Monday, 5 November 2012

Judy, The Blues, Elvis and Voodoo...

We gotta now make our way from Chicago to New Orleans, and I was always told the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, so.....

Not quite a straight line but pretty much the most direct rout is, Chicago, St Lewis, Jackson, Memphis, New Orleans.

I drove Adam mad all the way to St Lewis singing Judy Garland, "Meet me in St Louis". Bless him. If I'm honest im surprised I made it there unharmed. Its a lovely place. A little more modern than in the film now, but the character is still there. The houses start to get big and ornate as you travel towards the southern cost. Those southern mansions you see on tv. Of course there are the usual suburbs but as there is no shortage of space here in the USA that just seems to become more apparent the further south you go. A 2 day stop just outside the city was lovely. If a necessity, to get our brakes fixed, apparently they are an essential part of the rig. We drove past the St Louis Arch but didn't make a visit. We did however go to the Zoo, one of the largest free zoo's in the USA, it was an enjoyable and cheep afternoon out.

On to Jackson. Again only a day stop. We visited the Capitol Building. Yep Thats Capitol with an "O" and not Capital with an "A". A Capital is the major city. A Capitol is where the significant city records or councils reside. Since the Jackson Capitol was responsible for some of the Souths major decisions in woman's rights and slavery abolition we decided it was a definite visit destination.
The building is wonderful. Formal and regal and designed by a Brit.....Now the "Old Capitol Building", its been transformed in to an historic landmark and museum. Documenting many changes in the history of the South. Its very well done and very educational.

Now to Memphis. Home of "The Blues", and of course Elvis. Well we saw plenty of "The Blues". A visit to downtown Memphis and the famous Beale street. "Where it all started". Lined with bars and clubs with live music all the time. Some pretty good music actually, but then what else would you expect. Its not been too updated either, so its pretty much a walk in the past. Very cool.  As for Elvis, well we drove past the gates of Graceland but at over $35 each to get in plus another $15 just to park up.....well I love Elvis, but not that much..... Another odd stop, was the peabody hotel, to see the ducks, no your right I said we went to a hotel to see some ducks.  They are the Peabody ducks, 5 trained ducks that march in to the fountain in the hotel lobby in the morning, sit there all day than march out at the end of the day, google it you'll be amazed.

So, destination New Orleans, What can you say. The place is mad...thats mad in a good way, not mad in a scary, southern witchdoctor way. Mad because the closer you get to the city the less city there is. The whole place is wetlands, water and houses on stilts. Less cars and more boats. More crocs than people. I'm making it sound bad.... Its not, its brill. The huge 3 and 4 lane roads start to elevate as you travel in to the city as it needs to carry you over the watery marshes. Houses dont have cars in the drives, there are no drives, there are pontoons, with boats. Of course in the very centre of the city there are cars, just not as many as you expect.
The city is wonderful. The outskirts has even bigger southern mansions on endless plots of land. Think of Tara from gone with the wind and your there.
The centre is beautiful, streets of tightly packed multicoloured houses sporting ornate metal balustrades and balconies. Beautifully tiled front steps and porches.  At night the wonderful blown glass, gas street lights giving off that golden glow that only an open flame can. Im making it all sound romantic, its more sensual. Plenty of bars and eateries on every corner selling everything from delicate french pastries to southern smothered BBQ, but all selling aromatic and very potent coffee....
We paid a visit to the most famous coffee shop in the south. Cafe Du Monde is an open air eatery that opened in 1862 with only two things on the menu. Coffee and donuts.... But not just any coffee and donuts. THE coffee and donuts of the south. Coffee with chicory and square donuts piled high with icing sugar called Beignets. When in New Orleans its a must for everyone to try at least once, and I highly recommend it.....NOM....

Hallloooooo....from St Louis Zoo


The Blues on Beale St

Old Capitol
Look ma, no roads...

New Orleans Streets

Life is like a box of chocolates... or in this case a bucket of shrimp...

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