Paddlesteamers and Streetcars in New Orleans

We were excited to sail down the Mississippi on a Paddlesteamer. This was pretty expensive (around $50 each) but we both wanted to do it as a “bucket list” thing – it is a quintessential experience of the Mississippi really. Plus it was a rainy day so we thought it would be nice thing to do.

PaddlesteamerThe boat set off towards the coast and the famous Mississippi Delta that I studied in geography at school. We passed yet more industry, factories, and the scars of Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, and it was terrible to see that so many years later, so much was still damaged. They pointed out docks that were still collapsed, a high school that never re-opened, and the Lower Ninth district which was worst hit.

I wanted to visit the affected areas to see for myself how bad the damage still was. There were bus tours you could take, but that didn’t feel right, gawping at people’s misery. I seem to recall reading that there is a law preventing tour companies from making a profit from tours in such badly affected neighbourhoods, but the tours continue. We were uneasy about driving around the wider city ourselves given what we had read about safety (see my next blog for more on safety), so we left without seeing it. Indeed my impression is that the city seems to be looking forward and focusing on repairing itself, rather than looking back to remember what happened there.

Back on land, we headed to Canal Street which runs along the East side of the French Quarter. Canal Street is a wide street with a trams, or “streetcars” going down the middle. Many of the big hotels are here and there was also a Walgreens here which we frequented for chocolate and souvenirs.

Canal Street, New OrleansWe also went to the large Casino on Canal Street and met a lovely girl working there. We had a chat about the UK as she wanted to go to London or Paris but she believed that it wasn’t feasible to travel in “coach” (ie. ecomony class) on the plane and you had to travel first class. I explained that economy class is perfectly fine and we have never travelled first class due to the expense. I also told her about the Channel Tunnel where you can get a train under the sea between London and Paris so you can see both cities, and she was incredulous and thought that was amazing! I hope she gets to go there.

One of our fave things to do in New Orleans was to ride the tram along St Charles street – a wide avenue of trees and mansions. We did it at dusk so we were able to see this thoroughfare from the safety of the tram. The mansions were huge and beautiful, and overhanging trees had been covered with strings of beads which glittered in the light as we passed by. I have no photos but fond memories of this ride in a vintage “streetcar”.

Travel Tip: You can buy a day pass called a “Jazzy Pass” for around $3, but this can’t be bought on the streetcar – you need to go to a local convenience store like CVS or Walgreens and buy the ticket. We only found this out when we tried to pay on the streetcar and were sent to these shops.

New Orleans and Armstrong Park sign

One night we went to a burger bar and sat on stools at the bar to watch The Game on the big screen. The New Orleans All Saints were playing and they said they had 3 main tactics… number 1 was “Avoid all big mistakes”.  I almost choked on my food. The burgers were delicious (my BF had the satay burger and said it was the best burger in the world “damn it was good”). When it came to payment we tried to pay by credit card. The girl said we could only pay by card if we had ID. We didn’t have any on us, so she asked us to show her a card-shaped object so that if her manager checks the CCTV it will look like she has checked our ID! We did so and paid without issue 🙂

Next post: Safety in New Orleans, USA

Previous post: French Quarter, New Orleans, USA

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