**ALERT** This is a rather long post, so get a cup of coffee, tea, or whatever and enjoy! (I hope!)
We had a big day today. I started out by going to Curves again this morning. I was very tempted to blow it off 'cause I had gone yesterday and we had done a lot of walking yesterday and planned to do more today, BUT I persevered and went.
We had a tour planned for this afternoon, from 2 to 5pm. But, we wanted to walk around the French Quarter some more before that so we headed out around 10:15 this morning. I wanted to be sure to get the 11am ferry so we'd have plenty of time to wander around before meeting up with the tour.
Decatur Street in the French Quarter
Santa even has a place here
The French Quarter is full of wonderful places to explore! Randy & I enjoyed walking the streets, looking at the architecture of the buildings as well as the decorations/colors of them. We walked through the French Market, going in some stores and just looking in the windows of others. There is also an open air marketplace that reminded me of Charleston. This enclosed area seems to be fairly new. Pretty nice.
One of the neat homes in the French Quarter
The French Market
We were told to be sure to have muffalettas for lunch. These are sandwiches made with deli meats, cheeses, olives, onions, and olive oil, then they are baked. Neither one of us had ever one before but we were assured (thanks again, Larry & Cindy!) that we would love them. And oh, boy did we ever!! They were delicious! It's funny the sandwiches don't look much different than a typical deli sandwich, but the taste in fantastic! We had ours at The Market Cafe which is in the heart of the French Market. Once again, we sat outside enjoying the sun and watching the world go by.
Randy enjoyed his sandwich
Once lunch was over, it was time to walk up the street to meet our tour bus. It turned out to be a tour van and there was only one other couple on the tour today. Joyce, our tour guide was very good, narrating as we went along and giving us trivia as well. Our tour was through Dixie International Tours and we highly recommend them. Ours was a three hour tour throughout New Orleans. The only disappointment for me was that we didn't get to take more pictures because there were only two stops where we got out of the van. And the van windows didn't make it easy to take pictures from inside the vehicle. However . . .
Joyce took us EVERYWHERE! We rode through the French Quarter and Joyce pointed out many of the famous restaurants such as Emeril's NOLA, the Hard Rock, and several local places where a good meal could be had. We saw the Superdome where the Saints play football as well as it being the place of refuge during Katrina.
Speaking of Katrina, we were taken through the Ninth Ward where the worst damage occurred from Katrina. We found out that about half of the people who left during the evacuation and after have not returned and probably won't. We saw the levees that broke and have since been repaired. We saw the lots where the cement foundations stand where the homes no longer do. There are many homes still standing, but just barely. And there are others in which people are living fairly well.
One of the levees that broke - you can see the difference in color
Just one example
The tour also took us through two neighborhoods that are being rebuilt through the generosity of celebrities. The first one we saw is Brad Pitt's "Make It Right" neighborhood. These houses are great! They are energy efficient with solar panels on the roofs. Brad Pitt gave $5 million of his own money to get this project started and now donations are being taken as well. Each house costs just $150,000 to build and they are really nice houses. It was unsure how families are given these homes, at no cost to themselves, but I figure there has to be a lottery of some kind.
Harry Connick, Jr. is the celebrity behind the other neighborhood being rebuilt. It is referred to as "Musicians' Village" because at first you had to be a musician to get one of the houses, now that may be not the case. This neighborhood is a Habitat for Humanity build. Harry Connick, Jr. wanted the musicians to stay in New Orleans when many were ready to leave after Katrina and that was the impetus to his getting behind the building of this neighborhood. It gave musicians places to live when their homes were gone. Fats Domino still lives in this area!
Fats Domino's home
We left the Ninth Ward and stopped at one of the unique cemeteries found in New Orleans - the above ground vaults. All the cemeteries are like this because the city is below sea level and when they tried burying their dead, the coffiins would rise to the top of the ground and be found floating down the road! A vault costs about $60, 000 now. And each one is very unique. When I first saw one of these cemeteries from the interstate, I thought it was an odd storage facility! Well, in a way, I was right, but just a little off. :)
Our tour ended with a drive through the 1500 acre City Park which is just gorgeous and then through a residential area in which some famous folks live: John Goodman (from Roseanne fame) and Archie Manning, father of Peyton & Eli. We also saw the former home of author Anne Rice, who has since moved to San Diego. We passed Tulane University and Loyola University.
Anne Rice's former home
And one surprise! As we passed the universities, I saw a man jogging in the median and he looked familiar. It was James Carville! He is such a unique-looking person that there was no doubt that's who it was. For those who don't know who he is, he is a Democratic strategist who gives poliltical commentary on various news channels. He was also President Clinton's campaign manager. Just a little trivia and a neat sighting.
We have had a great couple of days in New Orleans. We absolutely love the French Quarter. This is a place we will come back to some day. There are so many more things to do and see.
Again there are many more pictures at our Webshots site. Click on "5" to get today's pictures.
Tomorrow we travel to Abbeville, LA which is in Cajun country. Until the next time . . .