New Orleans – day 3

Posted on: March 19, 2012

On the last day in New Orleans, we had the whole morning & afternoon before we left. Since we didn’t have a clue of what to do, my boyfriend suggested that we took a day tour around. So, we signed up for a tour covering French Quarter, Lower 9th Ward (the area got hit by Katrina), cemetery, and Garden District (the area with houses that still preserved their original French architecture). There are other tours available, such as plantation tour and haunted tour. The plantation tour covered a lot of mansions outside the core New Orleans, thus, requires almost whole day – so we skipped this. The haunted tour is a night walking tour where the guide shows you which sites in New Orleans are believed to be haunted – I had no gut for ghosts story so we skipped this as well ūüėõ

The tour van picked us up from the hotel and some others passenger from different hotels around. First, we circled around French Quarter area with some historic sites. One houses was Clay Shaw‘s house – he was allegedly linked to assassination of President JFK. The tour guide also showed some famous cafe/ bar, such as¬†Jean Lafitte‚Äôs Blacksmith Shop Bar – the oldest pub in the NOla that is believed to be haunted, DeJavu – where Ellen DeGeneres had her first gig, Cafe Beignet, Cafe Du Monde, The Marigny, and The Praline.

We then headed to Lower 9th Ward. This area was a bit long drive outside the New Orleans core ~ about 20-30 mintues drive. This was the area that got hit the hardest by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The tour showed us around the abandoned houses that were flooded through their roofs. The scenery was so devastating and made me so humble that I’m never in that situation! *it still gives me goosebumps whenever I talk or hear the story about hurricane Katrina.* Some of the houses were renovated and painted with vibrant colors to show that there is new hope for this area. Still, a lot of the houses were left with markings from the rescuers’ and you could actually see the water level during the flood in some houses due to the growth of algae on those watermark lines.

We then drove to an area where Make it Right Foundation¬†– founded by Brad Pitt – was rebuilding new affordable houses for those who lost their houses. The houses were specially designed to sustain hurricane since NOla is often getting hit by hurricane. These houses were built a couple feet above the ground – in case of another flood – and the roofs were slanted – to better resist the wind and to allow rain water to fall quickly a.k.a. more aerodynamics. One of the house was called a ‘boat house’ since it looked like an ark – maybe if the flood came again this house would float hahaha….

After about 45 minutes circling this area, we continued our tour to Cemetery area. Then, we passed a building called “Mother-in-Law Lounge.” The tour guide said that the name was a joke from the men who hang out there. As the name suggested, it’s a lounge to avoid the mother in law hahahaha…

The tour guide explained that the soil character in New Orleans is swamp soil. Also, New Orleans has high water table due to it’s close proximity to bodies of water, like Mississippi River and other lakes surround this city. Therefore, it’s not possible to burry someone under ground because when the underground water is raising, it will also raise the soil and the corpse inside the grave! Not a very good scene… or rather it would like a scene from a zombie movie… Scarrry! The solution is above-ground burials. Due to limited land for the¬†cemeteries, it is common to buy a piece of land for burial site of a whole family in which the bodies are stored in vaults within one tomb. The ornaments on the tombs were really pretty. The angels on the top made the tombs looked so sacred. The most famous cemetery is Saint Louis Cemetery; esp. St. Louis Cemetery #1 since it is the site where¬†Marie Laveau¬†– the famous Voodoo¬†practitioner¬†– was burried. If you are really interested about the cemeteries in New Orleans, they have a special tour for this, click here for the information. We didn’t spend too much time in the cemetery and the tour guide brought us to Museum of Art for lunch.

New Orleans Museum of Art is located inside a big park. We didn’t enter the museum but we bought some food for lunch in one of the¬†cafeterias. The tour guide also mentioned a gazebo in the park was used during filming The Curious Case of Benjamin Button¬†(middle picture below).

After toilet break and lunch, we headed to Garden District. This area is where lots of houses still retained its original French architecture – which I LOVE! ¬†I wish I could pick one house and put it in my pocket then put it here in Vancouver. The exterior of the houses showed a lot of characters and it was so elegant and inviting. There were some celebrity houses too, such as Ann Rice (writer of Interview with the Vampire), Sandra Bullock, Nicholas Cage (known as cursed house since whoever buy it was happened to have bad luck afterward), and a house used for filming The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. There were a lot of tourist walking around this area holding map to see the houses – we would totally do this if we knew where to find the map since the tour passed the houses very quickly ūüė¶ Plus, there was a streetcar passing this area!


After about 4 hours, we went back to the hotel. Since it was lunch time, I suggested to have lunch at Restaurant August, John Besh’s restaurant, since it had a reasonable lunch set menu. The food were good and looked pretty too! We came in without any reservation and was seated immediately. In the front of the restaurant, there were tables for larger parties and we were seated a bit farther back. The service was good but the server forgot my dessert! Since they gave us a complimentary appetizer (custard like with caviar in egg shell – super good!), I forgave them hahahaa….

After lunch, we checked out our room and waited for the airport shuttle bus to pick us up. We were waiting on Canal Street since the shuttle dropped us there from the airport. We waited for about 10-15 minutes passed the schedule pick up time and we were getting worried. Luckily, the driver then saw us and called us in! The driver said that they usually picked up the guests from the main entrance on Magazine Street. When we were on highway, there was a traffic jam since it was around 4 pm a.k.a. rush hour! Fortunately, we schedule our pick up 3 hours ahead our flight! Even when we were at the airport, there were lots of people trying to catch their plane and the line up toward security check was longggg! Once we passed the security check, we could breath easily. As I mention earlier on day 1 entry, the flight back to Vancouver was smooth, no delay, no hustle bustle! We had a 45 minutes lay over in Houston but since the flight was on-time, we even had time to buy some snacks for the next flight. Thanks for a great experience, New Orleans! Hope I can go there again sometime ūüôā


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