When you see a beautiful place through Instagram or other social media, do your eyes glisten or do your jaws drop to the floor at just stunning sight of it? I know this, because, of course like many others, I’m one of them.
Whenever I find pictures of beautiful places, I always find myself writing it down and adding it to my list. Even if its something I can’t figure out at first, I will do my research and eagerly look for it.
I remember seeing though the media of the enchanting big oak trees with its big white house, completely in awe of its beauty but didn’t know where was it. “I have to go there one day,” I thought. Over time, some films (such as Skeleton Key and Django Unchained) constantly remind me what I’ve forgotten. About few months ago, I found out what was it that I’ve been wondering about is called Oak Alley Plantation, a national historic landmark near the great Mississippi River. Coincidentally, I had a thought of visiting New Orleans (NOLA) for Mardi Gras. I actually squealed with excitement when Google Map told me that it’s only about an hour away. YESSSSSSSS baby.
Although we were only visiting NOLA for three days, we included Oak Alley Plantation in our 3 days itinerary. I mean, we were already right there, merely an hour away.
Interesting fact about the Oak Alley Plantation
- The beautiful trees were first planted during the 1700s, making them close to 300 years old!
- You can spend the night at their cottages
- Tour guides, staff members and visitors spotted ghosts over the years.
- Doctor buried limbs, believing that it will reunite with the owner in the next life.
- Interview with the Vampire, Beyoncé’s “Déjà Vu” Music Video, Primary Colors, Django Unchained (down the road from Oak Alley), Ghost Hunters, etc. were filmed here
We found that Oak Alley Plantation also is not all about its beauty but its rich history.
Unexpectedly, we immersed our time a lot of time learning about the slavery that the owners had during the time when sugar cane industry was flourishing. We were fascinated and appalled how slaves were treated.
I can’t imagine how much slaves went through at this time, working day and nights for countless hours for so little pay.
Being on the exact same ground where rich history took place felt surreal to me. Had you ever heard the saying,
“If these trees could talk!”
I certainly wish I could hear stories through their eyes at the time.
However, seeing it right in the front of your eyes and imagining people at that time, is a different feeling comparing to reading about history while listening to lectures at school.
Although we did self-guided tour when exploring outside, it is required to have a tour when visiting the Big House. We both aren’t really fond of tours because of the difficulties of having an accessibility.
Prior our visit, we contacted them if it is possible to get an American Sign Language interpreter. They responded that they can supply us with a transcript of the tour instead.
One of the staff members at the front door of the Big House were speaking to us, but we couldn’t understand what she was saying. As we gestured that we’re Deaf by pointing our ears and shaking our head and gestured about the transcript. Fortunately, she understood and gave us the transcripts. We were happy to know that the staff were prepared and did not forget about our visit. One of the staff lead us inside, kindly gesturing us to go to the kitchen with the tour group.
Although we were fascinated with the house and learned some history about the family, slaves and the house, we had a hard time catching up between reading the transcript and trying to lip-read the tour guide’s extra information that was not included in the transcript. Generally, tour guide speak freely with their knowledge, spontaneously add more information (which isn’t in the transcripts) and answering the visitors’ questions. This is what we would call:
which means what considered to be challenging for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community (such as lack of closed caption, etc.). To be completely honest, transcripts is indeed better than having nothing at all, but it is still lack of not knowing the complete information provided. It’s certainly not their fault, but we advised them to continuously updating their transcripts and add common visitors’ questions in the transcripts. Although it’s not for every Deaf and Hard of Hearings, having an interpreter is the most effective accessibility. It’s much more different comparing to reading the transcripts.
Lilo asked them if they can pose for the photo, and they obliged, despite the awkwardness – we couldn’t help laughing.
During the tour, they were explaining that when the family had a guest for a night, they serve them food, especially the pineapple, to welcome them. However, if the family serves it for the second time (or so), it’s a hint that the guests are overstaying their welcome. Underlying meaning?: please. go. home.
I don’t want to spoil it so much about the Big House, so that’s something you’ll have to see it for yourself 🙂
And the best part of the Oak Alley Plantation?
As you stroll down the walk way, the vast of old but vibrant oak trees were welcoming you with its arms, practically flirting you and drawing you in.
If only we weren’t in rush, it is a relaxing place to sit next to the tree, just reading a book, drinking mint julep, chatting with your loved ones or doing mediation.
Although it is challenging to interchangeably reading between the transcripts and the tour guide’s lip during the Big House tour, it was worth the experience! We love enjoyed taking our time to explore outside ourselves, checking out different exhibitions. We were relieved that the tour guide and the staff members in the Big House did not rushed us when we were exploring the room after the group moved on into the next room. Lilo and I really appreciated their professionalism, patience and giving us the transcripts. Most important, they keep their landmark clean and respect her (Oak Alley).
As they said,
Go and visit her beauty and dream of her rich past!
How to Get there
It’s about an hour away from New Orleans, so it is advisable to rent a car, use uber or if you want to visit other plantations, then it is advisable to join a bus tour group such as GrayLine Tours or Legendary Tours.
If you are driving yourself, do keep in mind that the highway signs are really small! It’s easy to miss, so make sure you check the GPS.
What You should know
- It’s about an hour away from New Orleans
- You cannot explore the “Big House” yourself, a guided tour is required. Each Tour guide takes about an hour and half, starting at 9:30am until Oak Alley closes.
- Filming is prohibited during guided tour in the Big House.
- Get there early to avoid the crowd! Fortunately, we arrived around 10-11am, and it wasn’t so crowded
- Allow yourself at least about 3 to 4 hours visit.
- If you are at legal age, Mint Julep is popular there! (Too bad we didn’t tried that)
- Try not to take photography around noon when the sun is strong, it’s difficult to find good lightning and avoiding the shadows.
- Recommend to visit the Whitney Plantation nearby!
Tips for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH):
- Ask for an accommodation ahead of time by emailing or calling them.
- Read their website to get some basic idea, or watch some videos
- Try to ask Deaf Action Center, a local organization, to see if they provide any service or a tour, you’ll never know!
OUR VIDEO CLICK HERE.
Does this look familiar? 😉
address: 3645 Highway 18, Vacherie, Louisiana, USA, 70090
Hours of operation: 9am-4:30pm Mon-Fri. 9am-5pm on Sat.
Phone: (225) 265-2151
For more information, go to http://www.oakalleyplantation.com