January 12, 2017
Our first two days in New Orleans were rather chilly, the same cold front that had delayed our arrival also brought a front of cold air to the entire South and made the warm clothes we brought come in handy. It was mostly sunny, but temperatures hovered near freezing for a couple of days.
We did not let the chill air impact our plans and we continued to spend the days in advance of wedding activities just exploring and enjoying the city, trying to visit new areas that we had not been as well as take in more traditional tourist type attractions.
One of the major attractions, located on the Mississippi Riverfront at the foot of Canal Street is the New Orleans Aquarium, known as the Aquarium of the Americas. The world-class aquarium is part of the trifecta of Audubon Institute attractions that also includes the New Orleans Zoo and Insectarium.
The aquarium features of 600 species of animals with over 15,000 sea life creatures ranging from all manner of fish to sea otters and even penguins. The huge Caribbean exhibit features a walk through tunnel where you are literally surrounded by sharks, rays, sea turtles and thousands of colorful reef fish.
It is also home to one of the extremely rare white alligator of which only 18 are known to exist. The alligator which is not an albino, but rather a rare genetic anomaly is pretty cool to see, there are also a couple on display at the Zoo.
There is also a wide variety of art to be found in New Orleans and Kathy and I both enjoy outsider, folk art, street art and just about any unconventional artwork. There is plenty to see in New Orleans and we had a few places on our list of places to see including the Frenchman Art Market and Dr. Bob’s Folk Art studio in Bywater.
We started on Frenchman Street, which itself is a fairly fascinating area that we had not previously visited. There are all sorts of funky nightclubs, restaurants, and stores. Street art dominates the walls of this neighborhood and it is also home to the famed nightly Frenchman Art Market.
Located next to the Spotted Cat Jazz club, one of the more famous New Orleans nightspots and across from famed live music venue dba, the Art Market is a nightly juried art fair where local artists sell their wonderful artwork. Though small, it was still one of the better art fair type event that I have attended as each artist seemed to be an expect in their particular media.
We also stopped in to the Spotted Cat where I had one of the best Bloody Mary’s that I have ever tasted. We also spent time back at the Erin Rose for more delicious frozen Irish Coffee’s and delicious New Orleans craft beer.
Folk artist Dr. Bob, is a New Orleans icon and his massive studio/ workshop is located in the Bywater district of the city another area where we had never spent any time. It is a wonderful funky area and Dr. Bob’s outsider art fits right in to the neighborhood, which is filled with vinyl record stores, thrift shops, funky restaurants such as Elizabeth’s and of course Dr. Bob himself.
We made a special trip just to check his art out and pick up a couple of small pieces for our collection. He is most well-known for coining the phrase “Be Nice or Leave” and many of his pieces reflect that but he also has a plethora of New Orleans specific artwork featuring all manner of New Orleans iconography. I particularly liked his large “No Cat Selling” signs which apparently what once upon a time would be found in dives and juke joints to discourage prostitution. You can check out his art via the link below.