We are home now, at long last. The trip home yesterday was uneventful but long--it took longer to drive from Toronto to North Bay Rock City than it did to fly from New Orleans to Toronto. Once we arrived home, there were seven million cats to be petted and reassured and allowed to bite us very crossly for having left in the first place. The Little Cat is larger now--he's not a patch on Big Cat, of course, but he's still a titch bigger than he was. Middle Sister, who served Chief Cat Worshipper and Provider of Food while we were gone, has left her cat at our house through the end of the weekend, and I must say that our house is simply too small for three cats. They're everywhere--I am constantly stepping on them.
Anyhow. You don't want to read about cats. You want to know about New Orleans.
We lucked out with the weather--it was 24-28 degrees and mostly sunny all week. I even have the tiniest bit of a tan right now. The hotel, which was gorgeous and ornate, had a pool and a hot tub on its roof, and we spent a good chunk of time soaking up there, and looking out around the city. Our hotel was about two blocks away from the French Quarter, in the Central Business District. I chose it mainly because we got the best price on it through itravel2000.com, and it worked out amazingly well. At four diamonds, it was much more luxurious than anywhere else I'd ever stayed, and being out of the French Quarter was a blessing in disguise. Having seen how the Quarter was a full two weeks before Mardi Gras, I have difficulty comprehending what crazy Mardi Gras must actually be...
We visited Oak Alley Plantation and did a bayou tour. We rode around on the streetcars for a day, goofing around at City Park and wandering around the Garden District. (Also: American friends, HOW ON EARTH HAVE YOU NOT TOLD ME ABOUT COLD STONE CREAMERY? I mean, I know you've mentioned it in passing, but you've never explained how urgently I needed to go there.) We saw a space shuttle. We went to a cemetery (St. Louis #1, a.k.a. the one in Easy Rider). I bought yarn and a 70-300mm telephoto lens for my camera. We went to Mardi Gras parades and walked around with open containers of alcohol. We caught strings of beads thrown by strippers on a balcony. We pet and fed stingrays. We sunbathed and soaked on the rooftop of our hotel.
And we ate. Oh my goodness, did we eat. I ate tuna, oysters, redfish, crawfish, salmon, shrimp, crab, alligator, tacos, burritos, real barbeque, thai dumplings, sushi, po'boys, roasted chicken, buffalo milk cheese, homemade soppressatta, buttermilk pancakes, ice cream, bread pudding, pralines, and beignets. I drank wine, margaritas, beer (including a strawberry beer!), Hurricanes, frozen brandy milk punch, cafe au lait, and sweet tea. It was wonderful.
I have a number of observations on American-Canadian relations and differences, which I will share with you later, but for now I will simply link to my Flickr set of New Orleans pictures, and leave you with this particularly photographic gem: