Big Easy Bargains

Saturday, December 25, 2010 Road Junkies 0 Comments

HOCKEY ODYSSEY, Chapter 8:  
New Orleans, LA.  Unlike Mardi Gras and New Year's Eve, Halloween and the Fourth of July, Christmas is not a holiday that attracts tens of thousands of visitors to New Orleans.  Thus we were able to book a suite at a downtown hotel for about one-fifth what it would cost just a week later.  
Timing may not be everything, but it certainly has a strong influence, in both hotel room prices and letterboxes.  In search of a box hidden in the Jackson Square fence opposite the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral, we arrived late on Christmas Eve afternoon, just as worshippers were gathering.  The area in front of the church was jammed with locals and visitors waiting to enter the 5:00 Christmas Eve service.  With hundreds of people milling about, there was absolutely no way to employ enough stealth to retrieve a letterbox wedged behind a sign on the fence. 

Early Christmas morning in the rain was a completely different story.  The square was deserted, and fetching the box was easy.
Jackson Square empty on a rainy Christmas morning
Another location letterboxing took us was the Besthoff Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art.  Open daily with no admission charge, the garden is home to more than 50 sculptures by artists from around the world.  Finding the letterbox here was a bit of lagniappe, as the sculptures were the primary reward.  
Safety Pin, an Oldenburg sculpture
And here we learned another lesson.  Size matters.  Swedish sculptor Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, his wife and collaborator, have been creating large-scale public sculptures since 1976.  Like the Besthoff Garden's Safety Pin, these works are whimsical and fun additions to public art.  Photos of many of their works, including a giant spoon that serves as a bridge, can be found on the artists' web site.
Exquisite landscaping enhances the sculpture garden.
Thanks to the landscape teams that designed and maintain the grounds, the sculpture garden rivals the nearby botanical garden in beauty.  All in all, we found it a winning attraction with an excellent price.

Despite its close encounters with disaster, New Orleans remains a city filled with history and culture.  Like other visitors, we love wandering the old streets and reading the historical markers, learning about events which occurred in the distant past. 
Move along.  Nothing to see here.
Near Lafayette Cemetery #2 on Prytania Street, we came across a dignified brass historical marker posted prominently on the fence of a lovely private home.  It took the prize for most humorous sign, even in New Orleans.  "On this site in 1897," it informed, "nothing happened."