All That Jazz!! (Not just in Chicago you know!!)

Trip Start Jul 27, 2003
Trip End Jul 26, 2004

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Flag of United States  , Louisiana
Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Well sorry for the delay in this latest update - we have had some electrical problems over here!!

Liz has told me that I am no longer allowed to sit next to her when she types these reading USA Today and giving the occasional grunt when she asks me a question so I am writing this edition. - Which may take some time but at least it won't be War and Peace this time!!

Well we left you on Thursday 7th August about midday and a lot happened that afternoon so I will continue from that time.

Thursday 7th August
We left the library in Washington (Lizs fingers throbbing after typing so much!!) We headed down to the Old post Office to get a good Chinese meal in before heading to the Washington Monument. This is the tallest stone structure in the world. Again it was free to go up you just had to queue to get your free tickets. We went up the elevator with a cheery Park Ranger who cracked oh such funny jokes on the way up. Fortunately the elevator only takes 60 seconds so we left him shortly after the joking began. It is pretty amazing from the top. There are 4 windows, each one facing a different direction. You could see the whole of Washington and all the way to Arlington. We could see the Arlington Cemetary that we had been to see the previous day and you can't believe the scale of it. They were holding about 20 funerals on this day for soldiers killed in Iraq. We saw JFKs grave stone and the one of Jacqui Onassis and their two small children. It is quite a moving place. All you can see for miles in every diretion is a sea of white headstones.

On a cheerier note we then headed back to the hotel on their Underground (grabbing a hotdog en route) to collect our bags and get ourselves to Union Station to catch the Amtrak. Now Union station is one of the most amazing stations we have ever seen, it is quite beautiful. It was designed to look like an old Roman Spa Baths building and when we were told our train was going to be 20 minutes late we didn't mind in the slightest.

We left on the train at 7.30pm for what we thought was a 24 hour trip to New Orleans, we forgot that the clocks go back an hour so it was actually 25 but being compleetly honest it didn't feel like it at all. The trains are really good over here. You can lie fully flat with a leg rest, foot rest and fully declinable seats. They come round and give out pillows when you get on and then put a tag above your seat so they know when your getting off so they can come and wake you when your stop is here without shouting down the carriages and waking up everyone. They also have a viewing carriage where you can go and sit which has ceiling to floor windows and the seats face outwards so you can sit and watch the world go by. They also have good catering facilities and you can choose between the dining cart where you can go for waiter service dining or a snack bar.

Friday 8th August
We had a good nights sleep and had some Rice Crispies for breakfast from the snack bar. We had just gone through Atlanta where a whole load of people got on wearing beads around their necks and luminous green and pink T shirts. One of the guys stopped and chatted to us about him being a Bopper and a Shagger (something he was very proud about!!) He said he was going to New Orleans to keep the Shag alive!! The look on our faces was probably enough for the chap sitting opposite us to point out that The Bop and The Shag are old style dances that New Orleans is famous for. Anyway the guy in the beads was amazed we were from England and said "We can always count on you guys to help us out" the other guy then piped up (in a very camp manner) "Oh my, they have accents and everything" Within about 30 mins we had about 40 Boppers and Shaggers coming to talk to us, asking us if we knew a Bob Clapper from Potters Bar or a friend they once had from Brighton!!?! We were soon pretty much getting advice from everyone about what to do and where to go in New Orleans.

We eventualy got to New Orleans about 8pm on the Friday night and jumped in a cab to the hotel. Well I know that speed isn't something I am new to having been in a car with Liz and had my own Vespa but shit! This guy was fully inclined in his seat, he had Jazz playing full whack on the radio and obviously didn't understand the meaning of a red stop light. He was like Han Solo taking the Millenium Falcon to warp speed.

We got to our hotel safely surprisingly and went to inspect our 25 quid hotel. It was brilliant yet again. On the banks of the Mississippi and just a 5 min stroll from the French Quarter which believe me was as close as you would want to get. We were pretty knackered and thought we would leave the exploring till tomorrow so headed to a Restaurant next to the Hotel called Mulates where we tried the New Orleans Cajun Creole cuisine for the first time. Gumbo soup and grilled shrimp washed down with their local beer "Turbo dog".

Saturday 9th August - My Birthday!!!
We headed into the French Quarter and were accosted by a man saying "Yall wanna see suma Ripleys furfree" We saw this as our introduction to the Southern accent, after asking him to repeat himself a number of time we realised he was asking " Would you two like tickets to Ripleys for free" We had no idea what it was but it was free so we gratefully accepted. This museum called "Ripleys Believe it or Not" and it has its own TV show and a number of museums in most US cities. The New Orleans museum was opening today so they were giving out complimentary tickets to try and cause a bit of a to do outside which worked because it was rammed! We went in and were extremely disappointed by what we saw. He had the car that Lee Harvey Oswald used the day he shot JFK, a two headed cow, a man that had a horn growing out of his head and the world ugliest woman!! Bizarre and believe it or not!!

Anyway we then headed to a coffee house which served the worst coffee and doughnuts ever (we weren't getting off to a good start) it was made worse by the fact that the next day we found the best place for coffee and dougnuts righ next door!! We had a wander around the French Quarter which is definately justifiably named. It certainly didn't feel like America. (Apart from the SUVs and giant cars!!) When we had been in Washington a lady had recommended we go to the "Court of Two Sisters" for dinner and we happened across it on Bourbon Street (New Orleans most renowned street) so we went there for dinner. It was really nice. A little courtyard with water fountains and really good service. It was good to have a meal that didn't come wrapped in paper for a change. We had a "sod the budget dinner" thanks to birthday donations!! We had Oyster Rockafella for starters followed by Lobster Etouffe and Steak followed by Creme Brullee and washed down with a good bottle of Californian Red Wine (the French was very pricey!!). We were so full we rolled back to the hotel and slept for 12 hours!

Sunday 10th August
We had a chilled day today. We took a walk along the Mississippi and booked ourselves onto a Cajun Cookery course for the following day. It was part that we wanted to try out some new food and partly because you got to eat all you cooked!! We then went up to the French Quarter (Bourbon Street) as it was happy hour. Bud and Miller 3 bottles for the price of one!! It would have been rude to turn them down at those crazy prices!! There is so much really good live music you can't have a quiet night. Every bar has got some band or other it is reall jumping. You can leave with your drinks and wander into other bars as well or just wander the streets where there is just as big a party. Everyone wears these beads that the guys on the train had and people throw them from the balcony to passers by. It is really a different world. It felt like we had gone to a whole other country. Another thing New Orleans is famous for is the Hurricanes and Hand Grenades and before any of you think we are in a climatic war zone we are not - these are cocktails. They have a scale of what happens to you after each drink and the scale stops at just four drinks. No one ever gets past 4 and survives!!!

Monday 11th August
Cookin' Cajun at the Cajun' Cookin School - That was the title of our cooking class. We had a real comedian of a chef who asked us to sign a petition where he is collecting names for his own TV show. Not quite how the Beeb do it!! We made Shrimp Remoulde, Jambalaya ( A Creole Special in these parts) and Pecan Pie which was soooo good. We ate all we could fit in and was such that we ended up watching bad movies in the hotel all afternoon.

Tuesday 12th August
Here we headed to have a New Orleans speciality (they pronounce New Orleans Norlans here - something to do with the heat and the effort of talking!!). We headed to Cafe Du Monde and had Cafe O Lait and Beignets. Beignets are square doughnuts without the hole in the middle and they are served hot in portions of 3 with loads of icing sugar on the top and they are just amazing. I think we may have put on a stone each in weight just eing in New Orleans if it wasn't for all the walking!! We then went to the Virgin megastore where they have a million albums that you can listen to with headphones so we listened to some music for a while and then bought some postcards to make up for using so much of their electricity. We then went to a Mexican place on the riverside called Margheritas to get us ready for El Paso. We had Fajitas and Enchilladas and then some Coronas and yet again rolled home!! This was our last day here and tomorrow we head on to El Paso with another monster train journey. We are going to Albuquerque (pronounced Albur Kirk Ee) after just one day in El Paso and then onto Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon on Sunday. We will try and post a brief updat in Flagstaff on Monday when you guys are all back at work!! :)

Anyway, thanks for all my birthday emails and mailbox ansaphone messages. I think I will get Liz to do the next one as I am suffering from Repetitive Strain injury. Anyway a big hi to yall from us Sutherners and hopefully we won't meet any cowboys with guns in Texas!!

Take care and keep up the emails - Liz sees it as a personal challenge to get more each time she logs on!!
Lots of Love
Simon and Liz xxxxx
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bingoman on

Come Again
Nice Blog, please return and get some art too

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