A Travellerspoint blog

Time to leave norleans and hit the big apple

sunny 10 °C

Well off for a day of travel to the Big Apple. Early wake up and breakfast. Must say whilst the hotel was ok, we would stay at the Astor Crowne again. Not as friendly as other places so far visited and the amenities are pretty ordinary.

Still we're travelling and have to get used to the not so good as a counter balance against the better places.

We caught the airport shuttle from outside the hotel and 30 minutes later were disembarking luggage at the Louis Armstrong airport. Check in and security are pretty heavy with passport id checks, luggage search and scans. The option of the scan is to have a pat down which I avoided like the plague given the security person looked straight out of the local prison.

No coffee in the waiting area and no lounge to access.

Security was tight and via sedgeway.

Security was tight and via sedgeway.

Flight out of Norleans was on time and we arrived (with baggage checked all the way through to NY) in Dallas an hour later. There were some military personnel on the flight and the pilot acknowledged their presence, thanked them for the sacrifices to family and the work to keep the USA the best country in the world. Mandy kicked me so much that the passengers applauded the pilots dribble. Save me from the god damns.

We have a lay over (not I'm getting into the yank slang) of a few hours so it was off to the American Airlines lounge which differed and was much nicer than the one we visited on the way to Norleans.

American Airlines Admirals Lounge Dallas

American Airlines Admirals Lounge Dallas

Got into a discussion with an airforce enlisted man who is based in UK. Nice guy and again individually the yanks are great; put them in a group and you want to become a hermit to get away from them.

Arrived into La Guardia late after a delayed departure from Dallas. We used the internet on the flight to complete some of this blog and book a limo to take us into Manhattan so no drama about the delay.

In air internet.....no that is technology

In air internet.....no that is technology

Note Mandy always gets the window seat

Note Mandy always gets the window seat

We got to the Intercontinental Times Square about an hour after landing and getting our limo. The temperature is about 1 degree but a slight wind must make the chill colder. Even though we booked months ago and confirmed our late arrival, the receptionist after noting that we were Ambassador members said she had to get the Manager. We paid in New Orleans before leaving so it must be bad.

The Manager Louis said that we have a room but could we help him out. They would pay for a suite at the Barclay over on 52nd street, not charge for this night, give us a taxi fare return and upgrade our room here tomorrow. Whilst we were pretty tired, the bottom line was that they clearly had a basic room only.

What no room !!!

What no room !!!

The choice was a no brainer so it was off in the cab with the good news that the taxi had a TV.

Cold outside but a TV in the taxi

Cold outside but a TV in the taxi

The Barclay was very old by oh so stylish. The suite was something else and up there with the best that we stayed at.

The Barclay NY

The Barclay NY

It even had a fireplace

It even had a fireplace

Off for pizza then a shower.

The yanks sure know how to cook an italian food. The pizza is purchased by the slice, cut and then put into the oven.

Pick the slice and pay.

Pick the slice and pay.

One slice wasn't enough so on the way back to the hotel Tony had to stop off for a world famous hotdog. He has been talking about these for months.

And then eat.....heaven

And then eat.....heaven

It was after 12 before we turned the lights off another long day. Tomorrow a plan but exactly what not sure.

Posted by mandt0413 17:36 Archived in USA Comments (0)

We do an Air Boat Adventure

New Orleans and Louisiana locals

10 °C

Day 6 and it hasn't yet warmed up. Despite fine weather and clear skies it remains cool at about 10 degrees for us in oz. We felt that it would be good to do a local thing outside of NOLA, so it was off at 10am to go on an "Air boat Adventure" see www.airboatadventures.com

We were collected at the Astor by "billy bob" who was a good ole boy from the bayou. He spoke very quickly and I understood every fifth word. Mandy understood every third word being from Tassie so between the two of us we got most of his tour guide information about NOLA. Whilst he was supposed to be informative, it was more like mobile advertising for places to eat.

About a 50 minute trip on the freeway (everywhere is a freakin freeway) saw us arrive in the bayou at Lafitte on the Bayou Barataria which is an arm of the good ole Mississippi River. We paid for a 6 person Air Boat and given the mentality of the driver (Capt'n creole) and one of the god damns on it; was probably an equivalent of a 4 person job and that's being kind given she is a school teacher.

Interesting place to begin the tour with lots of trailer trash parked nearby. The hurricane didn't affect the place apart from flooding which about kept everyone in doors for months. Probably accounts for the mentality and looks of some of the locals.

The jump off point had a display of white gators which according to the good ole boy get eaten by the population of other gators because of their colour. I think we ate one last night, read on further for details.

Albino gator nicknamed by Tony as Michael Jackson

Albino gator nicknamed by Tony as Michael Jackson

Tony tries to explain the difference between our crocs to one of the locals

Tony tries to explain the difference between our crocs to one of the locals

The air boats are exactly that, very basic and built to fly across the water in shallow or no water situations.

The Air Boat built for six

The Air Boat built for six

The boats come complete with ear muffs which are a necessity. Loved the way Cap'n dick head insisted on explaining things whilst the motor was running and no one could hear a thing.

Cap'n Jerk and his trusty crew

Cap'n Jerk and his trusty crew

The short journey to the Bayou only took a few minutes via a short passage through the open water. Once the Air Boat hits full speed it certainly flys along. Not much worries the boat from shallow water or fallen branches.

An Air Boat in the distance and the spray kicked up by the rear prop

An Air Boat in the distance and the spray kicked up by the rear prop

Into the bayou and noted that many of the trees are yet to recover from recent strong winds (read hurricanes).

In the bayou

In the bayou

More Bayou

More Bayou

Mandy, Bayou and new hair style

Mandy, Bayou and new hair style

Our first Gator siting was for me a disappointment when Capt'n Snooze said this was a real big one......from my experience of crocs in Nth Qld and Northern Territory, this one would be considered a throw back baby.....

Bayou Gator

Bayou Gator

And then Capt'n wanker brought out this pearler. It was his pet and he was as proud as....not sure what. He was really keen to pass it around for everyone to feel and believe it or not pat. He even gave instruction on how best to pat it.... Something not right with this guy. The yank gun laws still worry me with dudes like this being able to associate with the public, us good aussies anyway.

That is a gator in this hand isn't it?

That is a gator in this hand isn't it?

And then it was Mandy's turn to pat the pet. Thank god it wasn't a python or that would have been it; he'd be gator bait himself.

Mandy and Gator

Mandy and Gator

Saw more gators, turtles and apparently a woodpecker. The bird life is generally non existent for such a diverse eco system such as this is supposed to be. We have more birds in 5 minutes in our yard than we saw the entire tour. Maybe it had something to do with the cams worn by our bayou brother.

Is that Cap'n Moron in front of the boat. Hard to tell with him dressed in his cams...

Is that Cap'n Moron in front of the boat. Hard to tell with him dressed in his cams...

The tour lasted for about 2 hours and in my view we had to do it. A rating of 6 out of 10, once done no need to do it again.

Got off the bus (thank god as Bayou Boy was starting to get into his stride with a joke which fell flat) at the Civil War Museum. Interesting place in as much it showed the degree with which the god damns killed each other. Not that Aussies are immune to this type of behaviour, only on a smaller scale. The confederate memorial hall was freezing and is the oldest museum in Louisiana. Saw plenty of old clothes, weapons and visitors. The last vet died in the early 1900's but I swear that a few were still walking around the museum.

Had an early dinner at a New Orleans local favourite and we ate Capt'n gators gator. Had it as an Apertiser and a great steak for entree which is the yank equivalent to our main course.

Best meal in the US of A so far. Glad to be eating the Capt'n favourite pet gator or its balls anyway.

Best meal in the US of A so far. Glad to be eating the Capt'n favourite pet gator or its balls anyway.

Posted by mandt0413 11:53 Archived in USA Comments (0)

New Orleans.....lots to do including our first wash

sunny 19 °C

A chance to stretch our legs meant that we got to have a quick look at what NOLA (as the locals call it) has to offer. NOLA stands for New Orleans Louisianna and there are lots of symbols around. Very much a french influence, the hotel even gave us a pin of the emblem to go with that other strange item the ear plugs. Mandy still thinks that I set it up.

Our hotel is right on Canal and Bourbon Street which is the main hub.

Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street

Even found one of my sisters dogs. Not sure whether its a gay cowboy or whether the dog should be worried.

Not sure whether its a gay cowboy or whether the dog should be worried.

About 200 yards up the street was a quaint little jazz cafe/bar and the dudes were humming.

Jazz bar

Jazz bar

Cafe Jazz, Beer and Grits

Cafe Jazz, Beer and Grits

The jazz was so good Mandy suggested that we do our first wash. I searched the internet and found a place or few. We decided that the best spot was the one that had a review which indicated that after 10 washes, the reviewer had not gotten any grease on the clothes....And so it was off to Clothespin in north rampart drive.

The clothespin

The clothespin

Mandy at peace with the world of wash

Mandy at peace with the world of wash

We had time during the wash cycle to visit Louis Armstrong park. Lovely place and maybe it's because this is the end of the winter, but it looked very unkept. Still there was lots of interesting things and plenty of visitors including 2 groups of sedgeway tours that passed through.

My own Louie in front of the big Louis

My own Louie in front of the big Louis

Great trees and very healthy azaleas

Great trees and very healthy azaleas

Sedgeways are big in NOLA

Sedgeways are big in NOLA

After the spin (cycle) we did the big drying and whilst that event took place we walked around the local area. Rentals are expensive at around $3k per month whilst purchasing a townhouse is relatively cheap $300k. Doesn't make sense other than owning a place in a swamp with lots of ground water and regular flooding probably isn't such a good long term investment.

Very french influence

Very french influence

Not sure about this place. We think its to celebrate St Patricks Day.

Not sure about this place. We think its to celebrate St Patricks Day.

After the wash it was off for another walk to find some decent coffee. It's day 5 and we're yet to find a nice cuppa. This time we took a tram down to the French Quarter markets.

Tram's go east/west and north/south....just not very efficiently

Tram's go east/west and north/south....just not very efficiently

About 100 shops under a verandah to fit 50 shops. There was everything from Voodoo to Aligator sausages. This place apart from being big on jazz is also big on gators and Voodoo. There are at least 2 Voodoo shops in every block. What is misunderstood is that Voodoo is big on healing and good. In the same way Karma is in oz.

The food over here is; eat everything including gator and boys......go figure. From what we can gather there aren't too many gators left that can breed because the locals love gator sausages.

This sign is wrong on so many levels in this day and age.

This sign is wrong on so many levels in this day and age.

After our stroll through the markets we walked back via a nice walkway along the Mississippi. The levy bank didn't work after Katrina in 2003 but work has been done to shore up the problem (They've also encouraged immigration from Netherlands since. Not much they don't know about dykes; well levies anyway)

A dyke on the big Miss

A dyke on the big Miss

And then a tram ride back to the hotel completed the circuit. The trams are slow but unique and cheap. $3.50 for an all day pass.

The trams are slow but unique and cheap. $3.50 for an all day pass.

Posted by mandt0413 16:47 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Off to Louisiana

Down south where the men are tough and the gators are scared...I mean sacred.

sunny 12 °C

Caught a coach transfer out to the airport for our lunch time flight from Dallas Fort Worth to New Orleans. A great set up at the airport from over 6 terminals and probably 200+ gates. We arrived in the basement where our bags were taken from the coach (only the 2 of us) straight onto a check in counter. They print the ticket, check the bags and teach me to pronounce New Orleans correctly. Casual walk up to the security check in which is about 10 times more serious and vigilant than any experienced in oz.

Checked into the American Airlines "Admirals Club" (finally home and recognised).

Admiral's Lady

Admiral's Lady

Easy 1 hour flight time saw us landing on time into Louis Armstrong airport in New Orleans. The city is pronounced like I do it, so the guys that checked our baggage into the plane taught me how to say it properly. It really comes out norleans.

The French Quarter

The French Quarter

We caught another transfer coach to our hotel which is on the corner of Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. This street is where is all happens at night with jazz bands, mardi gras and bars. Whilst we are on the fourth floor, I shit you not, they left pairs of earplugs on the bed for our use. Not a good sign for a couple of old farts like ourselves.

Talking of beds, the one in our room is something else. I needed to jump up to get into it and Mandy had to use the lounge foot stool to climb up. If she rolls out tonight we could be in for hospital expenses.

Mandy could get nose bleed from this high up

Mandy could get nose bleed from this high up

The lounge is nice, not great just nice. As always, there idea of happy hour is strange. Yanks certainly don't understand Aussies. Happy hour here is 4pm to 8pm. Unlike most lounges which have free alcohol and food, this one has 1 free drink and some crappy deep fried food. Again no wonder the yanks are eating themselves to death.

The lounge is airy and warm.

Astor Crowne Lounge New Orleans

Astor Crowne Lounge New Orleans

Off to dinner at a restaurant called "Olivers". The facility looked and smelled great but the food was pretty ordinary. In fairness we picked things we new little about. Mandy had Gumbot and I had shrimp creole something.

Fine couple in a fine Establishment

Fine couple in a fine Establishment

Still a really good setting the services was great. We were very tired so an early night to bed.

Posted by mandt0413 19:36 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Mandy's always wanted to visit a Walmart

Long way to come

sunny 10 °C

Well the good news is that next door to the Walmart was probably the biggest and best shoe store in the world. They say that everything in Dallas is big, well this shoe store is massive......but I get ahead of myself. Walmart, Mandy had always wanted to visit a Walmart and as anyone knows, what she wants I will give.

Mandy has always wanted to see a Walmart

Mandy has always wanted to see a Walmart

Walmart

Walmart

It's like a big Kmart but with everything in it including groceries, furniture and houses. They say that there isn't anything you can't buy in a Walmart. "I couldn't find any vegemite".

Next door was a WHS which stands for "bloody big shoestore". I brought 2 pairs and Mandy brought 2 with a total of less than $170. Great store.

The place was like multiple industrial estates. You needed a car to get to each and they were massive in size with few shops. Never a problem with parking...

Off to the Gallaria shopping centre which had everything including an ice rink. Mandy got a nice dress at Saks Fifth Avenue and I got some Ralph Loren at Macy's. All in all a pretty good day.

Oh I didn't say the weather was pretty crap. Cold as a mother-in-laws kiss.

Still overly tired so it was another early night. We think this trip was worse for us regarding jet lag.

Posted by mandt0413 17:18 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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