You know you have been bitten by Travel bug when you plan a road trip across 6 states; with sight seeing stops at 3 cities, travel for 1600 miles in a bright red car…and you do all this in a span of 4 days…
We started planning almost a month back with Dipanjan and Vaishakhi, one of our close friends here. Eventually though, they could not join us for the trip, another set of friends Sudeep and Anindita joined us. Starting with New Orleans as the destination to experience Mardi Gras madness, we also added a visit to Elvis’s house at Memphis, a drive on US 90 with view of Atlantic ocean by our side and stopping by Dauphin Island for a few hours. Armed with ‘what to do’ knowledge, print outs of Google Maps, a talkative GPS and a bright red car, we started towards our first stop at Memphis. (Just to add, our current home base is at St. Louis, MO).
Drive to Memphis was pretty exciting as it was first day of our trip. Spending the night at a motel, we visited Elvis’s house the next day. To be honest here, none of us are big fans of Elvis. Elvis purchased the house, Graceland, when he was just 22 and paid around $100,000 for it. His house is now turned into a museum and people can go in and take a peep into his lifestyle. It was amazing to see how the King of Rock and Roll used to live. Most amazing part of the house was ‘Jungle Room’ where everything from rugs, furniture to paintings is very tastefully done and is very different. We only took the mansion tour so did not see his collection of bikes, cars etc.
Memphis reeks of Elvis’s music that can be heard almost everywhere (at least at all places where we went). We were no fans of Elvis when we went to Memphis but his music converted us. I think it was a great souvenir to bring back from Memphis.
Our next stop was at New Orleans where we were headed to experience Mardi Gras celebrations at its peak. Recent win of Saints in Superbowl added to the celebrations of Mardi Gras. Everywhere we went, we heard their chant of ‘Who dat’.
We reached French Quarters with plans to start with a brunch at Café du Monde. Not surprisingly, almost 100 other people had the same plan as ours. So the really long queue, made us skip it!
Talking of French Quarters, the whole area was crowded and full of music. It was full of life and a sense of craziness prevailed throughout our stay. We walked through streets admiring the architecture and quaint beauty of old buildings. While absorbing the quaintness of the whole area, we kept bumping into groups of people who were drinking (continuously).
We finally reached the (in)famous Bourbon street and were immediately acquainted with its claim to fame. Bourbon Street has many strip clubs and you can find many half naked men and women advertising their strip club. This was where crowds were busy collecting beads. There were many people in balconies ready to throw beads at ones who were willing to flash. And then there were people in streets who wanted the beads. So there was a lot of action on streets, if you know what I mean ;-( I must also say that the music flowing out from pubs was awesome. Sudeep refused to budge from one of the pubs and Vipula ended up joining the crowd for a dance…
Evening fell and time came for the official Mardi Gras parade. Waiting for parade to start was a difficult time. We waited silently coz our faces were frozen, got almost squashed to jelly by the ever growing crowds and survived a fist fight going on next to us! In the end, our efforts paid off and the parade started. We caught many beads and other knick knacks. After a while it became monotonous and we quit.
Next day we drove to Dauphin Island and on the way drove on US 90 highway scenic drive with views of Atlantic Ocean. It was a bright sunny day and views of the beach were amazing. We came across another Mardi Gras parade on the way and it was a pleasant surprise.
Finally we reached Dauphin Island but were too late to do any sightseeing. So we spent some time taking pictures and headed towards our night halt at Birmingham.
Next day was the day to drive back home. We drove to Nashville to see Parthenon replica. It was closed but we managed to take some pictures. The high point of Nashville visit was lunch buffet at Sitar Indian Restaurant. This is a must visit restaurant for any lover of Indian Cuisine. All of us loved the food and finally headed home.