I arrived into New Orleans airport about 18:30, the stopover in Austin was long enough to find a yoghurt and banana and briefly hear the band that was playing in one of the bars there, a common occurrence in this airport I heard. I had very little distance to get to my gate, and was sitting quietly, as I am sure you all know I do, when a woman sat next to me and said she loved my pink hat. I was at this point still carrying it about by hand, it now resides in my suitcase when I travel. So I was telling her where I had been and it turns out she is a bit of a traveller for work, running seminars for the Church of Scientology. Interesting, I had a momentary panic that she was going to try and convert me but then it was time to board.
As I mentioned earlier I spotted a sign for a shuttle service to the French District and it was half the cost of an Uber. So I bought my single ticket and trudged outside to find it. When we were all aboard the driver took us into the city and once we reached the French Quarter told us a few facts about the place. I was about the third person to be dropped off and my hotel was made up of a number of houses on both sides of the streets. When registering the receptionist told me I had been upgraded to a suite, that was a first on my travels. My suite was across the road, through a little gate, my own front door was in a little alleyway which opened out into a sweet courtyard just beyond my door. The rooms were all named after famous musicians. Mine was Professor Longhair, he was Henry Rolland “Roy” Byrd a New Orleans Blues singer and pianist. Once in the door there was a set of stairs and at the top a beautiful large room with a seating area on one side and the other side was the bedroom. There was an enormous bathroom with a bath with jacuzzi and a shower.
I was quite hungry by now, but it was a getting on in the evening so rather than look on the internet or just go wandering off I went back to reception to ask where I could get some good simple food. She told me about a place called the Clover Grill which was about two blocks away. So I followed her directions but when I got there I saw a hamburger joint and that was the last thing I wanted to eat. It was on Bourbon Street which was alive with people wandering around drinks in hand, I started to wander down there in the hope I would find a little restaurant but soon realised it was all bars, one guy asked me twice if I would like to buy him a drink, I said no thanks, I am ok thanks, and made my way back to the Grill, took a deep breath, went inside and sat at the counter. I ordered a burger with mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, mayo but no cheese or chips, and a cranberry juice. Yes I did say cranberry juice, there was no alcohol available. The burger was absolutely delicious, probably the best burger I have every had in my life. I admittedly don’t eat many so I am probably not that good a judge, but I enjoyed every mouthful.
Back to my suite and hoping for a decent nights sleep. The 14 hour time change really wasn’t helping me at all. I had a pretty broken night to be honest, I was really all over the place, but I got up early for breakfast, and tasted my first biscuits, which are really scones. But I passed on the grits which looked quite bland. Then back to my shelter and I was just so tired that I had to just rest. Finally about two pm I ventured out, I found the Armstrong park which I had seen on the bus coming in and had a wander around there. It wasn’t an enormous place, but quite a few nice statues and sculptures.
Then I made my way down Bourbon Street which is one long party, with bars in almost every building and everyone wandering down the street with drinks in their hands, no glass is the rule, so they give you plastics in the bars and people move from one bar to another. I was stopped by a man who gave me a ticket for walking down Bourbon Street without a drink. I pleaded clemency on the basis of jet lag... to no avail. The objective was to sell me something to support youngsters with issues, which was fine by me, we had a great chat, and he said it’s not often he gets the opportunity to talk to someone like me who is travelling. I moved on and found a place for some lunch, sitting outside in the sunshine, lovely salad, followed by a naughty pudding, very nice too. Then I took a walk down to the Mississippi, I was thinking about doing a jazz boat excursion, if I could easily find the office or the quay where it went from, which I couldn’t. I did only have two days, and decided to just make the most of the on shore entertainment. I had booked an evening ghost and ghouls walking tour, but spent the afternoon wandering around the bars of Bourbon Street listening to music. I spent quite a while in one bar where there was a live band, very enjoyable I have to say, although not jazz or blues which I was really hoping for. I finally found a place with some jazz and was there for a while. Then I made my way back to my hotel to get changed ready for my walking tour.
I arrived at the meeting point to find a big queue of people, and there were three guides, and we were quickly split into groups and we set off a little early. We were told many tales of ghosts and black magic and taken to a number of houses were the events happened. One particular house had a very scary history. The woman who lived there had lost two husbands not long after her marriages and was extremely wealthy as a result. She had a lot of slaves and no one ever saw the same slave twice. She married a third time to a much younger man, and they had many parties, and one day whilst there was a party on the attic caught fire, and a lot of slaves were found in a very bad way. They had been subject to significant torture and maltreatment. She fled the house that night and the house is said to be haunted, no one has been able to live there since, despite the fact the the property has changed hands a number of times. So owners have stayed there during the day and then gone elsewhere to sleep. There was another story about a house that had eventually become a restaurant. There were always things flying around, they then decided that the ghost was unhappy and started to lay a table for him every night, and after that the haunting stopped.
The tour was a couple of hours and very enjoyable I have to say, after that I went back to the hotel via the Clover Grill for a hamburger to take back to my hotel for dinner and then much needed sleep.
The following morning I found I still wasn’t in a fit state to go out early, so I had breakfast and stayed in my room for a while and then set off to go to the Carousel Piano Bar, a recommendation by my friend Wilma, I found myself a seat and ordered a Gin cocktail and Beignets, a local speciality, they are little cake type morsels, but I had ones with crab and prawn and they were extremely yummy. I had heard that the best place to go and listen to jazz was on a street on the other side of the French Quarter, a bit of a hike from where I was, and intended going later on. I first called in at a venue to listen to some jazz piano, a soloist playing, and I was enjoying it so much I stayed for the whole set, and had something to eat, and then bread pudding, which I had been told I must try. It was so good, I was expecting it to be like bread and butter pudding from the U.K. which I am not really a great fan of, I like the egg custard but not much else about it. When I was a little girl and went to visit my Grandma and Grandpa, if Grandma made Bread and Butter pudding she always made me a separate egg custard, a very cherished memory of being spoilt. Anyway I digress, this was nothing like that. It was delicious and no doubt loaded with naughty calories but you have to try these things, I might never have a chance to try again.
I took another wander down Bourbon Street and went in a couple of places, and then decided I needed to go to bed, still struggling. The next day I was off to Kansa City so I had to get packed and be up early for the early Greyhound bus.
I think I was a bit overwhelmed by the party atmosphere, I had just missed Mardi Gras, but under the circumstances that was most likely a blessing. I also think it’s quite hard to be in a place like New Orleans on your own, I am glad I went, and wished I had had time and the energy to go to the other area for music, but I liked the town as a whole and the streets and houses in the French Quarter are so pretty. So that’s all from New Orleans, see you in Kansas City.