But my mom expressed an interest in seeing the Big Easy this year, so I figured a five-day stay would give her all she needed while allowing me to see new things and hopefully revive remembrances of things I did and saw 13 years earlier.
We had a 6:10 a.m. flight from Buffalo, a stopover in Charlotte and were in New Orleans by 10:30 a.m. The $326 (including taxes) return trip flight was about half the price we would have paid had we flown out of Toronto.
We caught a $78 return trip airport shuttle bus to our hotel, The Inn on Bourbon Ramada Plaza Hotel, and dropped off our bags before walking to the Superdome (with a traveller in hand, of course). The Saints game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was sold out and scalper prices were too rich for us, so we watched most of the first half outside the stadium in a large public square where hundreds of others had gathered to view the game on a large video screen.
Mom's not a big football fan, so we walked back toward the French Quarter and down to the shore of the Mississippi River where we visited a ticket booth and picked up a five-day Power Pass (which we got for the price of a three-day pass by buying it online through Expedia when I booked my flights and hotel) that gave us entry into 28 attractions and tours around the city for $125 each. The cost was well worth it, considering how much we took advantage of the Power Pass.
The Steamboat Natchez was right beside us and was about to embark on a 2:30 p.m. jazz cruise, so we listened to a woman play a calliope on top of the boat before we went aboard. We listened to the jazz band inside for a bit until the paddle wheeler's whistle blew and it pulled out from the Toulouse Street Wharf, at which time we found a good vantage point on deck and listened to the narration of what we were seeing as we made our way along.
The history, facts and figures offered are important, as there really isn't a lot of great scenery on the two-hour cruise. But the Natchez is the city's only authentic steamboat, and visitors are allowed into the engine room to see how things work. The cruise costs $25 on its own, or $36 with lunch. A couple of beers were enough of a lunch for me.
We docked, returned to our hotel and got settled in. The Inn on Bourbon Ramada Plaza Hotel is in the heart of the French Quarter at the corner of Bourbon and Toulouse, and stands on the site of the French Opera House, which was built in 1859. There were renovations taking place in the lobby restaurant, but we were quite pleased with everything else about the hotel, which we got at a good price in the neighbourhood of $100 a night. It was clean and modern, it featured a nice courtyard with a swimming pool, the employees were friendly and efficient, there was free wireless Internet and -- important for people who may like to go to bed early like my mom -- it was quiet. Our room overlooked the hustle and bustle and booziness of Bourbon Street, but we could hear very little of it. I have no problem recommending this hotel.
|The Shops at Jax Brewery|
I always try to hit as many brew pubs as I can in a city, so we had our first night dinner at the Crescent City Brewhouse. I had a sampler tray of its five beers and wasn't particularly impressed with any of them. Most entrees were above $20 and were well-presented and okay-tasting, but not exceptional. Mom had the New York strip, while I went for the grilled tuna Orleans, which was Ahi tuna topped with sauteed jumbo shrimp, Chinese long beans, beech mushrooms and tempura fried sweet potato crisp.
We returned to the hotel and I had the best intentions of going out again. But it had been a long work week and I was functioning on two hours of sleep, so I laid down on my bed and didn't leave it again until the next morning.