Weekly Photo Challenge: Cherry on Top

Two dancers join in as the team competes in Brasov, Romania.

Two dancers join in as the team competes in Brasov, Romania.

We’re back from a glorious trip to Eastern Europe, but something happened on the last day that qualifies as the Cherry on Top! The square in Brasov, Romania was abuzz with activity.  Just a normal day, we thought.  But no.  It was a festival day, a day of competition and performances.  With kids dancing in traditional costumes.  And lilting strains of Romanian music emanating from the stage where the young performers danced the dances taught to them by their elders.

Waiting her turn to join in the dancing in Brasov, this young girl in native dress stands near the stage.

Waiting her turn to join in the dancing in Brasov, this young girl in native dress stands near the stage.

Just seeing the children dressed and waiting for stage time, just watching their cautious I-don’t-want-to-make-a-mistake faces, and seeing that children performing for adults around the world are just the same . . . well, it was the Cherry on Top, for sure.

Waiting and watching can be pretty tough when you're in competition!

Waiting and watching can be pretty tough when you’re in competition!

For more examples of Cherry on Top experiences or places or people, check out WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge here.

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Taking a break for places we can’t wait to see!

Bucharest_map

For the month of July, we’re taking a break from blogging to sightsee and work in another part of the world:  Romania!  Working with a team in Bucharest through Habitat Global Village, we’ll be renovating a school.  But we’re also adding some fun stops nearby and not-so-nearby.

First, we fly to Prague and take in what that city has to offer.  If tour books are any indication, we are in for a treat! Then drive (well, ride with a driver) to Budapest where we’ll stay three days taking a look at what that city has to offer.  (It’ll be all play up to that point).

Finally, we’ll fly from Budapest to Bucharest where the work on the school begins with our Habitat team.  Finally,  we’ll end end our trip with a few days in Brasov and nearby seeing Peles and Bran Castles, Sinaia Monastery, and Black Church.

We’re not sure how easy it will be to post pictures on our Instagram account, but that will be our foremost go-to social media portal:  https://www.instagram.com/rushasams/

If time allows and the internet connects, we may post pictures on Oh, the Places We See.

Regardless, we’re looking forward to any and all experiences.  As always, thanks for following us.  See you when we get back home!

— Rusha and Bert

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Travel theme: Stillness

Whenever we travel beside a stream, stillness is usually not attainable.  The flow of the water, duck paddling along, or the rustle of trees nearby keep life moving.

Stillness along the Lewis 7 Clark Trail.

Stillness along the Lewis 7 Clark Trail.

But on this day in 2013, we stopped along the Lewis and Clark Trail, Highway 12, for a brief moment . . . just to take in the quiet.  Stillness can be golden.

For more photos on Ailsa’s Travel theme: Stillness from her blog Where’s My Backpack, click here.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Curves at Savage Gardens

Savage Gardens, nestled quietly in the Fountain City area of Knoxville, Tennessee, on a summer’s day.  Cool. Calm. Curvaceous.

Curved archway at entrance to Savage Gardens, Knoxville, Tennessee

Curved archway at entrance to Savage Gardens, Knoxville, Tennessee

Curved edges of millstones stacked as stepping stones in Savage Gardens.

Curved edges of millstones stacked as stepping stones in Savage Gardens.

Stone archway at entrance to garden pathway -- Savage Gardens.

Stone archway at entrance to garden pathway — Savage Gardens.

Curved petals of a perennial summer bloomer at Savage Gardens, Knoxville, Tennessee.

Curved petals of a perennial summer bloomer at Savage Gardens, Knoxville, Tennessee.

Elegantly curved garden gate.

Elegantly curved garden gate.

For more photos of curves, check out this week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Curve.  

 

Posted in Destination, Gardens, Photography, Tennessee, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , | 17 Comments

Parting shots: the New Orleans we love!

Just a little street dancing: French Quarter, New Orleans

Just a little street dancing: French Quarter, New Orleans

For those who love to wander, coming home can sometimes be a “downer.”  But what perks us up after a good trip is looking through photos and reliving and re-evaluating what we saw.  Thus it was after a brief but fun visit to New Orleans, a place we’ve seen numerous times, but one that always shows us something new and delightful.

And this time was a nothing-special time — no festivals, no conventions we had to attend, no national holiday celebrations.  Just pure New Orleans . . . if there is such a thing.  Sort of reminds us of this Bob Dylan quote, “There are a lot of places I like, but I like New Orleans better.”

 

 

Maybe it’s the people . . .

A little cell phone pre-occupation!

A little cell phone pre-occupation!

Pedaling the tourists -- New Orleans

Pedaling the tourists — New Orleans

Checking for messages -- French Quarter, New Orleans

Checking for messages — French Quarter, New Orleans

Or it could be the icons.  Like St. Louis Cathedral where you can duck in for a moment of quiet and a glimpse of Christian opulence.

Of course, New Orleans is food.  Like gumbo at Napoleon House.  Or muffulettas at Central Grocery.  Maybe beignets at Cafe duMonde.  But no trip is complete without stocking up on Aunt Sally’s pralines — a box for the folks back home and at least one apiece for us!

Ready for packaging: Pralines at Aunt Sally's

Ready for packaging: Pralines at Aunt Sally’s

And New Orleans is seeing remnants of Mardi Gras still hanging from the trees around Jackson Square . . .

Colorful beads drip from the trees near Jackson Square.

Colorful beads drip from the trees near Jackson Square.

or colorful masks and feathered boas that remind us how dressing up is just part of being in NOLA, Mardi Gras or not.

To some, New Orleans is macabre.  A little bit funereal.  A little bit voodoo.  And a lot of obsessing over death and the hereafter.

Window scene in The Jazz Funeral on Decatur, New Orleans' French Quarter

Window scene in The Jazz Funeral on Decatur, New Orleans’ French Quarter

New Orleans can be the sadness of seeing the homeless with nowhere to go . . .

Person hanging out with Marilyn Monroe.

Person hanging out with Marilyn Monroe.

or the oddities of structures that probably have tales to tell.

Shards and remnants of glass bottles line the top of a wall around a home in the French Quarter.

Shards and remnants of glass bottles line the top of a wall around a home in the French Quarter.

Maybe it’s the art of the area — like oddly fascinating little put-togethers . . .

As seen in a window in French Quarter, artwork resembling a hearse with driver.

As seen in a window in French Quarter, artwork resembling a hearse with driver.

or fabric art that draws you in to enjoy the cleverness and the handiwork of someone who’s got a handle on life as she sees it.

It’s also the little things you never expected to see.

Whatever New Orleans is to you is what New Orleans is, for your experiences and your views will make up your tapestry of this city, the one Southern city that we could visit again and again.

Looking back can be so much fun!

Looking back can be so much fun!

We’d love to hear from you, our readers.  What have you seen that you loved about New Orleans?

For more posts in this Travel Series: New Orleans, click here.

And, as always, thanks for traveling with us,

–Bert and Rusha

 

Posted in Destination, Louisiana, New Orleans, Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 17 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Numbers

As grown-ups, we pretty much shun numbers as we age.  I mean, who wants to admit to turning one number higher even though the alternative isn’t a desirable option?

But turning seven?  Well, that’s another story!

Lighting the candles -- age 7.

Birthday joy

Ready to blow 'em out.

To see more entries for The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Numbers, click here.

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Searching for Marie Laveau: St. Louis Cemetery #1, New Orleans

Portrait of Marie Laveau. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Portrait of Marie Laveau. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

No history of New Orleans, I suppose, would be complete without at least mentioning Marie Laveau, the legendary Voodoo Queen of the city.  So, it only follows that many folks — locals and tourists alike — would want to find her grave and pay tribute to her.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I took a comprehensive, but rushed, tour of the French Quarter and St. Louis Cemetery #1 with a knowledgeable but garrulous guide from New Orleans Legendary Walking Tours who saved what he thought would be the best for last, meaning we almost didn’t have time see what is — and isn’t — Marie Laveau’s gravesite. (Bear with me.  There’s a story coming.)

I didn’t know much about Marie Laveau then, but I do now.  Had to look her up.  And what I’ve found is admittedly fuzzy — not only for me but for scholars who still seem a bit blurry on the details, too.  Here’s the short version.  Although some accounts list 1801 as Marie’s birth year, most agree that the Voodoo Queen was born free on September 10, 1794 but of slave lineage.  Marie was the product of an affair between her mother, Marguerite Darcantel, and a successful mulatto businessman, Charles Laveaux.  In 1819, Marie married Jacques Paris who disappeared around 1824, leaving Marie to be known as the Widow Paris.  But Marie entered into a domestic relationship with a man of French descent, Louis de Glapion and together they raised seven children in a house in the Vieux Carré or French Quarter.

St. Louis Cemetery #1, French Quarter, New Orleans

St. Louis Cemetery #1, French Quarter, New Orleans

Known as a clairvoyant, Marie consulted with many residents of the French Quarter and led annual celebrations at places such as Lake Pontchartrain where bonfires, feasting, dancing, and ritual bathing became the stuff of legends, evidently.  But here’s something I found interesting:  Marie was known as a voodoo priestess, but she was also a devout Roman Catholic performing acts of compassion like ministering to the sick.  And she lived a modest life despite her wealth.  At one time, she even purchased a slave herself.  Many saw her as a charitable woman while others only knew her as the Voodoo Queen.  City records prove that she is buried in St. Louis Cemetery #1, but there is some confusion over which tomb is hers.

Tomb assumed by many to be Marie Laveau's

Tomb assumed by many to be Marie Laveau’s

Most visitors, according to our guide, point to the tomb that is heavily marked with Xs. According to one source, visitors thought that to have a wish granted, they would mark an X on the tomb, turn around three times, knock on the tomb, and shout out their wish. People visiting the cemetery brought charcoal or paint with them; others, unprepared to make their mark, broke off bits of nearby tombs in order to scratch out an X.  (And this latter practice is probably one reason why authorities have closed St. Louis Cemetery #1 to visitors except with licensed guides.)

Our guide, however, says this is not the grave of  Marie Laveau.  This tomb, marked with Xs in rows of three may bear Christian, not Voodoo, symbolism as sets of three Xs could represent the trinity:  God the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit. The markings could have been made to counter the voodoo effect of Marie Laveau.  Or maybe someone Christian is buried here.  He said there’s still speculation.

Scholars agree that this is the tomb of Marie Glapion Laveau. Note the trinkets left by visitors. (Source: Wikipedia: Marie Laveau)

Scholars agree that this is the tomb of Marie Glapion Laveau. Note the trinkets left by visitors. (Source: Wikipedia: Marie Laveau)

Our guide then led us to another tomb, a plainer one by far, but one that he says scholars agree is the true tomb of Marie Glapion Laveau.  And today it’s easily identified: it’s the one where tributes are left at the base– a few coins, a scattering of trinkets, faded flowers, even old cigarettes.  (Evidently,  being a Voodoo Queen isn’t as glamorous in death as it may have been in real life!)

Trinkets laid at base of Marie Laveau's tomb, St. Louis Cemetery #1

Trinkets laid at base of Marie Laveau’s tomb, St. Louis Cemetery #1

And so my tour ended with the pièce de résistence — the tomb of Marie Laveau, spawning a desire to learn more about the culture and practice of voodoo.  I’m still amazed that Marie was both a practicing voodoo priestess and a devoted, even charitable, caring Roman Catholic.  But it is New Orleans, after all.  And who doesn’t love a blend of religions, cultures, backgrounds, legends and realities?  And a few exaggerations maybe?

A last glimpse of St. Louis Cemetery #1

A last glimpse of St. Louis Cemetery #1

For more information:

Haunted New Orleans Tours: Marie Laveau, New Orleans Voodoo Queen: http://www.hauntedneworleanstours.com/marielaveau/marielaveau/

Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo: http://www.hauntedneworleanstours.com/marielaveau/marielaveau/

Wikipedia: Marie Laveau: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Laveau

Webster, Richard A. “Tomb of Marie Laveau, Voodoo queen of New Orleans, refurbished in time for Halloween” (October 29, 2014). The Times-Picayune.  Retrieved from http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2014/10/tomb_of_marie_laveau_voodoo_qu.html

 

To read more posts on New Orleans, go to Travel Series: New Orleans at the top of the blog site or click here.  Thanks for traveling with us!  — Bert and Rusha

 

Posted in Destination, Louisiana, New Orleans, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Fascinating from any angle: St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, New Orleans

Forming a contrast to the City of the Dead is the backdrop: modern yellow building and palm tree.

A modern yellow building and palm tree provide an interesting contrast to the tombs of St. Louis Cemetery 1.

As a child, my parents would drive my sisters and me from the little town of Hahnville, Louisiana, to the big city of New Orleans — to see the city, to take a mini-vacation, and even to buy groceries at Schwegmann’s.  But on every trip, every trip, we passed cemeteries where above-ground tombs fascinated me even at an early age.

It was not, however, until this year, 2016, that I joined a tour group that had obtained permission to take visitors inside.  Under new rules passed by the Archdiocese of New Orleans, ALL visitors to St. Louis Cemetery 1 may only be admitted with a licensed guide.  Families of loved ones buried there must obtain a pass for entry into the cemetery. Of course, I asked Why?  And I was given one response:  vandalism.  

St. Louis Cemetery 1 is frequently referred to as “City of the Dead,” a place, according to our guide, where rich and poor were entombed in its confines.  The wealthy had individual structures that could accommodate many family members one by one, as the time came for burial.  So, imagine layers, if you will, inside the tombs where one body would be moved over or pushed to the back to allow space for another person.

One tomb could accommodate several family members.

One tomb could accommodate several family members.

I was pretty amazed by this tour.  Perhaps it was the awe of the place.  Or the ruinous condition.  Or the variety of materials, heights, shapes.  Whatever it was, I was spellbound. But not for long.  As I listened to the tour guide who mentioned that we had only a few minutes to see what he could show us accompanied by his warnings not to stray from the group, I grabbed hold of my camera and started snapping.  So much so, I might mention, that I missed much of what he was saying. But I could see one thing for sure:  The City of the Dead offers amazing sights from any and all angles.

A simple burial spot with a singular iron cross -- St. Louis Cemetery 1

A simple burial spot with a singular iron cross — St. Louis Cemetery 1

Looking down an alley at St. Louis Cemetery 1

Looking down an alley at St. Louis Cemetery 1

Ravages of time and weather and vandals have certainly taken their toll on these treasured tombs.  And it’s the latter devastation that has now closed the cemetery to random wanderings.  The “peeling away,” if you can even call it that, reveals the building materials of many of these structures.

Exposed brick and plaster on this tomb with evidence of an arched cavity

Exposed brick and plaster on this tomb with evidence of an arched cavity

Many tombs in St. Louis Cemetery 1 had their “skin” peeled away, revealing inner stacks of bricks covered in layers of plaster.

Others have maintained their dignity with stately impediments, intact plaster (although most were pretty moldy), and chiseled names of the original inhabitants.  According to our guide, tombs were opened and re-opened to allow more and more family members to be laid to rest when the time came.

Some tombs remain preserved with ironwork, carving, and architectural details.

Some tombs remain preserved with ironwork, carving, and architectural details.

Pretty detail on a tomb in the City of the Dead.

Pretty detail on a tomb in the City of the Dead.

Nature, too, has had her way with the structures.  Hurricane Katrina made sure that not even the dead were exempt from high waters.  And the evidence of cracking and crazing from natural causes was everywhere.  Broken bricks and shards of stone, piled willy nilly by the whims of storms and blazing heat, formed random paths even among the “avenues” of the rich.

Nature finds a way to get into cracks and cause damage -- while remaining pretty!

Nature finds a way to get into cracks and cause damage — while remaining pretty!

On the back side of the City of the Dead where the poor were buried, arched indentations reveal how bodies were stacked one atop the other in a condominium of sorts — multiple layers, multiple rows.

In the back of the cemetery, the poor were buried, stacked one on top of another rather than in individual tombs.

In the back of the cemetery, the poor were buried, stacked one on top of another rather than in individual tombs.

Destruction seemed less severe if iron fences guarded the tombs.  Perhaps these iron surrounds kept vandals at a distance while guarding the deceased with spikes and spires.

Decorative ironwork frames a family tomb in St. Louis Cemetery 1, New Orleans.

Decorative ironwork frames a family tomb in St. Louis Cemetery 1, New Orleans.

Fencing around a tomb in St. Louis Cemetery 1

Fencing around a tomb in St. Louis Cemetery 1

Artful ironwork frames delicate carving on this tomb at St. Louis Cemetery 1

Artful ironwork frames delicate carving on this tomb at St. Louis Cemetery 1

Row of fencing, St. Louis Cemetery 1

Row of fencing, St. Louis Cemetery 1

Atop some of the finest stood stone statuary — people thinking or angels praying or priests waving blessings over the deceased.  Some tombs were topped with crosses reaching toward heaven.

Some toppers remain on the "roof" of the tombs.

Some toppers remain on the “roof” of the tombs.

My tour of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 ended all too soon.  As I realized when our time was up, many stories remained to be told.  And many photos are still waiting to be taken.  But one thing was clear:  In my opinion, City of the Dead needs to remain for generations to come.  And everyone must share in its protection.  Not just to honor those who are entombed.  But also to preserve the fascinating structures themselves.

An iron cross in St. Louis Cemetery 1

An iron cross in St. Louis Cemetery 1

 

Note:  There are at least three ways to see City of the Dead.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my tour of St. Louis Cemetery 1.  If you’d like to see more of the places we saw in New Orleans, Louisiana, click here.  And thanks for traveling with us!

–Rusha

Posted in Destination, Louisiana, New Orleans, Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 16 Comments

Taking the streetcar to Jacques-Imo’s for Real Nawlins Food

Dimly lit entrance to Jacques-Imo's -- where everyone stands waiting for a table!

Dimly lit entrance to Jacques-Imo’s — where everyone stands waiting for a table!

Sometimes there’s a side benefit to foraging for local cuisine, especially if you’re a tourist in New Orleans.  And who doesn’t want Real Nawlins Food?  We sure ’nuff do, so whenever we visit, we duck out of the French Quarter to a favorite place of ours — Jacques-Imo’s on Oak Street, at the far end of the Garden District.

So, what’s the side benefit?  A slow trip via the St. Charles Streetcar past stately homes and graceful, long-armed trees that have survived hurricanes, Louisiana dampness, and Mardi Gras parades.  (Disclaimer:  These photos were taken from a seat on the trolley, so they’re not the best.  But you’ll get the picture.) And if you love Old South architecture and lovely homes, this just may be a passage through heaven.

Stately home in New Orleans Garden District

Stately columns, wide front porch, and graceful ironwork — typical home in the Garden District. See those beads in the trees? Left over from Mardi Gras, we suppose.

Some homes seem framed by far-reaching branches.  Like this lovely home with tall, to-the-floor windows, ionic columns, and leaded glass door.

Massive ionic columns frame the doorway in this typical home in the Garden District.

Massive ionic columns frame the doorway in this typical home in the Garden District.

Others seem skinnier (relatively speaking) but quaint.  This one with tall shutters, a sweet sitting area on the front porch and pretty landscaping offers a more casual Garden District look.  And oh, that balcony — all the better to watch the parades, my dear!

Three-story home with tall windows, comfortable front porch and second story balcony.

Three-story home with tall windows, comfortable front porch and second story balcony.

By now, you’re seeing a trend as more and more of the homes follow a pattern:  columns, balconies, wicker chairs on front porch.  We can’t get enough of it.

Wicker chairs flank a double door at this home with a gracious Southern entryway.

Wicker chairs flank a double door at this home with a gracious Southern entryway.

You can almost see inside some of the homes if you pass by at twilight, and the interiors are lit.  Those leaded glass doors just sparkle.

Leaded glass door and transom are aglow in this Garden District beauty.

Leaded glass door and transom are aglow in this Garden District beauty.

We almost felt that we were in the French Quarter peeping through gates to see the courtyards when we passed this home.  And the clay tile roof just adds to the ambiance.

Lush greenery sets up a courtyard feel in this entryway.

Lush greenery sets up a courtyard feel in this entryway.

It seemed that a few homes were so dignified they should be on Embassy Row in some international city.  Wouldn’t you want to stay here if you were ambassador to the U. S.?

A portico with two-story columns dignifies the entrance to this formal home in the Garden District.

A portico with two-story columns dignifies the entrance to this formal home in the Garden District.

The route through the Garden District parallels S. Carrollton Street, and you’ll have to let the driver know you want to get off at Oak Street, home of Jacques-Imo’s.  Believe us, he’ll know where you’re going.  It’s been a book-your-reservations-early place since Jacques Leonardi and his wife Amelia opened the restaurant in 1996 in the Riverbend/Carrollton area.  And, if you’re really lucky, Jacques himself may come cavorting through the restaurant, slapping you on the back or singing for all to hear.

Jacques-Imo’s decor defies description.  At least our description.  It’s a little bit swampy, little bit Duck Dynasty, little bit VooDoo, and a whole lotta garage sale meets Southern style.

Framed art and who-knows-what-else fill the ceiling and walls at Jacques-Imo's.

Framed art and who-knows-what-else fill the ceiling and walls at Jacques-Imo’s.

And that’s the fun of it.  The food is the joy of it.  If we hadn’t filled up on muffalettas and gumbo at Napoleon House for lunch, we would have stuffed ourselves with any one of their signature entrees: Blackened Redfish with crab-chili hollandaise or Eggplant Pirogue with sautéed shrimp and oysters in a lemon cream sauce or Grilled Grouper with Crabmeat Imperial.  Oh, be still my heart.

Yes, that's a critter on the wall above the bar at Jacques-Imo's. Don't know what. Don't want to ask!

Yes, that’s a critter on the wall above the bar at Jacques-Imo’s. Don’t know what. Don’t want to ask!

Instead, we opted for three appetizers and drinks (You’re in New Orleans.  You have to.) and were full as ticks when we left.  Our choices?  Numero uno for sure:  Shrimp and Alligator Cheesecake which the Times-Picayune (August 27, 2014) described beautifully. “This is essentially a quiche with biceps: rich and custardy, in a pool of mustard-tart sauce. A few bites and you’ll feel strong enough to wade into the swamp.”

But that’s not all.  We downed two more:  Fried Boudin Balls stuffed with jalapenos and pepper jack cheese in a Creole mustard sauce and Deep-fried Roast Beef Po-Boy.  You won’t leave hungry.

Touting Warm Beer, Lousy Food and Poor Service, Jacques-Imo's has been winning over foodies since 1996.

Touting Warm Beer, Lousy Food and Poor Service, Jacques-Imo’s has been winning over foodies since 1996.

Of course, the down side is that you have to walk back to the trolley when you can barely waddle.  But the exercise and warm Southern breezes will help you find the route back to your hotel.

Jacques' car sitting idle on the street in front of the restaurant. It's a beaut!

Jacques’ car sitting idle on the street in front of the restaurant. It’s a beaut!

It’s just another memorable evening in New Orleans — through the Garden District to Jacques-Imo’s!

Waiting for the St. Charles Avenue Line to take us back to the French Quarter.

Waiting for the St. Charles Avenue Line to take us back to the French Quarter.

For more information:

Jacques-Imo’s, 8324 Oak Street, New Orleans, LA; 504-861-o886; jacques-imos.com

New Orleans Streetcar Schedules: http://www.norta.com/Maps-Schedules/Streetcar-Schedules-Maps.aspx

If you’d like to see more of where we ate and what we saw in New Orleans, click here or go to Travel Series: New Orleans at the top of this post.  Thanks for traveling with us!

–Bert and Rusha

 

 

Posted in Food, Gardens, Louisiana, New Orleans | Tagged , , , | 20 Comments

Behind the scenes: Cafe Du Monde, New Orleans

The heartbeat of Cafe Du Monde -- waitresses who serve what you came for!

The heartbeat of Cafe Du Monde — waitresses who serve what you came for!

As iconic as the Café Du Monde in New Orleans is for us and other tourists, it presented something new this trip: a trip to the back of the restaurant to see “how it’s done”!   No visit to NOLA is complete for us without a stop at 800 Decatur Street. It’s where the Original Café Du Monde Coffee Stand has stood since 1862, and where patient waiters and waitresses continue to please a steady stream of folks ordering cafe au lait and beignets.

Morning shift -- Cafe Du Monde, New Orleans French Quarter.

Morning shift — Cafe Du Monde, New Orleans French Quarter.

Open 24 hours a day (except for Christmas Day and the occasional hurricane), Café Du Monde is a well-oiled institution dishing up white ceramic mugs of their famous coffee and chicory blend mixed half-and-half with hot milk — rich, creamy coffee au lait!

But don’t wear black at Café Du Monde — you’re gonna want to indulge in a three-stack of beignets, those square French doughnuts liberally coated in white powdered sugar.

Cafe au lait and beignets at Cafe Du Monde, New Orleans

Rich, milk-infused cafe au lait and sugary beignets at Cafe Du Monde.

The experience begins with a patient, very patient, waiter or waitress taking your order.

Listening carefully to what you want at Cafe Du Monde.

Listening carefully to what you want at Cafe Du Monde.

And then they kick it into gear, waiting in line for trays, mugs, and saucers of beignets.

Lining up for trays and mugs at Cafe Du Monde.

Lining up for trays and mugs at Cafe Du Monde.

And wait some more.  Until fresh ones come from the back served up on tiny saucers.

Will the beignets ever get done?

Will the beignets ever get done?

(Note:  You can even watch ’em being made if you go outside, out back of the restaurant where a window on the world of beignet creation is open for all to observe.  See what you learn when you take a tour of the Quarter?)

Peeking in through the back window at Cafe du Monde.

Peeking in through the back window at Cafe du Monde.

Feverishly, almost sportingly, the wait staff move in.  Hey, that’s mine.  Wait a minute!  Hold up!  I’ve got that one!  

Last stop:  big urns for straight-up black coffee or cafe au lait. 

Pouring coffee at Cafe Du Monde

Pouring coffee at Cafe Du Monde

Calmly, as if scurrying would be beneath the dignity of a Café Du Monde server, waiters return to their tables without spilling any of their now-famous Acadian blend of coffee and chicory and sure-to-please beignets.

Order up!

Order up!

It’s what you don’t want to miss in New Orleans.  Whether you’re right out front — or behind the scenes!

Signature mugs from Cafe Du Monde

Signature mugs from Cafe Du Monde

 

Cafe Du Monde, 800 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA; cafedumonde.com; Mail Order: 1-800-772-2927.

Check out all our posts on Travel Series: New Orleans here.

Posted in Food, Louisiana, New Orleans, Restaurant, Travel | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments