Thursday, March 7, 2013

Parakeets and Hurricanes

It was time to venture on a trip into downtown New Orleans.  The office staff at Bayou Segnette State Park had strongly recommended parking and taking the Algiers Ferry as walk on customers.  This option cost us $5 to park (cash only) and the ferry itself was free.  Well worth it, when evaluating the stress and cost of driving and parking in the city of New Orleans.  When we arrived the parking attendant advised us to hurry as a ferry was just about to cross the river.  We ran up the ramp, through the station, and onto the ferry just in time.  Shortly after securing a spot standing on the outside passenger deck, the whistle blew and the large boat began it's slow chug across the mighty Mississippi River.  It appears the hours for the ferry have changed since our visit in early March.  We were able to stay in the city much later than the hours currently shown.  This link will provide details on the Algiers Ferry.
Truman riding the ferry
Getting a better view in Dad's arms
The mighty Mississippi
The city side dock is located right next to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas.  We thoroughly enjoyed our visit here.  The facility was extremely family friendly and hands on.  The highlight of the experience was definitely Parakeet Pointe.  This exhibit is included with general admission and contains hundreds of free flying colorful parakeets in an 800 square foot outdoor environment.  Feed sticks can be purchased prior to entry for $1.50 each, but are not necessary in order to interact with the parakeets.  We had little birds literally all around us.  They were on Truman's stroller, hanging from Brian's pockets, and trying to sneak a ride in the diaper bag.  It was like nothing I had ever experienced.  Information regarding aquarium admission, hours, and exhibits can be found using the link below.
Not quite sure about the Parakeets
And parakeets in pockets 
Family photo in front of the tropical tank

After the aquarium we made our way towards Pat O'Brien's, the home of the original Hurricane.  Even though the walk from the Aquarium to Pat O'Brien's was just a few blocks our pace could best be described as a leisurely stroll.  The architecture of New Orleans is quite beautiful.  It was hard to focus on our destination.  There was so much to look at, we found ourselves easily sidetracked.  Along the way we stopped to listen to some street musicians.  After a few minutes and a quick picture, we dropped a few coins in the open fiddle case and continued on our way.
Street performers in the French Quarter 
We finally stumbled upon Pat O'Brien's, excited to finally quench our thirst with a delicious fruity hurricane and still rubber necking the sites, we nearly bumped into a burly bouncer.  He promptly directed us to enter through the courtyard.  Apparently the entrance we had found was for the bar and only those over 21 may enter via the bar entrance.  The access we needed was just around the corner.  We entered and were immediately seated.  The courtyard embodied the essence of New Orleans as well with brick walls covered with ivy, ornately railed second story verandas, wrought iron tables and chairs, and several fountains.  The place was full of people enjoying their pretty red drinks.  We ordered two and a side of fries for Truman.  We also ordered the Pasta Primavera.  The food was decent and the drinks were divine.  Check out the link for the New Orleans location.
Pat O'Brien's famous hurricanes

By the time we left the restaurant it was dark and the city's night life had come alive.  As we made our way back towards the ferry, we found the streets full of street performers, vendors, and tourists.  Tired and stuffed we boarded the boat that would take us back to the car.  We had a sleeping baby and two content parents at the end of our first day in the city.  We had hardly made a dent in our list of New Orleans exploration musts.  We couldn't wait to come back and check out more of this amazing city!
One sleeping baby
Two smiling parents

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