We have two flights on American Airlines to New Orleans and leaving Cuba is a long process. We get finger printed and photographed twice. We had filled in a declaration before leaving NZ to get USA entry and as soon as we put our passport into the machine, it linked us to that. When we got the form back, mine and Gilbert’s had a big black cross printed over it. Ren looked at it and said “Jesus I don’t know what that means…see you guys later”, and laughing made as if to run away from us. I went back to the helper and asked if that was a problem and she said “no problem”, shit I hate stuff like this.
We arrive at New Orleans airport all pre-checked so walk straight out’ve airport. Funny not walking thru immigration. Just off the plane and out. Easy!
Hotel Shuttle is $24 per person, $72 in total one way. We look at each other. “That seems expensive, I say. Welcome to America!” Looks like half an hour? Ren figures out we can take a local bus which has a change to get into French quarter and costs just $8 per person for the whole trip. Saved a nice chunk there.
We find our street no problem and here we are in the ‘Big Easy’. Ren had booked us into a nice hotel in the French quarter, which seems to be the cool side of town. She explains she has booked a room for two and asked for two beds and tells Gilbert to wait downstairs in the bar and we’ll sneak him up later. I beg your pardon? “It’s easy, she tells us, we’ve done it and nobody even knows”. I’m not feeling too comfortable with this and then at check in find they are fully booked and we just have one bed. Upgrade to two beds and a larger room is an extra $25. Ren explains she booked for two beds and we don’t want to sleep together, but the receptionist says she can only upgrade us and can’t change the room without it. I ask…”if we had another person who might stay with us, how much to add the person in. Just ‘if’ mind. We don’t actually have another person right now”. Ren glares at me. She tells us to add Gilbert in is an extra $30 on top of that. I hear her tell another lady her name is Zahr, and explains its Persian, spelling it for her. That’s a lovely name I say when she comes back and I tell her my grandmother was Persian. Now back to our problem of an extra bed. She says she has found a room with the extra bed but we will have to pay the extra $25. There’s nothing she can do about that, but, and she lowers her voice and leans into the counter, “there’s no reason to book your friend in. Just bring him in and nobody needs to know. Then she speaks normally again and says….and I will just give you breakfast vouchers so you have one each she says, counting out enough for Gilbert too. Enjoy your stay and let me know if you have any problems. Your room should be ready at two pm.” Yaya! Just saved another $150!
We head out to find something to eat. It’s been hours since we left Cuba and I’m feeling a little faint. “Ya could’ve just shut up Mum, Ren says. Nobody would’ve known.” “Yeah but we’re not teenagers Ren. Dad and I would feel a bit funny doing that and this way we got free breakfasts and everything. It all works out in the end!”
We’re finally in our room and after a 4am start and the clock going back an hour We hadn’t eaten for about ten hours. That might be a record for me! Lovely room and I collapse on the bed and fall straight to sleep.
We head out for dinner later in the evening to the Crescent Brewery which was a cool place with lots of music, cool vibe and great food. The live jazz band is awesome and our waiter Darius is pretty cool. We love his accent. We ask him to take a photo with our phones and when I go to look at it as he hands it back to me I say “I’ll just check I look ok (joking of course) he says “oh you don’t have to worry about that, you look just great.”
He’s smooth and funny and it’s a pleasure to tip him after a fantastic meal where we dip into several different local foods, kind of like tapas, starting with alligator and a selection of beers finishing with a creole cheesecake that was delicious. We meander home slipping into another bar, ask for doubles and the servings come back like quadruples. “I think we go single shots from here on!” Ren says. We slip between our delicious pure cotton sheets with aircon in our lovely hotel room and all sleep soundly.