Friday, April 17, 2009

Another Walking Tour in the French Quarter

Our next adventure was to take a walking tour with ‘Friends of the Cabildo’.

It was another beautiful day in New Orleans when we arrived at the meeting point for our tour. We were assigned to a large group and got mixed up when we couldn’t hear the instructions from our guide. We didn’t know if we were coming or going and hurriedly fell in behind everyone when it looked like we were going to be left behind. Two days had passed since my run-in with gluten and I was feeling rather battered and tired but I was determined to enjoy my day.

As we followed our guide around I soon discovered that I couldn’t hear a word she was saying. I was dismayed that our guide was so soft-spoken and that her voice did not carry any distance at all. No wonder we had almost been left behind – we had never heard her instructions.

The Cabildo is located in Jackson Square and is now a museum. Originally it was the seat of government in New Orleans and it has a rich history associated with it.

The walking tour through the French Quarter took us to three historic houses that were bedecked with Creole Christmas decorations. The tour was to end with refreshments and the telling of the Creole Christmas Story.

The first house we visited was the Beauregard-Keyes House across from the Ursuline Convent. This historic house is famous for many reasons. Built by a wealthy auctioneer, it is named for two of its former occupants – Confederate General Beauregard and author Frances Parkinson Keyes.

The tour was taken over by a guide at the Beauregard-Keyes house with a large voice. I was so grateful! I hate missing information when I’m taking a tour. We learned the history of the house including the period when the Giancona family owned the house and were gunned down by the mafia. During this tour another group from ‘Friends of the Cabildo’ came into the house and waited in the front parlor. I heard their guide talking and immediately turned to The Man and told him we were switching groups. The new guide could be heard!

Returning to the parlor we listened again to the history of the house and joined in with the new group. We followed the tour into the gardens and the back buildings where Frances Keyes lived and wrote more than 50 novels. It wasn’t until we had returned to Alberta and I was ensconced in my many books of the Cabildo and Haunted New Orleans that I learned how haunted the Beauregard-Keyes house was. Our guide did not include that little tidbit in our tour. I learned that Frances Keyes lived in the buildings at the back not only because she was crippled with arthritis but because the main house was so haunted! How exciting!

Back on the street and standing beside the brick-walled garden of the Beauregard-Keyes house, our guide told us about the bricks that were found in almost of the French Quarter buildings. Because of their composition they could be easily damaged with a finger and she asked us not to touch any of them. A large man standing next to us turned and dug his finger into the brick wall. I stood there with my mouth open just wanting to whack him one. Grrrrrrrrrrr! (I just wrote a long paragraph of my rant about this – and then deleted it. Some things are just better left unsaid)

Our next stop took us to a lovely little house where the refreshments were being served and the Creole Christmas story being told. The guides were dressed in long gowns and my heart longed to be standing in Tara and calling for Rhett Butler! Afterwards I stayed clear of the refreshments being served and gratefully accepted a small cup of tea before wandering into the little garden behind the residence. It was so beautiful I wanted to cry with my longing to live in this incredible place.

When we returned to the meeting place we were allowed to take a tour of the first house we missed because of switching tour guides. We wandered around by ourselves and marveled at the architecture of the Pontalba buildings. The apartment we were viewing was part of the two buildings that Baroness Micaela Pontalba had built on either side of Jackson Square. Her ‘AP’ monogram can be seen in the beautiful scrolling wrought iron balconies.

At the end of our tour we arrived back in the museum store and spent some time browsing through the offerings on display. We came away with many books and some jewelry that I just had to have! All proceeds went to the ‘Friends of the Cabildo’ which we were happy to support.

Another great tour!

21 comments:

Crystal Jigsaw said...

You make it sound fascinating. I so want to visit that haunted residence and hopefully be able to listen to the guide who can be heard. It would really do my head in if I was on a tour and couldn't hear the guide.

CJ xx

grandmamargie said...

We are planning a trip down south in a couple weeks. Unfortunately, we won't get to visit New Orleans but you sure make me want to go. I love your bracelet. So unique. Do you wear it?

aims said...

Crystal - you'd love it there - so many ghosts!

Grandmamargie - I do wear the bracelet. It is a button from the 1800's. How fascinating is that!

Maggie May said...

The bracelet is lovely.
Fascinating trip.
Sorry to hear about the gluten. It gets everywhere. Shouldn't have been in turkey of potatoes unless the meat got contaminated by stuffing or something. Hope it didn't last long..... the discomfort.
We have lots of ghosts in England too!

Mean Mom said...

That was really interesting! Blogging is so informative. Clicked on the balconies link - very ornate!

aims said...

Maggie - Self basting turkey has gluten in it. Amazing isn't it? And I've heard of some of your ghosts....woohooooo!!

Mean Mom - The balconies are just stunning! Everywhere you look in the French Quarter - like lace on the buildings.

The Gossamer Woman said...

I suppose New Orleans needs people to come back and visit all those historic places and get back to the order of the day. I have never been there and am still stuck with the images of hurricane Katherina in my head. We don't hear much in Europe about the rebuilding of all those neighborhoods that got wiped out and the people that had to flee them. It would be interesting to know what is happening now.

I love that bracelet. It is very pretty and so romantically made. I don't long for that era, but they did have some beautiful jewelry back then, although I realize that this is a replica. Things were ornate to the point of kitsch. Wonderfully overdone.

Dr.John said...

That man suffered from wet paint syndrome.If the sign says wet paint you have to touch it to be sure.
I'm glad you got to enjoy all of this even though you weren't feeling well.

lisaschaos said...

I love that bracelet! I have mixed feelings about guided tours, sounds like this one needs a different guide?

Mickle in NZ said...

A beautiful bracelet, of course you had to treat yourself to it.

You were far more polite than I'd have been over the idiot shoving his finger into the delicate brickwork. Dr John's comment is so accurate.

And thanks for the link to the article on gluten contamination. So very useful to know.

Love and huggles, Michelle (Zebby is nose down in a knitted fluffy scarf on "our" bed)

rosiero said...

Just back from my trip. So sorry to hear about the painful Christmas you had. Such a shame you felt so ill.

Lane said...

Gosh, how I'd love to visit New Orleans some day.

Glad you switched to a guide you could hear. You would think that a good clear voice would be a pre-requisite for the job wouldn't you?

Beautiful bracelet Aims.

Valleys Mam said...

Aims I so enjoy your posts I don't always comment.new Orleans is somewhere I would love to visit.Romantic notions in my head I guess,Frances Parkinson Keyes now that's an authoress I havent read in a long while. I first had her book Chess when I was in my teens.

Melanie said...

What a lovely tour to be able to go inside the historic buildings. I'd loved to have gone. I love historic stuff. Yep I am with you about the twerp intent on destroying the bricks so future generations are denied the priviledge he participated in.

What a shame about the initial guide. She probably knew her stuff but what a shame that it couldn't be shared well.

Rachel Cotterill said...

Dropping by after seeing your comment on Brett's photography blog (about converging lines) - I used to live on a boat very like the one in the photo, you can get through gaps with about six inches on either side. And the water isn't always very deep either. It's a great way to see the British countryside if you ever have the chance.

Daryl said...

Oh now I am putting this tour on my list of TO DO when we go back to N'awlins! Girlfriend we must find a way for us both be there at the same time .. the shopping we could do!

Moonroot said...

I am so enjoying reading about your trip to New Orleans. Thank you for sharing it with us!

Salute said...

I am enjoying reading the New Orleans stories and I hope to visit Big Easy during the summer.

San said...

Aims, I've had that feeling too--visiting a place and longing to live there. Your account is fascinating. I must go there!

That's a lovely bracelet.

San said...

P.S. I'm back to snag your blog address for my blogroll. I forget to visit you, but when I do, it's a pleasure. The blogroll will jog my memory!

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