New Orleans – Day 5

We have arrived.  It’s now 9 A.M. and we are in the process of docking at the Julia Street Cruise Terminal.  Interesting location as it is part of a massive Outlet mall.  A rather different approach to getting tourists to spend money.

A rather lazy morning today (which won’t be the same either tomorrow or Sunday) so breakfast was late.  Almost 10 A.M. which is not unreasonable at all.  In fact, one might contend there were substantial benefits directly relating to reversing the effects of martini night.  But that’s a different conversation.

A walking tour is the afternoon’s venture.  Similar to one we did in London a couple of years ago where we all meet the tour guide at a preselected spot, and go from there.  At the end it’s a pay-what-you-feel-it-was-worth deal.  For the two hours we walked through the Garden District of New Orleans, it was certainly a worthwhile excursion.

Starting at the Lafayette Cemetery number 1 we wandered through a fascinating area of burial architecture.  Mark Twain called it the City of the Dead and, when viewed from above, the similarity to a city is quite apparent.  All the tombs (and there are about 1,000 in this square city block area) have peaked roofs.  Some have a lamb laying or sleeping on the top, unfortunately indicating a child is buried there.

In the Garden District there are about 4,000 families with an average home price of about $1.7 million.  A small house here is around 4,000 square feet, a more normal size is about 10-12,000 square feet.  The largest home in the area is 22,000 square feet.  The whole area is only about 5 x 10 city blocks and was declared an historic district in 1974.

Trees in the area are protected, but sidewalks are not.  The joke in New Orleans is that the most dangerous thing about New Orleans is the sidewalks.  The trees are old, large and given to massive root systems.  That plays serious havoc with sidewalks whether they be concrete, asphalt or (very common) brick.  Often landowners will repair brick sidewalks immediately around their property if that is what is there.

Stately mansions are commonplace although some of their owners are generally not referred to in the same fashion.  We stopped in front of John Goodman’s home as well as Sandra Bullock’s.

Time well spent and the weather acceptable.  Cloudy yet still 29 degrees and humid, but a sunburn was avoided.

It’s back to the ship for a change of clothes and then off to the Steamboat Natchez for dinner and jazz.

The Mississippi is a massive drain for North America.  Ranging 2,340 miles, draining 31 states and two Canadian Provinces it carries about 400 million tons of silt annually.  Its size is third only to the Nile and the Amazon.  New Orleans is 130 miles upstream from the Gulf of Mexico.

The steam engines on the Natchez are actually older than the boat itself.  They were built in 1925 and the engines in 1975.  The paddle wheel (the only means of pushing this boat through the water) weighs approximately 26 tons and there are 3 17 foot rudders that are used to steer her.

Dinner is … good but not outstanding.  Red beans and rice, prime rib roast (not Alberta Beef!), blackened cod, potatoes and catfish bisque (which, in all fairness was Really quite good, just a little salty).  After dinner it was upstairs for the live band (Dukes of Dixieland) which was Excellent.  This has given me my first taste of what attracted me most about this cruise.  The music and I know there will be more.

It’s now after 9 P.M. and having left the Natchez we meander down the street in the general direction of Bourbon Street.  Although we never make it quite that far, we do find Cafe du Mond, home of the Beignets they have managed to make world famous.  Do NOT attempt to go here at breakfast time.  There are lineups that will drain your staying power.  Right now seems to be a great time.  Even though it seems abnormally busy for (essentially) a coffee house, finding a table it not challenging.  Walk in, sit down.

BTW…their Beignets are $2.73 (plus tax) for an order of 3.  They are fancy doughnuts yet don’t really taste or look like a traditional doughnut.  AND they are COVERED in icing sugar.  The second largest sugar refining plant in the world is just down the river a little ways from here.  They refine 6.25 million pounds of sugar daily.  I wonder which company came first…

A day well spent and somewhere north of 13,000 steps put on the shoes.  Time for bed!

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