Tours today. Visit a house of someone in the 1940’s, a Mardi Gras tour, a quick lunch before the pharmacy tour which was probably the best yet, house of the 1850’s, pick up car, supermarket and across the road to Cheesy Burger for dinner. We fitted a lot in!
We wanted to go on a swamp tour but a free one that was run by the parks department. We had planned to go by Uber but I was a bit concerned that we might not get a lift back as it was at least 30 mins from the city centre. I suggested that we hire a car and we worked out it was ½ the price if we got it from the airport.
As it only took an hr and $US4 for both of us we decided to do that and take the car back in time for our flights. That way we wouldn’t have to take 3 buses to get there. On Saturdays the airport express doesn’t go right into NO for some reason.
We booked that and headed off for our first tour. We saw a house which was decorated as it was in the 1940’s. The owners were very innovative and had all sorts or “mod cons” and had used items in a different way from which they were designed. For example, sewing tables were used as coffee tables next to a person’s chair and candelabras were converted to electric lamps. The family was very wealthy and collected from UK and Europe. They had air conditioning and the lady had a powder room that anyone now might be jealous of.
Next I thought it was a tour of 5 houses but it was in fact a talk on the history of the Mardi Gras. Too many dates as the talk consisted of when each Krewe was formed and how many members each Krewe had. A Krewe is similar to a club but it is for the sole purpose of putting on a parade during the carnival season which is from Jan 6th until I think, 42 days prior to Easter. This year Mardi Gras proper is on 28th Feb. Parades are held by different Krewe before that bit Rex, the king of Mardi Gras Krewe and a couple of others have their paraded on that day.
A ball is held in the evening by the Krewe(s) that parade each day. Each member of a Krewe pays their subs which are used to finance the parade, there is no sponsorship. Each Krewe have something which they throw to the crowd during the parade. Zulu throw coconuts, an all female Krewe throw stiletto heals, others throw fake doublets and necklaces.
We learnt some of the above at Mardi Gras World when we went.
Lunch time which had to be quick as we had a tour of the pharmacy museum at 1. We had red beans as we hadn’t had those and they were another NO special. They came with sausage and 2 strips of fried chicken. Not our favourite but TP like the sausage and I the chicken. The red beans were OK but the smoky flavour of the sausage had permeated them and I’m really not keen on smoked flavour.
The pharmacy museum and tour was really interesting. It was set in an original pharmacy in NO. The fittings were not from the shop but they were from other pharmacies around NO and were authentic to the era. The guy who took the tour owned the shop and he was quite a character too. There are no pictures and I’m not sure why, maybe they were not allowed. Anyway, the guy had a topknot of curly hair and as he spoke it bounced around. It was shaved around except for a little curl at the end of a shaved sideburns.
Another passionate person, his interest was medical history. He told of the “cures” carried out which actually caused addiction. Laudanum for ladies was actually a narcotic. A heroin mixture was often prescribed which of course mad you feel better but did little to cure the problem. Women of higher class even started to make themselves look sick to show that they didn’t have to work. They were dying so they enhanced their pallor etc which indicated sickness.
Syringes were made of lead and examples he showed us were from the garbage from the back and the water closet area. He had many artifacts from these rather smelly sources. They cut through a vein to make an opening and then injected into the open vein.
Doctors kept their workplaces dirty and their coats dirty to prove that they had worked previously and were not new to the job resulting in diseases and infections being passed on by doctors. There was a lot of voodoo and local medical people and where a western doctor might prescribe a lead mix to cure bacterial problems, these peoples used mouldy bread which consisted of penicillin.
Local medicines were sought after by the upper classes and pharmacies stored them but they were asked for by number, not name so no one knew what you were asking for unless they also used the same cure.
So many stories and so interesting. A female dressed as a male to learn medicine and practice it because no one would apprentice or teach a female.
We left shortly before the end as we had to get to another tour. We had a very full day. It turned out that the next tour was actually “self guided” so we could do it anytime. We decided that we would go and get a coffee and give our feet/hips a break and then go back. We found a nice little coffee shop in a side street with a couple of chairs outside and we sat there for a while and had our drinks.
The self guided tour was a 1850’s house which really only had a few rooms displayed but interesting nevertheless. There were bedrooms, dining room and nursery. The slave quarters you could only look through a window.
Next we returned to the government museum where we learnt about Katrina. The Katrina exhibit was so intriguing we were there until close but the lady wrote on our ticket so we could reuse them the next day to see the Mardi Gras display. So different, Katrina on the ground floor which was very disturbing and Mardi Gras on the second which was pure fun and indulgence.
They still had Mardi Gras the year after Katrina and many costumes were made of the traps which covered the houses which still stood.
We had both had enough of standing and museums by then and we walked to the bus stop to catch the bus to the airport to pick up the rental car.
The first car they gave us we were told that it couldn’t go out, after I had fixed all the mirrors and seat etc. They gave us another even smaller one but we only asked for a small cheap one. It didn’t even have a USB connector for the phone to keep it charged while it directed us where we wanted to go
We just took the car back to our accommodation but on the way, we called in to check out a supermarket. We found some unusual things such as live lobsters in a tank. There were also huge steaks and meat was cheap compared to Aussie.
TP took a picture of something and a tour guide consequently picked up that she was a tourist and started to chat to her. He was a tour bus driver. He was really friendly and gave us all sorts of tips, not all of which we took notice of of course! He gave us his card and said to ring him if we had any questions which was really nice of him.
We met so many friendly helpful people in NO.
TP bought some mixes of the foods we had eaten in NO. King Cake, Beignet and Banana Fosters for example. She also bought some hot sauce. Tabasco was actually developed in Louisiana.
After the supermarket, we continued on to our accommodation and managed to arrive without incident.
We parked the car in a side street and took our purchases in and almost immediately went out again to eat. The plan was to eat across the road at Cheesy Burger and then go back to Baccanal which TP thought was great. We didn’t make Baccanals but we did have an enjoyable dinner of cheesy top nots (potato similar to potato gems with cheese on top) and pulled pork poutin which was nothing like Canadian poutin. It was potato skins, pulled pork, sour cream and cheese melted over it all. Very decadent.
The same barman was there, Elliot, and we had a chat about Kerela, Trump and various other subjects in between him serving and cleaning up ready to close.