A Travellerspoint blog

Day 7

Travel Day

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We set the alarm for 5.30am New Orleans time and were downstairs packed and ready 20 minutes later.We had a brief discussion with the front desk staff around the status of our bill. We had prepaid via Expedia but she claimed we had to pay. It was never an argument that she was going to win against Darlene. A few minutes later we were in our taxi on our way to the airport.

We checked in via a machine and printed our boarding passes to Dallas and on to Cancun. Apparently we missed the option to print boarding passes so we waited in a short line for customer service to do the bag tags. We dropped off the cases at a separate counter and headed for security. The line was long. It took around 20 minutes to get through. For some reason, unknown to us we have this thing called TSA Pre-check printed on our boarding passes. We had it for earlier American Airlines flights too. It means we don't need to take off our shoes and belts and speeds the security check. By the time we got through we only had a few minutes to board. we had not had breakfast and there was no food available on the flight to Dallas so we found a stall with tubs of yoghurt, fruit and granola and that was breakfast.

Mercifully, the flight left on time and arrived early. It extended our tight transit time in Dallas of just one hour by 15 minutes. Dallas is a major transit hub for USA and is brilliantly set up for people changing flights to go on to other destinations. The skyrail is a driverless monorail that connects the terminals running above them is great. The other thing they do well is look at passenger list, see where people are transiting to and tell you when you land as you are taxiing which gate to go to when you leave the plane. One hour would have been tight but the extra few minutes made it comfortable.

We were soon on our way to Cancun. The flight was a little bumpy and they didn't serve lunch as we had expected. All we got was a drink and some dry snacks. We filled out the customs and immigration forms in flight and just as well as there was an inspector at the exit to the aerobridge stopping people who hadn't filled them in. We had no problem with customs or immigration and were through quickly enough. Next problem was to find out how to get to the HBO Terminal where we had to go to catch our next flight over to Cozumel.

We asked a few people as we exited the terminal and eventually found a company that would take us to the other terminal. There was also a shuttle but it ran every 20 minutes and we didn't have a lot of time to spare. To get to the HBO terminal we had to exit the airport and re-enter at a new location. We checked in and were slugged 417 pesos (a bit under A$40) for excess baggage. We had a short wait and then were led out onto the tarmac to board the Dornier 19 seat plane for the 20 minute flight.

There was no cabin door to the cockpit. Once we got moving the airconditioning kicked in and as well as cold air they blew out a sort of fog that wafted around the cabin. The flight followed the coast at a fairly low altitude and I had a view of the resorts hugging the coast. Then we headed out over the water and a few minutes later were in sight of land again. We flew straight in (not a busy airport) and were escorted across the tarmac to the terminal. The bags were right behind us and the porter followed us out, waited while we bought shuttle tickets and took them to the van for us.

There was an agitated American woman who was annoyed she had to share the ride with us. She got off and had her and her husband's bags removed so they could get on another shuttle and have the private transfer she was expecting. Not a good image of Americans abroad but not the first time we have seen it. Another couple from our flight replaced them and we headed off. It dropped them and shortly after brought us to Villas El Encanto.

The Gate to the office was locked. Another guest happened by and kindly went back inside but was unable to find the host. We saw someone enter a side gate and after some deliberation we followed. It turned out it was the residence of the person who maintained the grounds. I left Darlene inside the gate and followed the sound of voices and found the girls sitting in a gazebo by the pool. They explained our error took us out and in the right way. We sat by the pool with wine and nibbles. I had a swim. Bronwyn and Brett eventually went out for Pizza. That was tea. After a long day I was tired and crashed around 9.30

Posted by IanDarleneUK 05:34 Comments (0)

Day 6

N'Awlins

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First an addendum to yesterday. On our way out to dinner later on we happened to get to the street outside the hotel in time to see a wedding parade complete with a marching band playing jazz. They had a police escort at each end. The bride had a white umbrella and the groom had a dark one, matching their clothes. All of the wedding party and guests were waving white handkerchiefs at the crowd that as gathered along the sidewalks to watch. They were en route from the ceremony to the reception.

After a second very ordinary breakfast at our hotel (it's free, and just as well, as that's about what it's worth), we headed out to the Riverwalk Mall. It was a pleasant walk in the much nicer, mild weather. Forecast for 19 today. The mall is a new factory outlet complex alongside the Mississippi River where the cruise chips dock for New Orleans. There were two docked today, Carnival Dream and Norwegian Dawn. Darlene scored some bag bargains at Coach and did some more shopping at Forever 21 then we shared a deluxe sundae on the balcony overlooking the dock.

On our way back from the mall we stopped at Harrah's Casino. We each put a dollar in a slot machine. Mine lasted a bit longer but the ultimate result was never in doubt We had a bite of lunch at the Casino then stopped at the hotel to drop off our purchases before returning to the French Quarter on our way to Louis Armstrong Park. There were a few groups of people hanging around in the park. We did a quick stroll through took some photos and headed back to the French Quarter. We stopped and listened to a jazz band playing in the street on the way back and stopped at Starbucks too.

Upon arriving at the hotel we arranged a 6am taxi for the morning so we can catch our 7.45 am flight to Dallas en route to Cancun and ultimately Cozumel. We will eat out tonight but turn in early ready for the early start. We are mostly packed and looking forward to seeing our Daughters tomorrow when we get there.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 15:13 Comments (0)

Day 5

N'Orleans

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After breakfast we set off on foot for the French Quarter, just a few hundred metres from where we were staying. It was really cold. Darlene was wearing my jacket before we even reached the French Quarter. We walked to Jackson Square and admired the local art adorning the fences of the park and snapped a few shots inside. The we walked on to a market where we spent an hour or two moving up and back every aisle. We purchased a few odds and ends. I bought a beanie to try and warm my ears.

After the market we walked up to Bourbon Street and along it into the heart of the entertainment district. We found a courtyard style outdoor restaurant with outdoor heaters (an essential item). When the waiter learned where we were from, the first thing he said was our website was broken. He is trying to get a visa to visit and work in Australia and apparently the site does not allow you to complete the web form. He claimed his local wage was $2 per hour and was looking forward to prospering on our wages.

Lunch was ok and we walked on after covering virtually all of the French Quarter. It changed several times as we crossed over into different districts including souvenir shopping, jewelery, restaurants & bars, red light and residential. On the way back to the hotel we tried unsuccessfully to find Darlene a nice coffee. We eventually got one downstairs in the bar at the hotel. The bartender was very talkative and kept us entertained with stories of local activities. Apparently we missed the local ladies that walk around without their clothes and pose for photos with people for money. All I can say is that in that cold weather they would have earned every cent.

We're back at the hotel now having walked over 10km. It's time to take it easy for a bit and re-charge the batteries before we head out again.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 15:16 Comments (0)

Day 4

LA to New Orleans

No pictures today. Camera was in carry on and they forced us to check our carry on luggage all the way from LAX to New Orleans due to the flight leaving LA being full. Nearly everyone has a wheely case and the plane simply could not fit them all in overhead lockers. They use a class system in economy ranging from 1 to 4. We were 3. Everyone in 3 & 4 had to check their hand luggage. Bugger.

The first flight departed a little late. There was a traffic jam of sorts and we waited over 10 minutes before we could push back from the gate. We flew over many snow covered areas between LA & Dallas. Pretty to look at. We had around 3 hours in Dallas. Just as well we didn't have a tight connection. Darlene thought she heard them announce that our connecting flight departed from a gate lounge in terminal B. We rode the Skybus monorail that circles the airport to Terminal B, found the gate lounge only to learn our flight was departing from terminal D. Oops. Terminal D was more modern and had better food choices anyway.

The time in Dallas passed quickly enough and we were boarding again. as third class economy citizens we waited for the 1s & 2s to board and then had our turn. It was the second longest aerobridge I have seen. Had to be close to 100 metres. Don't ask me why they could not park the plane a bit closer. Maybe a trainee pilot on incoming flight? We departed close enough to on time around 7pm and landed at 8.20. The luggage folks were on a go slow. It was after 8.45 before the luggage belt started rolling.

We caught a taxi to our hotel in the Business district adjacent to the French Quarter. The Ethiopian taxi driver was nice. Upon arrival at the hotel we were both bestowed with a string of coloured beads. Mine were quickly relocated to Darlene's neck. The hotel room has a king bed but no room to put our cases. It's going to be a struggle these next few days. I might have to do some minor furniture rearranging to allow us to be able to get around the bed. The other funny thing is the bed is so high Darlene needs a step ladder. She will need to take care getting out.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 20:44 Comments (0)

Day 3

LA

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We didn't hurry this morning, after all we are on holidays :-). When we were ready we walked to the hop on hop off bus stop and boarded the bus for the red route from Hollywood to Beverly Hills. It took us down rodeo drive and we gawked at the expensive stores. Interestingly the pavements were largely empty. I guess the number of people who can actually afford to shop there are rather limited. We saw the Whisky A Go Go club where Skyhooks played in the 70's. I had to take a photo. We hopped off the bus here as it was the interchange point for the yellow bus which takes you to Santa Monica on the coast. We had the whole bus to ourselves. There's a photo of Ian and his closest friends which goes with yesterday's photo of Darlene with her closest friends.

We took the yellow bus down to the coast and hopped off opposite the beach. We walked around for a while then headed down to the pier and entered the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company restaurant. For those that don't know this franchise they follow the Forrest Gump movie theme and specialize on seafood.

After eating our fill we bought some of the merchandise and walked back to the bus stop. As luck would have it we had a bus arrive the same time as we did. We hopped on and started the journey back to Beverly Hills. The afternoon dragged. It took a long time to get back to Beverley Hills and even longer to get back to Hollywood. Let me just say we were glad to get off the bus.

We returned to our apartment with food & wine for the evening and to pack up for our trip to New Orleans tomorrow.

Posted by IanDarleneUK 19:42 Comments (0)

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