As we sit on the tracks @ 2pm having boarded in Birmingham, waiting on yet another freight train passing. The 12.08 ‘party train’ has a buzz about it. I call it the party train going on the number of coolers and very little luggage being taken on board my carriage by the locals. It’s apparent the FRI-SUN party crowd are heading to New Orleans, hence why the gaffs were so expensive methinks. I should not baulk anyhow, having arrived at the hostel circa 11pm Friday night, I found a local bar, got some grub and scooped a fair few beers n Gin in a short space of time. Most things in St Charles Street seem to be open 24 hours, which is very handy.
Saturday morning I was up sharpish to make good use of the solid wifi and sample the brekkie on offer. A couple cups of sludge and ham and cheese toasted croissants went down a treat as I firstly seen the F1 Qually, followed by the mighty Super White Army, Tranmere Rovers winning at Wembley to get back into the football league. Today was going to be a superb day people’s, I just know it will be. I have this feeling about a proper skelp, starting 12 lunchtime to 12 midnight in mind.
To put to one side the urge to get completely leathered as a stranger in a strange town I head up to The National World War II museum, a short 10 minute walk through the underpass, where many homeless and in some cases, armless people live in tents, to the edge of the French Quarter and where some good action starts. It’s billed as being voted the second best Museum attraction by Trip Advisor in the World and second best in the USA. Roughly translated the best in the world and the USA is also in the USA. I will have to Google where that is, I bet its an Art Museum.
A short queue and I’m ready to roll. It’s $27 to get in and I have paid to see two shows @ $6 each. The brochure says “The Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world – why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today – so that all generations can understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn.” When you delve deeper, you get the message that Team USA were provoked after Pearl Harbour and they won the war. The UK and Russia were flagging and they saved the day. hmmm.
We start off by getting on the car of a train, similar to those used to transport troops heading to boot camp and you’re told a good 5 min story. The 4D cinematic experience, Beyond All Boundaries is powerful, its tells a great story of the US involvement and really sets you up for seeing all the exhibits and is a great show. Obviously there had been a bit of cost, with Tom Hanks narrating and the likes of John Goodman and Tobey Maguire speaking. The only one thing I would say that lets you down is were shuffled into a holding room, with no real organisation or placing, while Tom sets up the show we’re about to see. I was off to the side and had somewhat limited viewing. I could see one or two were looking round wondering was this it and why were they standing? It like when you get a briefing at work. That aside, it was powerful and more than worth the extra $6 bucks to see it. Visually emotive and interactive with shaking seats and a moving stage.
It’s an immersive tour of WWII as they advertise. Plenty of multimedia exhibits, personal accounts and lots of personal items donated by those who fought and also items of what they picked up from Japanese soldiers. Things like – Swords, personal things, rings, medals, hand guns, wallets, pictures, cards and the likes and they are all from the time and not replica’s, like at other places. The tour is broken into Campaigns, like European Campaign – D-Day invasion of Normandy and Road to Berlin. Asia – Guadalcanal, Road to Tokyo and Pacific Ocean battles. There is a general dislike of Germany, due to the war, the Holocaust and the likes, but I never knew that Italy, Mr Mussolini and his chums were in alliance with yer man Hitler for a good wee while, hence the battle of Rome. It has changed my opinion of those bastards. Here is a question for you, I shall tell you the answer at end if you follow it that long. In WWII, who suffered the most casualties? Was it Germany, Russia, USA or another?
I’ve been for something to eat, Napoleon Catfish, with some good cold beers and onion rings. I head back to the gaff to get showered and changed and one of my roomie’s has just got back also. His name is Praise, which makes me chuckle, cos when he told me I said in response like the Fatboy Slim song and he looked at me awkwardly. I have to get it on my phone and let him listen to it. Now, when he speaks, I can only hear the song. He has been up Frenchman Street on his bike, so we chat and he tells me what it’s like. I say I’m heading off to Bourbon Street to get hammered and he is going to the French Quarter. He says about Bourbon Street that it’s really busy, full of drunk 17-21 yo girls, who get really drunk and are leary – He says it likes its a bad thing.
I get the tram up and start off at an Irish bar just off the street. I try to order a pint of Stella x 3 times and the lass still does not understand me, so the English speaking boy I’m leaning over says Stella and she gets it – WTF? We get chatting, two boys from Houston down for the weekend. One, Chelsea fan, moved out here 7 years ago and settled with his wife and the other came out 3 years ago (Brentford fan) and married the pal of his wife. We get chatting about where I have been and I say I am getting a bit homesick, do they miss being back at home. The only thing that’s an issue is to do anything or go anywhere, especially in Houston, you have to drive to it. Back home, everything is ‘local’, more accessible and that’s what’s missed. They warn me off Bourbon Street and say I should go to Canal Street, more quality boozers, better liquor and more fun. They have both been to Glasgow and the West Coast and liked it. I say cheers and head to da Bourbon Street anyway.
I would not say I was blown away by Bourbon street, like many in Magaluf and likes, just pure party street, drinking in the street, but what probably sets it apart is the atmosphere, the music and the beat. People get married and go on a street pub crawl with a full scale brass band, it’s superb. I’ve settled in this one bar called Johnny White’s corner pub for some grub, beer and hockey. He made me down ma gin before I came in tho, house rules. The Scottish accent is both good and bad at times. Bad when your ordering and they cant understand me. I don’t know how many times when asked my name after saying Wardy twice, I change and say Alan. The good is women love the accent and just want to chat. I have taken to asking if a girl wants my number to go for a drink or a cup of coffee. Then writing it down with the line Wardy thinks your Bonnie, telling them to look it up before they call. It almost got me into a jam the night with a married lass, where I never went over the score, they were more drunk that me, but I shouted the loudest and the faster.
I sat for two hours in a shop doorway sometime after 11pm, with a homeless army veteran, talking shop, the army and the USA. I went and bought and was drinking cans of gin and, well I think it was tonic. I offered to buy him some beer and he refused, but took some food and change for his breakfast. Really nice, genuine guy and cracking sense of humour. He had a sign asking for money, but was not begging, but had a keen eye for sussing people out and one classic was he said to two passing older couples “hey, my wife has been kidnapped and I need to raise 100k by Monday or they will let her go.” They gave him a couple of bucks and a chuckle. Anyway, after about an hour, as I usually do, I got a bit aggressive and was barking at passing, what I assumed to be rich kids, telling them they should be embarrassed and to donate.
Just shaking my head all day Sunday and got up after lunch to get some grub and a wander round the French Quarter. Lot’s of street artists out on the go, jugglers and market stalls, but there was a chilled out, party vide on the go, with most places packed out it seemed. I did not cordon on till much later, when I noticed it was all families and some had flowers. My mother aint getting a call if you are expecting me to add this in, she already facebooked me Saturday morning, which was her birthday. My mother and technology eh, who would have thought. The rest of the day is spent supping on cocktails in one or two bars the hostel said were good and they were right. A late dinner and some more beer rounded off what was a weekend of self indulgence, supported by the superb tram system, with old, efficient streetcars that take you from A-B on about 6 routes in the city for only $3 for day pass. If you have not been and you are thinking of going to New Orleans, Wardy says you should. I said Wardy says you should. Feck, Alan Says you should.
I did take about 3-4 videos, but they aint uploading.
Ps. The most deaths in WWII was in China, most murdered by the Japenese, which you never her about.