Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wednesday – Thursday, March 12-13, 2014 – New Orleans, LA – Partly Cloudy and Sunny - 66F and 64F

Distance from Puerto Limon to New Orleans, LA: 1312 Nautical Miles

The Azamara Quest arrives in New Orleans in the pre-dawn hours.

Local Information.  Native Americans settled in what is today New Orleans about 1300 years ago.  New Orleans was founded by the French in 1718.  The city was rebuilt after a hurricane on what is now the French Quarter (higher ground).  France ceded the area to Spain in the 1760s.  France reclaimed the city but sold it to the United States in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase.  New Orleans was captured but not destroyed by the Union Army.  Hurricane Katrina damaged much of the city sparing the Garden District and French Quarter. 

March 12, 2014

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Feeling a bit better this morning so I am hoping that the triple therapy is starting to kick in.

After our Room Service Breakfast, we plan to walk around the city, especially the French Quarter and Bourbon Street. 

Before we can do that, we had to go through Immigration.  It took a little while but we got our passports stamped and then went back to the ship to stow our passports and get ready to head out.

The ship is supplying shuttles to Landry’s Sea Food Restaurant, which is at the corner of Conti and North Peters.  This is close to Jackson Square and the French Quarter. 

We hop on the shuttle bus and take the really bumpy ride (someone fix the streets in NOLA) to the drop point.

Although we are wearing jackets and it is overcast, it soon becomes warm enough to wear that jacket around my waist.  The sun is trying to break through the clouds.  It will be nice later.

Right across the street is a nice little park containing a statue of the founder of New Orleans – Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville.

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De Bienville Monument –

Bourbon Street has its share of street performers – I am not exactly sure what the fellow is up to in the picture below but he was so patriotic looking, I thought I should capture the moment.

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Walking a “Dog”

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Bourbon Street

One of my goals as I walked around the city was to get pictures of some voodoo stuff.  On this walk, I could only find some skulls to shoot – not sure they are voodoo related but they do look cool.

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Pick a skull, any skull

I started to run out of gas so we decided to take the shuttle back to the ship.  Ellen went back out to the terminal to WiFi in some books and I stayed on the sunny side of Deck 5.  On her way back, she got this picture of me from the pier.

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As part of the New Orleans experience, the ship brought on a Dixieland Band.  We were sitting in the Club Luxe when we heard the music so we hustled over to get a picture.

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Dixieland Band in the Discoveries Restaurant

Because of the weather, Alex moved his Michael Buble show indoors to the Looking Glass Lounge.  He changed his show a bit – threw in some new songs and new banter.  Still, it was a highly enjoyable evening – maybe even better than the first show.

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Alex Mac Performing in the Looking Glass Lounge

Won’t be heading out to Bourbon Street tonight as Alex suggested.  Instead, resting up for a big day tomorrow in New Orleans

March 13, 2014

Feeling so much better today…

While chowing down on our wonderful room service breakfast, I noticed an old friend, the Carnival Elation, backing in behind us at the pier.

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Carnival Elation parallel parking

We also got up early enough to witness a wonderful sunrise with the Mississippi River in the foreground.

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Sunrise on the Mississippi

We once again took the shuttle bus to the city and started our walk.  We were hoping to stop in at the Cafe Du Monde for some chicory flavored coffee and cardiac bending beignets but the line to get a seat snaked across both sides of the restaurant.  Instead, we had to settle for a photo in front of the famed coffee shop.

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Ellen at the Cafe Du Monde

We continued our walk down Peters Street looking for the French Market.  We found a nice little shopping mall with a very interesting fountain – in the jazz motif, of course.

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The Jazz Fountain

The mall had a path that led to the Mississippi River.  The shore had a jogging path and seats – a real nice touch.  We could see the Algiers bridge in distance along with the Quest and Elation.  What a nice view.

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Along the banks of the Mississippi

Back on Decatur St, we came across the gilded bronze statue of Joan of Arc located in the Place de France park.  The statue – a replica of the statue in Paris - was given to the city of New Orleans by France in 1958.  It was moved from its original spot near Harrah’s Casino to its current location on Decatur Street in 1999.

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Joan of Arc – Place de France

The statue of Joan of Arc is located across the street from the French Market.  Everything is sold here including some food that I can’t believe people would eat.

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The French Market

From the French Market we turned toward the center of the French Quarter looking for Bourbon Street.  The street we were on was very residential lined with very well kept up homes and very few businesses.  As we got closer to the shops and restaurants, we came across some very interesting establishments.

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LPK – The Name Sounds Familiar

If you are going to sell Pharaoh’s stuff, please spell his name correctly.

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We finally reached famed Bourbon Street (not spelled quite the same way).

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Bourbon Street Sign

On Bourbon Street, I finally found my Voodoo Shop – I didn’t go in but I did get a good shot through the door.

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Voodoo Paraphernalia

From Bourbon Street we headed back toward the River to find Jackson Square.  We knew we were there because a huge statue of Old Hickory was the centerpiece of the square.  The square was teeming with walking tours, musicians, and tourists.  It’s a fabulous greenspace in the otherwise dense French Quarter.

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Andrew Jackson

Across the street from Jackson Square is the Saint Louis Cathedral of New Orleans.  This cathedral, founded in 1720, is the oldest cathedral in North America.

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Saint Louis Cathedral of New Orleans

Continuing our walk along Bourbon Street, we came across Music Legends Park, a coffee shop complete with music and statues of New Orleans Jazz Greats.

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20140313_Music Legends Park (Small) 

Music Legends Park

As we turned down St. Peter Street, we came across the famed Pat O’Briens’s Bar and Restaurant – home of the deadly “Hurricane”.  I have been here before and checked out the Hurricane but today, it is all about just getting a picture.  The place wasn’t open yet and I got stopped at the entrance by some feisty employees who said I couldn’t shoot the place (insurance reasons).  Undaunted,I took a picture anyway.  Not the best customer service.

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Courtyard – Pat O’Brien’s Bar

We found the bus pickup spot and rode back to the ship.

We were in the Mosaic Cafe when we heard a loud calliope knocking out some music.  We got out on the open deck just in time to see a paddle wheeler go by.  A great shot.

20140313_Paddleboat Natchez (Small)

We leave New Orleans early today and the afternoon is full of programs.  Nigel Marven is on first with “Up Close and Personal” with some swamp and river critters.  First up was a Conger Eel, a very long eel, that appeared to get away from Nigel and scattered passengers in the first couple of rows.  Perhaps, it was just “good TV” as Nigel puts it.

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Nigel Wrestles a Conger Eel

Nigel then pulled an alligator out of a gym bag and showed him off to the crowd.  Ellen actually petted the gator.

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A Gator Meets the Crowd

The final animal to make an appearance was a Snapping Turtle.  Nigel had a little trouble getting the turtle out of his tub and wound up spilling turtle water and who knows what all over the Cabaret Lounge floor. 

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Nigel and the Snapping Turtle

I was scheduled to talk after Nigel.  The turtle stuff had been cleaned up and I had a good turnout for my third talk - “The Lost Dauphin of France”.  My talk coincided with our pushing so as soon as I started to speak, the bow thrusters came on full (to counter the current in the river).  Well, I saw my feet blur with the vibrations and I couldn’t be heard so I waited a bit for them to stop.  They did and I went on.  The turnout was good – again about 150 people.

Before we went to dinner, we watched the Elation depart (from our cabin).

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Because of the sun, we asked to be seated on the port side of the Discoveries Dining Room.  This gave us an excellent view of the Mississippi River transit (a 10.5 hour trip) while having our dinner.  I don’t recall what we had but the view was everything.

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Having Dinner watching the Levees Go By

Showtime tonight starred Minda Larsen – crossover singer (opera and pop).  I immediately liked her – she had good stage presence and introduced her songs in a clear pleasant way.

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Minda Larsen

Spent some time with Max before calling it a day.

Tomorrow, a relaxing day at sea.

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