Today was a full day of historical learning and exploring.
We hopped into the car and drove an hour outside of New Orleans, headed to the Houmas House Plantation and Gardens. First we purchased tickets to take a tour of the house and gardens before we strolled over to the restaurant and enjoyed a delightful brunch.
The food was delightful and the atmosphere made me feel like we jumped through a time warp into the colonial days. I enjoyed a crawfish omelet that was stuffed full of crawfish and spinach. The hubby enjoyed the buffet that had a little bit of everything including lamb and duck. As we ate I imagined these were dishes that were made in those grande ole days.
After our lovely brunch, we strolled over to a small building on the grounds that housed a bar and lots of history mounted on the walls. Here we enjoyed a drink and conversation with the bartender while we waited for our tour to begin. We discovered bottles of whiskey, scotch, and bourbon that would burn a hole through your pocket or wallet. The most expensive was over $3,000 a shot and the cheapest was over $100.
There was a beautiful wood display cabinet behind the bar that showed off bottles of liquor that the bartender explained was not for sale or taste. One of those bottles was as old as the Houmas House itself. Soon the bell rang out in the gardens indicating the start of a new tour and we quickly headed towards the area to wait for our educational visit to begin.
Our tour guide was a small petite woman named Sandy dressed to represent the colonial times with her hoop skirt and southern accent. She was funny and interesting and made the tour fun with jokes appropriate to the era and educational at the same time.
She took us through the main part of the house and through all the rooms explaining the history and the purpose of some of the artifacts.
I think my favorite part of the whole house was the spiral staircase that wound up to the second and third stories. Sandy began her story in the foyer below the stairs explaining that in the prime time of the plantation, the house actually had two sets of stairs, one for the men and one for the women.
At first I thought it was because that women were believed to be the weaker sex but she explained that during those times a woman’s ankles were precious and only for her husband to see. So while the men drank bourbon and smoked cigars talked too long of politics, the wives would become bored and decide to retire for the evening. If the women walked up that steep spiral staircase and the men other than her husband saw her delicate ankles as she climbed, then the husband would have to defend her honor. They way they would do that would be with a dual including the pistols. Imagine a dual with pistols just after the men had been drinking.
What I find ridiculous is that the ankles were hidden from another man’s eyes but the corsets and dresses pushed a woman’s breasts up and tight just barely covering and giving everyone an ample view of cleavage.
After the tour of the house we explored the gardens with sculptures and fountains. Something in the garden gave me pictures of lovers in those times meeting in secret to steal a kiss or just maybe even more. Definitely saw props for a romantic novel or two here in this place.
Well after our wonderful tour and blast in the past, we headed to the nearest commercial area where luckily I found a Tanger Outlet!! *Dances a jig* Shoppers paradise for sure. We strolled through some of the shops and bought a few things for our daughters and granddaughters, then headed back to New Orleans.
The rest of our evening we walked through the shops, diners, and bars on the river side, enjoying beignets and coffee.
Finally after watching some street performers tap-dance or play violins and bagpipes, we wound our way through booths of palm readers to one of the bars on a corner and ordered some appetizers and a couple of drinks.
We sat by an open door/window and listened to the violin while we ate and talked about our days adventures.
I am beginning to fall in love with New Orleans not just for the reputation of it being a party town but for the rich depths of its culture and art.