar joint called -- wait for it -- Yo Mama’s on St. Peter Street, before going across to Preservation Hall. It’s a much more intimate venue than I ever imagined, allowing the audience to be right in front of the band, which was fantastic, of course.

The next day we spent nearly the entire afternoon at the National World War II Museum, a four-building complex. The museum’s Boeing Pavilion is four-stories tall, with balconies allowing you to look down on the airplanes there, including “My Gal Sal,” a B17-E Flying Fortress. Incredible!

We also met a Pacific WWII veteran, and were glad to find a section of wall set aside in the museum’s Pacific Theater exhibit dedicated to Saipan where we lived for three years.

That night, we returned to the French Quarter -- Frenchmen Street, to be precise -- where we happened upon the 30-90 club (named for New Orleans’ latitude and longitude) and enjoyed the blues-infused rock of The Dana Abbott Band.

The next morning, Sunday, we drove over to Marrero, La., to hop aboard a boat for a swamp tour, getting to see small and large alligators, turtles and at least one heron. The 90-minute tour took us down a canal and bayou, down to a swamp and up against a marsh. I’m not a huge lover of the outdoors, but this was fun! And my Dad and I actually got to hold a young alligator (with its mouth taped shut, I assure you), as did everyone else aboard.

At that point we were pretty hungry. Allow me to highly recommend “Coffee &” -- a coffee and donut shop on Marrero’s Westbank Expressway right next to U.S. 90. They serve breakfast around the clock, including large omelettes for an extremely good price.

After brunch, we headed back to the French Quarter once again to check out Jackson Square. I found an 1800s printing press in the Cabildo, which houses Louisiana artifacts. We also enjoyed some outdoor music, beignets at Café du Monde and sat on the banks of the Mississippi River.

The next morning, we left New Orleans crossing Lake Pontchartrain on the amazing 24-mile long Causeway. We arrived back in Camden at midnight, exhausted but satisfied in having enjoyed a very worthwhile trip to the Big Easy.

Thanks, Dad!

(To see pictures of Cahn’s trip, go to his Facebook album page and click on “New Orleans June 2015.”)


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