This is the first flight I’ve taken since some of the changes have taken place in the air travel industry, such as
when all of the new charges had been added to all of the checked luggage, the underwear wanna-be bomber tried to blowup Christmas and the unpronounceable volcano started sharing its ash with everyone. When I flew last spring, some of the airlines were still only charging for the second checked bag.
I thought I’d see how the security situation was on the plane and in the airport. I wanted to check out what shape New Orleans was in since Katrina hit, while I was there on business. I also planned to take one of their walking tours of the historic district and do a little shopping after the business part of my trip.
The security appeared to be about the same as it was last year. I didn’t have to go through one of those scan machines. I didn’t see any of the machines at either the Tampa International Airport or the New Orleans Airport. There were also no restrictions on-board about the passengers being required to stay in our seats for an extended period of time prior to landing, outside the usual requirement that has always been expected, just before arriving at the airport.
I had already decided to take the public bus from the airport into downtown when I arrived in New Orleans because it would take me exactly where I wanted to go. It was no hassle and was very reasonable at $2.00 each way from the airport to downtown New Orleans with its end-of-the-line stop being between the downtown business district and the French Quarter.
The bus line is the E-2 line which stops one level up from the baggage claim, in the airport. You go through the second set of double glass doors after you arrive on that floor, on the escalator from baggage claim, and go far down the outside sidewalk to the right until you come to the Delta counter. The bus stop is across from the counter on the median.
This particular line only runs into the downtown area, Monday through Friday from 5:20am from the airport, and 6:15am from the end-of-line at Tulane/Loyola to 6:14pm from the airport and 6:52pm from Tulane/Loyola. The buses run roughly every half hour unless they are disrupted, like we were by a film crew, on our way in.
The stop that you get off at is the same one you get on to go back, since the bus just drives around several blocks circling back to where it came from.
I needed to be in both the business and French Quarter districts, so the stop made both destinations within easy walking distance. The stop is only about three block from the down town business district and about the same, in the other direction, for the French Quarter. For my first trip into New Orleans, I had no difficulty getting around or finding my way. It was easy to navigate in the area that I was in.
Since my business wouldn’t take all day, I decided to take in a walking tour and to do some shopping since I was already in the French Quarter. I took the Cemetery/Voodoo tour, sponsored by the Historic New Orleans Tours, Inc. because they were more helpful on the phone, when my husband called them for information. There are other tours which I found in my AAA guidebook.
They sponsor a variety walking tours with no prior reservation needed which meet at different places in the French Quarter and several van and/or cruise tours which do require reservations and cost more than the walking tours. All of the walking tours are $20 for adults. The other tours are $39 and $40 for adults. All walking tours take around two hours and the other tours are from three to four hours in length.
The tour I took was informative and fun. It also wasn’t that hard on the feet, I wore walking shoes. We learned a lot about the history of the French Quarter, which is the original location of New Orleans, about some of the customs and early funerary practices due to the climate and sea level of the area.
There are other tours that cover such topics as jazz, haunted buildings, and twilight walks as well as swamp, plantation and hurricane rebuilding tours to name a few.
We were also able to ask questions about what the city has been going through to recover from Katrina. Our tour guide and others I talked to, from the builder I’d met at the airport to the other people I later met around town, all said the same thing.
They all said that it was going slowly and in many cases wasn’t proceeding at all because the financing was only going into preferred areas at the expense to other areas, and that some of the crucial safety concerns still had not been sufficiently addressed. The city just replaced their Mayor Nagin for a new mayor due to these issues.
I had thought that the area between the airport and the downtown area, as I came into town, was rundown. But it was one of the areas that had been damaged by the flooding and had not been taken care of yet. I saw houses with their siding all curled up off of the walls and the houses looked neglected. Whereas, the French Quarter and the downtown area didn’t look like they had ever gone through any damage.
I had read that the French Quarter hadn’t been hit by the flooding because it was on the higher ground. But what the locals told me, who were from different parts of town, was the same. That the problem wasn’t about who got hit or not hit by the flooding but about where the restoration funds were allocated.
I had heard that the French Quarter could be very expensive to shop in. But I did find some reasonable prices on the items I bought, such as the nice t-shirts I got for $5 apiece. They were $19.99 at the airport. The shop was Namami Fashions on Royal St near Canal St. I did go into a couple of shops where the prices were way out of what I cared to spend, though.
But there are some reasonable prices if you shop carefully, such as some of the antique shops with ironware and small specialty eateries that offer pastries, their version of coffee and small meals and snacks.
I was invited for a drink in a friendly bar. It was a nice bar with pleasant and courteous service. I don’t know how reasonable the prices were since I was a guest. The bar is located on the corner of Chartres and St. Louis.
I can’t tell you about the hotels, except the ones in the Quarter look very exclusive and expensive. I didn’t stay because I went back to the airport and flew back out early in the morning. I have done this with overnight trips since a trip we took several years ago, to New York.
We had early flights, the airline canceled our flights and put mine earlier and my husband’s later. If we had not decided to be in the airport for the night, I would have lost my ticket. So, for overnight trips we prefer to stay in the airport and make sure that we make it back home since we fly out so early on those flights.
I found my trip to be pleasant and fairly uncomplicated. The security in the airports and on the plane is bearable. It was easy to get from and to the airport and to navigate around the part of New Orleans that I went to. I only looked at my directions once, before I got off the bus. I didn’t need them the rest of the time, because the landmarks were easy to follow and the streets were well marked. I also found helpful residents everywhere who were willing to talk to me and to help me.
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