Thursday, November 29, 2012

There is a house in New Orleans

Actually, I think I'll leave the houses we visited in the Garden District for when I'm in town and move straight into the Oaks Alley plantation house that we visited today.

Oaks Alley is one of several restored plantation houses along the banks of the Mississippi north west of NOLA. Oaks Alley was, and still is, a sugar plantation. The ground here is too wet for cotton. In its prime the plantation had 93 slaves working the plantation and another 20 working in the house. This included a 60 yr old, one armed slave who was only worth $60. I'm guessing he may have been the man in charge of pulling the rope that kept the fan moving above the dinner table while the guests ate.

The house is absolutely magnificent and has been beautifully restored to reflect life in the late 1800s. It is very reminiscent of the regal homesteads in our own part of the world except ours don't have an avenue of 300 yr old oaks leading up to them. It was certainly worth the hour's drive out to see it. The opulence of the plantation house was in stark contrast to the town of Valcherie that we drove through on the way there, highlighting for us once again the divide between rich and poor in the US. We have a similar, growing divide in Australia but it is not so often seen side by side as it is here.

When we got back to town Taine and I went for a walk to the French Market while Geoff & Sophie had a run along the banks of the Mighty Miss. We ate beignets from the famous Cafe de Monde (3 for $2.56) and watched some of the street performers across from Jackson Square. The beignets were delicious although I'm not sure that much icing sugar is good  for anyone.

Too tired to venture out for dinner, we tried the hotel's own cocktail, 'Swamp Juice' along with some hot HOT HOT wings. Despite the blistered lips, they were delicious and the swamp juice certainly helped lessen the pain.

The Country Inn and Suites has been a great base for our stay in NOLA. It's only 5 minutes walk to Bourbon St and the River Walk and the service has been friendly and efficient. They have a guest laundry and a constant supply of free cookies at reception!

One of the nicest things about traveling is the people you meet along the way. We've had some great conversations with folk from all over the world while we've been in NOLA. Today we met a lovely couple, Joyce & Darrell from California, who told us about a website called global freeloaders, a way of finding new friends and free accommodation all over the world. I'm looking forward to checking out the redwoods near Joyce's house sometime in the near future but for now, we're off to Florida!

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