We came to New Orleans for the Jazz Fest, but we love this fun filled city and took a tour to see the sights and learn a bit more about it. Thanks to a gift we took the City Sightseeing double decker bus tour. The advantage of this tour is you can hop off to explore an area and a half hour later hop on the next bus. We did that in three different areas of town. It was also interesting to see how much the city has changed since our last extended visit in 2008 when it still showed much of the post Katerina damage.
This is the Storyville section of town, formerly the "red light" district, where jazz was born in the 1800's.
We toured St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 that was established in 1789. The cemetery is a mix of burial sites of the famous and infamous. Many of the older tombs are in a major state of disrepair and others are new ones that are still waiting for there occupants. I am making a wish on the tomb of Marie Laveau, a famous Voodoo Priestess. (This is the second most visited grave site in the US after Elvis.) Nanc is checking out the tomb Nicholas Cage had built. Right is an older, rundown tomb and the wall vaults that are known as ovens. Bottom left is the tomb of Homer Plessy, the plaintiff in a 1896 Supreme Court case that found racial segregation to be legal. Those laws remained legal until the 1954 Brown V. Education overturned that decision.
Here on Bourbon Street is Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo. We did not go in.
The Mercedes Benz Superdome is in much better shape then it was in 2008.
Just a few of the many works of public art that are found throughout the city.
We hopped off the bus in the Garden District to check out a few of the fabulous homes. Most houses here were spared Katerina flooding, but many had wind and rain damage. There are still some buildings, including a hospital, that have not been repaired.
Another stop was Mardi Gras World were many of the parade floats are built for several krewes. Each of the over 50 Mardi Gras parades is sponsored by a different krewe. A krewe is a private group and no commercial floats are allowed. We have been to New Orleans twice for Mardi Gras parades and we wanted to get an up close look at how they make these beautiful floats.
The first stop was to get you into the spirit of the event with costumes. Look at these two jokers.
While some are built with fiberglass, most are carved out of layers of Styrofoam. Left, an artist is carving a character for next year's parade. There is a picture of the final float in the foreground. Middle, since you can't paint Styrofoam, they next cover everything with paper mache. Finally, they are painted.
Also on display were many of the costumes for the krewes.
Mardi Gras is not there only business. Here are a few things from the recent Super Bowl and the cow they use as a model for all the Chick-Fil-A billboards.
They have thousands of old props stored in several warehouses that they often reuse.
A few of the floats. They will be stripped of last years props and redecorated for the theme of next year's parade. Each krewe picks its own theme. All the work for next year's parades is well on its way.
Of course you can't think of New Orleans without thinking about the mighty Mississippi. The river is 200 feet deep here. Ocean going ships can navigate the river as far north as Baton Rouge.
Washington Artillery Park and Jackson Square. The square is surrounded with shops and artists.
You have to love the old style architecture of the city.
And entertainment is everywhere. The bands were in a couple of bars where we stopped to listen and the street performers run the gamut from this acrobat to the truly bazaar that would be inappropriate to show.
And here are the crowds on Bourbon Street. This was 7:30 on a Thursday evening. The weekends are more crowded and of course crazier.