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Mpls, MN, United States

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Travel Adventures

Last weekend, as you may already know, I was in New Orleans for the annual national conference of the Pop Culture Association/ American Culture Association, giving a paper. The trip was ridiculously, ridiculously expensive (conference registration was $125, after the $55 association membership fee, in addition to airfare, hotel, and food) and rather stressful, as these things are, but was still a good time.

I could spend hours telling stories (as a few of you can confirm), but in the interest of this post, I'll stick to bullets (call me if you want longer versions!).

The Good:

  • I didn't miss my flight Thursday morning, even though, despite my otherwise judicious planning, I discovered, upon reaching the front of a long security line, that I was in the WRONG TERMINAL (this happens).* I ended up putting my marathon training to good use by sprinting (with rolling suitcase) back through the Lindbergh terminal, onto a shuttle, back onto the light rail, through the parking garage to the Humphrey terminal, through security, and to my gate, arriving almost exactly 10 minutes before the flight was to leave.
  • On non-holiday weekdays, the city bus runs straight from the airport into downtown, for just $1.60
  • Warm weather in New Orleans
  • Comfortable rooms
  • Lunching like a lady of luxury at a cafe near the hotel just after arriving Thursday; despite a rather blustery breeze, I enjoyed sitting outside people watching and lingering clear through white chocolate bread pudding and coffee.
  • Hanging out with Leah and Brett (definitely the highlight): beignets at Cafe du Monde, strolling the French Quarter, Louis Armstrong Park, St. Louis Cemetery, French Market, delicious African food...
  • Taking a bump that not only earned me (hopefully... still waiting) a roundtrip fare voucher, but actually got me home earlier than my original flight
  • Feeling like I gave a bang-up presentation at my panel on Friday
The Bad:
  • I was the only person (of three!) on my panel to show up on Friday; the audience was also quite small
  • My antiperspirant wasn't up to the New Orleans challenge: Wunderground tells me that although it only hit 81°, the humidity hit 90%!
  • Because food was so expensive, I felt underfed for most of the trip, with the notable exception of Friday afternoon and evening, when beignets and coffee sustained me through miles of walking until I stuffed myself with vegetables and couscous at dinner.
  • The city can feel a little sketchy, especially when one is by oneself and pulling a rolling suitcase (although I'd heard the phrase "murder capital" bandied about, I'm glad I didn't look up crime statistics before going...)
  • Our touring took place on Good Friday, which meant that several attractions, including Preservation Hall, were closed
  • The airport bus does not pick up downtown/in the French Quarter on holidays or weekends, stopping two and a half miles away
The Ugly:
  • The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority website is the worst transit website I have ever seen, let alone tried to use. Look at the "routes and schedules" link, just for fun. Even if you're intimately familiar with the city geography, and don't need to get to, say, the airport (it's in another parish!), it still strikes me as basically unusable.** After great frustration, I finally gave up and took a cab the two and half miles to the airport express bus stop Saturday morning.
I went ahead and uploaded all of the nearly 100 photos I took during the trip, and am actually kicking myself, anomalously, for not taking more, as I'm not sure the ones I got capture the glory of the city, and particularly the French Quarter. Click below to start the slideshow, or here to view larger images, read captions, and make comments.

*In my case, it happened because I had checked in from school the afternoon before and printed my boarding passes there; had I attempted to check in at the terminal, or to check bags, I would have realized my error before spending 40 minutes in the wrong line.
**I do realize I'm spoiled by the inimitable Metro Transit website, and am further convinced of the superiority of the Twin Cities' public transit.


Curly Sue said...

Well, you beat me. I still haven't gotten the pictures off the camera yet. But I will.

That picture of me with the umbrella makes me look like a total doofus.

You took a bunch of pictures when I wasn't looking, you sneaky thing.

CëRïSë said...

Leah, I think you are adorable, including in the "parasol" picture! However, I'll happily remove any you don't want up.

Ellen said...

That's my sister!

word verification goes to a second language:


CëRïSë said...

Yes, and you two sound almost indistinguishable. It is amazing!

strovska said...

that's such a cute picture! you're tall! or was leah slouching?

strovska said...

oh, and here's a funny tidbit: i sound exactly like them. i got caught in a "hello? hello?" cycle once on the phone because i thought the other "hello" was an echo. eery, but true.

CëRïSë said...

Ohhh, that makes me laugh--caught in a hello cycle! (Seriously, I start laughing all over again every time I re-read that.)

And, no, I'm not tall--Leah was kindly bending at the knees so as not to tower over me. I'm closer to Ellen's height.

Ellen said...

Strovska--the "hello cycle" is funny because Curly Sue and I say "Daniel" like you say Daniel.