Thursday, March 22, 2018 (Still):
After the cemetery tour, I checked the time and saw I had another three plus hours left on my parking meter and decided to make the best of it. Across the street from where I was, as the place I actually parked, was the Basin St. Station and bus tour stop/visitor center. I figured I did the main thing I was in New Orleans for, I should be able to do anything else at this point.
I walked in and there was a pair of ladies talking to the cashier/tour info. The entire building was set within a train museum. I looked around for a bit and saw a section that was jazz and blues-related discussing the famous musicians that were from the area. We had something like that in our local history museum. This exhibit was free, as opposed to our, but this also had a lot less information. It was interesting to note how many famous people were from the area and they only mentioned a few I ever heard of. There were older historical figures I didn’t know the names of, but I recognized their songs from the titles on the pressed vinyl on the wall. All I ever think of when hearing Basin Street is the Louis Prima song, Basin Street Blues.
After looking around, I went to get a ticket for the tour and the ladies were still there and another one joined them. After about 10 minutes, they got out of the way to let me buy my single ticket while they continued to debate what they were going to do. After my less than two-minute ticket purchase and instructions (the bus would pick us up right outside the door and it would be there shortly), I went on my way. It took a few minutes to arrive, but while waiting for the bus I overheard some conversations from more Canadians (seems it was still vacation season as it was when I was in Key West). They discussed ice fishing and moose hunting. I kid you not. They also discussed the weather being cold in New Orleans. I will never understand. I hope when I make it to Arizona and it is 90, I don’t complain that it is hotter than in Florida. I know, it is a dry heat, which means it should be cooler because of less humidity.
The bus arrived, and I decided to sit on top, as it was a double-decker. I figured I could see everything better. I could, unfortunately, my camera could not. I got very bad pictures. I will post what I could get. We headed toward Canal and I got to see the cemetery from a different view. That was pretty much the last view I got as I sat on the right and everything was on the left. I did get to see Bourbon as we passed it. I was also informed they had a discount for the cemetery tour. Of course, this was after I returned from going there.
Gene, the tour guide, mentioned the uncomfortable co-existence of the Spanish, French, and Americans as the city grew over time. He specifically mentioned the French Quarter was actually the Spanish section after the Spanish took over and the Spanish pushed the French to another area. The streets were also named or renamed to further show how much they hated each other. The most important thing he mentioned was, one never used cardinal directions in the city. I was happy to hear that as I’m not a fan, but as he mentioned the alternative, I was quite confused and was glad I had a GPS.
While I sat, alone, the bus filled at the next stop. The entire top was full save two seats. One next to me and the other next to someone across from me and up one. There was a group of much older ladies that came upstairs and we about to part, but someone pointed out the spare seats, although it would separate the group. I warned the lady I might bite, jokingly, and she responded, seriously, that it would be OK. So, I realized it was going to be that kind of tour. During the course of the ride we shared, she was pretty good at responding to some of my milder comments I decided to say aloud. She had a few of her own and we laughed on occasion.
We stopped at Harrod’s and our tour guide mentioned Acme, the same place a friend of mine highly recommended. He said the main location would have a line around the block, so it might be best to go to the one in Harrod’s. He also pointed out the slot machines that were open-aired. Specifically, because there was no smoking in the casinos. I was shocked but pleased to hear that. I might become a gambler, after all.
We drove by the business district and it was much more elegant than the other area we came from. Full of hotels that were much more upscale than I would bother with, just for a visit. We then moved to the Superdome, being told that it was one of the few man-made structures that could be seen from space.
We passed the WWII Museum, which I heard takes a full day to go through and that still wasn’t enough time. Being there for only one more day, I kinda missed out on that one. Another friend mentioned it was worth seeing. It looked interesting, but really isn’t my period of interest.
Magazine Street was next. Gene mentioned it was over a mile of shops. As he was an older gentleman, he made very sexist remarks about husbands getting stuck going shopping with their wives there. Ironically, this is where a lot of women got off of the bus. I heard there was a tour that departed from there, so I was not as surprised.
We took on a few more passengers as the bus refilled. As we progressed down Magazine, things started to look familiar and we were hitting St. Charles, and just like in Key West, we passed the Inn I stayed at in the Garden District.
We passed a large out of commission building with two smokestacks. Gene mentioned this location was used in several movies and TV shows. He said it was the final scene in Terminator 2. I looked it up and it is the Market Street Power Plant. Terminator 2 was not filmed there. I could only find Magicians, Into the Badlands, Oblivion, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes being filmed there. Maybe he meant it looked like the perfect place for that scene. He also said since Katrina, the city tried to get revenue and used tax incentives to film there. He cited them as being the next Hollywood.
Right around the corner was Mardi Gras World. This was one of three locations where they stored the floats for the parade. Because there was a tour there, several people disembarked, and I was able to move to the back of the bus to try to take better pictures. I was now on the left and everything switched over to the right for the rest of the tour. Friendly advice for anyone taking the Hop on Hop off Tour in New Orleans, sit on the left for the first half and the right on the second.
We circled back and past the Riverfront, which was converted into an outlet mall and more placed I recognized before we moved back to the other side of the street of Harrod’s. From there we passed the arts district which looked very interesting, but I didn’t have time to stop. We then stopped near Bourbon and saw the two oldest apartment buildings in the US. We took another long break across the street from Jackson Square and I was able to see where everyone said the best (or worst) coffee could be found at the Café Du Monde. As I do not drink coffee, I was not in the mindset to try it with chicory.
We then passed the French market, which looked like a large flea market with a lot of handmade items. It reminded me of the markets in Jamaica. It would have been nice to stop there, but, again, I missed out. We stopped right across from the Old U.S. Mint that housed a jazz museum on the bottom. I really wanted to see that but was getting close to being near the end of the tour and close to my car. We passed Congo Square and then made the final stop for me, as I was parked across the street.
I did take some of what I saw into consideration and did something later in the day, but that is another story.