First day in the Big Easy

Trip Start Feb 12, 2011
Trip End Mar 09, 2011

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Where I stayed
St. Vincent's Guest House New Orleans
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of United States  , Louisiana
Friday, March 4, 2011

Last night we arrived at 11.30pm, half an hour before Amber, the girl on front desk went out to party. We dumped our stuff in our room, which thankfully was on the ground floor - there's 3 of them - there was a note on the bedside table from our housekeeper MELodie wishing us a happy Mardi gras, placed next to some bead necklaces. There were lots of long dark hairs under my pillow, so the tip she got when I left was not substantial and I left her my own note in reply.
We decided to walk down Magazine Street and check out the neighborhood. Lot's of antique and second hand shops and a couple of bars open, lots of people walking around wearing a few kilo's of beads around their necks.
We stopped in at a service station to look for insect repellent, because the mossies we'd seen hovering round the light outside our room were the size of small sparrows. None in stock, but I did find sardines for 99c!! 
Anyone familiar with my trekking stories will know how important a good cheap sardine is to me.....and of course, those people lucky enough to share an office with me, too.

On we went, oohing and ahing at our window shopping until we came to an interesting looking place and went in for a beverage. The sardines stayed in my bag; I had no crackers.

We quietly sipped our margaritas while we watched young revelers in various modes of costumery prance in, coming (we found out next day) from the parades. One guy fell asleep on a tall stool leaning against a pinball machine; we discussed the possibility of him actually falling off the stool however his friends woke him before that could happen, and another girl mistook herself for a stripper. Thankfully she kept most of her clothes on.

Bored with this we continued on and found a joint with a pool table where Viv and I enjoyed me beating her, not once but twice. We met some nice people and talked and drank, until noticing that we'd lost Viv. So I wandered home at dawn in a light rain arm in arm with a dread-locked gentleman named Derek from Mississippi, who was too lovely to allow the Lady - who does Ladies Things - to walk home alone. Being such a delicate little flower 'n all, ya know. Truth be told Derek was disappointed that the firey little blonde who picked him up at the bar had disappeared.......once home, sure enough there was Viv.  I tried to sleep but it was warm already and the sun was rising, so I wrapped myself in my sheet and went walking around the balconies, hoping to be mistaken for the ghost of a nun.

I believe I did not get bitten by a mosquito once, that night. Go figure.

So, a very slow start indeed it was this morning, first priority being a call to beg to keep the hire car a bit longer, but it was booked and had to be returned. Right then! Food, coffee, a yellow pages (to find a car wash-we still hadn't washed off all the mud from the Bog). After brunch we cleaned out the car.
It had rained most of the morning, so when we reversed the car out of it's park there were 2 little mounds of mud left on the ground. Oh dear! Well, that's a good thing....the car wash'll have an easy job of it now...
The Gollum's Precious Sucks! (GPS) led us straight to the car wash in an unprecedented show of solidarity, kindness & efficiency - we almost forgave her for mistaking an irrigation ditch somewhere in New Mexico for a road - and we returned the car clean & sparkling. Despite the rain yet another pile of mud was left behind when we drove out of the car wash!
We then sadly went into the city proper to drop the car off, valiant steed that it was and the guy at the desk was lovely; he looked through the  paperwork Viv had for the car she'd booked to drive to New York and promised that if at all possible she could pick one up earlier than planned. He seemed in an extremely good mood for someone working on a weekend, very jovial & friendly. Amused even.
Then he pointed out that 'I'll bite yr face' was written on the 2nd page of Viv's stuff, which I'd printed out for her at work 'cos her printer at home wasn't working. Oh, lol, ha-de-ha yes we're silly aren't we.....we leave the office and start walking, Viv flicks through her papers, amused 'cos she hadn't even seen what I'd written there....
and on the next page was written a phrase insulting Vivienne with a rather strong & generally taboo expletive; the page after that a drawing, also quite foul.  We fell about laughing, I had genuinely forgotten what I'd done - it had been weeks ago - and Viv hadn't even looked through the papers to know what was there.....ah well. Those aussie sheilas hey? How RUDE! You can take them out of Australia but....
We wandered through the city towards home, planning to hail a cab but realising that the walk wasn't that far and was panning out to be really interesting. Novices that we were we thought that the empty floats going past were getting in to position for tonights parades; we were unaware that there are daily parades as well.  Called in to Harra's Hotel to see if they had an internet cafe, but no pc's, only WiFi access. As we walked down Magazine with the city behind us we realised that it was the street we walked down last night, in the opposite direction. Quirky and interesting antiques, book and clothes shops and cafe's.

On reaching home Viv needed a sleep (she is older than me after all....) so I did my washing, organised my stuff ready to re-pack, chatted with Louise and Janine in the cafe - the Magazine Grill - and explored St Vincents.
It used to be St Vincents Orphanage Asylum, built in 1861 by the Daughters of Charity. Margaret Haughery, a woman who'd lost her husband and child to yellow fever, funded most of it from a bakery that she'd built up into a major business. She had immigrated from Ireland and was illiterate, but became one of New Orleans foremost philanthropists. It's a gorgeous old building with a square courtyard in the centre containing a shady garden and a pool area; 3 sides are buildings and the last side is defined by the fence. 

Viv was up when I got back to our room and we ate some gumbo for tea and headed out, down a side street, through a park towards St Charles Ave. On the way was a house for sale, my perfect house, on a corner opposite the park. Great yard with camellias and a magnolia.

Unbelievably the rest of the night was caught up in the parade, we were completely sucked in by all the excitement and the apparent privilege of catching beads and whatever else the Krewe members were throwing down to the crowd as their float passed. In between floats were the marching bands, cheerleaders, sports teams & dance troupes from the High Schools in the area, mounted police and other community groups. The street was lined with their families & friends & general revelers and the pubs' and restaurants' balconies were full of people as well, all yelling to be thrown stuff.
We wandered up St Charles through the crowd, keeping our eyes peeled for an internet cafe.

One float was held up while the police came and spoke with the guys on it; a woman had taken exception to one of them leaning over the edge and offering to pour bourbon into people's mouths, and had reported them. 

We ate food from a van on the street - chicken on a stick and a corndog. Glad I did it but an experience not necessary to repeat.

By the end of the parade my back was aching from all the extra weight of beads, cups and soft toys! Tomorrows parades are even bigger, we're told. I've realised that I have no actual idea what we were doing out there, or why. Some research is a must.
Home and into bed right on Pumpkin Hour. Phew!



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