September 13th, 2008


Good Food, Good Music

Cheryl reported on our activity last night, so I don't need to do so in any detail. The restaurant was quite nice and reasonably priced, but we were the only customers in there for the last half-hour, and it was pretty quiet before that. Comes from being off the beaten path slightly and it being a relatively slow time of year, I reckon. "Quiet," however, doesn't describe Bourbon Street, and we enjoyed "European Jazz." During the band's set, the clarinetist from Maison Bourbon showed up and sat in for two numbers. I got the impression that during the break from a set down the street, he decided to go a couple of blocks down the street and play some more. He's good.

I feel a bit guilty for fading out just before midnight. Getting old, I guess. Used to stay up all night without a problem, but nowadays I need more sleep. It was nice not having to set an alarm, nor worry about the hours on the included breakfast -- generous as they are relative to most Holiday Inn Express location -- because finding someplace for food around here isn't a challenge. And, oddly enough, my morning blood sugar reading was slightly lower than it has been of late. I suppose it partially comes from walking more than 9300 steps yesterday.

It's still pretty windy out there this morning, but it looks like the worst of the fringes-of-the-hurricane weather may have passed. What we'll do today, we haven't quite decided yet, but I'm sure we'll find something interesting.
Wig Wag

Streetcar Day

Today's weather forecast being for a lower chance of rain than tomorrow, we decided that today would be our day for riding New Orleans' streetcars. But first, a light breakfast of beignets and coffee, not at Cafe du Monde, but at Cafe Beignet on Bourbon Street, which is much closer to our hotel. They do their beignets a little differently than those at Cafe du Monde, and have more coffee options, too.

On the way back from breakfast, we stopped at Walgreen's and bought a few small items and dealt with my cash crunch. Unfortunately, they have a $40 cash limit, but at least we have enough cash in hand for now. (Later in the day, we happened across a Whole Foods Market, where I expect we could have taken a larger cash back had we wanted to buy something. Oh, well, no big deal.)

My hotel's front desk doesn't sell the one- and three-day passes, and sent us to the Sheraton, which was out of them and sent us to a little market on Royal Street, where we bought a couple of $5 one-day passes (break-even after your fourth ride) and headed over to the first stop on St. Charles Street.

We rode out along the lovely St. Charles Street line, admiring the scenery, to the end of the line on Carrollton, then back as far as Broadway, where we walked down to Magazine Street and walked part-way back through what is described in one of the guide books as a "six-mile-long shopping district." We didn't walk the entire six miles, turning back at Jefferson to St. Charles and riding back to the stop in front of our hotel.

One thing we did buy when we happened upon a Radio Shack was an S-Video-to-RCA cable that I've been meaning to get for use while traveling. (I have the converter box and home, but more and more hotels have RCA connectors on the sets, and this should give me a chance to watch downloaded rugby matches while traveling.) Popping up to the room briefly, I set a match to downloading. As soon as I finish posting this, Cheryl and I are heading for Mother's for lunch, after which we will head for the streetcar line that wasn't here the last time I was -- the rebuilt Canal Street line.
Wig Wag

To the Cemetaries by Rail

We walked over to Mother's and had some of the best red beans and rice I've ever had. I could easily have eaten the large, but I was trying to think of an expected large dinner tonight and had the medium. Then we walked back to Canal Street and caught the first outbound streetcar, which turned out to be heading out the City Park line, which diverges from Canal Street. We rode out to the end and waited the fifteen minutes or so before it turned back. Cheryl took some pictures, which I'll have eventually -- possibly a new icon, if one of them turns out. We got off at a smoothie shop we'd spotted on the outbound trip and bought smoothies. You can't have food or drink on the streetcar, so we decided to walk on the parallel sidewalk back to the Canal Street line, where we turned right and followed the Cemetery line. As it happens, I didn't finish my smoothie until we were nearly at the end of the line, so we walked the rest of the way to the end of Canal Street. Of course the next inbound car left just as we got there, but that did give us fifteen minutes to look around the various cemeteries clustered around the streetcar terminal.

A little while later, another car arrived, which we boarded and rode clear down to the other terminal near the Casino (right next to the Doubletree hotel where SMOFCon was held years ago). I also wanted to ride the nearby Riverfront line to complete the "collection," so we walked to the nearest station. There were people who had been waiting a while. We waited another ten minutes or so before deciding something was wrong and gave up. Walking back to the Canal Street terminal, we boarded an outbound car; the motorman, when I asked, said that there had been a power failure on the Riverfront line and cars weren't running. It would have been nice if something had been done to get that information to the riders!

Although it was only about six blocks up to Bourbon/Carondolet where our hotel is, since the car was about to leave and we had day passes anyway, we rode back there. With over 9600 steps on the counter -- on hard pavement, not soft dirt trails -- our legs were starting to protest a little.

Now I need to go get cleaned up, for we have reservations for 9:15 at Arnaud's.

I Remember That the Hotel and Airfare Were Free

...which is why I don't feel anywhere near as bad about spending nearly $150 (after tip) for dinner tonight at Arnaud's just off Bourbon Street. I enjoyed every bit of this meal (ordered from the a la carte menu from the appetizers (Shrimp Arnaud and Alligator Sausage with Cajun mustard) to the main course (I had the Crawfish O'Connor; she had the Petit Fillet Lafitte) and side dishes (I shared Cheryl's Sauteed Wild Mushrooms), to the dessert (not shown on the PDF; I had crepes with pecan cream cheese and a praline caramel topping), this was a wonderful meal. Again, it's not something I'd do regularly, but as a special experience, it was first-rate, and I highly recommend it. (Cheryl has also written about this evening, and I recommend reading her report as well.)

It continues to be slow times in the Big Easy. We'd made reservations, but they weren't really necessary, and we arrived 45 minutes early and were seated in a mostly empty dining room. And I was assured that a collared dress shirt (like I wear for work) was sufficient and that gentlemen are no longer required to wear jackets. (I brought one, but it's so warm here that I'd prefer not to have to wear it.) After dinner, we made one "lap" of Bourbon Street's Sin District, listened to a little lightweight jazz, and decided to make a relatively early night of it. Yes, I know it's Saturday night, but I'm (surprisingly) sunburned and walked over 12,000 steps today. Speaking of which, I expected a disaster on the blood sugar after eating that sugar bomb after dinner, but apparently the walking did me good, and I had a reading of only 118, well within the normal range.

We tried out the s-video to RCA connector this evening. The good news is that it worked. The bad news is that the wireless connection here just isn't up to the task of downloading the rugby matches (I set a job up to run while we were out this afternoon and it failed) or streaming it. Oh, well, not all internet connections can be fast ones.