Journey’s end and Mardis Gras …

After 1,202 miles and a puncture apiece, we arrived in New Orleans at 2 pm on Saturday. The fifty three mile ride from the Rectory, our lovely B&B in Garyville, was mostly on the, paved, levee cycle route. However, due to a spillway being opened to divert water from the swollen river into a lake we had a three mile detour. There was much heavy industry, mostly petro- chemical related, on both sides of the river; being serviced by huge pipelines, cranes and shipping. It was good to see a big group of ducks in the water and an Osprey flying over the environmental impact can’t be too bad.

The Old Rectory B&B, Garyville, Louisiana

Our arrival into New Orleans could not have been more symbolic – blocked by the tailend of one of the many Mardis Gras parades taking place this week. The road was blocked by thousands of people lining the streets to watch the huge floats pass by. This necessitated another detour to get us to our hotel in Canal Street, one of the city centre’s main arteries.

Old Paddle Steamer, The Creole Queen sailing upstream – New Orleans

Our afternoon and evening was whittled away waiting for and watching one of the bigger parades with 37 enormous floats and numerous marching bands, mostly from schools, universities and colleges. The crowds were unbelievable, many people were already in situ outside our hotel when we arrived at 2.30ish; the parade did not start until gone 7pm. Quite a few were well and truly sloshed by then. Generally the atmosphere was very good natured. The floats and costumes are very elaborate and colourful.

One of the Mardis Gras floats

Unlike our South West carnivals each parade is just one ‘Krewe’ (carnival club), which may have thousands of members and many floats. Today, Sunday, there were three parades in the morning from some of the smaller Krewes with another, much larger, scheduled for this evening.

The parades are chaotic as the people manning the floats are continually throwing objects, mostly coloured strings of beads, into the crowd. It is a complete melee and the litter that is left behind has to be seen to be believed. The authorities did a great job cleaning up overnight. Any religious connection appears to be very tenuous indeed!

Best Mardis Gras decorated building in the French Quarter

Tomorrow will be our last day in Louisiana, just 15ish mile ride to Louis Armstrong International Airport for flight evening flight home.

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