Elysian Fields was to be home for the next couple of days – an Airbnb that charmed us from the moment we opened the front door. Two old shot-gun houses knocked into one, with the central fireplace cleverly opened on both sides. It wasn’t quite at the posh end of the road and the small bodega a block further up was not a place in which one could find a bottle of wine, or anything that wasn’t processed to an inch of its life. It gave a whole new meaning to the term ‘food desert’ – that phrase used in the US to describe an area devoid of healthy options. Laurie and I were scrutinised as we, in turn, searched the shelves for something, anything, to purchase. In the end we left empty-handed and, with an apologetic nod, scurried home.
Driving is hungry work so over cups of tea we decided on our dinner destination. In answer to Emy’s cravings, it had to be French. Herbsaint fitted each and every requirement – casual elegance, delicious food and a crisp wine for those drinkers amongst the trio, and it had the benefit terrace dining which added to our enjoyment. With apologies to Irving Berlin and Putting on the Ritz, who doesn’t like seeing ‘the well-to-do? Up and down St Charles Avenue, on that famous thoroughfare’. We left feeling the restaurant deserved its regular place in the Times-Picayune’s list of top ten in the city.
Morning came and once again our thoughts turned to our stomachs. Our host, Andrew, in the copious notes left for guests, had assured us that joining the waiting line for a seat at the table was unnecessary for locals, and so we headed down to the French Market to Cafe du Monde. I hustled ahead and, studiously ignoring eye contact with those tourists not-in-the-know, found a table recently abandoned. Within moments the residual icing sugar was wiped away by a Filipina waitress and as my companions joined me, we ordered café au lait and beignets. Our cups overflowed when a jazz quartet starting playing on the sidewalk and we knew we were headed into a good day.
“Well, well, hello, Emy – This is Louis, Emy, it’s so nice to have you back where you belong, You’re lookin’ swell, Emy, I can tell, Emy, you’re still glowin’, you’re still crowin’, you’re still goin’ strong.” Yup, next stop Louis Armstrong Park where, though disappointed by the statue of the great man, we still managed to sing our way around and take Emy’s photo under the lights for her brother.
Having found a spot to park I bottled out of city driving and under my inexpert guidance we boarded a streetcar for a quick ride down towards the Mississippi. Three changes later we were still miles from where we wanted to be but, as often happens, we stumbled upon the Audubon Butterfly Garden where we had an enchanted couple of hours. Our streetcar ride back was faster and we returned home glad we were not staying in a ‘cockroach motel’ such as the miniature shown at the Insectarium.
The French Market called us again and though we didn’t go to a jazz club, we had a lovely evening watching NOLA come to life as the lights went down. Some sights were not for the faint of heart but enjoyment was all around.
Fully loaded with cups of coffee and chicory we left our haven on Elysian Fields and squeezed Bruiser in a parking place near our chosen breakfast stop, only to find it firmly fermé. Instead we stumbled upon Anotoine’s Annex, a dear little patisserie and coffeeshop and a subsidiary to the famous Antoine’s, in business since before “New Orleans was queen city of the Mississippi River, when cotton was king and French gentlemen settled their differences under the oaks with pistols for two and coffee for one.”
The World War II Museum was next on our calling card. The three of us, having different areas of interest, split up agreeing to meet in a couple of hours. I had been looking forward to the visit but was bitterly disappointed in the presentation of the Pacific theatre. Whilst I recognise the desire to put US involvement in the forefront, I truly felt the museum did a great disservice to those Australian men and women embedded in the mud and bloody grime of war alongside their American counterparts. I couldn’t help feeling the majority of younger visitors would leave with little idea, if any, of how bravely the Australians fought. Certainly those same visitors would have no knowledge the reason the Australian fleet and air force were not on immediate hand was because they were in North Africa and the Mediterranean, and had been at war a great deal longer than any US troops. Much of the fleet and RAAF were re-stationed to the Pacific after the attack on Pearl Harbour, which took place on the same day but after the Malay peninsula was invaded at Kota Bharu. Neither was there any mention of the ‘fuzzy wuzzy angels’ – not a derogatory term – for the incredible fortitude and bravery of the New Guinea men who served as guides and stretcher bearers for injured American and Australian troops through the rugged terrain of the New Guinea jungle. I left the museum feeling very cross.
A drive through the quiet grandeur of NOLA’s Garden District soothed my ruffled feathers and, as Laurie took the wheel, we headed along the I10 through the most horrendous storms to where …..