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Published: June 21st 2017
Geo: 29.9537, -90.0778
New Orleans (Awlins as pronounced here) was a Liz choice and it was a good call - we've had an excellent time. From arriving on Tuesday in time for a cruise up and down Bourbon Street, a decent dinner, a jazz session at the Preservation Hall then back to the hotel to watch CNN as the election results came in and see it live as Romney conceded and Obama made his speech. What a result - now it's all the post election analysis and predictions of the end of the Republican Party. If only we could look forward to a similar fate for the Tories!
Wednesday morning we joined a walking tour of the French Quarter, courtyards and cemetery. Following a lunch that consisted of lots of bread (a spinach and artichoke dip served inside a carved out crusty loaf then a typically New Orleans Muffuletta- a huge sandwich with ham, salami, pastrami, two kinds of cheese and olive salad - we ordered half a one to share, but it was still huge. But they had decent expresso, any kind of expresso is sadly rare! The friendliness of locals endered themselves to me when we acosted by a caretaker when
we were admiring a wreath on the frnt door. We got the story of the street and its mansions, together with the owners - including nicholas Cage and his bankruptzy, all told as he pawed my arm , uncomfortably close, and tried out his jokes on us. Then we worked out how to use the Street Cars (it wasn't called Desire sadly - though the previous evening we did have a drink in Tennessee Williams' favourite bar, a dive!) and rode out to City Park and found a stunning sculpture garden - Hepworth, Moore, Kapoor and more and more and more. Back into town for a short pause before drinks in our hotel. These were free for guests of the hotel so I experimented with a very elegant, but alcoholic martini plus, which kept me going while Peter had 3 G&Ts and we chatted to a couple who led a glamourous life style in California. Then dinner at a famous resturant (for its food but also for its size and the number of people they served) called WG Finns. Then to another jazz venue in Bourbon Street. An attractive girl seduced us in and we squeezed up on a cosy
bench where we watched, not only the funky Jazz group, who played all the traditional favourites, but also the comings, goings, flirtations and brush offs of the audience.
Thursday, up early to grab two of the 25 free tickets available at a National Park office round the corner for another guided walk featuring the history of New Orleans. We were invited by a couple we chatted to fro the US Virgin Islands for Coffee and Beignets ( sugary doughnuts) and heard all about their retirement travels on cruisers and their fondness for the cuture of NY. The afternoon trip was on a paddle steamer downriver to the site of The Battle of New Orleans (the final battle of the 1812 War between the USA and Britain, they won - we didn't know about the war let alone the battle but on the paddle steamer they did play a song which I recalled Lonnie Donegan recording which is about the battle. And in the evening to Frenchmans for dinner and a modern jazz concert at Sng Harbor. All very convivial. This was a very different neighbourhood from Bourbon St. Much less vulgar, but rather dark and less receptive to outsiders. Sometimes you
just have to settle for being a touristof a certain age, although I have been impressed to see how all ages, colours, races mix up when, as the musicians say the mutual enjoyment of music provides a common goal.
We enjoyed learning the difference between Cajun and Creol, about the New Orleans accent, and as a last dash before we set off to catch our flight to Miami reminding ourselves of the whole Hurricane Katrina experience, re-enforced by our taxi driver, who prattled on all the way about how his family had survived Katrina and the damage that occured, though his accent was so thick that we only caught every few words and had to guess the rest. New Alins is definitely unique, both in culture and language!
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