Must sees in New Orleans

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Fats Domino's house (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

New Orleans is a great city to visit. Recently, a friend told me she and her husband were thinking of visiting there, and asked for my opinion. That turned into…this post. I’m sure many of you have never been to New Orleans, and when you think of it, you think of Hurricane Katrina. It has been several years since that devastating natural disaster almost wiped the city off the map, but New Orleans is resilient.

Where to go, if you go? Well, first off, I think you should visit Annunciation Mission and offer to help them out in some way. This is a church/mission where busloads of Christians stay while coming to New Orleans (aka NOLA) to “do missionary work,” which involves re-building homes and more; it helps that the Salvation Army HQ is directly across the street. These two organizations work in tandem to accomplish many projects. The website to visit is www.annunciationmission.org.

Next, make sure you take a ride on one of NOLA’s really old streetcars– these 175-year-old cars have old fashioned light bulbs for illumination, and old fashioned, open windows. You get to see a lot of New Orleans for a low price on this charming ride.

Of course you should visit the famous French Quarter. This is where “heaven and hell have a block party,” according to my friend Corey Nieman. You’ll find souvenir stores, bars and restaurants, and live music on nearly every corner. My favorite band you should seek out is Tuba Skinny. Their lead singer, Erika, is amazing!

Near the French Quarter, in downtown NOLA, visit the Palace Cafe, a beautiful restaurant, and order their catfish. Or walk over to Cafe DuMonde, and get coffee and beignets (fried dough) in a semi-outdoors cafe where you’ll be among many tourists and a few locals. Nearby is St. Louis Cathedral, which is bathed in light at night, and interestingly surrounded with real life voodoo priests and soothsayers offering to tell your fortune, for a price, of course.

Finally, you should visit the Lower Ninth Ward to see what happened there– most of the neighborhood is gone, replaced by tall weeds and grasses. There are some new-fangled homes on stilts built by Brad Pitt and his supporters, and Fats Domino’s house is worth a picture.

If you can think of any other things people should see in NOLA, post as comments!

Rockefeller Center Legos in New York City

If you’re a tourist visiting New York City, and you end up near Rockefeller Center– you know, the place with the ice rink and ginormous Christmas (holiday?) tree in the winter, then I would recommend walking into the Lego (or is it Legos?) store right there! If you’re walking toward Rockefeller Center dead on straight in front of you, the Legos store is on your right, and with its big windows, you can’t help but notice they have a giant dragon made out of Legos winding throughout the two story store! Also inside you’ll see some other Legos creations, including this scene (above) of Rockefeller Center made out of Legos! This scene makes me wanna buy Legos and play with them– can you imagine if that craze caught on with adults? Instead of going to wine and cheese parties, you’d go to Legos parties? Hey, it could happen!

It’s a colorful store, for sure, and I’d say you can “do it” as a tourist in about 15 minutes. They have bins and bins of Lego pieces by color, so if you’re missing a piece from your at-home collection, here’s where to find that elusive missing piece, thank God.

The other day I went over to Dan Corrigan’s place, and he’s married to Jaclyn and they’re in the their mid-twenties. There were a bunch of twentysomethings gathered, and wouldn’t you know, he brings out a huge box full of Legos, and that was the hit of the party.

Just curious– is it “okay” for people over 10 to play with Legos? Leave your comments.

Skiing at Holimont in Ellicottville New York

One of my favorite things to do is ski at Holimont, a wonderful resort in Ellicottville, New York. My dad and I go as often as possible, and it’s just a short drive from the City of Buffalo. This past Monday we enjoyed great skiing conditions there, and I took lots of photos for you to check out on Mark in the City!

An escalator for your cart

Call me a rube, but I had never seen an escalator for one’s shopping cart until I shopped at the COSTCO and the Target stores in Brooklyn/NYC. You know space is at a premium when stores are forced to have more than one big giant ground floor of merchandise. And in New York City, it’s not at all uncommon for stores to have multiple floors, usually serviced by elevators and the ubiquitous escalator– for humans. So I wanted to get a pic for you to see of the escalator you can put your CART on, so it will go up/downstairs with you while shopping– ingenious!

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

I’m glad the Brooklyn Botanic Garden was/is free to get into on weekdays during the winter, because it would not be worth the normal/weekend $10 admission. It’s basically a 52-acre park with a couple indoor rooms with some plants– a rainforest room, a bonsai room, a desert room, etc. Nothing too striking. I suppose because it’s February that this was/is not the best time to visit the gardens, since little is in bloom, but even if I had the chance to go in the summer, I wouldn’t– just not that big of a deal to me. If, however, you’re the kind of person who likes to walk a lot, and read the signs with the names and specifics of each and every plant there, you’ll enjoy this, and need half a day or more to cover the expansive grounds. –Mark Weber