New Orleans is situated right by the Mississippi River, so of course no trip to New Orleans would be complete without a little boat trip. And that is exactly what we did for our second day in this beautiful city. We booked ourselves aboard the Mississippi Steamboat Natchez for a daytime lunch and jazz cruise.
We set sail at 11:30 and were given a narrated tour as we sat out on the deck and took in the sights along the 3rd longest river in the world.
Whilst we were cruising we decided to treat ourselves to a drink each. It was at this point that Barry decided to tell me that he actually quite liked Bloody Marys. All these years I’ve been drinking them and he’s turned his nose up and now he decided he wanted one! This was a famous Cajun Spiced Bloody Mary and it certainly had a kick to it.
With every sip of the red cocktail going straight to our heads, we headed for the buffet lunch where we were serenaded by a jazz band. We were treated to Southern Fried Fish, Red Beans and Rice, Pasta Salad, Coleslaw, Cornbread and Bread Pudding for dessert.
The bread pudding was nothing like the ones both our parents just had to make so as not to throw out the old stale bread. I’m don’t remember ever eating my parents version, it just didn’t look very appetising but Barry used to eat his folks version and he said the New Orleans version was much, much better. Sorry Tel!
After 3 hours aboard the Natchez, it was time to dock and disembark the great Mississippi steamboat. We had one more thing on our to do list for New Orleans and it was a visit to a museum filled with memorabilia for the festival that put New Orleans on the map – Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World. It is actually a factory that builds and decorates all the floats for the infamous festival.
We paid for a tour of the factory, which started with us being able to dress up in Mardi Gras gear and pose with figures from the floats. We were given our own set of beads and no, we didn’t have to flash to get them, along with a sample of some traditional cake.
After watching a short video we then got to tour the factory and check out all the old props from the floats. There were loads of them. EVERYWHERE! People pay hundreds of thousands of pounds to have their floats made and they only get to show them off for a few hours. The people in the factory work all year to create them and once the festival comes and goes, they go back to work two days after and start all over again for the following year. Our guide told us about one company who paid $1.3 million for their float! In addition to this, they then have to pay for their ‘throws’ which are all the beads and free gifts they throw out to the crowds. Not to mention that they also have to pay for costumes and masks as no one is allowed to know who they are.
It was fascinating to see all the floats and props but I’m still in shock that people pay so much money to participate. I guess I’m just going to have to come back to New Orleans when Mardi Gras is on and see what all the fuss is about for myself!