40th (Ruby) Wedding Anniversary Cruise
New Orleans - Louisiana - USA
DAY 19 & 20 - 23rd-24th Feb 2018 - Landed Julia Terminal , Riverfront, New Orleans, USA "The Big Easy"
It was our 40th Wedding Anniversary treat, what you might call our Ruby cruise! A day and a half in the lovely Big Easy but short by some amazing bureaucracy whilst checking into the states, it took 6 hours from landing until we were finally free on the streets of New Orleans. We arrived and left via 106 miles of the muddy but magnificent Mississippi River, mostly sadly in the dark but we did see some of it! We didn't do any trips here but went under our own steam. Took the riverside street car (red and hopefully named Desire *smile*) to Toulouse street and walked up into the french quarter into the famous Bourbon street, such fab architecture.It had only been a week since the Mardi Gras and there were beads everywhere, quite an atmosphere. Had lunch in the Hard Rock Cafe in Bourbon Street with hand signed Fats Domino piano top and an old Liverpool Institute school photo featuring a very young George Harrison and Paul McCartney. We then walked along a bit of Canal street at which point it started to rain. Loved the Voodoo shops *smile*. A very kind tourist shop lady (way better than on the ship) suggested we don't do the Hop-On Hop-Off bus as a waste of money but use our all day ETA transport ticket to travel on the worlds oldest continuously running streetcar / trolley bus (green) all the way along St Charles Avenue and South Carrollton to the end of the line and back to see the Antibellum houses and the Uni and the Parks. What fun. On the 2nd day Keef went in alone by trolley bus / street car to the French Market , 6 stops along the riverfront Julia Street to French Market. I saw some jazz in the streets , great graffiti and bought Annie some Ruby anniversary gifts. Love the BIG EAZIE... *happy* In the eve on the boat a local Jazz band played, how nice. If you would like to read the detailed BLOG of the trip including the Captains log please CLICK HERE
2 fab days in the "Big Easy"
The Guide to New Orleans
The home of jazz, of Creole culture, architecture and cuisine, together with the influence of voodoo makes for a heady mix. New Orleans is quite unlike any other American city as a result of its Franco Spanish background with a sprinkling of other nationalities thrown in.
“Don’t you just love those long rainy afternoons in New Orleans when an hour isn’t just an hour - but a little piece of eternity dropped into your hands - and who knows what to do with it?” Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire.
Tennessee Williams, Mark Twain, William Faulkner and of course", Hollywood (where else could Rhett Butler have taken Scarlett O’Hara for their honeymoon?) have all helped in the creation of everlasting images of New Orleans. Sultry and seductive; bluesy trumpets crying through the damp mists that roll off the Mississippi; timeless cobbled streets viewed languorously from bourbon-suppers on balconies and ceiling fans whirring like drowsy bees. It is as if New Orleans, ‘The Big Easy’, so ingratiated with time, has been allotted a few more hours in the day, a few more hours to while away.
New Orleans is the largest city in the state of Louisiana. Snuggled into ‘The Crescent’ of the Mississippi river, at most it rises to only 17 feet above sea level; almost half of New Orleans’ 375 square mile area is water. The atmosphere is so ‘souther’ that it is often referred to as the ‘northernmost city of the Caribbean.’ Originally settled by the French and Spanish, its 275-year history has seen the arrival of Acadians from Canada, Indians, Africans, Cubans, Irish, English and Germans - certainly it is one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities.
New Orleans apparently is invested with only two seasons - May to September is hot and humid and October to April is usually mild but with rapid changed possible, including southern freezes.
The first known explorer to reach this part of the world was Cavalier Sieur de la Salle in 1682. He
arrived at a point about 90 miles from present- day New Orleans that enjoyed drainage from the Mississippi. He proclaimed it a possession of France in honour of the Regent of France, Philippe due d’Orleans. The Quebec-born French brothers, Sieur d’Iberville and Sieur de Bienville, followed after la Salle and on 2 March 1699 sailed to the mouth of the Mississippi and landed at a point they named Point du Mardi Gras - the next day being the Catholic holiday of ‘Fat Tuesday’ (still remembered in the famous Mardi Gras Festival). The French Quarter is the site at which Bienville had his engineers plot the original city. In spite of the hostile cannibals the city continued to expand.
It is said that in 1762 Louis XV of France lost a wager to his cousin, King Charles III of Spain, and thus the whole of Louisiana territory became a Spanish possession. The handover took place under the secret Treaty of Fontainbleau in 1762 and French officials and citizens did not learn of this until 1766 when the Spanish Commissioner, Don Antonio de Ulloa, arrived by boat in New Orleans. The people felt betrayed and refused to accept Spanish rule, forcing Ulloa to leave in 1768 under the threat of being hanged.
For eight months the colony enjoyed the position of being the only American colony to be free from foreign rule, until that is, over 3,000 soldiers arrived to reclaim the territory for Spain. Don Bernardo de Galvez was made Governor of Louisiana in 1770.
It must be remembered that the French and Spanish lived together for most of the time in considerable harmony and the inter-marriage of their cultures gave rise of the city.
During the early 18th century Spain and Great Britain were pirating each others ships in the Atlantic and by 1779 various events had led Britain to declare war on Spain. The war with Britain was costly, and though Spain looked on Louisiana as valuable property, she could no longer afford to keep it. In 1801 Louisiana ceded to France, however Napoleon was soon to run into financial difficulties so in turn he sold it to the United States for $15 million dollars.
The fact that New Orleans was being taken from the Catholic European powers and handed over to the ‘grubby American Protestants’ caused fear amongst the citizens. Fighting was fierce but gradually settled as the Americans built up their own area on the other side of Canal Street.
During the War of 1812, the British made repeated attempts to seize New Orleans and thus control the Mississippi River. This reached a head in 1815 when General Jackson teamed up with the noted pirate Jean Lafitte, Choctaw Indians and Negro slaves. After a fierce 29 day battle, the Battle of New Orleans, the British were finally defeated.
More recently Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans and the surrounding coastal area of Louisiana and Mississippi in September 2005.
Much of the city was underwater and more than 1500 people in the region lost their lives from this devastating natural disaster.
Prior to Hurricane Katrina, the population exceeded 490,000, often appearing much more as it receives over 10 million visitors a year. However, after Katrina, the population stood at around 150,000. This figure has now risen to around 337,000.
The French Quarter
Pulsing and exuberant, friendly and traditional, this is the place to be. If you didn’t pay a visit to the French Quarter it is doubtful that anyone would believe you had visited New Orleans. This is where is all began, in the Vieux Carr6, where you can explore street with names like Chartres, Bourbon and Toulouse. Start off with a stroll along the riverfront from the ‘Moon Walk’ in front of Jackson Square to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas - feel the romance of the city and the charm of the mighty Mississippi.
Originally the Place d’Armes - a military marching area - Jackson Square is today the very heart of the French Quarter, named in honour of Jackson’s decisive victory over the British. A beautifully landscaped area alive with street performers musicians and local artists - there’s always something happening.
St Louis Cathedral
One of the eldest Catholic cathedrals in the country. Though extensively remodelled after the original building of 1722 was destroyed by fire. Contains magnificence and glory in abundance.
The Presbytere and Cabildo
These two Spanish colonial buildings flanking the cathedral formed the Spanish seat of government. In front of the Presbytere is a curious metal object which is in fact The Pioneer, the first confederate submarine. Inside the Cabiido is the grim exhibit of Napoleon’s death mask.
The French Market
Restored buildings and beautiful stalls make this - 160year-old-market one-of the mostpicturesque -
scenes in the French Quarter. Browse around the market for jewellery, leather, antique dresses, t-shirts, fresh pralines and a huge variety of local produce.
The Ursuline Convent
The oldest building in the Mississippi valley. Constructed in 1745, it is 25 years younger than the city of New Orleans, but 25 years older than the United States at 1100 Chartres Street. Closed Monday. Guided tours are available at several times during the day.
612 Dumaine Street. A voodoo cultural centre and collection of artefacts dealing with the occult and supernatural. Voodoo was a spiritual belief system of the 18th century slaves that brought fear to the ruling elite. Open daily from 11.00am - 7.00pm. Hermann-Grima Historic House 820 St Louis Street. A fantastically preserved example of American architecture, this house depicts the gracious lifestyle of a prosperous 1830’s Creole family. The mansion house, stables and kitchen have been meticulously restored and guided tours are available Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10.00am to 3.00pm (by appointment) and on Saturday between 12.00pm and 3.00pm. The tours last from between 45 minutes and 1 hour. There are literally hundreds of places of interest catering for all tastes in the French Quarter. The best advice is to pick up some leaflets from the Tourist Information Centre, and Vieux Carre will become your oyster. Tickets may be booked online at least 24 hours in advance via www.hgghh.org. Tickets may be purchased at the museum gift shops the day of the tour, depending on availability.
Traditionally Canal Street is the dividing line between the French Quarter and the American area. Its name is such because it was actually intended as a canal, which accounts for the unusual width of the streets.
Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
Situated in Canal Street and home to over 7,500 aquatic specimens. The Aquarium features four major habitats including the Caribbean Reef and one ofthe world’s largest shark collections. The Aquarium is open from Tuesday - Sunday from 10.00am - 5.00pm. Louisiana Superdome
The famous location of many Super Bowls and Sugar Bowls, this impressive building plays host to many sporting events. Costing over $180 million, it proudly boasts the largest roof-span in the world with a diameter of 680 feet. No tours are available.
St Charles Avenue Streetcar
For a different view of New Orleans, hop aboard one of
the historic streetcars at any of the well-marked spots for a nostalgic trip to the Garden District. This area was home to the Americans and the wide streets and stately, elegant 19th century homes provide a sharp contrast to the narrow streets and closed courtyards of the French Quarter. Look out for the gothic Briggs- Stubb House, Robinson House and Colonel Short’s Villa. Magazine Street
A few streets from St. Charles Avenue is Magazine Street with dozens of small cottages selling everything from antiques to books and flowers to clothing. Take a breather at one of the cafes for a pick me up for which New Orleans is synonymous - cafe au lait. This area also has some excellent bistros and restaurants.
Audubon Zoological Gardens
Also in Magazine Street in the city zoo, one of the top five zoos in the USA. Be sure to visit the white alligators in the Louisiana Swamp exhibit.
This 1,500-acre park is home to the newly expanded New Orleans Museums of Art. The lush 10-acre Botanical Cardens (admission charged) are also to be found in Gty Park as well as 8 miles of scenic lagoons for boating, fishing and bird watching. Open Tuesday - Sunday 10.00am -4.30pm. New Orleans has excellent public transport facilities covering the whole city. Comprehensive details can be obtained from the Visitor Information Centre at 529, St Anne Street in the French Quarter, across from Jackson Square. Open Tuesday - Saturday 9.00am - 5.00pm. Tel. 568-5661.
It is practical to tour New Orleans without a car, but if you must drive remember that parking in the city is extremely difficult.
Avis, 2024 Canal Street,Tel. 523-4317. Budget,
1317 Canal Street, Tel. 565-5600. Hertz, Loews Hotel, 300 Poydras Street, Tel. 636-3300, ext 5347.
Taxis are available at the quayside. The Pier is very close to the main city and its facilities. Taxis operating within the city are metered.
The Queen Creole departs for the Big Easy Harbour Cruise from the Riverwalk Dock, Spanish Plaza at various times. This 90-minute cruise is on the authentic replica of the steamboats which provided passenger service in the late 19th century and cruises past the French Quarter, plantations and the site of the Battle of New Orleans.
The major gastronomic influences are French, Spanish, Native American and Caribbean, which combine to form the two main flavours of the city - Creole and Cajun. Memorable dishes include gumbo, a stew-like soup. Jambalaya reflects the Spanish influence - a paella-style dish of seasoned rice, shrimp, ham, celery and green peppers. Seafood dishes are unparalleled, especially the bisques, shrimp or crab in thick soup swirled with cream.
The muffuletta sandwich and the po-boy (served on delicious French bread) were invented in New Orleans, and don’t miss the wonderful bread pudding. There are also many establishments in the city, serving Continental, Oriental and Italian dishes.