Have I only really been away since Tuesday? However long ago that was, give or take a few time zones. So much has happened, so much has been Instagrammed and now, patient readers, so much has to be faithfully blogged about. It's feast or famine around here. Weeks on end of the same same that is my usual week broken up with a little change of scene and the millions of little things to be observed that this always entails (for me, at least. Small things and all...).
So let's start from the beginning and see where that leads us tonight.
Pretty much everything went to plan in the packing department before I left. My Moleskine notebooks even arrived just in time.
|Nearly tripping on a QANTAS plane model the day of your QANTAS flight. Coincidence? I think not.|
I saw Preschooler SSG off for the day (after nearly tripping on his favourite QANTAS model plane in the breakfast rush).
Before savouring one last 'real' (read 'Australian') skinny cap before getting the taxi to the airport. Friends who know these things tell me that you need to order an '8 oz double shot latte, no foam' for the stateside equivalent.
Made it to the airport with enough time to perfect my Mimosa making skills at this handy little spot.
Before I got onto a real QANTAS plane and ate a pretty impressive crab okonomiyaki.
And watched an even more impressive film called 'Whiskey Tango Foxtrot' starring Tina Fey. The film is based on the memoirs of Kim Barker, a journalist who spent part of her career based in Afghanistan and Pakistan as a war correspondent for an American television network. 'Whiskey Tango Foxtrot' outlines the personal challenges, pitfalls and occasional joys of her time in war zones. I really enjoyed the film because of the way it explored life in the 'Kabul bubble' as a rare Western woman in a sea of men who drank too much to combat the dangers and isolation of their job in between the moments they spent risking their lives to get the next big story in the region.
'Whiskey Tango Foxtrot' didn't receive the best critical reviews and had a modest reception at the box office with some of the criticism of it levelled at the way it projected a very limited view of the world and its political complexities. I think part of the reason I enjoyed it so much was that I had no expectations of it being the best film ever nor had I heard any of the publicity surrounding its release so I watched with an open mind and unformed expectations. On the other hand, I struggled with 'Zoolander 2' which I was very keen to see. I just couldn't do it.
There was excitement in Dallas during our transit there when I discovered that my TelAway SIM worked like a dream. Thank you to all of you who've requested lots of photos of the trip. I'm more than happy to oblige and your requests were all the excuse I needed with the data on my TelAway card, I'm looking forward to sharing them all in real time.
Cue the beginning of my photobombing of Instagram with photos of Dallas FW airport from its skytrain
and of elebratory bars of plane chocolate eaten when you've just made the gate for your connecting flight after epic delays at immigration.
And then we were off on the short flight to New Orleans.
This is the lush greenery that greets you should you peer out the window as your plane begins its descent.
And this is the fancy coffee machine that you will find in your room at Gonzales should you decide to stay at the fabulous Holiday Inn Express there.
I can fault nothing at this hotel. It was cheap, the room was spacious and everything was so clean and new. But my favourite thing about the hotel was its lobby soft serve machine.
That was available for guests to use 24/7.
I came fully prepared for their treadmills with my handy speed conversion card.
And in the spirit of #yolo I wore those short shorts to the outlets that were literally behind the hotel. You h ave no idea how fabulous a thing it was for my friends and I to only have to stroll across one road with our shopping before falling into a hot shower and then into the most comfortable beds in all of Gonzales.
Though the outlets may have looked 'small' in comparison to those in New York or Hawaii, they did not disappoint in the bargains department. Even with the dismal exchange rate, we all stuck to our budgets with plenty to show for it. Tanger Outlets have coupon books like the Premium Outlet chain and the range of stores is very similar between them. Not that I'm complaining.
The only thing you have to remember is to bring your passport with you when you shop in Louisiana. Tourists are entitled to receive tax back on their purchases. There is no minimum spend but you do need official coupons from your retailer. The coupons can then be submitted to refund agents (airport or in New Orleans) for cash refunds minus a handling fee which is currently 29%.
This one style of the toddler Nikes I bought for the nephews.
Can you believe how small they are compared to preschooler ones? I don't even remember Preschooler SSG's feet being that tiny!!
I found my roller ball perfumes! At GAP of all places.
And here is a sweater for Preschooler SSG that he may or may not choose to wear but that I love all the same.
|On the I10 into New Orleans looking out at Lake Ponchartrain. The bridge is one of the longest in the world.|
The only word of advice I would give you if you were planning to make a side trip to Gonzales for the outlets is that it's worth it. The Riverwalk Outlets in New Orleans are very pretty and have eateries on site but don't have as many retailers as the Tanger Outlets.
But we made it to our hotel, got checked in and have settled in to the city.
Okay, that's it from me today.
I start work related conference stuff tomorrow so I need an early night. Fortunately, in amongst our explorations of Nola today, we've done our registration and have done a dummy run of the walk from our hotel to the conference centre so it won't be total chaos tomorrow morning.
And if all else fails, at least I know where the centre's Starbucks is and I'll be ordering one of those 8oz double shot lattes without the froth.
Talk again soon!