Our stalkers, Andrew and Dick have sold their homes in Sitges Spain and Berlin Germany and have purchased another home in Palm Springs California. Very sadly, their companion and friend of nine years, Henry the English Bulldog, died recently and a trip to New Orleans is a welcome diversion for them.
Henry in Paris with us in 2016. RIP sweet Henry, we will never forget you. You will always be in our hearts🥲💔.
Dick and Andrew arrived on Jan 6 which is known as Three Kings Day or Twelfth Night which symbolizes the glorification of baby Jesus by the Three Wise Men. It is also the birthday of Saint Joan of Arc and the official start of Mardi Gras Carnival in New Orleans.
The first Mardi Gras Parade is Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc who is the city’s unofficial patron saint, “The Maid of Orleans”. It melds medieval revelry with the traditions of Mardi Gras.The procession is inspired by Joan’s time in France in the 1400’s, when she liberated the citizens from British siege.
Enjoy this video of our first Carnival Parade
The Miss Universe Pageant is being held here this year and several contestants marched in the Parade. Miss USA won the contest on Jan 14.
We had brunch at Brennan’s Restaurant. Food was good but service was the worst we have ever had at a restaurant. We waited about 30 minutes between courses despite it being very well staffed. We watched a table next to us turn over 3 times. We will never go back and do not recommend it.
Our daughter Jennifer and family did a three hour city bus tour of The French Quarter, the Garden District and neighborhoods affected by Katrina. They highly recommended it so we booked to do it with the Stalkers. These two pictures are from a cemetery stop.
This is the family crypt of Anne Rice, one of the most influential writers of gothic literature. She is buried here alongside her husband.
Dick’s favorite dining experience was at Cafe Degas which was voted the “Most Romantic Restaurant in New Orleans”. This Fauborg St John Bistro offers simple, yet artfully executed classic French Cuisine. It is in a neighborhood where Edgar Degas visited to stay with a relative for 4 months.
We booked two tours of Antebellum Plantation Mansions located about 45 minutes out of New Orleans. We found that it was cheaper to rent a car and do it on our own rather than go through a tour group.
Oak Alley Plantation was our first tour. It was owned by Jacques Roman, who had it built for the purpose of luring his wife Celine away from the exciting bustle of New Orleans. More than 200 men, women and children lived enslaved on this plantation. Despite this beautiful mansion, Celine still preferred New Orleans.
The most distinguishing feature of this Plantation is the magnificent alley of canopied Oak trees stretching 800 feet long, which were planted in the early 18th century.
The house is surrounded by 28 Doric columns and porches on the first and second floors.
The guided tour of the mansion was a disappointing 15 minute rush through only a few of the rooms in the house as there were tour groups in front and in back of us so there was no lingering and of course no photos allowed. We decided for the cost ($30 per person) and the rental car expense to get there we would not recommend it to others.
The slave community at Oak Alley included men, women and children; most of whom occupied a set of 20 double or duplex structures.
Those who labored on the plantation occupied a wide range of positions. Many were field slaves that worked up to 18 hours a day in the cane fields, planting, weeding, irrigating and harvesting hundreds of acres of sugar cane. There were also domestiques, or house slaves. These young men and women (as young as 12) worked in the mansion.
Our second tour was the Whitney Plantation which was more interesting as it focuses exclusively on slavery in Louisiana from 1719-1865.
The grounds contain several memorial sites dedicated to the 100,000 women, men and children who were enslaved in Louisiana.
Many slaves tried to run away and when captured they would be subjected to whipping, branding, mutilation and for some even execution.
The vat in this photo is for cooking sugar cane. The sugar cane leaves are sawtoothed and many slaves would get cuts which put them at risk for infection that could result in amputations and death due to lack of treatment.
Slave quarters at Whitney Plantation.
Returning the Chains at the end of slavery, sculpture.
The Slave Revolt Memorial commemorates an uprising of 500 slaves that rose up and walked down stream toward New Orleans and killed two white men. They were stopped by the militia and dozens were beheaded and their heads were mounted on poles at the plantations to which they belonged.
Field of Angels Memorial is dedicated to 2,200 enslaved children who died in St. John the Baptist Parish between the 1820s and 1860s.
Dinner at Coquette Restaurant. This is a small French Restaurant just three blocks down Magazine Street from us. This was our second visit.
We enjoyed taking a Swamp Boat Tour.
We were on a small boat where our captain Patrick was able to navigate through the narrow areas of the Bayou swamp.
People have homes in the Swamp.
Alligators are dormant this time of year.
Alligators and turtles cohabitating.
We were pleased to see quite a few alligators.
The boat captain fed the raccoons corn kernels.
They followed the boat
It looks like they are swimming but they are actually scurrying around in the shallow mud just under the water.
The captain pointed out many species of flora in the swamp.
We took an interesting tour of St Louis Cemetery #1. Above is the mausoleum owned by actor Nicholas Cage. Apparently his love of voodoo motivated him to locate his tomb in the same ancient cemetery as Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen.
Marie Laveau’s gravesite
Many gravesites are not being maintained by the family and are in poor condition.
We took a tour of the Gallier House which is an urban mansion in the French Quarter.
Buckner Mansion where the filming of American Horror Story took place.
King Cake is a frosted seasonal treat that Mardi Gras partygoers eat between January 6 otherwise known as King’s Day and Fat Tuesday. The rainbow magic is found in the glaze and sprinkles, which are usually gold (representing power) , green (associated with faith) and purple (which illustrates justice). Buried inside the batter is a tiny plastic baby figurine and the lucky individual who gets the slice with the baby are tasked with hosting duties and bringing their own cake for the following year.
Of course as we always embrace the local traditions, we purchased Mardi Gras decorations for our home.
Peggy arrived early in the day and as a bonus her arrival overlapped for enough time to have lunch with Dick and Andrew before they departed.
We had a lovely reunion lunch at the famous Dooky Chases’s Restaurant
This restaurant in Treme opened it’s doors in 1941 as a sandwich shop and was the meeting place for music and entertainment, civil rights, and culture in New Orleans.
Many famous people have eaten here.
They bid us adieu and headed back to Palm Springs, which is their new residence.