Thursday, September 22, 2011

New Orleans

We had a wonderful ride to New Orleans. Our train attendant was Marcie. She is 76 years old and very spry, with a great sense of humor. She said she plans to keep working for several more years. She is from New Orleans and gave us some suggestions on places to visit while we were there.

We stayed at the Roosevelt Hotel which was beyond words. They lobby was gorgeous with gold everywhere. There were old paintings, a grand piano, a long hallway that just shouted elegance and money. I'm not sure what it costs to stay there, but WOW! I was in shock the minute walked it. It just screamed money.

The concierge had been to Alaska and said that if there was anything we needed to let him know. He even said that he could probably even find us Muktuk if we wanted it. That made me laugh.

Our room was huge! The bed was very comfortable. The room had a hinge window with drapes out of "Gone With the Wind." There were chocolates on our pillows, along with the next days weather forecast. There were bottles of water on the dresser and a walk in closet with robes and slippers. The bathroom was gigantic with a huge vanity, the size of my bathroom in length. I could have fit more than two of my bathrooms at home in the bathroom in our room. I was in awe. It was like a honeymoon suite. There was even a sitting area in the hallway near the elevators. I felt like royalty. We were just a couple of blocks off the French Quarter.

After we freshened up we went for a walk in the French Quarter and stopped for some grilled shrimp and onion rings at Felix's. The food was really good for little hole in the wall. We walked down Bourbon Street. There was loud music, half naked girls, and a variety of people. At one point there were half-naked girls on a balcony and two women on the street flashed their boobs at them. The girls on the balcony threw down beads for the girls. I whipped around, beat red. I was totally embarrassed. Tom said that was how you collect beads on Bourbon Street. I was shocked and not sure how to react. I told Tom that if I wanted beads I would just buy them.

We continued our walk, during which Tom got several eyes full, as half-naked girls shook their booties to entice men into their establishments. We stopped for a drink. I decided since we were in New Orleans I should try a Hurricane, it tasted like overly sweet Hawaiian Punch, definitely not my cup of tea.

We were stopped for being too serious and had to pay a fine to help the homeless. I got a hat in return, as well as two stickers. One for Tom said he was "Too Far From Puking" and mine said something about not smiling. THe guy who stopped is a teacher and he said teachers volunteer to collect money for the homeless shelters. He kept referring to me as Tom's daughter. It was an interesting experience, though a little too crazy for me. I'm sure it is worse during Carnival. After that we returned to the hotel to get some sleep.

The next morning we walked down Canal Street to Decatur to Cafe Du Monde for beignets. There were deliciously deadly, fried and buried under a mound of powdered sugar. An order is three and we split it. Tom had a cup of coffee with chicory. He said it was really good.

I bought postcards and Tom took a picture of me wearing a mask like they wear during Mardi Gras. The owner of the store has been to Alaska and we talked about the weather differences.I said I was dying in the humidity and she told me to think of it as a sauna that I did not have to pay for. It was clearing all the chemicals out of my skin as I sweated and to think what beautiful skin I would have as a result. I thought she had a great point. Every time I felt overwhelmed buy the heat and humidity, I told myself I am in a sauna and my skin will look beautiful when I leave.

We walked over to the river, the Mighty Mississippi. It is a bug muddy river. The water is very dark and you can not see down into it, but it reflects the sunlight beautifully.

We found a store called "Aunt Sally's" which I loved as I have an Aunt Sally. I bought postcards and candy. They had the best pralines. I bought three different kinds. We also went to an artist co-op called "Dutch Alley." I bought a beautiful silk scarf and a hat. I also bought several cards by an artist we met. She is an excellent artist. We ate at a place she recommended. It was very good.

We walked in the rain to catch the trolley along the river walk, but it was not running, so we ended up walking a lot further. Along the way we stopped and took pictures of the immigration statue and the Holocaust Memorial. One side has the star of David and the other has a Menorah. We took a break at the iMax theater and checked out their gift store and the aquarium next door. From there we walked to Harrah's for a hot drink and waited out a major down pour that hit. A couple came in drenched while we were waiting for the rain to stop. I was very glad we decided we wanted something to drink instead of continuing our walk since it started pouring so hard.

We caught the St. Charles Trolley. It is the oldest street car in New Orleans. We had a fun time on the ride and took tons of pictures while riding, including Loyola College, a trolley historical sign and other historical signs. We met some interesting people on the trolley, including a family from Australia. We rode to the end of the line and got off while they flipped the seats in the other direction and then we got back in and rode back to where we started.

We had dinner at Pat O'Brien's down on Bourbon Street. Tom took a picture of one of the dancers/hookers who was half naked. She yelled at him "No pictures!"

Tom told her that if she did not want her picture taken she shouldn't be out in the street dressed like that. Tom sent the picture to Bryce who texted back "Where are you?"

Tom responded "Bourbon Street, New Orleans."

Bryce texted back, "Wow!"

We continued our walk to dinner. I had shrimp creole and Tom had shrimp remoulade with fried grits. Both were very good. We shared a half of a piece of heavenly pecan pie for dessert. I took the rest back to the hotel to eat later.

After dinner we walked around Bourbon Street for a while and then headed back to our hotel to pack.

The next morning we had breakfast at Mother's which is in an old red brick building with bare brick walls. When you walked in the door you picked up the menu, walked to the register to order, pay, and get your drinks. Water is self-serve. They bring your food to your table when it is ready. The food was excellent, homemade biscuits and homemade jam. They served you a ton of food. They have a wall of Medal of Honor recipients and police and firemen. It is a pretty cool place. They had some water damage with Katrina, but was salvaged and for a period of time the employees lived in FEMA trailers outside while fixing up the place.

Grits are interesting, they have no real flavor. They need butter, sugar, cheese, or something to have any flavor. The fried grits Tom had were really good. They cook them until they are really thick, layer them in a pan to dry, then cut them into wedges and fry them lightly on each side in a little oil and serve with shrimp in a remoulade like sauce.

We had a nice walk back to our hotel where we relaxed for a while before heading to the train station for our ride to Memphis.

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