Our tour guide was "Marty" and she met us at the hotel for our departure with our driver Alvin.
She was very informative as we drove through, not only the French Quarter, but many other areas as well, and talked a lot about what it was like there through the devastation of hurricane Katrina. The cultural traditions and the architecture are very unique here and we were all fascinated by her stories and the scenery.
We approached St. Louis Cemetery #3 (yes, that's what they call it) and we all got off the bus here for a closer look and more stories. This same cemetery was in the James Bond movie "Live and Let Die".
As I mentioned in blog entry yesterday, New Orleans for the most part is below sea-level, so they have tombs above ground for their loved ones that have passed. 95% of the "burials" are above ground. Because there is only so much room, even above ground, in these cemeteries, people that live here now (and plan to die here) usually have an old deceased family member that has purchased a tomb in the past. Because of this, there is very little expense for the family member dying in today's world. If you look closely at these tombs, many of them are quite big. For example, if one holds 4 caskets, they will fill those 4 slots of the tomb, and when the 5th family member dies, then they take the oldest remains in the tomb and push them down into the opening below. Each tomb has an opening below (called a receiving box) for just this purpose - see by this point, there isn't much left of the remains and thus won't take up much room in the receiving box. This makes room for a new body to be put in the family tomb and their name gets added to the list on the outside. This just keeps getting repeated as family members pass, with the oldest remains always going into the receiving box to make room.
There are even large ones, like this one with 12 spots, for organizations instead of families. This one in particular was for priests. Yes, even this one has an inside receiving box below.
Here is an example of a one casket tomb they are in the middle of building. the casket would go in the top section, and the receiving box is the opening below.
After our very informative visit there, we got back on our bus and we toured around "City Park". This park is over 1500 acres and has 7 miles of water in it, and is larger than Central park in New York City. It also features four 18-hole golf courses and many sports parks.
Then we travelled more around New Orleans through some residential areas. The trees and the homes were amazing.
We also went past the Audubon Zoo - which is the 2nd largest zoo in the USA with over 1500 animals.
One house we went by is famous for all the creative skeletons in their yard as Halloween approaches. Zoom in on these photos to read some of the signs with the skeletons they have up already!
Our driver Alvin Bailey, even pulled over and gave us some history on his life there (he has lived there his whole life). He is quite the character and our group has loved him from day one. He has many great ways of expressing himself, such as the following he said on the bus today: "When you're hungry you better eat something so your stomach knows your throat ain't been cut!" Or another instance today is when our tour guide Marty said that people in New Orleans like food better than sex, he said "I don't know about you, but you better speak for yourself!"...and always ending lines like this with a good hearty laugh!
After the tour we returned to meet up with the rest of the group before heading for an included lunch at the Crescent City Brewhouse - being so close we all walked there and again marveled at the sights along the way.
And a few shots of our lunch including the seafood cheesecake, yes I did say "seafood cheesecake" - obviously not sweet, but savoury instead, followed by a sweet cheesecake for dessert.
They even had live music there!
Then after about an hour of checking out some local shops within that block, we walked across the street to the river to board the Steamboat Natchez for a cruise up and down the Mississippi River.
After all this fun and excitement, we got back to the hotel about 4:30pm and I was kept busy for a while afterwards going through some of the scavenger hunt submissions from our Guests. Therefore, a few guests and I kept it a very simple evening of grazing in the hotel lounge/restaurant for our supper tonight. (sorry about the dark shots but it wasn't the best lighting for food shots)
Tomorrow, after another included breakfast at the hotel, we all depart on a swamp cruise to see alligators and other swamp wildlife up close! Then we will have a few hours of "free time" in New Orleans, before meeting up at 5pm for reverse-draw of the scavenger hunt prize of a large Big Green Egg and accessories valued at $1900! Then we will be on to the New Orleans School of Cooking for a cooking class/dinner, and then off to a jazz club and a few drinks! In other words: stay tuned because you don't want to miss the blog tomorrow!! Goodnight...