Sunday, 12 July 2009

Day 12 - New Orleans (second day)

On our first night in this fine New Orleans establishment (our downtown inn) we were in for a little surprise. Around 2am I woke up slowly to the sound of dripping water. It was the kind of sound you really wish you could just ignore and sleep through, but... No. I went up to turn off what I thought was the shower dripping, and soon found that it was the roof leaking! Short story, the room above had some leak and we had to move our stuff to another room in the middle of the night.

Our current bathroom is a bit funny as well. The shower/bath switch doesn't really work, so you just have to let the water run at max power to get enough water through the shower, and that in turn makes the taps leak onto the floor. We've actually had a spell of weird bathrooms - our last one before these had a light that randomly went on and off so that you couldn't close the door while showering, and before that we had a handicap-fitted one with no threshold and no curtain where the floor leaned away from the drain so that the whole bathroom got flooded :)

Anyway, on to today! After another healthy breakfast (hah - you know, even their bran flakes are sugar coated!? Mattias had Fruit Loops the other day which was literally like sugar coated bits of sugar with some artificial colouring thrown in) we headed down to the riverside and got ready for our little cruise on the Mississippi. We were greeted by the strangest sound - old songs like When the Saints go Marching In played on a steam organ on top of the steam boat! The noise was horribly loud, hilarious and likeable at the same time. Here's a shot of the Natchez - the only riverboat that still runs on steam on the Mississippi:

Of course, these days New Orleans is a huge port town and the industrial area stretches for miles and miles both up- and downriver from the city. The trip we took was two hours long and went downstream towards the Gulf of Mexico for about 45 minutes before turning back up towards New Orleans. The points of interest were mainly the port and harbour highlights along the river, but also included the last battlefield of the war against the English which unfortunately took place 2 weeks after the peace treaty was signed - the mail wasn't terribly effective back in those days.

The river banks were fascinating enough still. Here's an encouraging message on an abandoned warehouse:

I love these water reservoirs. You can see them all over the states, big and small, thousands and thousands on the roofs in the cities, and one by one out in the countryside.

The most prominent feature of the tour along the river was the devastation caused by the infamous hurricane Katrina in 2005. A lot of the damage is still very visible, especially along abandoned harbour stretches like this:

For the return part of the journey we went down to the dining hall and tasted some famous Louisianan foods! We had Gumbo, Jambalaya and the local dessert, bread pudding. Then we went down to the engine room to have a look at the steam engine at work. I took this sneaky picture of one of the engine operators. Tattoos and all, like a real sailor :)

The rest of the day was incredibly hot and even just sitting still we were sweating like pigs. We're sure we're the only ones sweating too, everyone else seems fine with a little fanning. Despite this we took a look around the French market which sold a bunch of brik-a-brak. Mattias got a new pair of cheap sunglasses and I found a Mardi Gras present for someone... But I'm not saying who! We took a siesta back at the hotel and drank copious amounts of water and lemonade. After a short nap we took to the evening streets again and once again were drawn to the Cafe du Monde for more coffee and beignets.

The plan was to go see the grave of Marie Laveau, but when we found the cemetary it was already closed for the day, it being open only until 3pm in the afternoon. From what we saw the cemetary was a creepy, desolate place. Huge big tombs and tilted tombstones so close together that it looked more like a maze than a graveyard. It was enough to give me the chills even through the thick, high walls!

The last thing we did was to find some food, and what better way to end this visit in New Orleans than with a classic 'Po Boy' (from poor boy, or poor boy's dinner) - a submarine sandwich which is kind of like a huge, long hamburger. I think we managed to taste most of the local specialities in just two days!

We've seen some truly American things so far along our trip. We've seem steaming man holes and rusty fire escapes in New York's back alleys. We've seen countless cars being pulled over by state troopers on the highway. We've seen so many American flags we're seeing stars and stripes when we close our eyes. And today, we saw a water post flooding the street:

What's next? I'm still waiting to see someone hang up the phone without saying 'bye' :)

1 comment:

  1. Ha! Lägger på luren som dom gör i alla amerikanska filmer!