New Orleans - Day 3

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February 11th 2018
Published: February 12th 2018
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Krewe of ThothKrewe of ThothKrewe of Thoth

Parade at our door
So when you can’t make it to the parades the parades come to you. This morning as we left the breakfast room we could see floats out the front of our hotel. We walked out to see the Krewe of Thoth floats all driving down the road to their meeting point at the start of the parade route. No-one was on them, they were just getting ready for their parade. So, we got a free preview.

The weather forecast was set for rain, rain and more rain today so we mapped out some indoorsy activities instead of going to the parades. The weather here has been interesting. Its been overcast and a bit rainy the whole time, but not cold. Most of the time I’ve been running around in t-shirts which is OK until it does rain. The rain appears to be either a brief shower or an absolute dumping. Either way it lasts for about half an hour and then goes back to being overcast.

Our first touristy stop was another walk down Royal St and stop in a some of the galleries we saw yesterday. Lots of little shops selling local artists work. Some really beautiful stuff. Really beautiful price tags as well. One store in particular had magnificent oil paintings of the houses in New Orleans, filled with colour. Gorgeous but I can’t quite justify the $7000 for one of them. We also stopped at a mask gallery were they had all sorts a beautiful Mardi Gras masks. Made from leather and feathers. Some were just silver masks, they looked more like jewellery than masks. I wish I could share them with your but they didn’t allow photo’s. The masks were also accompanied by some beautiful price tags. Around the $300 mark. Down the road we found another little general store with masks for about $25. Still beautiful and much more affordable.

Along our walk we found a Voodoo museum and thought, this has got to be worth a look. It was really based around the life of one Voodoo queen and her family. Fun fact, the leaders of a Voodoo community are called Queens (female) and Doctors (male). They lead together but the female is always dominant. Nice to see one religion got it right for a change. The museum had lots of carvings, voodoo dolls, and alters for offerings. People left offerings of money, cigarettes, and booze. One alter even had an offering of condoms...clearly the spirits like to have a good time.

After Royal st we made our way towards the Mighty Mississippi. We had booked a riverboat cruise and wanted to find where the docking point was and find a decent coffee along the way. Finding a good coffee here is a bit of a task. It’s just not quite right. And be careful of the sweetener. Its super powerful. But I digress. We found the dock for the Creole Queen, then while looking for a coffee joint, the rain came. Not the brief shower rain, no the someone dumped and ocean on New Orleans rain. Fortunately we were near a shopping centre so we did some window shopping while we waited for the rain to clear. We noted the morning parades would have been in full swing when the rain came, so we were quite happy to be warm and dry at the “mall”

The Mississippi is an interesting river. There was mist over it all day. When we got there (around midday) it was completely covered. You could barely see the water. Over the course of the afternoon it receded but never really disappeared. But by the end of the cruise it was rolling back in again. The cruise was an interesting history lesson on New Orleans. Originally settled by the French, they had a few false starts in finding the right location. The Mississippi had been discovered by French explorers on an inland mission. They guesstimated where the mouth would be, made their way back to France to find funding to set up a new colony. On getting funding they came in via the Gulf of Mexico, but they couldn’t find the mouth of the Mississippi. Apparently, the river splits out into lots of little rivers and swamps called the bayou. (we did see the swamps flying into town. They are huge!) So our frenchies had a little trouble trying to find this massive river they knew was there….somewhere

Eventually they found the spot they were looking for, with the aid of some locals, and sent word back to France that a new colony had been established. Strangely the Frenchies were not keen to take up the offer, despite being told of the white sandy beaches of the Mississippi and wealth so readily available you could just pick up pearls and gold off the ground. In the end the government sent folks here by recruiting the three P’s. The prisoners, the poor and the “professional women” (as our guide politely put it) The prisoners were offered early release if they agreed to marry a professional woman and move to New Orleans. The Professional women were given no jail time if they married a prisoner and moved. They were quite often married, sight unseen, still bound in chains and put on board. The poor just magically started disappearing off the streets of Paris. Same deal, just not necessarily an “offer”

The cruise offered meals and drinks. By the time we queued up for a meal, ate and then queued up for a drink and had a few sips we were told the boat would be docking. Apparently there was a stop at the Chalmette battlefield. We were completely unaware that there would be a stop. A quick review of the pamphlet and we realised they had told us. Apparently neither of us can read. As we had just purchased our beers we decided to pass on the battlefield although it is the kind of thing I would love. Later on we heard another passenger say they had managed to stand in a nest of fire ants so we decided that would probably have been one of us and counted ourselves lucky.

After the cruise we decided to return to the hotel for some wine and relax before dinner. It was quite a walk so we thought we might try to catch the trolley aka a tram. However the tram we needed to catch was running right through the Krewe of Thoth parade so that was a no go. We found a Tuk tuk stand and decided to catch one of those. It was an expensive ride home but definitely an experience and my feet and legs were stuffed so worth every penny. The tuk tuk rider was amazing at moving in and out of the traffic. Unlike the tuk tuk’s in Bangkok theses ones were all pedal power. He negotiated that thing through tiny gaps in the traffic (when the cars were stopped) with amazing precision. At times there were only millimetres between the tuk tuk and the cars. The car drivers were very accommodating. He explained everyone was pretty “chill” during Mardi Gras. I can’t imagine the same patience in Melbourne.

Back at the hotel we had a couple of glasses of wine. We were to tired to head into town to get dinner so we went to the restaurant across the road. I don’t mind creole food, but after 3 days Jo is well an truly over rice and beans. This restaurant had a nice menu of “regular” food. Or so we thought. The waiter told us most meals were designed as shared platters. So we ordered a steak to share and pomme frittes. The food, what there was of it, was delicious, but no-one is walking out of this restaurant feeling guilty for over-eating. We did have a really nice bottle of champers though.


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