Sarah's Mum had accrued too much annual leave and had to take some time off
work, so Sarah did some (very mild) arm twisting and convinced her to come
over for 3 weeks, and do a 5 day cruise to Mexico out of New Orleans.
Unfortunately, my annual leave situation wasn't quite so abundant, and I had
a lot going on at work, so regretfully I didn't join them on the cruise, and
instead went to New Orleans for a four day weekend when they returned.
From all reports, the cruise was very good. Zoe handled it well, although
she did say "home" a lot. One of the two stops in Mexico was to check out
some Mayan ruins, which looked awesome from the photos. The other stop
involved a dolphin encounter. I was incredibly envious of all that they got
to do, and would have loved to have gone with them, as I've never been on a
cruise ship either.
I can also report that no cats were lost during this bachelor stint.
I had a night flight on the Wednesday evening to get there, which was
scheduled to get in at around midnight, and I'd booked a motel room near the
airport for that night, and we'd booked a vacation rental home for Thursday
to Sunday nights. Unfortunately, my flight ended being delayed something
like 2.5 hours, so I didn't get into New Orleans until around 2am.
The house we rented did the trick
nicely. It was a small "shotgun" duplex in
what looked like a nice neighbourhood. It was advertised as being close to
the street car line, but they were doing some work on the tracks, so the
street car didn't seem to be running as far down the line as it usually did,
so it ended up being a bit more of a trek to get to it. It was also
extremely slow, and there was a marathon on the Sunday, which closed
everything down for a long time, making it a generally pretty unreliable
form the transport.
We ended up renting a car for Saturday and Sunday, which was something of a
saga in itself, as Enterprise
didn't have any cars at the location we'd booked one, so after a couple of
hours cooling our heels there (Zoe was incredibly well-behaved, all things
considered), they shuttled us over to another location and we ended up with
a minivan instead of a compact, which for the same price, allayed our
concerns about being able to transport all of our luggage to the airport on
We had a very early morning flight on Monday morning to come back, which got
into SFO at around 9am, and I went directly to work from there.
We all arrived at the house, separately. It ended up taking them 2 hours to
disembark the ship when it came back into port, with Customs taking an
eternity to process everyone. I think we went exploring the local area that
afternoon, and took a street car into the city to check out Bourbon Street,
having a Cajun dinner at Remoulade.
In the morning, we went to check out Lafayette Cemetery
Number 2. Sarah took Zoe back to the house for a nap, and Sarah's Mum
and I continued back to explore the French Quarter some more, walking down
the length of Royal Street (which was vastly different from Bourbon Street,
just one block over). We had lunch at the French Market. The cemetery was
interesting, as pretty much all of the graves were these huge above ground
tombs, that seemed to have multiple family members interred in them.
Apparently the cemetery filled up quite quickly courtesy of a Yellow Fever
After lunch, Sarah's Mum and I continued wandering around the French
Quarter. We went and took a look at the Mississippi River, and I had an
encounter with a grifter who was so good at his job I couldn't bring myself
to argue with him over the $20 he diddled me out of.
We tried to get to the Civil War
Museum, but it closed at 4pm. We looked at the Robert E. Lee Monument,
which seemed to be draped in drunks, and then I think we rendezvoused with
Sarah and Zoe back on Canal Street for dinner at The Court of Two Sisters (which
apparently we were under-dressed for, as Sarah and her Mum said we were
getting a lot of dirty looks from other patrons).
On Saturday morning, we had the aforementioned car rental experience from
hell, and by the time we had the car it was lunchtime, so Zoe napped in the
car after lunch on the way out to Oak Alley
Plantation, where we were introduced to the delightful beverage known as
the mint julep, and
took a tour of the house and wandered the grounds.
On Sunday, Sarah and her Mum did a swamp tour, and Zoe and I went to the
zoo. As I said earlier, there was a marathon that completely closed down
Saint Charles Avenue, which is where the street cars run, so after walking
down to where the street cars started operating (which ended up being most
of the way down South Carrollton Avenue), the driver informed me that the
street cars were queuing up at the corner of South Carrollton and Saint
Charles, and I should get off her street car and get on the one at the front
of the queue. I did this, but the driver of the front street car informed me
that she wouldn't be leaving for an hour and half. At this point, I started
considering a bus instead.
Zoe and I went to check out the Mississippi River, which was quite close to
where we were, and then I went back, and despite a street car having left
(without any passengers) the driver of the current street car couldn't tell
me when she'd be leaving, so I started walking down Saint Charles Avenue.
Unfortunately, Zoe's going through a phase where she wants to be carried
everywhere, so I was lugging her all over the place on my hip. Sarah didn't
take a stroller with her, and instantly regretted it. Lesson learned.
Eventually we managed to get onto a bus, which dropped us off at Audubon Park,
which had Audubon
Zoo at the other end of it. There was a playground near the Saint
Charles Avenue end of the park, so Zoe had a bit of a play on that, and then
we continued through the park to the zoo.
Mercifully, the zoo had dodgy strollers for rent, and there was no way in
the world I wasn't going to rent one of them, so that made getting around
with Zoe a lot easier on my back. We had a really good time at the zoo.
There was some sort of a music festival on in the parklands within the zoo
grounds, and that included a jumping castle, which Zoe expressed a desire to
have a go on. She had a fabulous time on it. I think she probably spent
about 15 minutes in there, without any tears. I was very impressed. I took a
brief video of some
of her antics.
It was getting close to Zoe's nap time, and she was getting tired, but
fortunately Sarah and her Mum were able to pick us up from the zoo after
their swamp tour and Zoe got to nap back at the house.
We had a very early start. Unfortunately, our flight (with United) was a
couple of days after United and Continental officially merged, and despite
having checked in online, we had to queue up with everyone else (for an
extended period of time) to drop off our checked luggage. Then there was a
45 minute line for security screening. We pulled the "toddler going to melt
down" card and jumped to the head of the line, but Sarah's Mum had to wait.
The flight ended up being delayed because people were stuck in the security
Overall impressions of New Orleans
Fabulous architecture. There were so many gorgeous houses on Saint Charles
Avenue and the surrounding area. I'd have loved to do an architecture tour.
Crap (but cheap) public transport. $3 gets you a day pass. The street cars
are cute, but slow and unpredictable. The drivers were remarkably unhelpful.
The buses were okay.
Great food. Zoe seemed to have a liking for the spicy stuff. I gave her some
fresh alligator jerky, and after some initial coughing and spluttering at
the spiciness of it, she came back for more.
Post-Katrina recovery. We really only saw a very small part of the city, but
there were still some houses with boarded up windows, and some vacant blocks
where buildings had been demolished, but largely you'd not have been able to
tell that large parts of the city had been underwater, from casual
I really enjoyed the trip, even though it was brief, I feel like I got a
good feel for the place. We were there just after Mardi Gras, and there were
still beads everywhere. Draped all over fences. Over power lines. Trees on
the parade route were absolutely covered in beads. I'd have loved to have
been there for Mardi Gras. My friend Brandon, who is an excellent street
photographer, took some great
photos that capture some of it.
Photos from Sarah's cruise and our time in New Orleans are here.