Friday, January 29, 2010

In the Big Easy

Mardi Gras tree - Biloxi tourist centre


Well we arrived in New Orleans tonight from Biloxi. Just had a wonderful dish of jambalya at a local restaurant here in the Garden District. Our B & B is so cute - more like a studio apartment.

Biloxi was great - I did two walks there and especially loved Ocean Springs. Beautiful little downtown area with neat shops and restaurants - a return visit is in order! I walked over the bridge from Biloxi to Ocean Springs - 1.3 miles and it was great. This is a new one as the original was destroyed by Katrina. Had a wonderful day for walking. They are busy rebuilding from the devastation of Katrina. Everywhere you look is construction. In Ocean Springs I had a couple of donuts at a local place where the donuts are legendary. They were pretty good. I debated between lunch in downtown Ocean Springs or downtown Biloxi....well I opted for Biloxi and not many choices but I did pick a good one The Schooner restaurant where I had a shrimp poboy sandwich. My first of a few on the trip!

We walked along the beach and put our hands into the water of the Gulf Coast...it was windy and dull today as opposed to yesterday which was warm and sunny.

However no rain until we got on the bus today.

Stayed at the Grand Casino in Biloxi as it was cheap - brand new building but built on the "other" side of the highway. Anything ocean side was destroyed or had major damage. The first night all they had was smoking rooms - yuck!!! I was able to move the next day but my clothes still smelled of smoke - double yuck. How can people do that to themselves? GROSS!!! However casinos and smoking go together - that addictive personality. (though I can talk..I am addicted to chocolate......and traveling)

No sleep last night - one of those nights I could not fall asleep - so am tired so will sign off for now.

Off to explore the French Quarter tomorrow - second trip to N'awlins and this time I have my appetite. Yay!!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Rocking in Little Rock


Well not quite...am at the library. Hey free internet.... Just had a meal of a catfish fillet with fries and hushpuppies at the Flying Fish. It was okay - not the best I've had though.

It's clear and cool and wonderful walking weather. I did the 10km walk today and then took a trolley ride just for the heck of it. Little Rock is a nice city - visited the State Capital building (where a fellow from LA filming a TV commerical took my picture for me) and the State house.

I went to the Peabody hotel at 11 a.m. and watched the duck master bring the five ducks down to the pond from the second floor - they came toddling along - and they get a red carpet put down no less. As I am just a couple of blocks away I will go and see them go back at 5 p.m. It is very very cute.

I got a huge room - the St. Clair room - at the B & B. I forced myself to stay up an extra 90 minutes last night so I could sit and enjoy the sitting room downstairs and also my huge room. One problem....either I am having hot flashes from hell or the furnace acted up as I woke up around 3 a.m. and the place was like a sauna. I threw off the covers and drifted off until 6 when I finally had to give up. Once I was showered and dressed I opened the door to the cool hallway and it soon got back to a reasonable temperature. I told the hostess about it and she didn't seem too concerned... Breakfast was nice....little pieces of french toast with sausage - along with cut fresh fruit, oj and coffee. Sorry Dena I didn't take photos! It was not a cheap night and if I hadn't had the thing with the heat it would have been perfect. It was a huge four poster bed and so comfy - I haven't had that big of a room since the room at the Maharajah's palace in India!

I take off at 8 p.m. tonight enroute to Biloxi, Mississippi. Trouble is I have to spend the night in the Memphis bus station as the one here closes at 8 and the bus I was going to take originally left at 1:10 a.m. So I couldn't even have gotten a ticket. (even with a pass I have to get a ticket issued) And would have had to stand outside waiting for the bus...no thanks. So I get into Memphis about 10:30 and leave at 5 a.m. So can't even look around the city. Can't see spending money on a hotel for that long and no clue even where the bus station is. Probably in the 'hood.

Well of course that's all because of me being delayed that day - I was supposed to be on the bus to Montgomery, Alabama right now.

Ah well, life isn't dull.

There was a terrible storm in South Dakota and Iowa - we drove through a white out that was just brutal. I complimented the driver on her driving skills and she must have been pleased as the next driver knew about it!!! It was pretty scary and I thought I'd never make it.

But here I am...on to the next adventure.....all night in the Memphis bus station. Whoo hoo!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Howdy from Sioux Falls South Dakota

Paying a premium price for half an hour internet but have an hour and a half to kill. No where really to eat except an Indian restaurant next door. I love Indian food but not when I am traveling. Luckily the driver stopped at an Arbys so grabbed a sandwich.

Anyway am on the road at last. We left on time and while the road was icy in places (cars in the ditch) our driver got us this far safely - in between listening to the Vikings football on his earphones and phoning his buddies to hear every play. Oh well he's an experienced driver as I know I've had him before on this route.

We are changing busses here - just hope they switch my luggage okay. I caught them taking my suitcase off the bus at Fargo when it was supposed to stay on...oh Little Rock he said - yeah it should stay on. DUH.....

I go as far as Kansas City then have a three hour layover about 4:30 a.m.. What I can remember of the Kansas City bus depot is not good and the area is even worse. I go to Fort Smith, Arkansas and another change of bus and hopefully will arrive into Little Rock tomorrow around 6 p.m. Plans have changed and I will go straight to Biloxi, Mississippi leaving Wednesday at 1:30 a.m and getting in sometime in the late afternoon.

There was a Sudanese lady on our bus - elderly and could not speak a word of English except 'chicken' and 'go pee'. I felt so sorry for her as she was so confused - I caught her showing phone numbers to the cashiers at Arbys so directed her to the bathroom. Her daughter put her on the bus in Winnipeg and there is supposed to be someone here to pick her up. The bus driver had to go and rescue her from every stop we had along the way.

Some fellow had some kind of tourettes thing going on - he would make these weird noises like Oscar or was it Felix used to make on the Odd Couple. Clearing out his sinuses. Yikes. It got to me after a while so at one stop I moved to the front - well not the suicide seat but the next one. You get all kinds on the hound.

Other than that things have been fine. Finished off a book and listening to my tunes and chilling.

Let's try it again

Okay here we go again...same bellman/driver too so hopefully I make it as far as the bus depot. :)

Adjusted my schedule to have a day trip from New Orleans to Baton Rouge to do the capital walk.

If it doesn't go today well who knows whether it will be tomorrow or Tuesday...not scheduled to go tomorrow.

A big storm is predicted for Winnipeg and the bad thing is it's working it's way up from the U.S. So we will be heading right into it but we're a bus and we're big....right?

Anyway have to think of this as part of the adventure. What can I do? Nothing.

Hopefully my next post will be from Little Rock.

Nothing against Winnipeg - it has lots to offer but not when you want to be somewhere else!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Stuck in Winnipeg

Due to ice and snow in the midwest the highway in northern North Dakota was closed this morning so no bus. Will try again tomorrow but it doesn't look good.

This has been the day from hell. Began with me squirting ketchup all over myself this morning at breakfast - the ironic thing is this is the first time I've ever used ketchup on my breakfast potatoes and that's what I get. That just seems funny now...but it was an indication on how my day would go...

Got to the bus depot on the free shuttle from the hotel...despite skidding through a red light - he realized it was red as he entered it. Luckily being a Saturday only one car and it managed to avoid us....

Wait it gets better.....Checked in and got my ticket for Little Rock. Headed over to the airport to get another coffee.....came back and found out the highway was closed and the bus was cancelled.

So call the hotel and get a shuttle back....and what does he do but slam into the back of a van. He asked me if he was at fault and I said legally yes when you rear end someone you are at fault for following too closely - even though she stopped when he wasn't expecting her to. No apparent damage to the vehicles. Geesh!! My neck is stil bothering me so I am worried about whip lash.

Anyway have put in a day...went out for a bit but it's snowing and mucky and horrible. Sort of matches my mood.

NOT in a good mood. Changed my B & B reservation to Monday but will have to cancel Montgomery and do it on the way back.

If it doesn't go tomorrow then maybe Monday even though not scheduled as the driver will want to get home..(according to Greyhound)

Winnipeg downtown has a lot of drunks and low lifes. Yikes. I would walk around New York at night before I'd walk around here. One had the nerve to hold out a coffee cup at me wanting money and I snarled NO at him. Not good to mess with me today!!!

Hopefully my next post will be a happy one from Little Rock...but what can you do about the weather....not a damn thing. That's what happens when you travel in North America in the winter.

Just hope it's a different shuttle driver tomorrow or I might not even make it to the bus!!!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

On the road again....on the road again.....(thank you Willie Nelson!)

Well in a few hours (less than four to be precise) I will be off again on my new adventure. I will be taking the bus to Winnipeg, overnighting there then off on the hound south at 9:15 Saturday morning (due to only 50 minutes between busses - not enough time in the winter with a bus every other day) - I can't believe I am doing this again after my hound trip to the south two years ago..I have rocks in my head but hey I am still gonna write that book "Tails from the Hound" - believe me I have lots of "tails". Anyway my first stop will be Little Rock, Arkansas. You see I am on a mission to walk all the state capitals of the U.S.A. (a lifetime project) - I doubt I will get to them all but it's fun trying. I will hit four on this trip. (Little Rock, Montgomery, Baton Rouge & Oklahoma City) I am staying at a B & B in Little Rock that looks great...

http://www.rosemontoflittlerock.com/greenbriar.html

It looks nice - a little splurge. Check out the breakfast - I am already drooling. Well I have found capital cities are not cheap to stay in due to all those government types staying there. So actually for Little Rock this was reasonable. However I have found most B & B's in the US are more like inns which are very expensive - beyond my budget for the amount I travel anyway. I am staying at what looks like a nice B & B in Oklahoma City too.

I roll into town Sunday evening at 6 p.m. Monday I plan to do the 10 km capital city walk and the lady in charge of the walk has kindly given me instructions to get to the walk from my bed and breakfast. I plan to check out the ducks at the Peabody Hotel....they march down to their pond at 11 a.m. and back to their little home at 5 p.m. Gotta love it! Guess this happens in a lot of Peabody hotels, from what I can gather it started in Memphis so guess I will have to check that out when I finally get there someday. (wonder if they are "Elvis" ducks?)

Will try to keep this blog updated. One of these fine days I will get myself a lap top or at least a net book but then again I am thinking where the hell would I put it? My day pack is full to bursting with spare undies (you just never know...Paul McCartney, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth or George Clooney might decide to take the Greyhound and I will shit myself), my camera, snackies, books, necessary toiletries (that you need when traveling longer than 12 hours trust me), two MP3 players (don't ask) - where would I put a net book?

So I will try to find internet access here and there...anyway stay tuned. I am kicking myself that I didn't take off last night and have a full day in Winnipeg to do a walk but then again when I planned this trip I didn't think it would be this warm. I am doing a walk with the gang in Winnipeg on my way back and Lea is going to lend me a jacket.

Anyway guess I had better get out of my jammies and start getting ready. The bag is packed and by the door as is the backpack - well not too close to the door as I have a woman opposite me that smokes like a bloody chimney and my hallway STINKS of cigarette smoke despite my shoving towels under my door. Anyway let's not discuss THAT.....gets me in a bad mood! I have bad thoughts about that woman...very dark thoughts....that I won't discuss here or you will think I am really nasty.

Talk to y'all later!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Goodbye Mazatlan

This time tomorrow I will be back home...boo hoo.

Had my last balcony sunset today....

Tonight I had a lovely meal in Plaza Machado. Shrimp fajitas that were to die for - plump shrimps, onions, peppers, mushrooms and cheese. Oh yummy....And a big honkin margarita. Staggered over to Revolution Square but the entertainment ended as I got there. Bummer. Oh well.

Hung out on my balcony this afternoon. Will miss sitting there chilling and watching people walk along the Malecon. Maybe tomorrow I will see Sophia and her owner one last time - this older fellow and his ancient dog walk along the Malecon in the morning - the poor doggie can barely walk and he is not much better. You see all sorts of sights. Tonight I saw a golden Lab with a coat on...(I snickered all the way back here...) which is something I have not seen at home...yep they put coats on the doggies here in the evenings cos it is COLD...uh huh. 15C is real cold....YOu can tell the North American dogs...they aren{t wearing coats!!!

I would stay here at La Siesta again in a heartbeat. The price is right and the view cannot be beat. I have talked to two people who stayed in all inclusives in the north end then came here and prefer it here. They both said that it is full of life here. And so true. This place is a little rough around the edges but I love it. Being in the heart of the old town is fantastic. Very safe - I took normal precautions but never felt at all uncomfortable.

People here are so laid back...and the North American retirees and ex-pats - well I think you would have to slap them silly to take the grins off their faces.

Mazatlan, I will come to see you again!!!

Last day in Mazatlan

Well here it is the last full day in Maz. I had divorced eggs for breakfast '-- poached eggs - one with green salsa and one wit red salsa on tortillas along with beans. It was good. Just back from a walk to the cathedral (no animals at that service) then on a different street to the ocean and back along the malecon. I stopped and had a coffee at a shop and sat and watched the ocean. Could watch it for hours!

Yesterday I went into the small swimming pool here and had a chat with some people from Alberta and got some more ideas for things to see.

The Flamenco performance last night was spectacular - really enjoyed it. The square nearby was full of vendors selling jewellry, hand bags, etc. I got myself two new pair of earrings. I ended up having tortilla soup at a restaurant on the waterfront here as the square was packed.

Tonight there is supposed to be a free concert in front of the cathedral as well as food vendors along the malecon so will check both out.

So think it is siesta time and maybe time to start packing up a bit.

Adios!!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Another Day in Paradise

Well had a wonderful breakfast at a place called I Love Lucy - yes they show Lucy reruns and the place is a riot. Took lots of photos. I had nogales cactus with potatoes and refried beans. Tasted better than it sounds - rather like squashed green beans sauteed with tomatoes and spices - it was absolutely delicious. The owner there is from California and was a great source of local info. He directed me to a wonderful shop in Centro with local crafts. I got myself a lovely sunflower mug as well as another piece of pottery and some more napkin rings....like I need more. I am obsessed with napkin rings and coasters - wonder if there is a support group for that.

Now I am back at the hotel (computer in the lobby if you are lucky enough to catch it empty) and then up to my room to dump my stuff and head out.

Late this afternoon I will go the local theatre and see a Flamenco production so am quite excited about that. Then I will have a nice dinner in the square. I love this area.

On the way back I was able to photograph the street I mentioned yesterday.

The people here are amazing - all so friendly and helpful. I wish I could speak Spanish - am already thinking of coming here to study Spanish for a few weeks some day down the road. And have decided Mazatlan is my refuge for when I need an escape - as long as WestJet still has their direct flights and super fares how can I resist popping down here to recharge my batteries. Although I may have to revisit Puerto Vallarta to do a comparison. I know I liked PV too so guess I will just have to check it out again!!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Stoned at Stone Island

No not really.....nothing like that was offered. Made do with a mai tai and a beer. Today was okay - it was a cheap tour and you get what you pay for. At least the company today was much better. It was a small group - two honey moon type eating each others face off couples,(they were really nice though - the one nice young man helped me up the steps into the truck and boat - between the high sidewalks and that I will need knee replacement surgery by the end of this trip!) a family of four with extended family from France and me. I expected lots of young drunks so it was a pleasant surprise. Loved the beach at Stone Island but I realize I am getting squeamish about being in the ocean. I keep thinking of all the people I know who have been stung by jelly fish and what could be in there and I get nervous. So I contented myself with walking in a bit and splashing and walking out again. This was a calm beach not a surfing beach like the one opposite. Anyway it was a pretty good day. I think I have done the beach thing.

I walked through a different part of town to try out a Lonely Planet recommended restaurant. Breaded butterfly shrimp that were absolutely huge ' yum. Back in time to see the last of the sunset. Came via a different street with some gorgeous houses around the corner from here - it is elevated so missed it. Have to go back to photograph it when the light is better.

Am really tired today so will crash early. I plan to explore more of the Old Town and downtown tomorrow and then attend the Flamenco show at 5 p.m.

I was going to walk up to the Lighthouse but I saw it when we got the boat and I thought no way. Life is too short to do that to my poor body.

Adios!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mountains, cactuses and banana cream pie



Went on a tour to the Sierra Madre mountains today - to three towns. It was a nice enough tour and I got some lovely photographs. However the people in the van with me were basically a bunch of a**holes and dolts but we won´t go there. The highlight was visiting a tiny village with cobblestone streets. I got to see my first huge cactus, can´t remember what they are called. But you see them in cowboy films! We had lunch (included) which featured banana cream pie for dessert - ¨the best you´ve tasted¨. Uh...I don´t think so. But it was okay. They were selling t-shirts to help the local kids go to school so I got one. All I need to buy now is some locally roasted coffee beans and some Kahlua at the duty free at the airport and I am set. Last of the big time spenders. I got myself a tiny little pottery dish for my jewellry (with a sunflower on of course) - which reminds me haven´t bought any of that yet. I buy the market hand made stuff.

I have booked a booze cruise for tomorrow....I am doing it just for access to the beach rather than walking over and taking the ferry as not sure where I am going. For $20 why not...it includes lunch which is a mixed blessing as then I am too full to indulge in a wonderful meal in Old Town. I don´t plan to get bombed as on your own it´s just not fun - just kind of scary, sad and pathetic. So I get to go and christen my new room (more on that later) with sand. The downside of going to the beach and being slightly chubby.....sand everywhere in places that are unmentionable.

Am in an internet cafe on Revolution Square - if I shifted my butt over a bit I could see the cathedral. I might even go there on Sunday - no I haven´t turned religous let alone RC (god forbid - my dad would rise from the dead and bitch slap me silly) but they are letting pets in this Sunday so thought it would be fun to see that. Although I might start yelling ¨don´t do it¨. Took Sandy to a RC blessing ceremony as it was near me and a month later she was diagnosed with diabetes. Yep that really helped.

The a/c in my room has died so had to change rooms - a shame as it´s smaller and I don´t have my friend the palm tree shading me on my balcony. I do have an unobstructed view of the sunset. Today I went to a bar down the street and had a Corona for a change. (as in going to a bar to have a beer rather than one on my balcony) One of the older hotels down the street lost it´s balcony last night - rubble everywhere. Not sure if anyone was injured. Someone at the hotel told me as they heard sirens galore. Man didn´t think I slept last night but obviously I slept through that part.รง

Yikes this keyboard rivals the one in Cairo for non stop fun.

Last night had a meal in Plaza Machado and it was good but different - still not sure those were shrimps and it was too damn dark to see. Long story....of course it was two for one margarita night so who knows...I was good and didn´t finish the second one. For the reason see second paragraph. I didn´t have Pearl to hold me up and stop me falling off the very high pavement!

Visited the Golden Zone yesterday and as I predicted I came screeching back to Old Town. Bunch of over priced restaurants, shops with owners harassing you and drunk tourists. No thanks. Would never stay anywhere but the Old Town if I ever came back here.

Stay tuned for tomorrow´s adventures.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Back from the beach


Well wandered around this morning - I tried walking to the lighthouse but got misplaced so will try it again Friday morning. Someone told me the correct route so will try that Friday morning.
I walked around the Old Town again and went to the market again but I love the area. Toured an old house until it got swamped by a bunch of damn tourists....
The old town is pretty quiet which is what I love. (except when you get to the market/cathedral area then it gets a bit nuts but hey, as I keep saying compared to India it is nothing)
Just back from a dip and a bit of a relaxation at the beach across the street, then I am off to the Golden Zone which is the main tourist area. Will take the bus this time!
A fellow I was talking to walked there and back last night - sort of put me in my place although he did not walk in the heat of the day. Then again he walked up to the lighthouse and back in the a.m. Oh well.
My a/c is working - all they did was turn it on. I swear I did that over and over again. How embarassing....
If I write formally it is only because I cannot figure out how to get an apolstrophe.
Anyway I best get up to my room for a quick shower and change and off to explore tourist land - I will probably come running back to sanity here.
Adios!

Four hours and twelve minutes to paradise


Well here I am in Mazatlan. Flight was good (thank goodness for Westjet!). I was cheap and took the shuttle for $7 rather than $25 for a taxi. So glad I did as I was the last one dropped off so was able to get a tour. Saw the resort section in the north as well as the Gold Zone and finally to my little La Siesta. The hotel is fine - right now no a/c - it quit working but they will move me to another room if need be. The ocean view is tremendous - worth every penny for that. Not only that but it overlooks the malecon so my view is the crashing ocean, people and pets strolling along the malecon and swooping pelicans. And of course the killer sunset.
I explored a bit of the old town yesterday which is where my hotel is situated. Wonderful. I also walked the malecon (walking path) to the beginning of the Gold Zone. Damn near killed me as I got this brain storm around noon so the heat was intense. It took nearly two hours. I mostly walked the malecon although did walk the beach at one point. I was exhausted by the end but just had to do it - when I see a walking path it beckons me.
The food is terrific. And the beer...Corona is the only beer I will drink and it seems I am making a habit of grabbing a beer at the store down the road and sitting watching the sunset on my balcony sipping it.
Visited the market yesterday which was interesting - pig heads, chicken feet - there was normal stuff too!
The people are friendly. Tomorrow I am taking a tour into the mountains to visit two small towns - the people in the room next to me (our balconies are separated by a rail) did it yesterday and loved it so am looking forward to it. It goes to a tequila factory but will not be indulging - I still remember my last experience with tequilla in Mexico - yow!
I purchased a ticket for a Flamenco show on Saturday at the beautiful old theatre downtown - less than a ten minute walk from here.
Today I plan to walk up the look out hill and also get a view of the lighthouse - I am told the way up there is treacherous and so I will not bother. Then walk back to town and have another look around. Then I will visit the beach that is a block away and have a swim to cool off after my walk. Tonight I may take the bus to the Gold Zone and have dinner there.
Adios!!!