The Lonsdales gather in New Orleans

Trip Start May 02, 2012
Trip End Jul 31, 2014

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Flag of United States  , Louisiana
Saturday, May 24, 2014

We left Cape Town on 20th May for Singapore - to start our rail journey through Asia, Russia, France and ending up in London at the end of July.
On the way we stopped off in the USA to attend the wedding of my nephew, James Macpherson to Rebecca Baragona at Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This first entry will probably only be of interest to family....

Leaving Cape Town with Emirates we had a long but pretty easy 9 hour flight to Dubai. We then waited for 8 hours at the Dubai airport for our connecting 16 hour flight to Los Angeles. This flight was a bit of a shocker – not only long, but totally full, and the Emirates flight service was very poor. The plane was an A380 – big, new and with lots of room to move around.

I sat next to a Hindi couple who were visiting their son in Los Angeles.   It was their first time out of Hyderabad (we knew that because we had to fill in forms for them as they couldn't understand a word of English.   The son had written a letter asking for help for them!)  The wife took off her shoes and sat lotus position on the seat next to me for most of the trip! – with smelly feet!!   

The whole trip was like being in a badly controlled school room with people pushing down the aisles and ignoring and questioning the airline staff! 

At the end of the flight I couldn’t believe the number of wheelchairs waiting for disembarking passengers – even the sprightly ones who had been walking up and down the aisles during the flight used the wheelchairs!!!!

But we survived the sleepless 32 hours and then took the LAX shuttle to our hotel, showered and slept until our flight to New Orleans the next morning.

On arrival at New Orleans we met up with my sister Gill and her husband John who arrived from the UK.   Their son, James, was the bridegroom and he, and Rebecca (the bride) and her father, arrived to meet us at the airport kindly hiring a big SUV for us to drive around in.

We stayed at the bride’s parents’ previous house during the time of the wedding.  They had built a beautiful new home on an amazing estate, owned by them and other family members, in a suburb of Baton Rouge called Prairieville.  That was where the wedding took place on the Saturday.

We really experienced southern hospitality at its best!   On our arrival Rebecca’s mother had provided a wonderful meal for us all, and everything that we needed for a couple of days (including a most delicious chocolate cake).    My brother David and his wife Betty who had arrived from London a day or two before were there, and it was great to be together.  My other brother, Andrew and his wife, Corinne, and 2 children Aiden and Kyle from Australia were staying at a nearby hotel.

The night before the wedding a large party of wedding-goers went to a local restaurant where we were served food typical of the area – huge platters of crawfish and then lots of different shrimp dishes.  A very festive evening…

The morning of the wedding we spent a lovely time in downtown Baton Rouge viewing the Old State Capitol building.   (I didn’t realize that Baton Rouge was actually the capital of Louisiana, not New Orleans).   We were all very amused to see so many Drive-thru Daiquiri bars in the area – so much for drinking and driving!

The wedding itself was just amazing.   The beautiful weather meant that the ceremony and reception were held outdoors overlooking the estate lake – and a huge illuminated fountain.   The ceremony area was draped with beautiful magnolias – that are prolific in the area, and John was a talking point in his Macpherson kilt… !

The food was abundant – with gumbo, grits with shrimp sauce etc etc.   My niece, Nicky and her boyfriend, Jake – both musicians – had written a special song that they sang to the bridal couple.   

We are so pleased that we went all that way to share the day with family.    A rare opportunity as, with the family scattered all over the world, it is not often that we get together.

The wedding party then all went on to New Orleans.   It was Memorial Day weekend in the USA – a big day in the US calendar and, from our hotel window, we watched an incredible fireworks display on the Mississippi River.

We had last been in New Orleans about 30 years ago and loved it then.   However, this time it just felt a little run down and seedy.    The music didn’t seem to be as good, and lots of homeless people with accompanying debris and often flea-bitten dogs were trying to make the odd buck by banging spoons together, or playing badly tuned guitars in the streets.  Bourbon Street was smelly and it just seems to be an exhibitionists’ playground…. topless girls, wedding processions with everyone waving hankies, drunken teenagers behaving badly and noise noise noise.

 But we did enjoy meeting up with the other wedding guests and spending some good times watching the passing parade, lunching on a steamboat down the Mississippi, and riding the trolley busses downtown.

From New Orleans we all parted ways and Andy and I went on to spend two nights with Andy’s brother, Stuart, in San Diego.    The flight to San Diego was very noisy, but sociable, with a large group of southern golfers on their way to a stag weekend …Lots of  "y’all “ going on!   The arrival at San Diego Airport is spectacular as the approach is close to the city and the yacht basin… It must be difficult to land in between the buildings and the sea…

My niece, Kerry, who works at the Hilton San Diego/Del Mar, organized a lovely dinner at the hotel for us including valet service, a special board saying “Welcome Donovans" and a beautiful table set outside on a patio.  Kerry’s flat-mate was our waitron and we were totally spoilt from the moment we arrived – complimentary starters and wine from the chef, and deliciously “cheffy” main courses and pudding…fabulous!

Stuart took us for lunch at a restaurant called Soup Plantation which serves salads, soups and puddings….. such a good concept…wish that we had that in SA. So the two days with Stuart and his family were a special time.

We then spent two nights with Donald and Cassidy Macdonald at Newport Beach.  So happy to see them again and Donald outdid himself with cooking meals to die for – home made pasta, bread and breakfast burritos…. Cassidy took us to the Laguna Art Museum where there was an exhibition of works by an artist called Wayne Thiebaud.   I had never heard of him, but loved his work…. He is most well known for his realistic paintings of food, you feel that you want to eat the icing on the cakes that he paints!   We also enjoyed walking along the front at Balboa Island and gawking at the yachts and wealth!   It was sad to say goodbye to two such dear friends when Donald and Cassidy dropped us at LAX for our flight to Singapore.

Another long flight (with a 1 hour stopover in Tokyo) but with Singapore Air, the flight and the service was excellent – so organized and efficient.

Our photos of this part of the journey are rather “min” – we sadly forgot to take the camera to the most important part  - the wedding!! 
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