We arrived in New Orleans to see a beautiful sunrise (and as the shepherds warned, this brought us a wet afternoon with rain and a thunderstorm). I went on a city tour this morning so that I could get an overview of the city and decide some of the best ways to spend our days here.
In the afternoon, I spent a few hours at the National WW2 Museum. It was built in New Orleans as the shipyard here built over 14,000 landing craft, so the city has a very large link too the war. The museum is fantastic. I saw four main areas. The first was a hall showing the politics and events leading up to America’s decision to enter the war in 1942 after the bombing of Pearl Harbour. The second traced the history of the war In Europe while the third showed the history of war in the Pacific. The final one that I saw was the Boeing exhibit f aircraft that were involved in the war. The museum has some superb displays, video and artefacts. Each gallery is laid out a bit like an Ikea store with a winding route and displays on each side. It’s well worth a visit. I know that this is the very proud National Museum but in my view it did over state America’s role in the war as one of saving the world, although it did occasionally recognise its allies.
We disembarked the ship yesterday and after another tour of the city we transferred to our hotel. As one of our fellow passengers from Utah said, “I am done with this ship”. This tour covered much the same route as the previous one but the guide on this second tour was much more informative that the first one. I enjoyed it much more. One of The stops was at one of the city’s cemeteries. It remind me of the cemetery at Recoleta in Buenos Aries in Argentina with its crypts and decorative mausoleums. On some, we could see complete generations of family history.
Our hotel is on the corner of Canal Street and Bourbon Street so we are right in the centre of the French Quarter. New Orleans was founded in Spring of 1718 by the French as La Nouvelle-Orléans, under the direction of Louisiana governor Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville. After its founding by the French, the city went through a period under Spanish control, then briefly back to French rule before being acquired by the United States in the Louisiana Purchase. In the 19th century, New Orleans was the largest port in the South, exporting most of the nation’s cotton output and other products to Western Europe and New England. It was the largest and most important city in the South; thus it was an early target for capture by the Union during the Civil War. With its rich and unique cultural and architectural heritage, it remains a major destination for tourism, conventions, and major sports events, even after the major destruction and loss of life resulting from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
We found a nice seafood restaurant in Bourbon Street for lunch.I enjoyed a Po Boy with fried oysters. The origin of the name is unknown although at one time there was a strike by streetcar workers and an established restaurant run by ex tram car employees served their former colleagues free sandwiches. They jokingly referred to the strikers as “poor boys”, and soon the sandwiches themselves took on the name.
From there, we went for a walk around the French Quarter taking some photos of street scenes and the wrought iron walk on the verandas of the buildings.
Early in our walk, we came across a branch of the Audibon museum that housed insects and butterflies. John Audibon was an early American naturalist who published many prints of birds. We came across these early in our trip at Henderson.
Around the streets there were quite a number of street performers. There seems to be more bars in this neck of the woods than the rest of the world put together. I can’t understand why the ocean is not completely fished out with all the oysters, shrimp and seafood served here!
We found an open air bar near our hotel and stopped for a beer and some time to listen to the jazz band that played there. They were wonderful.
I was rather pooped by the end of the day so we had an early night. This morning, we caught up with a bit of washing and ironing and before lunch we were out walking the streets again doing a self guided walking tour. This took us down Royal Street and past many antique shops. These were originally the homes of wealthy people at the turn of the 18th Century.
We found the St. Louis Cathedral on the edge of Jackson Square.This cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans and is the oldest cathedral in what would become the United States. It was dedicated to Saint Louis, also known as King Louis IX of France. The first church on the site was built in 1718; the third, built in 1789, was raised to cathedral status in 1793. It was expanded and largely rebuilt in 1850.
We were back at the same bar with the jazz band for lunch but while the leader of the band was the same trombonist and singer, the other two members of the band were different and the played in more of a blues style than a traditional jazz style like yesterday.
The delicacy of this are is a Beignei. These are sweet treats that you’ll find almost every patisserie in New Orleans. Dubbed as the official state doughnut of Louisiana, these rectangular treats are deep-fried, pillowy, light and puffy doughnuts made with yeast dough with just the right touch of sweetness and dusted with powdered sugar. I quickly found out that you should not wear black pants while eating these as the sugar drifts everywhere!