Saturday – December 12, 2015
New Orleans, Louisiana
We begin Sharon’s special day under sunny skies and pleasant temperatures in the high seventies. We will celebrate her birthday at the Pier 424 Seafood Market Restaurant on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. We had dined at Pier 424 during a visit to New Orleans in March 2013 and so enjoyed our dining experience that it has become another one of our favorite restaurants in New Orleans.
We requested an open-air table adjacent to the sidewalk, so we could people-watch while we dined. We had the Oyster Rockefeller and Crab Cakes for appetizers. Sharon had the Shrimp Grits (her favorite menu item) and I had the Crawfish Etouffee (my favorite menu item) for our entrees. We were not disappointed… everything was delicious. We decided to forego dessert and have it later somewhere else within the French Quarter.
After lunch, we sauntered down to the corner of Royal and St. Peter streets to watch one of our favorite street musician groups: Doreen’s Jazz New Orleans band.
Doreen Ketchens is a soulful, talented, New Orleans musician, armed with a clarinet that has a mind of its own. When she wails on that clarinet her music fills the air with a celebration of musicality that draws crowds of appreciative visitors, turning the French Quarter street corner into an open-air jazz club.
Though she holds no official title, Ketchens is considered one of the city's cultural ambassadors. She and her band; tuba-playing-husband Lawrence Ketchens, trombonist Ronell Johnson, guitarist Paul Kimnetz and drummer Dorian Ketchens-Dixon provide one of the most entertaining musical street shows in the French Quarter.
Doreen’s Jazz New Orleans has represented New Orleans and the United States around the world, performing in Africa, Asia, Canada, Europe, South America, Russia and the United States. They have performed for four United States presidents, including Bill Clinton, George Bush Sr., Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. The band also boasts 23 volumes of CD’s and 3 DVD’s.
In addition to being superb performers, Doreen and her husband Lawrence are outstanding educators. They regularly perform in schools around the world, educating students of all languages, spreading the culture and music of New Orleans.
After listening to Doreen’s Jazz New Orleans Band for a while, we continued on our walking tour of the French Quarter looking for a place to have dessert. Sharon had a taste for beignets, so we headed over to New Orleans Famous Beignets and Coffee shop on the corner of Decatur and St. Peter streets. We ordered one order of beignets (a serving of 3) and two café au laits. The beignets were so delicious, we got another order to-go.
We finished off our visit to the French Quarter with a stroll along the Riverwalk. This is a scenic area bordered on one side by the French Quarter and the other by the Mississippi River. Visitors are often favored with views of ocean freighters, cruise ships and barges traversing this region of this mighty river.
During our visits to the French Quarter in previous years, we had parked in the Algiers Ferry parking lot on Morgan Street ($5.00/day weekdays and $10.00/day weekends). We would then take the ferry ($1.00 for seniors) across the Mississippi River into New Orleans. It is a short walk of about three blocks from the Ferry station to the French Quarter.
On this visit we decided to drive into New Orleans and park in one of the public parking lots located within the French Quarter. We arrived around 12:30 p.m. and departed a little after 4:00 p.m. The cost for parking was $25.00! The lot we parked in did have the parking rates posted at the entrance to the lot. I subsequently found the rates posted at another nearby parking lot.
Premium Parking (www.premiumparking.com)
0 – 2 hours: $10.00
2 – 3 hours: $15.00
3 – 5 hours: $25.00
5 – 8 hours: $30.00
8 – 24 hours: $45.00
Lost Ticket: $100.00
On our future visits to New Orleans we’ll continue to take the ferry.
Tomorrow another adventure begins.