Two plus years ago we were fortunate enough to be able to visit the historic city of New Orleans, Louisiana. I thought you all might like to see this beautiful and strong mule hitched to a carriage in downtown NOLA.
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 was established via a Royal Spanish Land Grant in 1789. It was originally outside the city limits, and was at least twice its current size. The Archdiocese of New Orleans now has control of this cemetery. Currently the only way you can get into the cemetery is with a licensed tour guide. Unfortunately vandalism has forced this action.
The famed above ground tombs and wall tombs are designed for use by generation after generation. Many of the tombs are owned by individual families. Some of the very large tombs are known as society tombs where several families or groups have combined resources. The laws dictate that a year and a day passes before an additional burial is permitted. As you would expect, there are many well-known, famous and infamous people whose tombs are located in the cemetery.
We decided to go on a St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 and Voodoo tour put on by the Gray Line. Marcia, our tour guide, was a delightful host of our small group. As mentioned above, you must be with a licensed tour guide to gain entrance into the cemetery. Shop around, but we suggest going with the Gray Line Tour Company.
We noticed a neat park on the Mississippi River levee at the town of Kenner, Louisiana. I turned into the parking lot because I saw an interesting statue. It was, in fact, a statue of a couple of men in boxing stances. I had to see what this was all about. Here is a picture and a little history.
On May 10, 1870, a trainload of about 1000 people left New Orleans for the little town of Kenner, a few miles from NOLA. The purpose of the trip was to visit an old sugar house near the banks of the Mississippi River. In that house was a makeshift boxing ring. In that ring a fellow from Beeston, Norwich, England named Jed Mace was the victor over another Englishman named Tom Allen from Birmingham. The 10 round bout was a bare knuckle affair. What made it special was that it was the first World Championship Heavyweight Prize Fight in the United States.
The park offered a great view of the river as well as access to a long trail on top of the levee. Kenner is a quaint little burg with quite a history. In addition to the boxing site, when Kenner was a Native American village it was the site of the landing of French explorer Robert Cavelier De La Salle’s landing in 1682. This was when he claimed Louisiana for France in the name of King Louis XIV.
Sher and I found a great place in New Orleans to both have a great meal and to listen to some fabulous live jazz music. We had been to the Market and another live music bar ( see that story here) and decided we wanted to get something to eat. I had seen The Maison on the web, so I recognized the sign.
We were seated right away at a table just a few feet from the stage, which was already occupied with the Baby Giants Jazz Band! Doug, our waiter, appeared right away and showed us the drink menu. Sher ordered a “Dixie Revival” made with tequila and grapefruit juice and some other good stuff. Once I took a sip of hers, I had to have one myself. What a great drink!
We then ordered our dinners. Sher ordered the Penne Primavera, pasta with seasonal vegetables sauteed in a Creole garlic and butter sauce. I opted for the Cochon de Lait Poboy, a Cajun style slow roasted pulled pork dressed with cole slaw and drizzled with Barbeque sauce, and with a side of fries. It seemed like in no time our plates were brought to us. I actually declared “Wow” out-loud when I saw my Poboy and the huge pile of fries!
The food was absolutely decadent. Sher said her vegetarian pasta was the best that she has ever had. The Poboy was my first, but I just loved the pork on that bed of coleslaw in the bun. And those fries came out almost to hot to touch, so they stayed hot and crisp throughout the meal. I don’t think either one of us could have been more pleased. Hats off to our waiter Doug who took care of us. Even when all of the tables in the room occupied he still was able to continue to serve us.
The Maison on Frenchmen Street is both a marvelous live jazz club, but also a terrific restaurant as well. The prices are very reasonable, the jazz is free with only one drink purchase per set required. When in New Orleans, make sure that you spend at least one evening at the Maison. Here is their website for your reference.
Sher and I have been looking forward to an evening of New Orleans jazz music as well as some good food. We went to the east end of the French Quarter to do some shopping to begin our evening. The eclectic nature of a lot of the shops makes the exploration of them a real treat. We did catch the tail end of the French Market, a large open air lot, some of which was under roof. Many vendor booths were filled with folks selling their wares. You would see everything from imported T-shirts and other clothing to hand made jewelry, leather, or other quality art work.
Frenchmen Street is just outside of the French Quarter’s Decatur Street. A short two blocks worth, Frenchman Street is known for its live music clubs. The first bar we walked into was Bamboula’s. This venue used to be an old printing shop, and the ceiling and support posts were covered with pressed tin panels. The band was already playing so we sat down and had a drink. During the next two sets we enjoyed the music and the ambiance of the bar.
After we finished our drinks at Bamboula’s we struck out to explore Frenchmen Street. As we had arrived early several of the jazz bars were either not yet open or the band had not yet arrived or started to play. There were not a lot of people out on the sidewalks yet, and the places that were open were not really into the evening yet. We sat for about 5 minutes at one bar after having to ask for a menu. No one came by so we left. This actually was a blessing as we then went to the Maison at 508 Frenchmen Street.
The Maison was a great venue for the bands we heard. The Baby Giants Jazz Band was playing when we went into tho the bar. These guys rocked the bar with some amazing jazz. I especially appreciated the trombone, as I used to play. The numbers performed offered several chances for instrumental solos. This always gives you a chance to truly appreciate individual talent. We started with a couple of tequila cocktails called “Dixie Revival”. Oh were they good! We then ordered our meals. The food was excellent and very reasonably priced.
New Orleans is a remarkable city with seemingly unlimited visual scenes. Here are some photos that we took during our first day in The Big Easy.
Today was our first day in New Orleans. Even though our KOA campground offers a free shuttle to the French Quarter at 9 AM, we decided to have a relaxing morning and take our time in leaving. We used Uber and went down to the Gumbo Shop restaurant for lunch. (I’ll have a review up later.)
After lunch we strolled down around the French Quarter. If was fun stopping in some of the shops along the way. In addition, we saw some street performers. Several musicians were playing some great jazz. A street “mime” was striking a pose and holding it until someone dropped money into his bucket!
We had also made reservations for a “Cemetery and Voodoo” tour. This 2 1/2 hour bus/walking tour was put on by the huge tour company Gray Line. We were fortunate in that only two other couples had tickets, thus there were only 6 of us on the tour. Our tour guide was very good, and with just three couples on board it was almost like having our own private tour. Seeing the famous St. Louis Cemetery with its above ground tombs was spectacular. More to come later about this tour!
After our tour was finished we walked to the Cafe Du Monde, famous for coffee and those unique pastries called beignets, pronounced ben-yays. The coffee was super strong and good. The beignets were simple: fried dough smothered in powdered sugar. And they were indeed very, very good. We’ll let you know what else we see and do over the upcoming days.