October 19 – 24
Properly hydrated, we met up with the girls and walked to Jackson Square for the start of our private tour with Dave from NOLA Tour Guy. Having enjoyed a walking tour of the French Quarter during our last visit in 2016:(https://wordpress.com/post/3jmann.com/3389) and I hoped that our group would enjoy one as well.
I was drawn to the Tour Guy as it was a free walking tour with corresponding times to fit our schedule. You may recall that these tours are billed as free, but you are generally obligated to tip the guide, anywhere from $15 and up. As I looked at their website more closely, it turned out I could schedule a private tour for our group at a fixed rate that would equal $25 per person, about what we paid for our tour in 2016. This seemed like a good way to go and so I booked our time.
We got off to a rough start as Dave emailed me to let me know he was running late. In and of itself this wasn’t a problem as we had nothing scheduled after the tour and hanging around Jackson Square is always entertaining with street performers and other activities on which to focus our attention. An impromptu brass band played nearby and as we first gathered with Dave, we could spy a wedding in progress in the park-like square.
We walked around the French Quarter with Dave pointing out places of interest; the sights we viewed and the narrative delivered were all different than the tour we took two years ago, one advantage of these types of tours being the lack of canned dialogue.
We cut our time short in the quarter in order to walk eight blocks to Basin Street for entry into St. Louis Cemetery #1.
The oldest and most famous cemetery in the city, it was opened in 1789 replacing the city’s older St. Peter Cemetery (no longer in existence) as the main burial ground when the city was redesigned after a fire in 1788. It is 8 blocks from the Mississippi River and has been in continuous use since its institution.
Famous New Orleanians buried here include Etienne de Boré, wealthy pioneer of the sugar industry and the first mayor of New Orleans; Homer Plessy, the plaintiff from the landmark 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision on civil rights; and Ernest N. “Dutch” Morial, the first African-American mayor of New Orleans. In 2010, actor Nicolas Cage purchased a pyramid-shaped tomb to be his future final resting place.
The cemetery spans just one square block but is the resting place of many thousands. Effective March 1, 2015, the Roman Catholic Diocese of New Orleans, which owns and manages this cemetery, closed it to the general public, ostensibly because of the rise in vandalism there, and now charges tour companies for access. Families who own tombs can apply for a pass to visit.
Dave had extensive knowledge about its history and its inhabitants and by the end of the tour, a few of our group had reached the limit of their ability to absorb more. A long morning having come to a close, we coordinated a couple of Lyft rides and made our way back to the VRBO where down time filled the rest of the afternoon, with college football and assembly of a large jig-saw puzzle holding center stage.
As dinner time approached, with plans to head to the French Quarter later that evening, we checked out some places close by on Trip Advisor and settled on Superior Seafood, just a mile away on St. Charles. This would turn out to be one of our best dining choices of the trip as they had extended their Happy Hour through Saturday which includes half price bottles of house wine (a quite good Murphy-Goode Sauvignon Blanc and Cascade Cuvee Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley were our choices), $3-dollar draft beers, and 50-cent raw oysters.
We would order a broad range of items, from the oysters, to fried gator, fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, po-boys (a shrimp and a brisket), Redfish Dryades, gumbo, a blackened fish sandwich, a seafood pasta dish and of course a couple of desserts.
With 3 bottles of wine and 8 cocktails, the bill came to $305.20 for the 8 of us (not including the tip), a shade over $38 per person, a true bargain in any sense of the word.
Later that evening we hopped on board the streetcar and headed to the French Quarter. Arriving at the stop on the, we noticed a tremendous commotion and turning the corner onto Canal St. found ourselves in the middle of the city’s official Halloween parade, the Krewe of Boo. We hung around a bit picking up on the energy and also handfuls of the strings of beads being thrown out of the floats.
We located Bourbon Street and began our walk up that famous (infamous?) street. I held off getting a drink until we reached the bar that we’d had so much fun at in 2016, Tropical Isle, home of the Shark Attack and the Hand Grenade. We popped in with Kim and Marty and much to our astonishment, they deferred on either of those drinks opting for Gin and Tonics.
We dutifully ordered an Attack apiece and although good, it didn’t quite live up to our remembrance of that great late night there two years ago. It just goes to prove that good times can’t necessarily be recreated.
Walking a few more blocks up and down Bourbon Street fulfilled the expectations of all involved and heading back up to Canal, we used Lyft to get us back to the VRBO. Some of us would stay in the rest of the evening while others went back for another round or two at Igor’s. All in all, it had been a good day in NOLA, full of some must-do things and as usual, really good food. And we’d get back there the next day to do the same.
NOLA Tour Guy: https://www.nolatourguy.com/
St. Louis Cemetery #1: https://www.frenchquarter.com/st-louis-cemetery-no-1/
Krewe of Boo: https://www.kreweofboo.com/
Tropical Isle: http://tropicalisle.com/