Our last day in New York had seen temperatures below zero, so we weren’t all that sorry to be flying south. We’d booked cheap flights with American Airways and were detouring via Washington, which still only meant we spent three hours in the air, which wasn’t too bad.
A few notes on our flying experience. This time we did have to take off our shoes and go through those body scanning machines – our first time. It seems a trifle strange that we have to do this for internal flights and not coming into the country. It sort of suggests that they think the terrorists are already here. Our transfer between flights was the shortest I’ve ever had – we literally walked off one plane and our next flight was already boarding at the gate next door. There was time to go to the toilet and that was it. Cutting it a bit close! Apart from that it wasn’t a bad experience. I always read about people having terrible times in domestic US flights but we had no problems. I was just glad I didn’t wear my 14 hole boots. They take about 15 minutes to get off and put on.
Our taxi driver from the airport was the most talkative yet – an older guy from Vietnam. We could hardly understand anything he said but he was very keen to say it. Telling us the area we were staying in was good and all about his family who live in Springvale in Melbourne. Almost everyone we’ve met around the world knows someone from Melbourne, or so it seems.
We’re staying in an Airbnb house that is supposed to be shared but the guy who lives here is away and there’s no one else staying here so we have to it ourselves. Which is just as well because the room we’re in is adjacent to the kitchen and we’d have people walking through it. The house is pretty old, with peeling paint and looks like nothing has been fixed, ever. It’s got a claw-footed bath, which is nice, but the water doesn’t drain properly and by the end of a shower it’s a quarter full. In the fact the whole place sort of feels like it was recently abandoned by a hoard of first year students. And the front rooms smell very strongly of dogs. Oh well. It’s cheap and we can spread our stuff out and the kitchen’s clean.
After a girl who looked about 15 and was carrying a baby let us in and explained everything we walked a few blocks to a bar called ‘Port of Call’. The vibe was laid back, the music wasn’t too loud and the menu was simple – enormous cocktails with a tropical theme and burgers with baked potatoes. When you order burgers here you often get asked how you want them cooked – like streak. It’s a nice touch but I can’t bring myself to eat pink burger mince. Not yet, anyhow.
The guy behind the bar had an accent like Sam from ‘True Blood’ and was really friendly. He even ended up showing us photos of his dog and an amazing ‘epic meal time’ style construction he’d made of a football pitch and stadium that was made of dip and sausages and meat sticks… it’s a bit hard to explain but we were very impressed. At the end of the night they almost under charged us by about $60 but we pointed it out and the manager gave us a cocktail for free, which was nice. We staggered home and I felt rather sorry for myself the next morning. Lesson learned – you can’t turn your back on New Orleans.
The next day we walked down Frenchman Street and through the French Quarter. All I know about New Orleans I learned from Anne Rice books so I know there’s areas with big mansions, the cemeteries are above ground and voodoo and swamps and all that stuff. So not much, really. Our area looks like an outback Australian town – lots of weatherboard and broken down cars. But then it also kind of looks like Priscilla had swept through and so lots of houses are painted really brightly and there’s mardi gras beads hanging from doorknobs and railings. It’s quite charming.
Although we’ve been warned about the streets being dangerous we’ve not seen anything untoward as yet and I’ve only heard one siren, which is a nice change from New York. People say ‘Hi’…or rather ‘How y’all doin?’ when we walk past and the lady at the supermarket somehow managed to use the word ‘darlin’ 50 times in the space of two minutes.
Speaking of shopping, we went into a pharmacy and were taken aback by the fact that the first thing we saw upon entering was an enormous row of alcohol and bottles much bigger than you get at home. There were two litre bottles of Smirnoff for $20! But… in a pharmacy. Not something I’ve seen anywhere else around the world. Only in America?