28/9/16 – KFC hunt, round two

Lazy start with another eleven o’clock check-out. Cue the slow get ready, get packed and whatever. We had an hour or so drive into downtown Miami. The satnav started playing up again – she must not like the oldies, because me and Kel never had this problem – so we stopped off at a Maccies to bum off the WiFi and use Google maps to figure out exactly where we needed to go. When we got back en route, the satnav decided to play nice again. Go figure. We wanted to get lunch first whilst we still had the car, so we pulled into a little strip mall that was only about five or ten minutes away.

There wasn’t a lot there in the way of eating, so we went into a Little Caesar’s, which we’d actually seen adverts for on the telly. It was a good choice. I had wings, which were okay. I like my wings dry and fried and whereas they weren’t covered in sauce, they were still a little sloppy from the marinade. But I also had their crazy bread bites, which were way better. Little garlicky dough balls topped with different cheeses and bacon. Now that is more my kind of food. We popped into a CVS over the road after and I restocked on Red Bull. Drove to our Best Western, as well as the final hotel, and unloaded everything. I then stayed in the room and read whilst the oldies took the car back to the Alamo. Bye, Harry.

We did have a pool at this place, but I hadn’t seen where it was and wasn’t sure how to get to it, as it was a huge hotel. By the time the oldies got back, it was closer to five and there wasn’t a whole lot of sun left, so it wasn’t really worth it.  carried on with my reading and then showered and got dressed to head back out in search of KFC. Hopefully, this round will be more successful, since we’re all still craving the real stuff. Since getting the car, we hadn’t done a whole lot of walking really, so it felt like quite a jaunt. Got to watch an electrical storm, as well as all the planes landing nearby on the way though.

We ate at the KFC, rather than risking the food going cold on the way back. This time, we made sure they gave us the proper chicken. They got it right and damn, it was good. They gave us biscuits as well. Now there’s a food that’s super tasty, but that sure as hell confused us the first time we had them. I mean firstly, they’re called biscuits and they’re absolutely not biscuits. Secondly, they’re actually scones, except they’re savoury. Weird or what? Still good though and would be even better slathered in butter.

The way felt even longer on the way back. Maybe because we were distinctly fatter. We had much drink to break out too, since we had to finish off everything that we had. That meant four bottles for me. No problem. The maids are gonna think we’re all serious lush-heads when they see our bin. Dad tried to put on the new season of American Horror Story, but I quickly made him change the channel as it wasn’t the first episode and I didn’t want any spoilers. The theme for the new season actually looks pretty good – hopefully a lot better than Hotel and without any Lady Gaga. Dad decided he was watching Thor instead, so I figured I was much better off with my iPod.

Watched more Psych, did some reading, played some Disney and had to do a serious packing spree of everything, bar what we’d need for tomorrow. Mom had asked if we could have a later check-out on the way back from the KFC, so at least we can spend a little time around the pool. Here’s hoping it’s sunny for our last day.

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This is what good fast food looks like. Can we have a Little Caesar’s in Birmingham please?

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16/9/16 – Hush up and look at the gumbo

Got up early, but not crazy six o’clock early. Jet lag usually has me awake much earlier, but waiting until ten-ish to go to sleep clearly helped to get us back on track. Slowly got ready for the day and headed down for breakfast. I was delighted to see that there was a self-serve pancake machine. Never knew such a thing existed, but it was super easy to use and they had maple syrup, cream and rainbow sprinkles to put on top. Had my pancakes, as well as an egg patty and some mini sausages. The sausages were so tasty that I went back for more. Was tempted to do the same with the pancakes, but a queue had developed by that time. I’ll have second breakfast tomorrow instead.

We went out for a wander and found our way down onto the riverfront. I spotted the Natchez further down on the dock and actually managed to do some navigating on where to go, based on what I remembered from last time. We managed to get tickets for the morning Natchez cruise, since Mom wanted to go on a real steamboat and I knew that was the only real one here. Hopefully, the boring narrator guy that we had last time will have retired by now. We had a few hours before we were due to board, so we went off in search of drinks in the meantime.

We found Café du Monde, but it was horrendously packed with the queue lining up outside, so we opted to keep going and find somewhere else instead. No beignets today. We went to the Market Café and I had a very nice Mango Madness cocktail. At ten o’clock in the morning. Because why not? They had a jazz band playing, like many places in New Orleans, and it was a nice relaxation spot. From there, we had a wander through their version of the rag market and popped into a couple of shops. I got a jazzy shot glass from Aunt Sally’s Praline Shop.

We then came back to board the Natchez. They had the woman on top again playing the pipe organ from the steam. No Carpenters this time though. Mom thought it was cute, but then quickly got annoyed by it. We got some seats up on the top deck and surprise, surprise, the boring narrator has still retained his job. I chose to ignore him, since I remembered a lot of the history from my last visit. The lasting damage from Hurricane Katrina is still astonishing on the docks. I then started to rain a little too much for us to want to sit in, so we moved down a deck and grabbed a little table near the open side and spent the remainder of the cruise there.

After we disembarked, we were in need of food and I was also super in need of a drink from being sat in the heat. We went to a steak and seafood bar and I had loaded cheese fries. Except they told me they were fries. They were actually potato wedges. I don’t mind potato wedges, but there’s only so much you can eat before they become really sickly, so I didn’t actually finish mine. We then spent forever looking for a Walgreen’s that we’d spotted earlier, to the point where even I was remembering all the same streets as we kept looping round, since Dad’s a horrible navigator. I miss Kel and her in-built satnav. Thankfully, we eventually stumbled upon a CVS instead and I was able to replace my heat protection spray that had emptied during the flight and also bought some Red Bull and Funyuns for the room. Yay, Funyuns. I’ve missed you.

It started to rain by this point, so we decided to head back towards the hotel for a while to shower and things before going back out for tea. The rain was sporadic and switched between being heavy and light. We tried to wait out one of the heavier spells in a bar and had some homemade Hurricanes – which were way too strong – but it didn’t lighten up again, so we had to chance the rest of the way with our umbrellas. Showered as soon as we got back, then Skyped with Kel for a bit, had my Red Bull and did some reading for an hour or so before getting ready to go back out.

I’d already iterated my deep love for the Gumbo Shop from my last trip here, so that was where we were headed. The wait for tables was actually out of the door, which was initially concerning, but their turnaround service is crazy good and we were in there in no time. I had everything I had last time. Chicken andouille gumbo with bread and a frozen strawberry daiquiri. God, it was just as good as I remembered. Mom had the same and loved it too, so I was pleased that I hadn’t just bigged it up. Even more pleased that she wants to go back, because I’m clearly down with that.

From there, we found our way onto the wonderful Bourbon Street and I directed us towards Pat O’Brien’s. We were given a table out in the courtyard. It had stopped raining, the fire fountain was going, they wiped everything down for us and brought Hurricanes over to our table. Best. They were properly mixed Hurricanes too and way better than the ones we’d had earlier. We sat in there for a while and ended up making friends with a lad from Boston called Nick, who I think Mom wanted to adopt. He was super big on traveling too and wanted recommendations for time-lengths and things to do in the UK and other places in Europe too.

After we left Pat O’Brien’s, we carried on down Bourbon Street. I stopped off at one of the Tropical Isle places to get a Hand Grenade to-go. Just as yummy as I remembered. I pretty much downed it all by the time we got back to our hotel, but didn’t feel in the slightest bit merry. Sadly, the downside to going with the oldies is that they were point blank ready for bed. I stayed up and read for a while before conceding to do the same. I then had to get up twenty minutes later and be horrendously sick, despite the fact that I still didn’t feel like the drinks had touched me at all. Guess that’s just a mark of a good night.

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Gumbo, gumbo, in the pot… We need a princess; what you got?