RIDING THE RAILS TO THE CRESCENT CITY
While the journey itself is the highlight of a land cruise on a private rail car, there are times that the destination is equal to the ride. New Orleans is always one of my favorite station stops.
There comes a time in life when the crowds and drunken revelry of Mardi Gras or even the Jazz Fest no longer are alluring. You can find excitement in the Big Easy at less intensity at other times of the year. This spring I tried the Food and Wine Experience.
For three days you can completely satiate on food and drink without being subjected to obnoxious drunks and partying into the wee hours.
On Thursday, the Royal Street Stroll allows you to sip and nibble while shopping the galleries of Royal Street. The Stroll is led "parade-style" by the Krewe of Cork, a world-famous wine industry phenomenon. There’s live jazz, New Orleans architecture and a little exercise to top off the evening.
The Friday evening and Saturday afternoon tastings are housed in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The wine offerings are almost endless and if you are not a connoisseur of the grape there are beer and liquor distributors as well. While restaurant names are not ones you most frequently associate with New Orleans, the samples are tasty and generous and present a good overview of the area’s cuisine. There are places to sit and nosh while listening to pleasant musical groups and even discussing your impressions with the locals.
Although I did not explore other events during the weekend, they include interactive wine and food experiences and seminars.
The tickets are a little pricy, $129.00 for one day’s tasting, but the proceeds go to local non-profit organizations, ranging from food banks to culinary schools.
Still the highlight of the trip for me and other passengers on the railcar was the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. It is a 5.8 mile long bridge that carries a single-track of Norfolk Southern rail line between Slidell and New Orleans, Louisiana. It is thought to be the longest railroad bridge in the United States and likely the longest rail bridge over water in the world.
New Orleans in May is definitely the place to “laissez les bon temps rouler”