Three things you may or may not know about NOLA (that’s “New Orleans, Louisiana,” for those of you who don’t get out much) and vampires:
New Orleans is purportedly the home to 50 real vampires, according to a study by Louisiana State University doctoral candidate John Edgar Browning.
The vampires have their own association, New Orleans Vampire Association (NOVA).
There’s a New Orleans Vampire Tour. Naturally.
Not for lack of trying, I didn’t see any vampires while I was there – at least that I know of. My friend and I toured Lafayette Cemetery (which was likely FULL of vampires), the French Quarter (any vampires were hiding from the daylight or well disguised), and the Basilica (where there were no vampires, probably).
The French Quarter…
Rome NOLA, do as the locals do (and probably every tourist within 100 miles). This was my first time in NOLA so our first stop was the famous Cafe Du Monde for benigets and coffee, of course. Fortified with sugar and caffeine, we were ready to do NOLA take on vampires, and ride in a pimp-driven carriage.
The St. Louis Cathedral
Almost as much as I enjoy cemeteries (explained below), I enjoy beautifully ornate Catholic churches. No, I’m not Catholic, I just love the artwork, gilding, and marble. Designated a Minor Basilica in 1964, the St. Louis Cathedral was incredibly beautiful!
“Cities of the Dead.” The cemetery was creepy – and I don’t say that lightly.
Normally, I enjoy cemeteries. I’m not kidding, I really do like cemeteries and often visit them, especially the tiny little old ones dotted around the countryside. Cemeteries are peaceful, generally well-kept little gardens. (Ok, little gardens of dead people. But let’s not split hairs.)
Cemeteries are (normally) very peaceful. No one is talking, there’s no loud music, crowds or traffic. I like looking for the oldest headstones, reading when they were born and died, wondering what their life was like back then. I often send up a silent blessing for whomever is there, or you know, still “hanging around”.
In NOLA, most crypts are above ground. According to Experience New Orleans:
“Burial plots are shallow in New Orleans because the water table is very high. Dig a few feet down, and the grave becomes soggy, filling with water. The casket will literally float. You just can’t keep a good person down! The early settlers tried placing stones in and on top of coffins to weigh them down and keep them underground. Unfortunately, after a rainstorm, the rising water table would literally pop the airtight coffins out of the ground. To this day, unpredictable flooding still lifts the occasional coffin out of the ground in areas above the water table, generally considered safe from flooding.
Another method was to bore holes in the coffins. This method also proved to be unsuitable. Eventually, New Orleans’ graves were kept above ground, following the Spanish custom of using vaults. The walls of some cemeteries here are made of economical vaults stacked on top of one another, while wealthier families could afford the larger, ornate tombs with crypts. Many family tombs look like miniature houses, complete with iron fences. The rows of tombs resemble streets. This is why New Orleans burial plots quickly became known as Cities of the Dead.”
See?! Even the photos look creepy.