22.04.2007 - 25.04.2007 21 °C
Last time we we're in the middle of lazing in C-Ville. We did a little more relaxing on Sunday, sitting on the lawns of the University and then having a meal along the pedestrianised section of Main Street. The place is really nice with a good, bohemian vibe.
We wandered to the station around 8pm, and caught the train around 9. We had a little cabin for the 24 hour train journey (thought it was only 23, but we crossed a time zone!). The cabin had two chairs (that folded into the lower of two bunks), a table, a toilet and sink - and was all pretty compact! We grabbed a drink from the lounge car and our attendant made up the beds, then had an unusual nights sleep in the rockin' cabin (with the train horn blaring all night!). We had a really nice breakfast in the dining car (beats a coffee and bagal off the street!) and settled in the cabin watching the countryside roll by. We had lunch and dinner in the dining car (all included) and arrived into New Orleans around half seven in the evening. Riding into New Orleans the railroad crosses the huge lake on a narrow causeway and then through neighbourhoods still obviously showing signs of the hurricane. Lots of spraypainted crosses on doors and walls, loads of mobile homes and caravans, missing roofs and tarpaulins. Is quite sobering. But we've no idea how the place looked before, so it's easy to blame every derelict house on Katrina, even if it's nothing to do with it. We got a cab to the hotel after arriving in the station and had an easy evening in front of the telly.
Our first full day in the Big Easy was warm and balmy, and the place is really pretty. Wide streets with trams running down the centre and huge palm trees along the pavements. We walked into the French Quarter, a section of town built by the Spanish (obviously) and remains full of smaller, three storey buildings with cast iron balconies.
It is a large area, a mix of residential and shops and restaurants and has a really relaxed, friendly feel. It's full of flowers and greenery, and has Jackson Square in the centre.
During the afternoon we went for a cruise on the 'Natchez' a Paddle Steamer along the Mississippi. The weather was scorching! Really nice to see the river, still lively with huge container ships, and the banks behind the levees. New Orleans is so low that only three or four storey buildings peek over the river banks.
During the evening we went out along Bourbon Street, running through the middle of the French Quarter. It is very lively, everyday! Music blares out of every building (all bars and clubs). We ate some local food (grilled alligator and cajun po'boys) and then settled in a place with some live jazz and tried the local alcoholic delicacies. Needless to say, we felt delicate ourselves the next morning. We slowly readied ourselves (without sudden movements or bright light) for the next train journey, an 8 hour trek to Memphis.
Dave and Sarah XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX