Sunday, 27 November 2016


Skip and I arrived in New Orleans on Monday afternoon after sailing up the Mississippi delta all morning.
The ship docked right downtown beside the outlet mall and between a paddleboat and the Carnival Triumph which were also in port. We were all required to get off the ship and clear US Customs before getting back on to enjoy our last evening onboard and pack for final disembarkation the next morning.

As we didn't have any flights to catch the next morning, we could take our time having our last sumptuous breakfast on board. We then grabbed a cab to our hotel (St. James) just west of the French Quarter. As it was too early for check-in we stored our luggage there and headed out on foot to explore our environs.

My goal was to visit the Royal Orleans Hotel and 812 Bourbon St. The Royal Orleans was where my parents were married in 1961. My mother had been living in New Orleans through the late 50s and early 60s. It is now an Omni Hotel.

We then walked up to Bourbon St. where we had been warned that it was not a 'family friendly' street by the tourist office. In fact, this area is crammed with gay bars and strip clubs. When I saw "Pete Fountain's" embedded in the sidewalk in tile, I knew I was in the right neighbourhood as I recall my parents telling me his bar was right on the corner of her block
According to Google Maps it is now 'Oz', New Orleans' #1 Gay Dance Club. I was surprised to learn he just died this past August.
810 Bourbon St. was clearly marked so I assumed that 812 was the next door.
After taking a couple of photos, we walked back towards our hotel and grabbed some lunch at the famed Palace Café on Canal St. on the way back.

There was no doubt that this was New Orleans Saints and LSU Tiger territory.
We saw several houses displaying purple footballs on the door wreaths.

Finally checked in, we baffed out for a while enjoying both of the HD TVs and unlimited Internet for the first time in over 2 weeks. We always are surprised at how tired we are after being on a relaxing vacation. For Skip, it was nice to not be rocking. It took me a couple of days before I no longer felt the rocking sensation.

After finding dinner that night, we were delighted to see the Christmas lights up Canal St. which apparently had just been lit.

The next day, we had breakfast outdoors on the corner at the Ruby Slipper Café before walking over to Jackson Square and then to the place where we could board the Hop On Hop Off sightseeing bus. Of course, we had to take a selfie with Jackson Square and the iconic St. Louis Cathedral in the background.

No, we didn't go to Café du Monde. Being US Thanksgiving week, there was a lineup a block long to get into the place and we just didn't want spend our limited time in 'The Big Easy' doing that. I'll just have to find a place in Toronto that serves NOLA-style beignets.

Thursday morning we left the hotel at 7:30 and were at the airport, checked our bags, were through security and at our gate by 8:20. Woo hoo!!! That would never happen flying out of YYZ. We landed in Buffalo at 4pm after a stopover in Baltimore. Our shuttle to the hotel was waiting for us at the hotel shuttle stand. Now THAT's what I call good service. The Clarion Hotel makes it a practice to meet arriving passengers who have used their Park Stay and Fly program.

Travelling on Thanksgiving Day was a really good idea as the usual crowds and traffic were greatly reduced. When I booked the flights, I didn't even realize it was Thanksgiving but was happy it worked out well.

The next morning we anticipated a crush of people at the places we wanted to do some shopping before crossing the border and returning home. It actually was really quiet on the US side and only when we drove past the new outlet mall on the QEW and the adjacent Bass Pro did we see parking lots crammed with cars. However, the traffic was acceptable and we were glad to get home in the early afternoon.

We are now home for a while with no big trips planned until our departure for the sunny south at the beginning of February.

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