To get to New Orleans, known as NOLA we chose Amtrack. The trains are very comfortable with reclining seats and check in luggage but not very fast.
But as you come into New Orleans the track seems to be level with the water for miles. This swampland is fascinating but you realise why the city has problems because of how low-lying it is.
The first thing that comes to mind when you see the Mississippi is a paddle boat. So first thing in the morning we headed for the river. After an extortionately expensive breakfast we found the Creole Queen. We got a two hour tour passing the historic French quarter and then a stop at Chalmette battlefield. This was the site of fighting in 1815 between the British and American forces. The Americans won and the visitor centre has items from the time on display. After an explanation from a ranger we walked round before getting back on our paddle-boat to go back to town.
The French Quarter
Time for a closer look at the historic French quarter. The buildings are colourful with ornate cast iron balconies. This area is full of Cajun restaurants, boutiques and tourist shops. There are some very nice antique shops if you’ve got serious money. There’s also a good French market with gourmet food. We also found the Saint Louis Cathedral in Jackson square.
Probably a bit old for this but it had to be done. A tourist trap, this street runs through the French Quarter. Its a party street full of loud music and drinks offers. We had more sense than to actually buy the famous hand grenades- they have gin, vodka and white rum mixed with green melon juice and are basically alcohol slush puppies.
And for something completely different – the insectarium! Officially the Uadubon Butterfly Garden & Insectarium this amazing museum is in a US customs house. Its surprisingly big with imaginative displays of every kind of bug. There are about fifty live exhibits including cockroaches crawling over tinned food ( luckily in a glass case!). There are artistic displays of beautiful shiny beetles and even termites. Best, apart from the actual butterfly garden, is the underground gallery. Here the insects are bigger than you and you can see in detail what they are like.