2012 Mission 1: Finish the USA posts! Yes, we’ve been back in Australia for 2 months, but I’ve just been through all the photos and some of the best stuff isn’t up here yet. So, here we go…
Our story resumes in mid-October, after the Western Caribbean cruise. Getting off a cruise ship could be a rude shock after seven days of pampering, pandering and total laziness. But never fear: if you’re considering a cruise, we can wholeheartedly recommend New Orleans, Louisiana to soften your landing on the way back to harsh reality. No one is in a rush in New Orleans – no one. Never seen a place quite like it… Even the way they say the name of the city (the title of this post = phonetic pronunciation) is no speedy event.
We stayed in the CBD, within spitting distance of the French Quarter and it’s (in)famous Bourbon Street. What a ramshackle, charming area. Unbelievably filthy and smelly in places. We thought this must be due to the flooding from Katrina, but apparently not – the French Quarter wasn’t flooded during the hurricane. It’s just always been filthy. This must, at least in part, be due to the prolific number of oyster shells discarded every day. It was full of spots to eat, drink and while away the hours people watching and listening to live music. And full of action – on Monday night, Bourbon Street was more lively than Surfers Paradise on New Years Eve! We naturally gravitated there every day to drink punch, Hurricanes and/or absinthe (thanks Norm, Linds and Mark for the recommendations), scoff oysters and admire the street musicians, among other entertainment options.
We were in NOLA in the lead-up to Halloween, an ideal time to see the place as everyone is seriously into spooky stuff, with the city’s love of voodoo and all things weird and wonderful. This is just one example of the extent to which families dress up their gorgeous houses:
In honour of the time of year, we thought we’d check out the famous LaFayette Cemetery #1 – site of every spooky graveyard you’ve ever seen in the cinema. Due to the proximity to sea level, it’s necessary to entomb bodies above ground rather than 6 feet under. Apparently Lestat (Tom Cruise’s character in Interview with a Vampire) has a pretend tomb here. It’s a pretty run-down, ratty looking place, but not without charm.
And of course, no visit to the south could be complete without 2 things: sampling the Creole cooking and checking out the gators. We took care of #1 at the New Orleans School of Cooking, which we highly recommend. The food (crab bisque, shrimp Creole and pralines) was incredible, but now that I know what goes in there I’m not sure I’ll ever eat it again. Ignorance was bliss… For #2, we hit the swamps on a tour in one of those air boats. It was a surprising tour for many reasons:
- The swamp doesn’t stink (for some reason I thought it would)
- The people are intelligent (the TV show Swamp People had given me a different impression)
- Alligators eat marshmallows. Apparently they see in black and white, so the marshmallows are obvious to them. I’m not sure it’s a traditional part of their diet, but it worked – they came a’runnin’ (well, swimming) for them!
We loved Nawlins, but too much of a good thing was not helping my waistline (carefully measured for the wedding before the cruise) so we said a teary goodbye after 6 days and headed north to see something most Aussies haven’t: the changing of the leaves in fall. Coming up next: Blue Ridge Parkway!