Jan 13, 2008
|New Orleans by Diane
I felt like I should be the one to write this review as I really didn't want to visit this city. I had heard, along with everyone else in the country, that New Orleans was no longer a good place to visit. The time to see it was before Katrina hit. Well, I can say that is wrong. I was pleasantly surprised and delighted at what we found here in the Crescent City.
I will say first that we are staying at the Bayou Segnette State Park which is just south of the Mississippi River. What a great park. And to make it even better, if you are a holder of the Golden Age passport, you can camp here for half price. At this time that makes it $9 per night. Now, there are no sewer hook-ups here, but there is free wi-fi and the unbelievable free laundry!!! The sites are very large and there are picnic tables and all the amenities you would want.
We also found out that the best way to get into the city was to drive about 10 miles, pay $5 to park your truck and then take a free ferry across the Mississippi River and you are right on the edge of the French Quarter.
The first day we all loaded up and headed off. We were all anxious and unsure of what we would find. After our ferry ride, we walked up Canal Street and encountered a tour booth and booked a tour in the afternoon. After some walking around the French Quarter, we all had lunch. Some of us had po' boy's, and the rest of us had muffalta's. A really good sandwich if you ever get a chance to try one.
Then we all split up to see different things. Larry and I headed right over to Café Du Monde to try the famous beignets and the café au lait. Boy, all I can say is that we had them again that same day. I think we made a firm believer out of Dick too. He says he is already missing them and we haven't left here yet.
Our tour of the city included the Garden District, the houses on St. Charles street, the French Quarter, the infamous 17th street canal and the levy where the lake breached, and of course Lake Pontchartrain.
The most fascinating to me was the stop at the cemetery. Tony was a bad influence last year. We learned that families buy crypts. They consist of two chambers. The first one on top is used when a person first dies. They are entombed in that chamber and the front is plastered over and then the marble or granite door is closed. Then when the next family member dies, that person's remains are taken out, they are taken out of the casket and put into the bottom chamber. This chamber is basically a grate with a large dirt pit beneath it. The casket is then burned. Our tour guide says there is no market for used caskets. Then the current burial can take place in the top chamber. This way, many family members can use the same crypt, depending on the size of the crypt. Now, the flaw in this is if the burials take place too soon together. It takes one year and one day for this transformation to happen. So, if you have two family member die too close together, then the second one has to rent a spot for awhile.
Some of the crypt's we saw were very large. These were built by societies and some were for nuns and priests. They were so large that several hundreds could be buried together.
Our tour was very interesting and it did give us an overview of the city and we did get to learn about it's history and the aftermath of Katrina.
Surprisingly, our tour guide told us that those houses closest to the river did not flood, but those close to the levee's did. After we saw them and how low the land was, it did make sense to us. So many of these homes still have not been rebuilt and that is sad. We saw some FEMA trailers and wondered why it is taking so long. New Orleans is about 85% rebuilt and they are coming back.
After our long day, we all headed back to sleep.
The next day, Larry and I and Dick and Gail decided to head back in to the French Quarter to see Bourbon Street, and do a little shopping. We wanted a chance to ride the antique street cars also.
The French Quarter is a mixture of great architecture, T-shirt shops, musicians on the street, and many, many bars and restaurants. The people are very well dressed and very friendly. We never felt that we were in any danger or uneasy. We saw lots of police and security guards.
I would urge everyone to make a trip to see this place and experience New Orleans. We are here right before the Mardi Gras, so we did get to see some of the preparations of that. I am sure that it will be a wild party, but I am glad we will not be here to see it.