Here’s a shocker for my fellow British people – did you know it’s pronounced New Or-linz? Apparently, it’s only British people and those who are wrong who pronounce it New Or-leans! (No idea why us British get lenience here but I won’t complain!)
On our second day in New Orleans, we headed back to the tourist shop on Decatur St. where we met an amazing man who talked us through all the tours and hot spots of the city. He recommended we book with a local company, Cajun Encounters, for a city bus tour that day followed by the Honey Island Swamp tour for our third day. He also gave us a discount for booking the two tours and then circled a map a whole bunch of recommendations for places to eat and visit if we found the time.
The air conditioned City Tour Bus was bliss compared to the outside Louisiana heat. My blistered feet from the day before heavily thanked me for viewing the magic of New Orleans, this time, while sitting down.
Our driver, Rene, was a wonderful southern man with the most soothing voice I think I have ever heard – both Nick and I commented that no matter what he was saying to us it felt like he could have been telling us a bedtime story! He was full of knowledge of all of the areas we passed and even beyond. He had an answer for every question and never once seemed bored or irritated. His love for the city was infectious and I honestly felt as though I could follow him around all day listening to his stories and history.
One of the more fascinating stops on our tour was to The City of The Dead, St Louis Cemetery. Rene explained the tradition of celebrating the lives of their dead and the level of respect each of the deceased people receive. Much of the cemetery is full of large, above ground tombs which cost somewhere within the region of $40,000. The tombs can hold hundreds of people and therefore are often passed down generations. The process of the tombs is to place inside a body and allow it to lay there for the mourning period of 1 year and 1 day undisturbed. After this time, the heat inside the tomb cremates the body, reducing it to ash. This is then swept to the pit beneath to await the next body to be placed inside. It the event another person in the family dies before the mourning period is over, the bodies are placed in a holding vault before being moved into the family tomb once the mourning period is over. Rene also explained the celebratory procedure of a traditional funeral which includes a procession with music and dancing with the coffin in order to appreciate the life of the loved one.
While the Cajun Encounters City tour came to an end after 2.5 hours, Nick and I were not yet finished with our exploration of the area. A quick browse on Trip Advisor had us booked onto the Witches Brew night tour which looked into New Orleans history with ghosts, vampire, witches, and voodoo. We were told true stories of the murder suicide of Addie Hall and Zach Bowen back in 2006, the tragic torture and murder of slaves by Delphine LaLaurie which was only discovered when one of the slaves managed to set fire to the house during a party in 1834. We learnt of the strange mystery of Count Saint-Germain/Richard Chanfray, a possible immortal vampire who drank a mixture of blood and liquor, owned no furniture, and was accused by a young woman of attempted murder. Then there’s the story of Julia Brown, a woman who in 1915 was heard singing over and over again… “One day I’m guna die, and I’m guna take you all with me.” Whether by coincidence or an actual prophecy/curse, on the day the town was burying her body, a devastating hurricane ripped through the area destroying villages and killing hundreds of people.
The above photos are from the LaLaurie house. The whole day, both before and after us viewing this house, my camera would work 100% fine with clear photos, but when it came to this house, all the photos I took, no matter from which angle, the house appeared to be surrounded in smoke. Super weird considering the fact its horrors were discovered in a fire!
New Orleans definitely is an amazing city filled with a rich and fascinating history that I would recommend to anyone interested in something a little bit different. Maybe stay a little longer than three days, however, and expand your exploration. There’s so much to learn beyond the tours and with a bit of research, you could be out there for weeks!
Be sure to check out read about my first day in New Orleans here if you haven’t already!