The last portion of the Sunset Limited from San Antonio to New Orleans was rockier than the first portion from Los Angeles to San Antonio. Or maybe we had just had enough of “training”. The train that was supposed to leave San Antonio at 6.30am didn’t leave until around 8. Then there were more delays which meant that we didn’t pull into New Orleans until around 2am. We were beat.
Also, the scenery was far less interesting than prior legs. It was flat and swampy. Also, this is the South. A white guy from another car came up behind us and started hassling the black guy sitting there. He used the N-word: “Yeah, I’m a racist. I was brought up that way”. We were not. I lost my temper and started shouting at him, not using the best language either. Kathie and Diane ran to get the conductors. Amtrak personnel took it most seriously, questioning the black guy and us. They radioed for advice. I thought the racist guy was going to get thrown off the train. Half-hour later the conductors returned, saying the white guy spun out some story about not really meaning it. . .he was trying to tell a story. . .he’s so sorry, etc. Sure. The black guy was off to visit his brother who lives in Beaumont, Texas. Good luck there.
After resting up in the Maison St Charles we headed out to visit New Orleans. First up–the French Quarter, natch.
And then a scrumptious lunch at Muriel’s:
I think it was catfish. Awesome.
Supposedly they have a resident ghost for whom they leave out wine. Apparently New Orleans is full of ghosts–there are ghost tours, paraphernalia etc. Like every building in the French Quarter, the interior was a step back to the city’s 19th-century heyday.
The French commandeer everything. It should really be called the “Spanish Quarter”, since it was the Spanish who rebuilt it after they took over in 1763.
Posters for John Bel Edwards were everywhere. Yes he’s a Democrat and yes he won the governorship.
New Orleans is not a wealthy city. The French Quarter teeters precariously on the edge of seediness and occasionally topples over.
Bourbon Street was obviously a place to avoid at night. Cop cars start lining up around dusk ready for the nightly fights. Which is why some of us turn to day-drinking:
After lunch we boarded the obligatory steam boat cruise for a chug down the Mississippi. It was windy and surprisingly chilly but still a great way to get a sense of the city’s layout.
With this guy in charge of the Engine Room, we were lucky we didn’t sink!
Yep, that stone wall is all that protects New Orleans from a rising river. And that’s the high part! We also passed by the famous Ninth Ward that was devastated by Hurricane Katrina and it was visibly lower.
After another stroll through the darkening streets we headed back to our hotel for a terrific meal at the adjacent restaurant. We wanted oyster soup but the waiter informed us that there was currently a crisis affecting Gulf oysters. A NYTimes article
The following day was cloudy and chilly. We started out with truly outstanding beignets at the famous Cafe du Monde. Then we wandered the Warehouse neighborhood which I preferred in some ways to the French Quarter. Less touristy. We stopped for tea at Napoleon House which got its name because you-know-who stayed there.
Then we ducked into the St Louis Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in North America.
Diane and I headed out to the Garden District under darkening skies. The lavish mansions and ancient oak trees were a striking contrast to the town center. We would have loved to stroll around but it was starting to rain. We ducked into the convivial Joey K’s for artisanal beer and Po Boys.
The rain intensified throughout the night which meant leaving the city and ending this amazing trip in a downpour. And so it goes.