Reaching the Big Easy represented the furthest distance from home, and the completion of 10,000 km. We enjoyed 5 days having fun in New Orleans (aka Nola and Nawlins) followed by a few days in Cajun country as we headed west towards Texas. We took the local bus each day into the city. Campgrounds are always many miles away–ours was 5 miles out in East New Orleans but it’s a freeway road over the channel so we were unable to take our bikes, as was our original intention. The extremely wet weather further added to keeping our bikes parked. Herewith is a sampling of our activities…
Honouring the first anniversary of Michaela’s father’s passing by attending a service at St. Augustine’s Church in the historic Fauberg Treme neighbourhood (this neighbourhood was also highly damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005). St. Augustine’s was the first church built by free people of colour in 1841. It was considered the most integrated congregation in the country and has been in continuous operation for 175 years. There is a small choir that sings hymns and The Lord’s Prayer with a jazz twist. It was all very down to earth, welcoming, inclusive, and real.
Leaving church in a downpour, we walked through Armstrong Park (as in Louis) on our way to a pre-booked Jazz Brunch at Mr. B’s (in the Vieux Carré).
Around Jackson Square (including St. Louis Cathedral)
Louisiana State Museum: because we love State Museums…
Images from wandering the French Quarter by day:
And the French Quarter by night (we did a guided ghost tour – this is known as one of the most haunted cities)…
And drinks at the Carousel Bar in the Monteleone Hotel in holiday spirit (that’s a Sazerac, aka Nola’s official drink, and a Vieux Carré in Michaela’s hand)
The craziness of Bourbon Street (we have no idea what these various characters are doing, but even mid-day, this is the street of EXCESS):
The French Market:jazz bands, tourist shops, horse and buggies, beer, Joan of Arc, and the awesomeness of warm beignets.
Frenchmen Street: goofing around bar hopping in the music entertainment area late at night. .
The Marigny neighbourhood: we attended a tribute concert to Leonard Cohen by local musicians (proceeds to Standing Rock), an unexpected “find.”
The Bywater neighbourhood: during a dry period, we were able to enjoy a chilled bottle of rosé and po’boy at Bacchanal and looked at some pretty funky houses (many used to be plantation housing).
Business District and Waterfront area: mostly to see the boats and lights of the city.
Garden District: the 3-martini lunch at Commander’s Palace (including southern pecan pie)…
…followed by Stuart needing a short nap as we toured the historic Lafayette Cemetery #1…
…and topped off with a self-guided walking tour of the mishmash of architectural styles that make up the Garden District, most of them palatial (even the “shotgun” cottage) and most historical or famous in one way or another.
NEXT UP: CAJUN COUNTRY
The two activities that we targeted could not have been more different from one another.
- Bayou Eco-Tour – a guided tour by Cajun Swamp Tours which is run by a Cajun naturalist on the largest privately owned bayou (effectively an eco-preserve). We learned a lot, such as the difference between a bayou and a marsh (do you know?), the shyness of alligators, the threats to a fragile ecosystem, and living on a bayou.
2. Touring a Historic Plantation: we chose the Whitney Plantation because it is the first plantation tour to honour the lives of slaves. This area has multiple sugar plantations and many are popular to visit for their opulence, their architectural restoration, or to hire out for functions. Some operate as inns. All can only be visited by taking a tour. The tour was awesome and the stories were truly humbling, made more powerful as the Roosevelt government in the 1930’s created a huge writers project as part of the new deal. One task was to interview as many people as possible who were slaves (children and teens) at the time of emancipation. This was one of the larger plantations in its day that had hundreds of slaves. It is also where new exhibits are being constructed to honour the slaves who were killed by beheading during the slave revolt.Each child figure (of which there are only a few shown here) were interviewees.
Last stop in Cajun Country was at the Acadian Memorial in St. Martinsville. Unfortunately, the flooding earlier this year has the museum closed for renovations. For us, it was still a sober moment of reflection as we learned about the “relocation” of the Acadians when we were in Grand Pré, Nova Scotia, in 2004. And coming full circle, as we listened to the stories of our Cajun swamp tour guide, we felt sad–his stories sounded so similar to what we have heard about the residential school system and the attempts to quash a whole culture.
Stay tuned for our next post, where we ditch the cold weather for a quick trip to …Belize!