The ship sent out a schedule for disembarking, ranging in time from 6AM to 930AM. We were scheduled at 830A which was civilized. We went up for breakfast and sat with some people from USA, ex England. Today we are hearing a lot of people saying they did not like the ship for various reasons. Having nothing to compare it to we thought it was great, for the most part. Nothing is perfect, especially for 16 days, but we're happy overall. Some people expect a lot for their $50 a day I guess.
Our turn came but we were instructed to wait in the lounge as there was too much congestion at customs. We were finally able to line up around 9 and it was like the lines at Disneyland. They snaked around and you weren't really sure how long the line was.
It was long.
We stood, shuffling slowly ahead for over an hour and a half.
Finally got to customs which took two seconds and then a cab to our hotel. We booked " The Inn on St. Peter " which was in the French Quarter and a block off Bourbon St. A very charming small heritage hotel that we fell in love with. Our second floor room was beautifully furnished and recently renovated.
We explored Bourbon St. and up to the Main Street of Canal. I have already used 3 memory cards for my camera and on the look out for a new one,which I found.
New Orleans is very busy with a convention of Ophthalmologists from all over the world as well as a big football game, New Orleans against San Francisco. New Orleans is very passionate about their football and the streets were teaming with fans wearing jerseys, shirts and "Saint" apparel. It was now noon and the drinking and partying has already long started.
After a rest in the room Doug decided to go to the game, which started at 3PM, but he went a bit later to get a ticket for less, which he did. He really enjoyed the game and The Saints had a big come back late in the game and won. The crowd went wild.
I decided to go check out a shopping mall about 1/2 hour away by cab. I found the prices rather high but did manage to find a couple of pieces of clothing that wanted to come home with me,
When it was time to leave the mall you had to line up to wait for a cab. There were lots of people waiting, and no cabs because the game also just got out.
I loudly asked if anyone in the line was also going to the French quarter and wanted to share a cab. I just got blank stares like I was nuts.
There was a gorgeous woman around 30 something in front of me who finally said we could share. She was an ophthalmologist from Brazil and we had a great conversation.
After waiting an hour we finally caught a cab back and then Doug and I went down to Bourbon St. to have dinner. We ate on a terrace overlooking the street, and although the food was mediocre the view and entertainment was fantastic.
People were partying, dancing and generally having a great time. Drinking is allowed on the streets and strongly encouraged here. This area is actually very seedy, the underbelly of Louisiana I think.
Lots of strip clubs, Larry Flint " barely legal" bars on every block, three for one drinks, huge novelty glasses with slushy bar drinks and lots of loud music. From where we were sitting we could hear four different songs all blaring. There is not a lot of jazz in this area, mostly country rock and rock.
A lot of people are wearing the mardi gras beads, masks and feather boas. It was such great fun to watch it all from our vantage point above the street. It looked like it was going to go on for a long time into the night
They block the street off every night so it is a no vehicle zone.
Walking down Bourbon St at 9AM looked like a ghost town. This part of town does not rise early. Street cleaners erase all evidence of the previous night to start it all fresh again later this evening.
Today we wandered around the French quarter and then took a small bus tour which we really enjoyed. Our driver had a great sense of humor and full of wonderful and insightful information about New Orleans and the state of Louisiana.
We toured one of the areas that was devastated by Katrina and learned a lot about what it was like for people who lived there, and what it is like today as well.
From there we went to a cemetery. The dead are buried in above ground crypts. George, or guide, explains that the water table is so high here that if you bury someone in the ground ,"Grandmas going to be popping up outta her coffin the first big rain"
A bunch of families will all be buried in one crypt, going back many generations.
We toured the levies, a beautiful park, and an area of town with gorgeous wooden heritage houses.
After wandering for a while we decided on either a plantation tour or a swamp tour. We decided on the latter. A van picked up 23 passengers from various parts of the city which seemed to take forever but we finally reached the Bayou River at 2PM. We chose an air boat tour that held 12 passengers and our pilot, Bebop, was a very cute young man with a great sense of humor.
Our tour took us through a few arms of the swamp looking for alligator and swamp creatures. I am not sure however if they ever see any animals as this boat is so incredibly loud, we need to wear ear protection. I would think that they would scare everything within 10 miles away.
The boat goes quite fast when he opens it up, but it did get cold. It was called a " swamp tour" and not an alligator tour, but he did have a baby alligator on board which he showed us, and let us hold. They do rescues for the area and he has 5 babies at his house. When they are old enough they release the females into the swamp but the males will go to zoos. He gave us lots of interesting information about the animals, vegetation and history of the area.
Back in the French quarter we had an early dinner and then back to the room to pack. Bourbon St was just starting to wake up.
Going home today. I am now in Dallas waiting for our flight to Vancouver to leave. We were taxiing out when they noticed a nail in the wheel and we are delayed over an hour to fix it. Not sure if we will make our connection to Nanaimo but it is all out of our control at this point.
Southern hospitality was very apparent in New Orleans, people were so wonderful. Overall, however, I find that everywhere we have traveled in the world people are so kind and helpful.
We had such an amazing trip, learned so much about each of the areas that we visited and loved it all.
We are home now for six weeks for Christmas and really looking forward to reconnecting with our family and friends.
On January 2nd we are off again to South America.
Stay posted and thanks for following along with us for this half of our trip.
P.S. Well the stars aligned and we made our harbor air flight with one minute to spare, literally. We flew over the islands to Nanaimo on a cold but beautiful day with not a cloud in the sky.
Like Dorothy said " there is no place like home".