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New Orleans Louisiana

 

Those of you who were watching the news in August 2005 will remember Hurricane Katrina and images of New Orleans underwater for weeks on end due to high rainfall; storm surge and inadequate levies.  When the levies broke around a thousand people were killed in the city, most of them poor and black. 

Reconstruction was a priority particularly in the iconic French Quarter a rectangular grid six blocks by twelve of historic buildings combining residential and commercial activities including a great number of art galleries several hotels some cafes and restaurants and in the famous Bourbon street a red light area with strip clubs and bars. At the time of our visit Bourbon street was being pulled up to improve the water supply and drainage and there was a 'boil water warning' for part of the time.

At regular intervals groups of buskers entertain the passers-by with New Orleans Jazz.  This varies in quality from excellent to: "please stop that tuneless racket". 

 


New Orleans Jazz - Click on this picture to see more
 

 

The city is blessed with several museums.  Principal among these is the huge National World War II museum near Lee Circle not far from our hotel.  We know quite a bit about WW2 so decided that given out time constraints The Museum of the Confederacy across the way could more relevant to the South and informative.

Lee Circle is of course named after Robert Edward Lee, the most successful of several very effective generals who commanded the armies of the Confederacy in the Civil War.  Until recently his statue stood atop a large column at the centre of the Circle, a la Nelson in Trafalgar Square.   But now all the Confederate generals have been removed from the city and reside together in a warehouse, from whence they may be sold to the highest bidder on condition that they will not be displayed in public ever again.

We wondered when the Museum, that has busts and portraits of these great men and that still proudly sells Lee dolls and tin soldiers, would be shut down, or at least get a name change.  History wars are afoot in this here town!

 


Confederate Memorial Hall and Civil War Museum just off Lee Circle or is it just 'Circle' now?

 

 

 


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Travel

Southern France

Touring in the South of France

September 2014

 

Lyon

Off the plane we are welcomed by a warm Autumn day in the south of France.  Fragrant and green.

Lyon is the first step on our short stay in Southern France, touring in leisurely hops by car, down the Rhône valley from Lyon to Avignon and then to Aix and Nice with various stops along the way.

Months earlier I’d booked a car from Lyon Airport to be dropped off at Nice Airport.  I’d tried booking town centre to town centre but there was nothing available.

This meant I got to drive an unfamiliar car, with no gearstick or ignition switch and various other novel idiosyncrasies, ‘straight off the plane’.  But I managed to work it out and we got to see the countryside between the airport and the city and quite a bit of the outer suburbs at our own pace.  Fortunately we had ‘Madam Butterfly’ with us (more of her later) else we could never have reached our hotel through the maze of one way streets.

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Fiction, Recollections & News

Egyptian Mummies

 

 

 

 

Next to Dinosaurs mummies are the museum objects most fascinating to children of all ages. 

At the British Museum in London crowds squeeze between show cases to see them.  At the Egyptian Museum in Cairo they are, or were when we visited in October 2010 just prior to the Arab Spring, by far the most popular exhibits (follow this link to see my travel notes). Almost every large natural history museum in the world has one or two mummies; or at the very least a sarcophagus in which one was once entombed.

In the 19th century there was something of a 'mummy rush' in Egypt.  Wealthy young European men on their Grand Tour, ostensibly discovering the roots of Western Civilisation, became fascinated by all things 'Oriental'.  They would pay an Egyptian fortune for a mummy or sarcophagus.  The mummy trade quickly became a lucrative commercial opportunity for enterprising Egyptian grave-robbers.  

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Opinions and Philosophy

Tragedy in Norway

 

 

The extraordinary tragedy in Norway points yet again to the dangers of extremism in any religion. 

I find it hard to comprehend that anyone can hold their religious beliefs so strongly that they are driven to carefully plan then systematically kill others.  Yet it seems to happen all to often.

The Norwegian murderer, Anders Behring Breivik, reportedly quotes Sydney's Cardinal Pell, John Howard and Peter Costello in his manifesto.   Breivik apparently sees himself as a Christian Knight on a renewed Crusade to stem the influx of Muslims to Europe; and to Norway in particular.

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