I love to travel, and during the recent NYC public school winter break, my husband, two daughters and I visited New Orleans for four nights (to be exact, three full days and two partial days). I had been to New Orleans for a week in 1986, as a college student. (My husband visited New Orleans as a working adult, with a few friends, in the early 1990s.) When I last stayed in "NOLA" (New Orleans, Louisiana) I was in my final year as an undergraduate, bunking at the local youth hostel and counting my pennies. This time I came as a mom, with more money and expectations. But I also came with two work assignments (in addition to this blog essay), so it was a different experience,

To be honest, New Orleans seemed very different to me in 2017. Here and there I noticed places and things that I did recall from my earlier trip (parts of the raucous French Quarter, the statue of President Andrew Jackson, the legendary St. Charles Street Car, etc.) but so much seemed different. Granted, the city has changed in certain ways but many of those changes occurred due to the severe damage of Hurricane Katrina. 

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But I kept an open mind, and decided to enjoy New Orleans and learn as much as I could from this trip. We took a walking tour that was highly illuminating, traversing parts of the French Quarter and the St. Louis Cemetery One. We visited the Mardi Gras Museum and learned a great deal about the parades, the costuming, the traditions. We stood over an hour on line for our chance to see a show at the world-renowned Preservation Hall, where traditional jazz is showcased (and we stood during the whole set, but it was worth it, as we watched a fantastic quintet play several songs, including "Mack the Knife," "Wonderful World" and others). 
It was not easy in the Big Easy for me to eat because non-kosher seafood, sausages and chicken are major staples of the cooking. But I did eat fish, collard greens, eggs, and divine praline candies. 


Each day in NOLA we noticed more and more people wearing clothing, especially shirts, in a garish orange shade-- they were fans of the Clemson University football team. There were also some people wearing clothes a shade of red, for the Alabama Crimson Tide. The two teams were to face off in a college football tournament to take place at the Superdome. Honestly, I could care less because I don't care about college football, but it was an mildly interesting footnote to our visit.

And I went in search of Jewish New Orleans. I found some of it while riding along on the St. Charles Streetcar; I saw two synagogues, the Touro Synagogue and Temple Sinai, as well as the Jewish Community Center. And I did find a lost synagogue on Jackson Avenue.
At 709 Jackson Avenue stands an 1860's former synagogue, Gates of Prayer, that went from Orthodox to Reform. The congregation later moved to the suburb of Metairie, and this building was renovated into housing units. I went to see this by myself when my husband and kids took a boat ride on the Mississippi River, but we were in the area later that day because the girls wanted to see a house a few blocks away on Jackson Avenue, the Buckner Mansion, which was featured in Season 3 of the television show American Horror Story. (I hadn't noticed it at all in my rush to find the lost synagogue.)

We were also able to appreciate the weather in NOLA; although we faced fog and light drizzle the first two days, the air temperature was much milder than that of New York City. We came back to snow on the ground. Ach.
I had a wonderful time in New Orleans, although I'd have liked some vegan gumbo or jambalaya. Perhaps another time!
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