Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Big Easy

Lots of wrought iron and cast iron work all over the city

interesting door panels
How do you cover New Orleans in one day? You can't...so we hit the highlights of the city during the day time...we're saving the nightlife for our next visit...It's CARNIVAL DAYS so the preliminary mardi gras festivities have started...the beads, the masks are out, the preparation for the country's biggest party is underway. But first, we rode the shuttle from our campground over to take the tour on the Greyliner--the Super City/Katrina tour. This gives you a great overview of the city. We drove thru the 9th ward and others, desolation and debris everywhere. Almost six years later and the city is still struggling...poverty has always been there but the hurricane damage just hits it home harder. I saw a beautiful snow white egret walking in a terribly blighted area, just walking thru someone's yard. We saw Brad Pitt's efforts to make a dent in the despair of the city...his modern homes are very unusual--solar panels, colorful, odd roof angles, but very interesting. They are modular and ultra modern in style and stick out like a sore thumb in some awful looking places. We went from desolation to ritz and glitz. After seeing the hurricane damage we visited the more beautiful parts of New Orleans--the museums, the botanical gardens, Esplanade Street where are the fantastic styles of architectural sit side by side, house after house. We saw the exclusive men's and women's clubs where you have to be a millionaire to join. We saw the most amazing mansions.
The city was not evenly flooded...I thought the entire city was under water when the levees broke but there are parts that were NOT flooded, some that were just a little flooded, and some majorly flooded. The city is approximately 50% high ground and 50% low ground, so different areas were affected differently depending on income level, and real estate location. Water control is the city's major concern--they are surrounded on three sides by water, it rains an average of 65" per year, so water control is ALWAYS a problem. I saw an article in a local newspaper where they are having problems with the water pipes and pumping systems continually breaking. It seemed like there was ground construction everywhere, crews working on streets and water lines.

Almost bought one of these!

Beads everywhere, hanging from street signs, trees, wires...lots of gold, green and purple banners, fleur de lis everywhere...wreaths on doors were all the shiny, metallic beads, foil colors of purple, green, silver, and gold...The fleur de lis symbol has been adopted by the city as a sign of hope and recovery..."We will never forget Hurricane Katrina..." You can take a tour of the making of Mardi Gras, which I bet would be very interesting! There are swamp tours, cemetery tours, dinner/jazz tours, ghost tours, French Quarter tours, and steamboat tours. I thought ours today was excellent. Thirty-two dollars a person for two and half hours combining the hurricane areas with the extensive downtown tour. Very nice bus....
We stopped at one of the 42 cemeteries that are in New Orleans. There are many, many interesting stories to cemeteries but we just had a quick rest break here to walk around and look for about ten minutes so we did not get to hear any. The one we saw was an above ground cemetery. People buy a family plot, and then everybody in the family shares that crypt. It was such a gloomy, rainy day that it added to the grave atmosphere...(insert groan) After the tour, we walked around for awhile, down Bourbon Street, Royal Street and a couple other ones. We ate lunch at O'Brien's, home of the famous Hurricane drink. Eldy had one, but I just took a sip. Rum is not one of my favorites! Delicious meal outside in the courtyard with fountains...it was beautiful...New Orleans is a very old city but filled with history, architecture, interesting people, and interesting events, fabulous music. Because it was so windy and chilly today, we had five hours till the last shuttle would be able to pick us up. We decided to head back home and had to take a cab. Our last contact with New Orleans would be our cab driver, who told us he stayed during the hurricane, not realizing it wasn't going to be the hurricane that would do him in, but the levees breaking. He and his family were on the top of the roof of their house, water to the top of the roof before they finally got rescued. He said he learned his lesson--he rebuilt but he's never going to stay during another hurricane...he'll leave.....
Jackson Square
We saw at least three of these guys similarly dressed...they pose and remain motionless for long periods of time until someone takes a photo or goes up to talk to them...
Corner building architecture
We didn't have a beignet (French pastry/donut), we didn't have a po-boy (sandwich), we didn't hear the jazz, we didn't have gumbo...but we will next time!  On the road tomorrow for Texas...yee-haw! Here's one last glimpse of the "Big Easy" streets....

1 comment:

  1. Wow you guys, New Orleans in a day. I didn't think it could be done until I read this.

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