On Friday morning I woke up early, so I had a little run in the gym at the hotel, not great as I don’t like treadmills, but it was already much too warm outside. At around 09:00 we left the Santa Rosa hotel for the long trip to Dallas. It was quite interesting to drive there as we would encounter all these tiny Texan towns which all seemed to have at least a petrol station and a Dairy Queen (a soft serve ice cream chain) up and running and a bunch of deserted buildings and lots of big trucks. The first hour and a half or so of the trip I got to drive, but Paul was getting a bit bored with staring out of the window and playing with the radio so at the first petrol stop we swapped. I like getting petrol in the US, it’s about 25 euros to fill up a tank (45 litres).
At around 19:00, we arrived in Dallas (not bad considering the 2 hour time change). The hotel was really nice, it’s situated on a small hill just outside the city so we had a wonderful view of the skyscrapers while cooling down in the outdoor pool. Life ain’t so bad :). For dinner we went out to an area called the Bishop Arts District, were there were cute little galleries, shops and restaurants. We had dinner at Veracruz, a mesoamerican restaurant, which serves a blend of Mayan, Aztec and Mexican dishes. As the shops were still open after we had dinner we strolled around a bit more and I bought the most hilarious souvenir ever: rubber cowboy boots :).
On Saturday morning we got up early to have a splash in the pool with the wonderful view before we set out to our second long drive (to New Orleans). Actually, we both thought this drive was the worst as the landscape isn’t that interesting, it’s just fields. However, as we got a bit deeper into Louisiana, we saw swamps and drove over big bridges over the swamps. We also got some serious thunder and rain on the way, but that’s normal for this area apparently, the funny thing is that it is still warm, while it rains and afterwards. Sometime after 17:00 we arrived in New Orleans where we stayed at a wonderful hotel recommended by Paul’s parents. After dumping our stuff at the hotel we went out to get a Cajun dinner at Mulate’s, which is the American version of a biergarten, including a band playing The Chicken Dance (vogeltjesdans). But the food was decent and we had fun. After dinner we strolled through the French Quarter, which is lovely, and we ended up at the other end of it at The Blue Nile, where the Washboard Chaz Blues Trio was playing when we entered, and after that the Soul Rebels Brass Band came on. Both were excellent and quite out of the ordinary so we had a splendid time, apart from the waiting between the bands and of course the obligatory delay in starting, so we didn’t see the end of the second band. Instead we walked back, and did a few blocks of Bourbon Street, which is a bit like Newquay on Saturday night but then 100 times worse.
On Sunday morning it was raining, but still warm so it was OK to walk through the French quarter to get to Café du Monde. This time we when we walked through Bourbon Street it was deserted, which was much nicer. At Café du Monde we had the famous beignets for breakfast. And as it had gotten sunny, I put on some sunscreen and we went to look at the river. Then we walked on to find the St. Louis Cemetery No 1., which in a way was pretty cool, but if you’ve seen old European cemeteries it’s nothing to special. The interesting thing about them is that because of the high ground water levels all burials need to be above ground, so there are all these high tombs. It also makes for a not so open space and travel guides advise against going there alone and in the dark…
On the way back to the hotel we stopped at Jackson Square (we had wanted to go to Café Amelie but that was closed for the summer) for a late lunch where Paul had a sandwich while I tried the local Gumbo (a sort of fish soup). Around 4 we left New Orleans for Florida. Luckily we needed to be at the westside of Florida, so the drive wasn’t too long, as although the road trip was very very cool, we really had enough of tarmac by now :).