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[personal profile] kjn
The plan was simple. Visit the New Year's Eve Darkfriend Social in New Orleans, meeting several of our American friends. We would have one and a half days of touristing in New Orleans before the actual social started on the afternoon of 30 December, and a further two days afterwards. Then Therese would fly home, and I would head to Atlanta for GAFilk, and fly back after that.

The initial plan was to fly from Gothenburg to New Orleans via Heathrow and Charlotte on the 28th, but some last-minute schedule changes forced a new route on us: Gothenburg to Heathrow to O'Hare and then to New Orleans. Meaning we landed right into the teeth of Goliath, which shut down most of the Midwest, including O'Hare. So instead of an evening flight to New Orleans, one #helping travel agent rebooked us onto another later flight for another airline company. Of course, that flight was overbooked, leaving the travel agent for the new airline company somewhat peeved with the first airline, and wasting us several hours.

So instead we found a reasonably cheap downtown hotel, braved the Chicago weather (windy and with lots of semi-melted snow on the ground), and managed to get a good nights sleep. At least this caused us to crash onto US Central Time right away. The hotel was a mysterious mixture of old luxury, budget, and being stuck in Victorian times, besides being quite cheap.

Back at the O'Hare at around noon the next day, most flights south were gone already, but we managed to find a late evening flight to Atlanta, leaving us several hours to kill. Therese got a haircut, and I a hot shave at the O'Hare barbershop. Sadly, none of us received a really good job, but at least it was a new experience for me (I've always done my shaving myself earlier). Hot shaving is the facial for men.

Our flight to Atlanta got delayed by an hour, by the gate being blocked by a delayed flight to Jacksonville. So we landed at about half past one Eastern Time, and didn't arrive at our hotel until well after two. At least the airport shuttle driver was willing to pick us up and get us to the hotel, despite it not being on his scheduled route (but he did have a stop at the hotel right next to it). The hotel was cheap, and breakfast was included. At least the room was spacious, because the hotel breakfast probably has to be the least thought-through I've ever experienced. The night concierge proved to be a soccer fan, and immediately mentioned Zlatan Ibrahimovic when he noticed that we were from Sweden.

Getting from Atlanta to New Orleans was to be accomplished by bus, but we managed to avoid the Greyhound and had bought tickets on the Megabus instead. It left four hours later, so we avoided leaving at 7.30 AM, the itinerary was cut by two hours, and the standard proved to be acceptable for a long-haul bus (reasonably comfy if not spacious seats, on-bus toilet—not that we needed it—and an experienced driver). So we get to see lots of Alabama, do a stop in Montgomery, a break at Love's in Evergreen, a stop in Mobile, and see some parts of Mississippi, but by then it was mercifully dark. Eight hours by bus is much easier to handle than eight hours on a plane, even if the standard is much worse (better air and lower noise level counts for a lot). But the standards for most bridges the highway used was quite scary.

(Amusingly enough, the guy manning the sandwich shop in Atlanta where I bought some supplies for the bus trip turned out to be a fan of the Wallander TV serial, so we chatted a bit about the books and Ystad.)

[livejournal.com profile] pokeypenguin (Chris) and [livejournal.com profile] lowbeyonder (James) picked us up on arrival at the Union Passenger Terminal, and we could get to the Party Central™, the Engine 24 French Quarter Firehouse. Much boozing, hugging, and socialising was done. Dinner was had with [livejournal.com profile] canyonwalker and [livejournal.com profile] merhawk at the Silk Road, while most of the other people there went Sake Bombing.

Among the people we met were [livejournal.com profile] annewashere (Anne, co-host), Josh, [livejournal.com profile] leighdb (Leigh, co-host) with her two sisters, baby nephew, and mother, [livejournal.com profile] canyonwalker (who I had met in Dublin not too long ago), [livejournal.com profile] merhawk (Hawk), Jez, Liz, [livejournal.com profile] scifantasy (Will) and Meg, [livejournal.com profile] dilickjm (John D.) and [livejournal.com profile] hennyanya (Annette) (who both had to leave on NYE, due to stupid family obligations), [livejournal.com profile] silmaril (Zeynep), Chris and Mary, James, [livejournal.com profile] publius1 (Kenn), [livejournal.com profile] prince_corwin, John W and Allyson. Apologies if I missed anyone.

On NYE we went breakfast hunting with Zeynep and David, noting that the Cake Cafe & Bakery had too big a crowd and queue (including several other darkfriends). We ended up having breakfast buffet by the French Market insted. We spent most of the other time that day in the Firehouse, playing games (Codenames and Werewolf turned out to be this year's favourites, where Therese and I excelled at Codenames, and Therese excelled at Werewolf. She plans to get it and GM Hulda and her friends, if they want to try), socialising, and drinking a lot. I've developed a new appreciation for Gin and Tonic, just saying. The Amber beers also proved to be quite nice.

On 1 January, we had not the one customary NYEDFS disaster, but two of them. When Therese tried to wash our clothes, the washing machine started spewing water all over the floor. Much mopping and bailing of water ensued, but at least the upstairs washing machine worked (except for bad bearings, that is). Then Liz got her car towed—on New Year's Day.

On the afternoon, we went bar crawling in the French Quarter, at and around Bourbon Street. I had some Gator Bites, which tasted like chewy and salty chicken. After a while, James, corwin, and I declared defeat to the Sugar Bowl crowds and ubered home. The rest ended up at a fancy hotel bar.

On the 2nd, we took various small groups over to the New Orleans Museum of Art. I ended up taking quickie visits to most parts of the museum, but Therese was enchanted by their Visions of US special exhibition, a fabolous collection of mostly paintings from colonial times to modernity of America and Americanism. Very much worth a visit, though their galleries of Pacific and African art gave of strong vibes of exotication. Afterwards, Therese and I decided to walk back, this being a nice day. Along the way, we noted the Church of Am Hat I Am and had some lunch as well. Back home, Therese promptly made Meg a very happy little puddle giving her a back massage. We spent most of the night with canyonwalker and Hawk, while most of the rest went looking for food outside, which was nice.

The 3rd was the last day, where we had to clean and leave the house by 11.00. Despite much milling around, we managed to get it done. One thing I noted was that we had very much food and booze left over, probably because the weather was much nicer in New Orleans at this time than in Chicago (where they have been before). Afterwards, we all (except Meg and Will, who left early without hugging me. I demand prompt goodbye hugs next time we meet!) carpooled over to Starbucks at Magazine street and some dive bar nearby (for lunch), waiting for our flights and for our hotel to open checkin. Sadly, the dive bar caused all of our clothes to smell of smoke. The rest of the day was spent quietly at the Maison Dupuy and their restaurant, where we got a nice meal (fish for me). I also took a late-night stroll of the French Quarter, getting some postcards, locating the laundry that Therese found on Yelp, and finally giving my legs the chance of stretching out (I like to walk with Therese, but have to shorten my step quite a bit).
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