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D-Day, Popeye and Satchmo

27 Mar

Louisiana, and in particular New Orleans, might not seem the obvious place to locate America’s National World War 2 Musuem, but there’s a good reason for it. The D-Day landing craft – known as the Higgins Boats – were designed, built and tested here. So it’s little surprise to see one taking pride of place as you walk through the lobby.

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Slightly obscured in this picture is a man talking to the visitors, who turns out to be a Second World War veteran. These heroes are celebrated and honoured on a daily basis here, rather than a few specific days each year. A huge amount of the museum’s displays are given over to D-Day itself, but there are also visual representations of just how small the US military capability was compared to Germany and Japan.

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Being a national musuem, the building’s galleries are extremely busy. And sadly, in my opinion, there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of respect for personal space or reflection as visitors are guided through the often horrific and personal tales of the war. And bizarrely, as you walk across gantries between the displays, there’s the aroma of steak drifting up from the restaurant.

It all makes me a bit hungry, and according to the local TV station, Popeye could be just the thing. As a special offer, seemingly tied in with my visit, you can get eight pieces of chicken for just $5 for one day only. And it’s today. Popeye’s reminds me of the Eddie Murphy film Coming To America where the guy is running a restaurant that looks suspiciously like MacDonalds, but definitely isn’t. In fairness though, Popeye’s has its own layout, menu and style – and taste – which separates it from KFC. Being Louisiana, you can also get various fried seafood.

There’s certainly no shortage of food and drink options here, and New Orleans has also joined the thriving microbrewery scene. Just across the road from the former Jackson Brewery building on Decatur Street is the Crescent City Brewhouse.

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These are craft beers rather than real ales. The difficulty here is judging just how strong each one might be. The relatively high price of $7.50 for the Pilsner would suggest something like 6-7% by UK standards. Or it could just be they’re cornering a lucrative market. The bar also features a jazz trio, though they’re hidden away in a space beneath the stairs, and frankly, nobody’s paying attention.

Talking of markets, it’s high time to visit one of my favourite haunts, Molly’s at the Market. Irish themed, but with a small “I” this is where you can always get good beer and good banter. Back in 2011, I shared a drink with this crazy cat.

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Tonight there are fewer unusual customers, but a nice local crowd who are happy to share their conversation. And they still have the same beer on.

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There’s still one more day for me in New Orleans, but the walk back to my hotel is worth a small detour to see this place at night.

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Louis Armstrong Park plays homage to Satchmo, and many of the other jazz greats. It’s a pleasant place to walk during the day – but this display is a reminder that the best things in this town happen after dark. And if you thought it a little vulgar to be dressing up a park gate like a Christmas tree, think again.

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Posted by on March 27, 2014 in Travel Stuff, USA 2014

 

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