So, after an hour and 13 minute long flight, we land at Louis Armstrong at 2:08 or so. By four, I'm in my hotel. Why so long, you ask? Well, I decided to get a shuttle voucher via Expedia. It was $30 round trip. Pretty good deal...until you get in line to wait for a place in one of the shuttles, wait for everyone to board, wait for the driver to pile the luggage into the back of the short bus, and then drive into the city proper. It wasn't bad, just absurdly long. The drive into the city was slightly depressing because it didn't look much different from an average highway back home...until we got a view of the ginormous Mississippi River bridge. At least, I think it was the Mississippi River bridge, I don't really know my landmarks here just yet. Regardless, it was huge, it was neat, and it was NOT the Sunshine Skyway. My bag was at my feet and I was crammed into the back corner of the bus like a chicken in one of KFC's cages so no pictures yet. Also, I didn't want to take pictures of the airport. I'll do that on the way back.
So, I get to the hotel and check in and receive a really small room on the first floor where the door was hard to open and even harder to close and my view was of a brick wall.
Really, the only good things were a huge tub and the wireless (more on that in a moment.) SO, I called my mom to let her know I was here okay and she convinced me to go get another room. Now, I'll complain about my job and my co-workers, but I don't like sending food back unless it's super disgusting and I don't like to complain about a hotel room that is within a 15 minute walk of the French Quarter, but I knew mom was right (aren't they always?) and I asked for a room with a view that wasn't a brick wall. And I got it!
I took this after I came back from walk about last night. It was rainy and only started raining when I was a few blocks from the hotel...well, sprinkling really. It didn't start really raining until I got back to the hotel.
So, I got my stuff into the new room and assembled my city bag for walkabout and left the hotel for Riverwalk. Seven minute walk, people, from the mighty Mississippi.
I took note of restaurants along my path. The street cars have a stop at the Hilton by the river so that's something to keep in mind. There was a live jazz band at a seafood restaurant on the river, but I rarely eat seafood so I kept walking. The Aquarium of the Americas is right there, too, and that's something I definitely want to do before I leave. I'm weird, I know.
Something else I wanted to do before I left was visit Harrah's Casino. My gambling consists of scratch cards every ten years or so. I don't place actual bets when I say, “Bet you!” But, who knows if I'll ever get to go to Las Vegas or come back, or even go to the Seminole casino back home. Before I left, I received a little birthday money and decided that I would be okay with spending $20 at the casino. I walk inside and get a feeling of cheery desperation, the cheery part provided by the happy “come play me!” tinkles coming from the sparkling machines. I stuck with the slots. I play War and Go Fish!, not poker or blackjack. Safer to stick with something completely unfamiliar like the slots and not cards.
They don't do coin returns at Harrah's, they handle everything digitally, with tickets that are barcoded so the machines from which you get your winnings, or your money back, know how much you get.
The first machine I played was called Poppit! I put in $5 and tried to read the instructions, but they were a little confusing. I decided to treat it like one of those side games in an RPG and just play. I wound up winning $22 and some change, which covered what I was willing to spend with a $2 addition. The next game I played was the Glinda version of The Wizard of Oz in honour of my mom. I lost $4.75...it knew that I'm not a fan of The Wizard of Oz. Next, I went to a classic slot machine with the pull thingie. Lost my $5. With one five dollar bill left, I roamed the casino looking for The Machine. I found it in Ghost Island.
I put in my $5. It was pretty typical; I won, I lost, I won, I lost, I lost, I lost, I lost. Finally, I won. Relatively big. $150 and some change. I printed out my ticket and slowly walked toward the entrance all dejected like so no one would be the wiser. I cashed out, and headed to one of the restaurants I saw on the way to Riverwalk trying to not look like I'd just multiplied my investment by like seven and three quarters, which was difficult. I'm not an actor, after all, but I can occasionally keep a straight face.
In case she reads this: Janine, I wanted the play the Star Trek themed slots in your honour, but the damned Trekkies kept hogging it. ;)
So, I went to a restaurant called Gordon Biersch. I didn't know this until I walked in, but apparently there are like twenty of them all over the US. They brew their own beer, blah blah blah, totally uninteresting to me as a non-drinker, but the prices were pretty good considering where I am so I ordered a wedge salad and teriyaki chicken / tempura shrimp and, of course, a lemonade.
The lemonade was okay. It needed a little sugar, but otherwise it was good. The wedge salad was NOTHING compared to the wedge salad I had with Vanessa and Evy, but their ranch dressing was omnomnommy. The rice that came with the meal was kinda gross, “sweet ginger rice.” I'm not a big fan of ginger any more after a disastrous kitchen experiment with whole ginger root and the ginger was strong with their rice. The “vegetables” on the plate were just pea pods, which I happen to love, but don't use the plural when there's just one type... The chicken and shrimp were delicious. I wonder how many people skewer themselves every day with the shrimp skewers...
No dessert for me. I came back to the hotel just in time to avoid the heavy downpour and used some of my winnings on a small bag of M&Ms (85 cents! O_O) from the vending machine three feet from my room. :D Came in and tried for the next few hours to connect to the wireless internet. No go...I can see the networks all around me, but I can't connect to any of them. One or two look shady, several are city wireless, a few were from the hotel next door, and two were from this hotel. This morning, I found an ethernet cable and hooked up that way. It won't reach the bed so no being comfortable while I search, but that's a very small price to pay.
Today's plans consist of getting a beignet at Cafe du Monde, taking pictures, walking the French Quarter, grabbing a bus or a cab to the venue and starting the film festival thing.