Party time! When we originally booked this holiday we thought we had arranged it for a week or so after Mardi Gras. Then we discovered we would actually be arriving on the big day itself. Waaah!
First we had to get there though. For some random reason (hmmm… price I think) we had a one-hour northbound flight to Baltimore then a three-hour flight back south to New Orleans. Two things of note occurred in Baltimore:
1. The husband finally got his chance to sing “Good Morning Baltimore” in his best Tracy Turnblad styley, after having been cruelly denied the chance to do this last August when my heatstroke thwarted our daytrip to Baltimore from DC
2. I learned that the winners of the NATIONAL competition known as the Superbowl, the Baltimore Ravens, are now apparently “world” champions. On the basis that no other country plays American Football, I suppose they might be correct.
Both flights were excellent, Southwest Airlines are spectacular. Really helpful staff, no charge for baggage, complimentary drinks, and flights that actually leave when they are supposed to. You know, nothing too remarkable, just the basics that we should be able to expect. Certain budget airlines could learn a lot from them.
When we finally touched down in N’Awlins we weren’t sure what to expect or how easy it would be to get to our hotel as it was right in the middle of the world’s biggest party. Our driver dropped us a couple of streets away and we found ourselves hurled straight into the parade. It was awesome, like the town carnival of your youth magnified by a gazillion but with some scary masked men on horseback thrown into the mix. And a bagpipe band. And beads. Lots of them. All the float riders throw plastic beads into the crowd and it’s a big tradition to collect them. I hoped I’d be able to get one set if I was lucky. I got some purple ones straight away, which had to be a good sign.
Once the main parade had ended we checked into our hotel which was one of the tallest in the city. Normally we can pretty much guarantee that we will find ourselves in a room towards the very top of any hotel that we stay in. Perhaps it might be different this time? Well, it had 47 floors. We were on the 44th. Sigh. With floor to ceiling windows. Gulp. The views were spectacular as long as you hadn’t just had lunch or were feeling a bit wobbly. It was possible to pick out quite a few landmarks on our own real life 3D map, as well as watching all the teeny tiny people pootling about in the streets far below. When we were back on the ground again we could see that the very top of the hotel was actually in the fog. That’s quite high you know.
We set off out again to see Bourbon Street which was just one huge party. There were some brilliant costumes, from the funny to the downright bizarre. Where else would you see a chicken dancing with a lobster? After the first half hour you become immune to it though – oh, another voodoo/drag queen crossover – yawn. You also soon realise that you’ve spent a good couple of hours simply walking up and down the same street looking at lots of other people just walking up and down. With the occasional impromptu performance of Cha Cha Slide thrown in (I blame the frozen Margarita/Hurricane mix).
We eventually crawled back to the hotel through the debris carpeting the streets. My neck had been getting heavier by the minute and I finally realised why as I took off all my beads. I’d managed to collect 21 sets – result!
All in all it was a fabulous experience but I was looking forward to seeing a quieter side of the city on the next day ….