So, the Road Trip I've been looking forward to for over 3 months has finally started. I'm currently in the Lafayette Hotel in New Orleans, about to check out and go to the Hyatt where the conference I am in town for will start tomorrow.
The weather here is awful at the moment. Torrential rain, high winds, thunder and lightning.. ..but that's not really stopping my enjoyment - there are plenty of bars and restaurants in New Orleans where a traveller can shelter from the storm.
The video above was taken while I had breakfast this morning at a deli/café called 'Between the bread'. As you can see - the rain is coming down hard.
Anyway, back to the beginning - the journey to New Orleans. It took 2 flights to get here, one to Houston and then on to New Orleans. Both of them had delayed departures and the result was that the journey took about 22 hours from home to hotel, and I arrived in an exhausted state.
I got checked in, dropped my bags in the room and then went downstairs to have a night cap.
Purple Haze beer has fast become one of my least favourites. It has raspberry juice in it - not like a Belgian framboise, which is tart and acidic, but in a 'what the hell? why has someone put fruit juice in my beer?' kind of way. A drink not to be repeated.
I did have a nice pint of IPA after the filthy Purple Haze and then tiredeness overcame me and I went to bed.
First Day in New Orleans
I usually suffer quite badly from jet lag but I awoke on my first morning in New Orleans at a reasonable hour, feeling relatively fresh.
The French Quarter, the old part of town that is a party destination, was pretty quiet when I walked around it looking for breakfast. In the morning the weather was OK. Cloudy but dry. After a quick croissant and coffee I headed over to a shopping mall to get a US Sim card for my phone.
As I left the mall the weather was getting darker and windier until, finally, the storms broke at about 2pm. By this time I was back in the French Quarter and I nipped into Ye Olde Absinthe House on Bourbon Street for a couple of pints.
I liked the Absinthe House - may well visit it again today. I didn't try any absinthe though; I've generally steered clear of it since a night at Glastonbury Festival when I drank a large glass of absinthe and proceeded to have a strange visual problem where I saw two of everything close to me and three of things in the background. Looking at the three moons that evening I thought I was on Tatooine.
Anyway, from the Absinthe House I walked a few doors down to La Bayou restaurant and took a seat at the bar. Narrowly avoiding attack from a diving alligator, I negotiated myself through half a dozen oysters and got myself outside of a couple of pints of stout before wandering back to the hotel for a nap.
On the way back to the hotel I stumbled upon a community event in Lafayette Square where there were numerous food stalls. I tried a soft shell crab po' boy - very nice.
I woke from my nap and went back to the French Quarter to meet up for dinner with my friend Ren.
Bourbon Street is heaving with people in the evenings, all carrying drinks from place to place. As well as the bar's there are numerous 'specialist outlets' where a chap could watch naked ladies cavorting, if the mood so took him. Mine didn't, but I was titillated by a lady jiggling her big wobbly arse in the window of one of these joints.
Dragging myself away from the hypnotic jelly roll, I made my way through the crowds and met up with Ren.
Ren knows New Orleans well, having been to military college about 40 miles from the city, so he knew a great place to eat - the Acme Oyster House on Iberville Street.
We had an excellent seafood meal of oysters, boiled crawfish, etouffé and a deep fried oyster po' boy sandwich. It wasn't too heavy, considering how much was on the table, and it was mostly of the hands only, juices up your sleeve school of eating.
The crawfish were particulary memorable. They're what we call crayfish in the UK - to be precise they are the American Signal Crayfish that are rife in our waterways, killing off our native crayfish as well as destroying fish stocks.
The crawfish were boiled in a spicy broth and brought to the table in a net. You grab a crawfish, separate the head from the tail, peel the shell from the tail and eat the sweet, salty, spicy meat. Then, if you want the full experience, you suck the juices out of the head end.
We should be catching and cooking the Signal Crayfish in the UK to fight back against the crawdaddy invaders!
OK - that's today's post. The weather is still pretty grim here today, so I predict a bar crawl this afternoon. It's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it.