The Mega Bus you catch outside Atlanta Railway Station takes 9 hour to get to The Big Easy as New Orleans is called - I may have missed Mardi Gras but I am really looking forward to this stage of the journey at least there were no more kamikaze deer on the way down.
I have eventually made it to my lodgings and I thought I would post this tonight in case I am never seen again and at least you would know why the posts have stopped - After being spoiled at my last two AirBnB accommodations in Washington and Atlanta I am now stopping in the area that was one of the worst hit by Hurricane Katrina and I can tell you first hand they have not had much help in restoration especially when you consider that was 9 years ago.
This has made for a very "seedy area" and at 9 pm the street outside is buzzing with youngsters with nothing to do and nowhere to go and reading the local papers on line there have been their fare share of bad things happening here, the other lodger who was supposed to arrive today either hasn't made it or did and decided against it. I wouldn't mind but even the owner is staying at his girlfriends somewhere else - I am locking up and heading for bed early and as long as I make it through the night I will review the situation in the morning - No pictures yet as I didn't want to let on I have anything of value !
Well as Gladys Knight so rightly sang "Help me make it through the night" well I did the locals turned off their music when they closed their car doors at around midnight and the street was remarkably quiet until 6 am when the next door neighbours who must be in the running as Neighbours from Hell started the day with a full throttle argument, but that quieted down by 7am and as I was awake I thought I would take a chance taking my camera onto the street to show you that I was not exaggerating - so, how do you like my new home from home in here in New Orleans??
3204 Burgundy Street New Orleans (the wrong end) Two doors one house and if you enlarge the picture a glimpse of my neighbour — at 5204 Burgundy Street New Orleans. Mercedes Place next door with food and drinks until what time you like is run by two nice old ladies and no noise or trouble but note the security on the doors and windows and at night there is a doorman with a .45 hand gun strapped to his hip, when I asked if he had to have a license he sounded off just like a robot quoting act and section that you only need a license if the gun is concealed - Hell I wasn't going to argue with a guy built like a tank anyway without the gun - Note the Des Res opposite Free bed no breakfast.
Five houses down not sure if inhabited need of some paintwork and all the others in the street could do with a fix up.
After the nervous start to my visit to NEW ORLEANS I decided to make the most of what I've got and mounting my trusty steed - well a mountain bike my host lent me, I headed off armed with my trusty lens to see the sights of the city that is so laid back it is known as The Big Easy so here is my first day of investigation.
It turned out I was only staying 5 minutes from the The Mighty Mississippi with a view of downtown New Orleans across the river. Where I am staying, right on The Mississippi, is the area that was devastated by Hurricane Katrina and in it's aftermath Matthew McConaughey and Brad Pitt started the ball rolling on rebuilding by funding the cost of 150 new Eco-friendly homes in this part of the city. Since then the ball seems to have stopped rolling everything seems to have come to a standstill from what I can see 9 years later?
It is hard to believe that only three blocks from where I was staying, here on Douglas Street I came across these wonderful French influenced houses, - Pure Elegance - Chalk & Cheese came to mind.
This place (Cafe Dauphine) is famous in New Orleans for it's Creole Cooking - it is very close to me but the prices say French Quarter but I will try this in the next couple of days if the situation allows. Nearby is a constant reminder of the poverty with one property looking like an Essex Barn needing repairs another victim of Katrina. To me this showed the camaraderie of the local people - there were places like this set up all around this part of the city where food and clothing was distributed to those that were in need.
I made my way towards the parts of New Orleans that had bounced back after the Hurricane and started to see the things the City was renowned for although the first thing you might need is History Lesson 101- After naming the place after a French Duke and as The French gave New York The Statue of Liberty to New Orleans they gave The Maid of Orleans which was more appropriate I give you - Joan of Arc.
They didn't like people taking photos so only a sneak look but believe it or not this shop is where you book your JAZZ FUNERAL - Yikes !!
.New Orleans French market is a famous weekly Market in The French Quarter. The Market which was originally on a Wednesday from 8 am - 2 pm is now open nearly all the time for tourists and has become like a flea market with most things made in China.
Not everything is tacky though, check out a typical breakfast bar. I know they eat anything in S E Asia but I didn't expect to see "Gator on a stick" here in New Orleans. I just had to get a shot of this guy, a throwback to the way I imagined the people of New Orleans to be - Magic.
Jackson Square is a short walk from The French Market and is right on the Banks of The Mississippi where you can find The Mississippi Riverboat Steamer Nantchez which I will take a ride on one day when I don't have my bike. As you can see the Mississippi is very wide look how the riverboat looks very small and the two tankers have loads of room to pass.
Is there a better known street in the City of New Orleans than Bourbon Street I don't think so, it has it's seedy end as well as it's seedy other end great if you want to drink and drink during the day and I am sure it gets better at night. I came across this, it was the local blacksmiths but as they don't need one anymore and they only had about 5 gazillion bars in the city they thought lets make it a bar - seems to have worked though.
Just around the corner from Bourbon Street I found this typical street scene although the band were a cut above the others - the guy in the white T shirt was doing Tap dance to the music - brilliant. There are an awful lot of street musicians of all calibres on the street 24/7.
My trusty bike covered a lot of miles and I found myself at The Saint Louis Cemetery at the famous Basin Street (as in Blues) always a good place to spend an afternoon to cheer yourself up - well you're a lot better off than the residents here ! !
I stumbled upon a Voodoo Bone Lady Tour - Holy Crap I recognise her under the warpaint - she my next door neighbour !!! There are an unbelievable number of Tombs in this place and when I found this one if X marks the spot that things got measles and I'm out of here !!
Back to the land of the living and Canal street to the west is the boundary of The French Quarter and you got to love the street cars not sure if this ones called Desire but I got me a hankering to ride one of those before I leave this here city
Now this was a shock at the top of Canal Street above the french quarter is an area called Treme which is undergoing major rebuilding works and yet here is The University Building empty and up for sale - I only hope they have moved.
Also up in Treme, Ernie K-Doe self proclaimed Emperor of the World was an R & B singer from the 60's who used to love to meet and greet the public and other singers in The Mother in law lounge he has been no longer with us for some time but the lounge is still going strong.
As I headed back at the end of a long day I noticed a float left over from the Halloween celebrations - cute? - I also noticed some residents had forgotten to take their decorations down and some one has got to tell this dude that he has a damp problem.
End of a long day on my bike and I thought I would end the day overlooking the river with a can of soda and a Po Boy of jumbo prawn probably just like Huck Finn back in the day - Goodnight NOLA see you tomorrow.
If I mentioned Chalmette and asked you what historic event happened here, less than 3 miles from where I am staying, on January 8th, 1815, like me, you probably wouldn't have had a clue but if I say The Battle of New Orleans or more correctly The Battle FOR New Orleans it would be more obvious that this was where the final conflict of The War of Independence took place.
Although it was called a battle it was in fact a slaughter with the American forces dug in there was no way the British could have taken the position but officers were from the ruling class and soldiers fodder if this sound harsh consider this -
The British troops casualties in the battle numbered - 337 Killed - 1434 wounded - 548 missing, Total casualties - 2329.
Compare that to the American losses of 55 killed - 185 wounded & 93 missing - 333 amazingly the cemetery beside the battlefield has no British troops buried there at all.
Imagine if you can the tree not there and behind this ditch about 2-3,000 men and over to the right of where the chimney is now would have been 3-4,000 British troops although the ground in between would have been marsh and muddy and wide open with no cover at all.
The actual battlefield where the Brits were - The memorial in front of the visitors centre - Behind these ramparts that were 15 feet high and 20 feet thick amassed the American forces.
The visitors centre is well worth a visit free with donations accepted and there is a ranger who takes you around and gives a talk and when a steamboat turns up you can listen in to their version as well. The guide said these trees were 200 years old and as he had said there were no trees here at the time of the battle I guess the were planted just after the battle but I took the picture because they look pretty no other reason.The stuff hanging from the branches was called Spanish Moss and grows naturally it is not a parasite and it makes the trees look good.
The summer residence was added afterwards to represent the plantation house that used to stand there that Jackson used as headquarters.
A reminder that there are no winners in war — at Chalmette Battlefield.
After the depressive East of the city, Chalmette & The Battlefield of New Orleans I decided to head off upmarket to the West of the City to St Charles and The Garden District and then to the North and Lakeside by streetcars and to finish up in the french Quarter - I hope you like the pictures
The St Charles Street car the oldest car & route in America sets off from Canal Street and cost $1.25 to the end of the line about 13 km's and it takes in O'Henrys at River Bend which is a great spot for a beer on the balcony - picture 3 is A Zoo, Park, Golf Course, Lake and concert Area that goes by the name of Audubon Park another great place to spend time hanging out.
One of the street cars stops at the top of Old Canal street is called Cemeteries - get off the car and at the cross roads look in all four directions and Guess what you see and I think these things cost more than some of the houses on the east side where I am staying.
Back in The French Quarter these are not just for decoration the horse drawn carriages tie up here.Pic 2 As it says on the statue the younger brother who founded New Orleans and believe it or not was only about 17 when he started And a third picture just because it is great.
Back in The French Quarter there are some really eccentric people to be found wandering around between the tracks of the newer streetcars that run along the river and the Mississippi River where the Riverboat Steamers are tied up.
Perhaps we should have a competition as to why this guy is wearing streamers on his head - A day walker ? we will watch out for him tonight?
This Gumbo Shop has won a competition as the best for the last 4 years as voted by the citizens of New Orleans and I thoroughly enjoyed my first taste of Gumbo. Outside and I came across the Street Band called "Yes Maam " Blue Grass follow the link to listen you won't regret it.
As night settled in the quarter takes on an atmosphere and starts to look good - This is The Andrew Jackson Hotel - A French Quarter House at it's best and I just loved this place - called the sweetcorn fence - look at the sweetcorn on the fence
This Two storey Bar below is typical of The French quarter and this actual one has been featured in many TV documentaries and Films.
It's not easy for everyone that visits New Orleans there are a large number of street dwellers that have nowhere else to go and are regularly being moved on by the police
Remember I told you that you would see this character again - Count (ing on you for money) while a Pub Crawl New Orleans (Irish style) consists of paying a lump sum and book the pubs in advance and have the van follow you with your own music.
Goodnight New Orleans
Saturday morning and after waking up early I was had the best possible start to the day listening to my beloved Chelsea beat Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield - The sun was shining and The Treme Gumbo Jazz Festival was on - I was determined to eat at a recommended restaurant in St Charles - so plans laid for the day I mounted my trusty Cycle and set off to Armstrong Park where I took in the early atmosphere.
The Louise Armstrong Park named after the great Sachmo himself - Armstrong park is a local park where there a numerous Free Concerts arranged for locals and this is an annual Jazz concert in it's fourth year with a Gumbo competition.
With a Statue of the great man himself surrounded by his own little piece of "Wonderful World" Overlooking the stage to make sure the artists are up to his high standards - well close would still be good.
Starting at 11am it soon started to fill up but the atmosphere was lighthearted and fun. There were Five Gumbo stalls all hoping to win the best Veggie Gumbo this year. Red wolf Brass band started off the days festivities and this has to be the only brass band with a flute player but it went down well. They were followed by The Treme Brass band who are made up of locals and what a good performance they put down.
Yes, I went here yesterday by streetcar but today I am on my bicycle so I can stop and take pictures on the way back after I get to St Charles Avenue and The Famous "Camellia Grill" where there is a continuous banter going on between the waiters (great fun) and although the food wasn't the best I have had in New Orleans it was very good and reasonable.
Afterwards I headed back to Armstrong park taking pictures of the beautiful houses and colleges on the way first came The Lake at Audobon Park followed by houses in The Garden District -This is the one in picture 3 I want anyone got a few mill to give me.
This is how a library looks in the posh part of town - In the middle picture either the husband and wife support different teams or this guy was hedging his bets tomorrow - Just to prove Some people can get money but taste isn't guaranteed.
Emeril's Delmonico is the place to eat 5 star and isn't out of place in this neighbourhood with the High End houses and colleges.
The University and Chapel at Loyola - Sacre Coeur or Sacred Heart - And it's a Big Game tomorrow The 49'rs are in Town.
I arrived back and One, two, skip a few at the end of the night Shammar Allen & The Underdawgs laid down an absolute fabulous set to send everybody home full of fun and laughter especially when he did the "Woo Dat" song which is the chant of the New Orleans Saints football team who were taking on The 49'rs next day.
This was a very proud dad introducing his 14 year old son who came on stage (no nerves at all) and played on drums for a 5 minute set with the band - he had talent to spare.
After the ball is over after the break of day - not quite but I was heading home and I thought nothing could spoil the day I have had well sometimes you can just be sooooo Wrong !!!!!.
Remember I mentioned that I was staying in a less than desirable neighbourhood with a Bar one side and neighbours from hell the other well having got back to my road after the great day Saturday at about 9.30 pm.
I couldn't help but notice there was a big noise (some call it music) from the club and lots of brothers and sisters in the street and my host told me there was a double birthday party that would be going on late and guess what, he was off out and wouldn't be back tonight.
Being alone in the house I decided to lock up and get an early night but no chance with all the noise outside you would think it was a battle not a party so I decided to watch a film on my laptop and to kill the noise outside used earphones and so apart from the odd high pitched shouting I was oblivious to outside forces UNTIL - At about 11 pm there was crashing and shouting in the back garden and I couldn't ignore it. Not being silly I put on trousers and went to the front door and when I opened it I was confronted by a scene from Cops Camera Action.
In the street is a small film crew obviously following cops for a documentary and in the street are three cops, Guns drawn and others round the back apprehending a suspect ( a suspect for what, I don't know, don't care and not going to ask) spent the rest of the night on the computer looking for alternative lodgings but unfortunately because The New Orleans Saints play the San Francisco 49ers Sunday and there is a Real Estate convention in town there is nowhere to go everything booked so it's bite the bullet and with only two nights to live through - so much for nothing can spoil my day - still I am in the South and the final line in the film "Gone with the wind"comes to mind - Tomorrow is another Day ! ! !
Next day - Sunday saw me up with the sun and touring the 4 hostels on the better side of town in search of a bed but no luck so I found a Restaurant / Bar closer to my place to hide, eat, have a beer and watch the game.
The one I found was called Elizabeths and is the friendliest I have found so far, and as well as serving a great meal and a beer called Terrapin that was good it had a barmaid who came from Blackheath in London who looked after me for food and drink.
After the Game (Saints lost in overtime) it was about 5 pm and I went back and locked myself in and started getting ready to leave on Tuesday and realised this is the first time ever I have wanted to leave somewhere before it was time to go.
If you ever come to New Orleans and I would recommend you do - please head this warning DO NOT what ever you do stray East of The Faubourg Maringny District because once you cross the Inner Harbour Navigation Canal Bridge into The district known as "HIGH CROSS" you will regret it.
Next stop Chicago better get out the thermal underwear.