New Orleans Vacation Installment Two
The second day of our New Orleans vacation found us waking up in a very nice hotel room with an amazing view. As always I could not sleep. I woke up and attempted to blog about yesterday's post and had no wireless signal.
I won't make hotel room coffee (yes I am a snob) so I just sat outside enjoying the view from the balcony. A pigeon landed on my balcony and began pecking at the entrance to the room. I had no camera, but just realized how relaxed I was. Before we left home I had been quite nervous. I was nervous at how Chris would take "the original sin city". I knew our hotel was on Bourbon Street. My husband, by nature, is a quiet man who is not a go with the flow type person. This morning I was optimistic things would be good.
We checked out and found the first fast food place. Of course it was a Mc Donalds. I wanted coffee and oatmeal. Chris would eat dollar menu stuff. We were driving towards Interstate 10 from Panama City Beach. I was very surprised at how modern it felt. We traveled further north and I felt as if I was in Alabama. The people spoke with a southern accent and were very friendly. I love the south.
We eventually found I 10 and crossed the border into Alabama. We were singing to the radio. Yes my husband was too. We were laughing and really enjoying ourselves. We made a pit stop into the Welcome Center in Mississippi. We drove out and within a mile we saw semi trucks and various other vehicles pulled over by the highway patrol. I hadn't gotten my speed up to the speed limit, but this freaked me out. I kept the speed at 70 mph, but still got nervous when the police cars drove by. I am not sure what or why, but that stretch of I 10 from Alabama/Mississippi line until the Louisiana border had more people pulled over than the whole trip there and back. The singing ended as Chris began to worry.
We made one last stop at the Louisiana welcome center. I had left my guide book at home and hoped to find one there. They were out, but the excitement for us both began to build. The greatest asset for tourism is these welcome centers. Especially when the people are so awesome! We left with better directions to our hotel than we had previously and with lots of information to use while there.
We drove across the bridge for Lake Pontchartrain. I guess it is a causeway of sorts. Chris informed me of how this lake was a contributing factor towards the damage after hurricane Katrina.
I was the navigator and we were not listening to the GPS as it had been giving us bad advice. I had programmed in the hotel address and somehow it ended up taking us into the center of the Central Business District. We got onto a street that crossed Canal and it turned into Bourbon Street. It was around 4 in the afternoon. The perfect time as Bourbon Street was not closed down. Chris was a little freaked out as the street is very narrow and there were pedestrians everywhere. We quickly found the parking garage and parked.
There really wasn't a lot of time to take in the city driving to our hotel. The plan was to park the car in the garage for 4 days. That is until we left. The hotel has valet parking, but we are cheap and parked ourselves. I had done some research on the hotel, but I was not prepared for the beauty of it. Wow! It was beautiful!
The hotel is impressive and well worth the money they charge to stay in the heart of the French Quarter. We made the reservation through bookit.com. This was a mystery hotel deal which meant the description told you approximately where the hotel was and other pertinent issues, but no name. The deal was amazing as our room was $299 a night plus tax hotel room and we paid id="mce_marker"00 plus tax per night. Parking was an issue and we did pay $40 a day to park. This included the taxes. The parking garage was secure so we did not have to worry about anything happening to our rental car. Pictures of the hotel can be accessed with this link: http://www.sonesta.com/RoyalNewOrleans/index.cfm?fa=misc.photogallery. We didn't even find the pool or the courtyard until the third day as we were so busy.
We relaxed in our room as long as it took to get settled. Once I put everything away we explored the sites. Our room was on the fifth floor with a window that you could see the tops of other buildings and the street below if you stood on the window sill. The first place I found was the coffee shop in the lobby. A coffee shop is a very good place to know how to find when you wake up in the morning. Then we stepped out onto Bourbon Street. We walked down Bourbon Street with us both hungry, but both wanting to get a feel for the quarter. The hotel was across the street from 3 strip clubs. They were a site. My husband had to get a picture of the little person with the scantily clad stripper sitting in the doorway of the strip club. Bourbon Street was closed off at this point of the night. We went into some of the stores and then we decided to eat something at Cafe Beignet. This particular Cafe Beignet was across from our hotel in a Music Legend Park. I ordered gumbo and have no idea what Chris ate. The music was wonderful. The gumbo was okay. It was like a soup. I make my own very thick with rice, sausage, chicken, and shrimp. I don't think I make it correctly, but I love it. This was a great place to people watch.
The sounds and sights on Bourbon Street were exhilarating. To hear music of all types pouring out of the bars, shops, restaurants, and the street performers was amazing. The architecture was so beautiful. I really don't know how to describe it. It was as if I wasn't here in every town, we were in New Orleans, a foreign yet familiar place. I had no plans of where and what we were going to do despite all of the research. Once I got there it was all I could do to soak up the experience.
I usually write about saving money. We did little things to save money. We left with a cooler in the car filled with water and some soda. We had enough chicken salad and bread to make sandwiches for a couple of days from when we left. I made hummus to snack on with pretzels. We had some chips too. I did not bring my oatmeal as I was prepared for no refrigerator in our room. I have since learned that you can ask for a room with a refrigerator and they will attempt to give you one. We chose not to have a key to the mini fridge saving us more money. We brought our own adult beverages instead of drinking most of the time in the bars. We walked everywhere.
We were able to enjoy this time without worrying about money as we set so much aside and did many things that were low cost or free. We actually came home with money left over! Now how is that for a change?