First day of road trip is always the best. There is that break from the usual and the anticipation of new experiences. Before getting to New Orleans, I imagined New Orleans in all sort of ways. The Big Easy however surprised me. It was nothing like I imagined; it was better in a different way.
As soon as I entered the city and took an exit off of I-10, I got lost. Hugh, the owner of the Banana Courtyard (hotel where I made my reservation) kept calling me to provide me directions and we collectively managed to get me more lost. One ways and no U-turns and no this and no that and my bad lane changing skills combined, I got terribly lost. It wouldn’t be too wrong to call N.O. “The city of one ways”. I finally reached the hotel, which had no signs due to city’s laws. Mary (Hugh’s wife) was standing outside to receive me and let me in. Mary and Hugh have been running this hotel for a long time with some help from an intern. I was surprised as soon as I entered the place. It was like a museum. A two storied house was converted into a 8 bedroom hotel and each room had its own specialty. The entire place was very antique and had a pleasant antique store smell. Mary provided me with keys to the gate, to the main door and to my room. They have a big map of the U.S. and of the world and they put pins on states and countries when guests from that place comes to stay with them. They were very excited to put their first pin on Nepal.
The intern (Oops, I forgot her name) gave me a map of the French Quarter and recommended various places to eat. She walked me half way to French Market and let me explore on my own after that. I walked into Satchmo Music Festival. It was an open music performance plus food and drink stalls. I walked into French market later, and bought a dress, a T-shirt and a Tropical margarita. It was hot and humid, I was tired and sweaty but New Orleans was too exciting to be tired. Most of the “ONE WAY” signs in French Quarter said “ONE DAY” instead and it was hilarious! Four hours later, I had walked through French market and Decatur St, and walked back to the Banana Courtyard after eating nice New Orleans style blacked red-fish and rice pilaf.
The next day, I had two of my friends with me. We walked down Esplanade and took a street car (it actually is a train) to the Riverwalk. There was a big aquarium and a mall on the bank of Mississippi river. We checked out the famous Cafe de Monde on the Riverwalk and walked few blocks to St. Charles. We were meeting Rabin bro; a friend+bro from high school for lunch. After walking about nine blocks, one bus ride and one Street car ride, we finally got to the restaurant. It rained heavily for an hour and stopped as suddenly as it started. I could look up and see Mardi Gras beads on tree branches.
At the end of the day, all three of us drove to Jackson, Mississippi. A 25 mile long bridge was the major attraction of the trip. And of course, one more U.S. state that I added to my “Been there” list. We heard about the Wyoming shooting from a lady at a gas station as soon as we entered Mississippi. I kept thinking of Hank Snow’s “I’ve been everywhere, man, I’ve everywhere” and Rabin bro’s recent travel and accident.
Enjoy some of the pictures of the Banana Courtyard, New Orleans and the 25 mile long bridge.