New Orleans – Bouchercon Day 6 (Last Day)


My last day in New Orleans. I’m free to wander at will – a rare occurrence for me in the last few years. I could go to the gym, but I’m tired of that game. I could lie in bed all day, which would seem like a bit of a waste. I work out a plan.

Breakfast, ferry to Algiers Point, a quiet wander amongst the historic district and home for tea. Then, as with all good plans, it falls apart when the lens falls out of my sunglasses. It’s fixable but only with the aid of the world’s smallest screwdriver. There are two sources for such an animal – the optician (according to Google the nearest is 2 miles away) or a hardware store (only 1 mile away). I decide to walk to the hardware store. Mistake. Walking in the U.S. is cool if you live in Manhattan – sidewalks aplenty. In New Orleans it’s a little less straightforward. My route, in 90 degree heat, takes me under a freeway, over a three lane exit ramp, into an industrial estate and across an expanse of waste ground.

‘Pedestrians not welcome.’

I arrive at the hardware store ten pounds lighter and have to spend half an hour sitting in the air conditioned entrance to prepare for the return journey. Even so I need to break the return trip and rest in the local bus depot, where I consume a pint of Coke in just under ten seconds.

As it transpires the diversion to get my sunglasses fixed allows me to briefly visit the ‘World War II museum.’

‘They take their guns seriously around this neck of the woods.’

After another brief detour through a shopping mall (to bathe in the A/C) I jump on the Canal St ferry – a sort of industrial hulk that feels like it was built in the fifties.

‘Me on the ferry across the Mississippi. I sang ‘Ferry Across the Mersey’ – swapping out Mersey for Mississippi  – all day long.’

The journey across the Mississippi is quick, if not quiet – 50’s engine technology is noisy. I’m deposited in Algiers Point and from the get-go it’s clear that this is no tourist hotspot. I start along what they call the Jazz Trail, a concrete path that traces the river bank.

‘I had to get a photograph of me and a paddle steamer. You have to look hard to see it.’

I quit the trail when I started to feel my skin fry. Walking amongst the clapperboard homes I attempted to find the town centre. I failed.

‘Proof, if proof were needed, that New Orleans has a hankering to be chilled.’

Resorting once more to Google Maps I typed in ‘hostelry’. It seemed that I had Hobson’s Choice – The Old Point Bar or The Old Point Bar. The Old Point Bar it was.

Now sometimes in life you just happen to stumble upon a gem. Set next to the Mississppi but hidden from it by a giant grass levy, the Old Point Bar, is as American as mother pie and applehood. I fell in love.

‘Not a beer – more a fire extinguisher.’

After dropping my body temperature by twenty degrees in the welcome A/C I stepped outside, sat down, opened my book – and chilled, and chilled, and chilled.

‘A very chilled view for a very chilled few hours.’

With the edge of the sun I walked back along the banks of the Mississippi before sliding back across the water on the ferry.

‘It seems they have a brewery named after me.’

With a trip back across the Atlantic and then onto Spain due the next day, I called it quits, slept for twelve hours, woke early and headed for the airport.

Bye New Orleans – it was good to see you again – but next time could you turn the heating down a little?