Sunday, February 10, 2008

Finally

New Orleans: Day One

First off, lets start off with the flight. It was entertaining to say the least. The passengers included a baby that cried the entire way, and extremely overweight person that held up the flight for over an hour, and an insanely drunk man, who smelled worse than you could possibly imagine.

He got on the plane last and yelled, "Where should I sit?" The flight attendant replied, "This is open seating, sit where ever there is an open spot." The man replied, "Well duh, but what seat is close to the drink cart." F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S. They finally found a seat up front for this man (who had open sores and gashes on his legs no less). Airport security ended up coming on the plane and chaos ensued. I was just waiting for Ashton Kutcher to jump on to tell us all that we were being punked.

After a little confrontation between the cops and Sir Drunky, the plane finally took off, about 2 hours behind schedule.

Anyways, we got to New Orleans safely and just in time to enjoy Fat Tuesday. The girls and I lucked out with an amazing hotel in the Arts and Warehouse District of New Orleans. It was a little off the beaten path, but it was much cleaner and safer than the heart of the party. Plus, our hotel offered free breakfast, and free happy hour every single day that we were there. You really can't beat that.

Mardi Gras was okay. We walked around for a few hours, enjoyed a hurricane, but we were happy to leave after a little bit. The streets were mobbed and disgusting. There was at least 2 inches of beer, drinks and filth all over the ground. It's not exactly our scene, but it was cool to see what all of the fuss is about.

After a stroll down Bourbon St., we went back to where our hotel was located for the free happy hour and dinner at Mulates; the original cajun resturant. We feasted on the local fare, including friend crawfish, catfish, shrimp, alligator and something else that resembled food. The place had authentic cajun dancing and a band, so it was an interesting experience.

Day Two:


Today we decided to do the a little shopping and hit up the French Quarter. I swear, all in all, we walked at least five miles a day to get to our destination. Don't worry though, we made up for all of the walking with daily afternoon snacks at Cafe Du Monde.

The French Quarter is really funky, and the music is on all day long.

My one problem with New Orleans is that when they say the south is laid back, they mean laid back. Nothing is on schedule, no one really knows where to go or what to do, and when they do give you ideas, they usually point you in the wrong direction.

I can't even begin to count how many people answered the question, "Where is the best place to eat?" with, well it depends on what you like. The city really has slowed down a lot, and many of the areas clubs, bars and restaurants were dead the entire week. I've never tried so hard to go out in my life.

We spent at least 2 hours on Wednesday trying to find a restaurant before settling for an asian joint, really close the the hotel. I think we went out to a jazz club, but I can't remember the details. We were about 5 hurricanes deep by that point.

Day Three:

On our last full day, we decided to be tourists and booked not one, but two tours of New Orleans. We took a day tour around the French Quarter, the cemetary, the ninth ward and lower ninth ward, the Garden District (I saw Peyton Manning's house), and most of New Orleans. The tour was interesting, but like I said, it was totally on "southern" time.

We originally scheduled the tour through our concierge, but it appeared a little too shady for our liking. The conversation while booking went like this;

We would like to go on a tour, can you recommend any?

Well it depends on what you want to see.

Well, is there anything through the hotel?

Yes, for 50 dollars each I will call my friend Big Mike and he will hook you up.

Well, we are on a budget, is there anything cheaper?

Well, for you pretty ladies, 60 dollars total for two hours.

Wow, really? Where will he take us?

Where ever you want to go.

Well how long is the tour?

Oh well you know, one hour, maybe two or so.

Well, which one is it?

Hold on let me call him.

PAUSE.

Man returns and is off the phone.

Big Mike says 25 dollars each for 1 hour.

Well we would like something a little more than an hour.

Okay, for you, Big Mike will do like 1.5 hours for 25 each.

Are you sure? You just said one hour only.

Oh, but he'll do it. Don't worry.

Does he work for a real tour company?

Yes he does (we later found out it was a transportation company)

Okay, we'll take it! (damn those hurricanes).

Anyways, the next day we came to our senses and asked the other concierge on duty if he had any suggestions. He said, why would you tour with a transportation company, you need a tour company. Well, no one told us that he wasn't a tour company silly.

We ended up cancelling that tour, but poor Big Mike was already at the hotel waiting for us. He seemed cool with it, and even agreed to take us to the airport the next morning. Mari thinks I worry too much, but I kept imagining Big Mike rolling us into carpets and dumping us in the Mississippi after screwing him over earlier in the day.

Our 12:30pm bus showed up at about 1:05pm and the two hour tour didn't bring us back to the hotel until after 4pm. Thankfully we didn't have any immediate plans (aside from visiting the conference for work, which we were actually in town for).

We also scheduled a jazz riverboat cruise with dinner. We got dressed up, walked another two miles to get there, and were told that the cruise was cancelled. Ugh. They had our number through our reservation, but no one actually called to inform us that our trip was cancelled. We ended up taking the trolley back down to our hotel, washed away our sorrows by double fisting happy hour beverages, and went out for another dinner near our hotel.

Overall, it was a great time. It was fun to hang out and bond with friends, and nothing beats one day work weeks and meeting leave. Whenever we were frustrated with something being cancelled, we just looked at each other and said, well we could be at an IEP meeting right now. That really perked us all right back up.

I'm going to do another post with just pictures, for those of you who prefer to look rather than read. One last thing, for some reason, my spell check will not work. Please excuse my awful attempts at making words look right.

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