NOLA – The Beginnings

We took a quick Uber to the pier to take the Creole Queen, a 1000 passenger paddlewheeler riverboat operating out of the Port Of New Orleans.  She is 190 feet (57 meters) long and 40 feet (12 meters) wide. She has three decks, two of which house three dining and banquet rooms and a third top deck for covered outside seating.

We got a Groupon which included a ride in the Mississippi River plus a stop at the battle of New Orleans Battlegrounds.

The Mississippi River is one of the world’s major river systems in size, habitat diversity and biological productivity. It is also one of the world’s most important commercial waterways and one of North America’s great migration routes for both birds and fishes.

Today, the Mississippi River powers a significant segment of the economy in the upper Midwest. Barges and their tows move approximately 175 million tons of freight each year on the upper Mississippi through a system of 29 locks and dams. It is also a major recreational resource for boaters, canoeists, hunters, anglers, and birdwatchers and offers many outdoor opportunities.

The boat had this fantastic history guide that narrated every major point in history along this river. He was absolutely fantastic, especially with his day-by-day narration of hurricane Katrina disaster.  Sarah literally got teary eyed listening due to how powerfully he spoke.

There are other steamboat options in NOLA.

It was still raining when we arrived at the Battle of New Orleans Battlegrounds.  Which were grounds for a  U.S. victory against Great Britain in the War of 1812 and the final major battle of that conflict.  Both the British and American troops were unaware of the peace treaty that had been signed between the two countries in Ghent, Belgium, a few weeks prior, and so the Battle of New Orleans occurred despite the agreements made across the Atlantic.

In the autumn of 1814 a British fleet of more than 50 ships commanded by Gen. Edward Pakenham sailed into the Gulf of Mexico and prepared to attack New Orleans, strategically located at the mouth of the Mississippi River. The British hoped to seize New Orleans in an effort to expand into territory acquired by the United States through the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. On December 1, 1814, Gen. Andrew Jackson, commander of the Seventh Military District, hastened to the defense of the city.

 

Once Jackson arrived in New Orleans, the notice came that the British had been sighted near Lake Borgne, east of the city. In response, Jackson declared martial law, requiring every weapon and able-bodied man around to defend the city. Over 4,000 men came to the city’s aid, including a number of aristocrats, freed slaves, Choctaw people, and the pirate Jean Lafitte. Jackson also drafted a number of civilians, soldiers, and enslaved people to build breastworks spanning from the Mississippi to a large swamp, a structure that became known as “Line Jackson.” Logs, earth, and large cotton bales coated with mud were used to protect batteries of cannons. These defensive structures proved vital to the success of the United States in the battle.

The battle itself was fought just outside New Orleans, on the Chalmette Plantation, where the Americans split into two defensive positions: one on the east bank of the Mississippi and one on the west. Jackson took command of the eastern bank, with some 4,000 troops and eight batteries lined behind a parapet that stretched along the Rodriguez Canal. On the western bank, Gen. David Morgan was in charge of about 1,000 troops and 16 cannons. After a number of smaller-scale skirmishes between the forces, the Americans waited for a full-blown British attack.

On the morning of January 8, Pakenham commanded approximately 8,000 British troops to move forward and break through the American defensive lines. As they moved into range, the British took heavy fire and quickly lost Pakenham to a fatal wound. The British, now commanded by Gen. John Lambert, suffered a decisive loss on the eastern bank. Lambert then withdrew all troops from the western bank. The battle lasted about two hours. Despite being outnumbered, the Americans wounded approximately 2,000 British soldiers while suffering less than 65 casualties of their own.

Though the battle had no effect on the outcome of the war (which had been decided weeks earlier in Ghent), it gave Jackson the platform of support needed to eventually win the presidency in 1828.

The museum had incredible artifacts from the battle. It goes without saying that Eitan was very excited.

On the way back we enjoyed more of the commentary while we sailed across many factories,  like this 100 year old sugar refinery still in operation to this day.

This Louisiana National Guard Base is supposedly one of the most beautiful ones of the Country.

The Mississippi River is the second longest river in North America, flowing 2,350 miles from its source at Lake Itasca through the center of the continental United States to the Gulf of Mexico. The Missouri River, a tributary of the Mississippi River, is about 100 miles longer. Some describe the Mississippi River as being the third longest river system in the world, if the length of Missouri and Ohio Rivers are added to the Mississippi’s main stem.

 

We had a  nice quick lunch before we hit the highlight of the trip. ……for Eitan…..

This is it! we travel thousands of miles for this moment. The National World World II Museum is considered the TOP 3 museum in the U.S. by Trip Advisor. This place is an absolute masterpiece!

They give you an electronic dog tag with the number of one real soldier that fought in the war. When you walk around the museum, there are different stations where you can learn about your soldier and collect items that belonged to them.  This makes the museum visit incredibly immersive.

Disclaimer: I could go on an on about WWII history, but I will be short in this blog for respect to my viewers!

The first exhibit of the museum is a train ride simulating the first ride of the newly drafted soldiers…

 

They have a great display of airplanes.  The Invasion stripes were alternating black and white bands painted on the fuselages and wings of Allied aircraft during World War II to reduce the chance that they would be attacked by friendly forces during and after the Normandy Landings.

The museum spans across several buildings with different exhibits. D-Day, European Theater, Pacific Theater, etc…

The exhibits were decorated like if you were in the battle itself. From sound FX’s to beautiful visuals and videos.  Even Sarah was interested. Which  Eitan thought was an impossible task.

They have every single piece of equipment used in the war. From German Lugers pistols to Japanese Katanas.

The Pacific theater was ridiculously well made. I could have spent months just reading every display.

What about a display inside a battleship?

Now we enter the European Theater, which narrates the story of the war from the rise of National Socialism to the end of the European war when the Allies invaded Berlin.

Every single weapon used is displayed here.

 

One of the earliest sketches of the atomic bomb.

My favorite part of the museum was the D-Day exhibit. They have original maps with planning sketches for the invasion.

Original notes from Eisenhower when the original invasion day was canceled due to bad weather.

They had an invasion glider,  Under the veil of darkness on D-Day and other major Allied airborne assaults, the Waco glider carried troops and materiel behind enemy lines to take out key enemy defenses and transportation links. Also known as “Flying Coffins” for the low chances of survival in case you got assigned to one of these.

In order to give the Allied invasion fleet the best chance at victory on the beaches of Normandy, German forces needed to be distracted and directed away from the invasion site. To do so, they came up with Operation Titanic, a plan in which hundreds of dummy paratroopers were dropped many miles east of the site to lure German firepower. This is one of them.

The street bricks surrounding the museum have the names of U.S. soldiers that participated in WWII.

There is also an Atlantic Wall fragment, which was an extensive system of coastal defense and fortifications built by Nazi Germany between 1942 and 1944 along the coast of continental Europe and Scandinavia as a defense against an anticipated Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe from the United Kingdom during World War II.

The Boeing Pavilion displays a nice B-17, a P-52 and other fighters and bombers used during the wall. You can climb some platforms to go around the airplanes to see every detail of them.

Such a beautiful display of aviation history.  Notice we are wearing different outfits below…this is because after Bethany and Steven went home,  we came back to see more museum; yes we did….

Even the souvenir shops ( they have like 10 different ones) were amazing.

G.I. Sarah

After the museum, we walked through the beautiful Garden District where we enjoyed the colorful houses.

We visited the NOLA brewing, which had an amazing selection of beers.

Unfortunately, something in the beer got Eitan really sick!

We ended up in Frenchman Street, which is where all the locals recommended us to go. It is the chill, more relax and responsible night out compared to Bourbon Street.  Every bar has free live Jazz music with so many talented musicians.

Of course that Sarah, Steven, and Bethany were dancing all night, but Eitan was still feeling like shit so he had to stay seated.

Bethany and Steven left NOLA the next morning, but Sarah and Eitan had a couple more days to explore! We came back the next morning to the National WWII Museum, I included the photos above.  Yes, it was that good of a museum.

We heard about this concert hall called “Preservation Hall”.  New Orleans’ Preservation Hall was established in 1961 to honor one of America’s truest art forms – Traditional New Orleans Jazz. Operating as a music venue, a touring band, and a non-profit organization, Preservation Hall continues its mission today as a cornerstone of New Orleans music and culture.

In order to get tickets, you need to get in line very early and get lucky, only about 80 people get in every show. We were extra lucky and got seated at the VIP seats next to the band.

 

They don’t let you take photos during the show so you will have to trust us when we say it was truly an incredible and beautiful experience. If you go to NOLA, you HAVE to go see a show here.

We ended up the night in a piano bar!

For dinner, we had some traditional creole food, which was not that good. I seriously don’t see what is the fuss is about New Orleans food,  But anyways, everyone is free to like disgusting food.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at Harrah’s casino. Because we were tired and also because none of us gambles, we decided to cut our visit to the casino short and go sleep at our new hotel of the night.

The next morning things got interesting. Hurricane Gordon was about to make a landfall in NOLA that afternoon, so we scrambled to change our flights to leave early morning, but unfortunately, we were not fast enough so all the morning flights were booked. We were still able to move our flight a few hours early as we didn’t want to experience a hurricane first hand; especially after hearing about Katrina.

We had some time to visit the famous Cafe Du Monde where we had a cup of coffee and the famous French Doughnuts “Beignets”. The coffee was great but the doughnuts so so, maybe if they didn’t have 4 pounds of sugar on top I would have liked them more.

They should call them “French Diabetes”.

The last picture that I had to add here.  This is a Muffaletta, both a type of round Sicilian sesame bread and a popular sandwich originating among Italian immigrants in New Orleans, Louisiana using the same bread. It was delicious!!!!

We went to pick up the bags to the hotel to go to the airport.

One last look out the window hoping our flight will be able to take off before the airport gets shut down.

In the end, our flight was on time and the city was not affected as we thought it would. We were hurricane rookies and panicked, but  better safe than sorry!

Bonus Pic Of The Day: New Orleans is right in the path of Hurricanes every day, so they are used to natural disasters. Houses usually hang these signs on their windows in case the emergency services come to look for survivors, they will know if there are any pets inside.  Not that anyone cares about their goldfish pet anyways.

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