Saturday, December 8, 2012

DAY 107- The Old, New & Vampires…

I woke up to the sound of water all round me.  It was pouring rain outside, the person in the next room was using in the shower, and I could hear the fountain in the hotel’s atrium.  Is it any wonder that I rushed to the bathroom the first thing in the morning?  I asked the hotel clerk for directions to the Louisiana State Capital that’s located in Baton Rouge.  I teased her that she wouldn’t have to give me directions to come back.  She could send me off never to return.  I think she wondered if she should be laughing or not.
Photo- The outside of the tallest State Capital Building.

I found my way with her directions to the State Capital but to tell you the truth it was hard not to miss the building because it was one of the tallest in the area.  At 450 ft. tall and 34 floors it is the tallest State Capital in the US.  It also has quite a history.  It was finished in March 1932 and it took quite a powerful legislator to get it built during the height of the Great Depression.  That same powerful governor was also assassinated in the building a few years later. Huey P. Long is buried on the grounds and his statue looks towards the building.  Louisiana has quite the interesting political history; as I found out later on when I went to see the Old State Capital.
Photo- Inside the Senate Chambers of the Louisiana Capital.

But first I explored the New Louisiana State Capital.  I went through the areas on the 1st floor and explored what was open.  The building is currently undergoing some major renovations and quite a bit of it was closed because of the work being done.  I then rode the elevator up to the 24th floor with 5 construction guys up the elevator which I had to laugh I was the only one to hit a floor button.  They were just along for the ride and one of them complimented me on my purse.  It made me wonder if the construction work was a “bit” behind. 
Photo- The foggy and rainy view I had from the 27th floor.

When I got up to the 24th floor I walked across the landing area and got on a smaller elevator that took me to the 27th floor where there’s a gift shop and an observation deck.  It was still rainy out but I went out onto the deck anyway.  I had to see the view and I imagine on a clear day it would have been beautiful.  But even with clouds and rain, it was a pretty view.  The security guard looked at me strange that I had actually gone out in that weather but it was in the mid-70’s and rainy.  I thought it was rather refreshing.
Photo- Louisiana's Old State Capital-- A Castle!

Next, I walked in the rain 6 blocks to the Old State Capital.  I never saw a picture of Old Capital and I had expected a domed creation of some sort but I ended up standing in front of a castle.  I walked in and wow!  There were black and white checked floors, beautiful wood, and stained glass.  I talked with the gals at the information desk and found about the ghost movie.  I went into the gift shop to pay for that and then met her and a married couple that also paid for the movie.  It was a fun, cool experience and I don’t want to give anything more away but it’s very worth the $3.  It did cover some of the amazing interesting history of the old building and how it was able to make a comeback twice in its long history. 
Photo- The view as you go in the door at the Old Capital.

After the movie, I explored around the beautiful old Capital building.  The first floor had a history of how Louisiana came to be a state.  It was very interesting because there was even a bust of Napoleon Bonaparte.  In another area on the first floor, there’s an area dedicated to the famous Huey P. Long former governor and state senator.  It was an interesting way of talking about the man.  There was a section that was pro- Huey and another section that was anti- Huey.   I had never seen such a history of an historical figure before.  Most times you get the good and that’s all.  But this showed him from both sides and then showed the assignation from two different theories too. 
Photo- WOW! The amazing stained glass area just above the second floor!

On the second floor up the spiral staircase, there are pictures along the walls of the former governors.  Above those is the arched stain glass area which is just amazing to behold.  Also, on the second floor were two large room areas that looked like they were ready for Christmas events.  There was another room where there were bridal photos that were taken within the Old Capital building.  That would be amazing to have a wedding in such a venue. 

I walked back to my car in the rain.  Yes, it was still raining and it was supposed to be over by noon according to the local weatherman.  But I guess that Mother Nature had other plans.  I got onto the interstate and headed east to New Orleans.  The first 20 miles was solid traffic as it went through a construction zone but as I came to the town of Iowa, LA the roads cleared up some.  Yes, there’s an Iowa in the state of Louisiana.  I just had to stop and check it out being that I grew up in Iowa.  There wasn’t much but it made for a good stop for gas and a break from the traffic.

Next, it was on to New Orleans, LA and I reserved a place down in the French Quarter to stay for a couple of nights.  When I got to New Orleans, I stopped at the Visitor’s Center just outside of the French Quarter.  I talked with a woman with a very heavy Cajun-French accent and she gave me directions to my hotel.  I found my little hotel about 6 blocks away on Burgundy Street.  I got checked in and while I was checking in I also got signed up for the Vampire Tour that night and a Cemetery Tour the next morning.  I then asked where a good place to eat for the night.  I was directed to Deanie’s and was told to tell them that John, the front desk clerk’s name, had sent me.  All of New Orleans’s tourist business seems to be based on a referral system.
Photo- Deanie's where I had dinner my first night in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

I found Deanie’s, which the hotel clerk had pronounced Deedee’s, and had a wonderful small seafood pizza and a large version of a Long Island Ice tea.  It was while I was having my dinner that three Louisiana State Police walk in and check out the establishment’s liquor lisc.  It was interesting seeing them in their blue polo shirts and tan pants with guns strapped at their waist.  All this to verify a liquor lisc?  It seemed a bit much but the manager showed up and things proceeded smoothly.

I walked back to my hotel.  I still had time to blow before the Vampire Tour and thought I might check out a local bar.  John, at the desk, referred me to a place just down the street about 3 blocks.  He said that it would mainly be locals and no real tourists because it was on the edge of the French Quarter.  I walked in and was greeted by a local’s dog that was still in the friendly puppy stage.  I sat down and ended up started a conversation with a couple of friends that have lived in the area for a while(Andrew and Stephanie).  I got the inside scoop on the beignets and learned that the bars never really closed down here.  The locals take their time with the drinking.  I also learned that you can carry out of the bar as long as it is in plastic.
Photo- Part of the French Quarter at night.

Shortly after that I was carrying what was left of my beer over to the start of the Vampire Tour.  There was a good group of about 15 people; all tourists on the tour.  We were told about the history of the area and the possibilities of vampires by some of the things that happened in the past in the area as we walked along in the French Quarter.  Our guide stopped and pointed out buildings that were in a movie or had some kind of questionable vampire history.  I think it was exaggerated but it was all in good fun.   

We stopped towards the middle of the tour for a quick drink and bathroom drink at a local bar on the tour route.  I’m sure that the tour guide got a kick back for this.  And again at the end of the tour it was ended at another bar.  Be sure to have plenty of cash on hand when you are in New Orleans because some of the bars only take cash but there’s always an ATM nearby with an extra fee to be paid.

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