Thursday, March 19, 2020

Crystal Symphony – Mind and Body and Broadway Cruise – Caribbean – New Orleans to Miami FL – October 25 – November 8, 2019,

October 24, 2019 - Travel Day

We can sleep in today as our flight to New Orleans doesn’t depart until 12:49 PM.  There aren’t a lot of direct flights to New Orleans from ORD and we didn’t want to go too early or too late so this is perfect.

Our American Taxi, scheduled for 11:00 AM, came a little early and with no traffic in the middle of the day, we pulled up to Terminal 1 at about 11:20 AM.  We are flying together but on separate itineraries so check in was a little complicated.  I checked in at the kiosk and checked my bag for free (paid with my UAL Visa card).  I paid for Ellen’s ticket with the Visa card also but because she is not the primary cardholder, her bag was $30 (grand larceny).  We opted to carry her bag on board – I should mention that the United Agent patrolling the kiosks was not only unsympathetic but also a bit rude. She also told us that the bag would not fit in the overhead bin but my experience is that much larger bags have been stuffed up in those bins in the past.

We went through TSA Pre-Check very quickly – this time, I had to take off my windbreaker. 

We dragged our bags underneath the tarmac on the moving sidewalks and across to the C Concourse and to our gate C19, which was the first gate next to the elevators. By this time, it was about 11:45 AM.  Our plane, UA2208 – an A320 – was waiting at the gate and it looked like we would be boarding on time.  

We did board on time and I was in Group 2 (preferred because I charged with my Visa card) and Ellen boarded with me.  Although her bag was heavy, I easily got it up in the overhead bin and still had room for my computer bag.  We are in portside bulkhead seats 7A,7B – I took the window seat and Ellen is in the middle but there is plenty of room and the passenger on the end is good at staying in her space.  The plane looked brand new and these are excellent seats and we have them on the return flight. There were no seat back entertainment screens and all of the movies had to be accessed on the United phone app.

From my window, I got a nice picture of a Lufthansa A330 - nice plane, we have flown in the past.

The captain told us that the climb out would be bumpy and requested that the flight attendants stay seated until the air smoothed out.  He repeated the request again as we were rolling on the active taxiway.  We were fourth in line to go and we took off about a half hour late.  

Wheels Up

ORD Climb Out

The plane passed through several layers of clouds and then into the schmooze (thick cloud), where we encountered just a mild chop.  

The turbulence mentioned by the pilot never materialized.  The rest of the flight was smooth and I could track the flight both on the UA app on my phone and by looking out of the window. 

The approach took us over bayou country 

just to the west of Lake Pontchartrain, 

which today looked quite muddy.  Got a great view of the causeway and the bayou landscape on final approach.  

MSY is a small airport and the plane taxied straight to our gate.  There was a little delay getting our checked bag.

We are staying at the Country Inn and Suites by Radisson in Metarie.  I called the hotel and they said the shuttle would pick us up at the Transportation Center.  The Transportation center is at the end of the baggage claim area and is the place where all of the hotel vans and all of the Uber type transports pick up patrons.  It took three calls until our shuttle appeared.  The drive to the hotel took about 10 minutes.  We checked in and went to our room, 112, which is located in the second building of this complex.  It’s on the ground floor and has external doors secured by RF key cards.

The room was spacious and looked pretty new – one of the bathroom French doors was stuck in the closed position and some of the fixtures were not aligned correctly.  The huge king size bed looked very comfortable.  

The biggest issue would be the noise – the room, which was supposed to be a quiet room, is located near the steps reading to the second story.  Lot of chatty people populate the stair area or the second level.

The shuttle driver told me that he would give us a free lift to any of the area’s sights within a three mile radius.  We had gotten a recommendation for a restaurant called Kosher Cajun.  The driver said it was only a half mile away and he would take us and pick us up.  We took him up on that and at about 5 PM we headed to the place on Savern Avenue.

Kosher Cajun is a restaurant, deli, market, and gift shop rolled into one.  The owner was very nice and I had to try something New Orleans.  I wound up ordering a large Jambalaya ($9.00) – Ellen had a half pastrami on rye ($6.00).  The owner convinced me to try a single “shrimp” ($2.50).  Side salads and soft drinks rounded out the meal, which came to about $30.  Well, what a disappointment – the Jambalaya was simply Spanish rice with some pieces of chicken and about four pieces of standard sausage.  It did not look like the dish I had seen on ships and in restaurants (in NOLA).  The shrimp was simply odd.  Ellen’s sandwich contain shredded pastrami and was not the towering deli sandwich we were used to.  I complained about the meal to unsympathetic ears.  We tried to support the restaurant but it did not work out.  Turns out there were many nice eateries in the area that we could have gone too (within walking distance there is a Galleria Mall and numerous restaurants).  A learning experience.

The less than satisfactory meal was then compounded by the difficulty in getting the shuttle to pick us up.  Multiple phone calls did not work and finally, we got kicked out of the restaurant at around 8:00 PM (an hour after closing).  My last two phone calls to the hotel went unanswered and we finally resorted to calling an Uber to get home ($10.16 including a surcharge – booking fee).  When we returned to the hotel we complained to an unsympathetic desk.  A crummy evening in New Orleans. 

The room quieted down and stayed that way through the night. I guess even noisy people have to sleep.

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