I always try to write as soon as possible during my trips. It never works. Sometimes I manage to stay in line for a day or two, but inevitably I decide I am going to fully enjoy myself and let the reader deal with my recollections that may be slightly inexact. You may have noticed that the first three days of my trip were each posted one day late. This post is five days late. You don’t need to worry though; I haven’t forgotten the beauties and sadnesses of this trip. Friday: Day #2 Last night was a late night, particularly because I wrote the most recent blog post and finished after midnight. Today, I woke up mid-morning and decided I should, and wanted to, run. Adorned in a mix of Adidas and Nike (what else would someone from Portland be wearing?) I headed into an area that came recommended as a very Portlandish, real, but potentially unsafe (at night) area with some great restaurants, known as the Bywater. It is along the Mississippi, but just downriver from where I was staying. I ran a loop, heading down to my pre-designated stopping point two miles down the road. Then I turned toward the water and ran back along the waterfront park , deciding I would stop when I felt like it. As you may know I am very externally motivated, so that after about 4.5 miles of seclusion, I entered the French Quarter waterfront and it was crowded with people of all ages. As I do in a showoff situation such as this, I ran the next 1.5 miles in 9:16, way too fast for an easy stay-in-shape run. In any case, I turned around when I reached the convention center and stopped when I got back to my place. Then, after a shower, why not put the shoes back on and keep walking? Yes, please. I had a brewery tour at NOLA brewing.
I’m not sure if NOLA brewing is big, or well-known, for that matter. It is in town, though, and has a very popular brewery tour on Fridays at 2pm. Perfect timing, I thought, except that after my run, shower, etc., I was 50 minutes from the tour and about 60 minutes walk, according to Google Maps. It is way the heck down there….past the French Quarter and the Business District in an industrial area called Irish Channel. I walked for a while…maybe 2 miles, reached the point in my mind when I knew I could no longer make it in time and basically kept walking until I could find a taxi. It must have been the route I chose because I could not find a taxi. Smart choice, I thought: go to a hotel. Apparently, though, hotel taxi queues are for hotel guests. Eventually I kept walking, found a taxi, and made it with two minutes to spare. After an ID check and being handed a plastic cup, I was in. The brewery is basically a small warehouse with a small room on the left side for a tasting room. People were in there drinking and also loitering around the main space where a local meat pie maker had set up shop. On the far right side of the warehouse, the actual brewery, tour participants were given unlimited full size pours of six different beers – presumably the mass market ones. On this tour, I learned NOLA blonde is the #3 beer in New Orleans, just behind…… Coors light and Miller Lite. Yuck. I can’t even imagine what the stats are for Portland. I’d make a very intelligent guess, though, in saying the highest ranking non-Oregon beer would be Pabst Blue Ribbon. The brewer went through the steps of brewing, pointing out the equipment, but it was a pretty quick tour. I think people mainly go to drink the beer – I had two. In fact, early in the tour, I asked him a question about the mash tun, because he described the milled barley going directly into the lauter tun. He answered my question sufficiently, but he didn’t restate it out loud to the crowd. He did restate others’ less technical questions to the crowd. Makes sense, though, because he started off by asking the group of 25+ if they knew the beermaking process and only 3 of us raised our hands. After leaving the brewery – after going into the tasting room and trying their “black and blue sour,” I immediately headed north and realized I was in prime position to do a walk of the Garden District. This is a small residential area of some of the best preserved Southern mansions built between 1830-1900. There are tour groups that go through here, but I found a walking tour outlined in the Fodor’s travel guide. I enjoyed seeing the different style houses, reading snippets on the history, talking to some of the homeowners working in their yards or arriving home, and looking closely for little peculiarities like this: The tour ended at one of the city cemeteries which are well known for their above-ground family tombs – like they are in Paris. The cemetery had already closed so I looked through the gates, then walked up to Magazine Street. This is a miles-long street with many independent stores and, well, stores, in general. I was really hungry and had had quite a bit to drink, plus I had walked many miles at this point. I popped into a chain coffee shop I hadn’t heard of, then considered heading downriver toward food. I found a store, mostly clothing, called Defend New Orleans. I had read about this shop somewhere in my NOLA research, and found some really cool merchandise and decent prices for an independent shop. I bought a cool blue/purple t-shirt and picked up some stickers and other decorations for my fridge. Just past this was a place called “Donuts, Sliders, Brews” or something similar. It seemed very familiar inside, and the donuts looked a bit like Blue Star donuts. They looked really good and I figured it would be ridiculous to get two enormous donuts. I chose the peanut butter donut and it was large with gooey, warm peanut butter icing. After this mini meal, I took the streetcar to its end. The streetcar was a bit crazy. It was like a party bus, basically. Anyway I was dropped off near Canal Street and began that 2-ish mile walk back home. It was about 6pm by this point and dusk would by in a little more than an hour.
Even as the sun begins to fall, Bourbon Street is a crazy place. I decided to avoid it, instead walking down my preferred Royal Street, with its art galleries. I looked in a couple and decided on a place called The Gumbo Shop for dinner. There was a line, but when I flashed the finger for one, I was seated right away and it was in the behind-the-home outdoor courtyard typically of this old construction. No lawns in the front, but a courtyard in the back, sometimes in the middle. It was beautiful and delicious. After dinner, I don’t remember my path nor destination, but I slowly wandered again passing the Basilica, the French Market, up to Lafitte’s Bar, down sidestreets, and eventually, back to my room. This is when I worked on the most recent blog post before this.