Honey Island swamp tour in New Orleans

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC spent a couple of days in New Orleans this week. One morning we braved the thunder storms and the warnings of flash flooding, to go on the Honey Island Swamp Tour with Cajun Encounters.

My impressions? Trees, trees’ knees, reflections of trees, and hidden danger.

The book I’m in

Wool, by Hugh Howey.

Travel tip

In my last post, I recommended that you watch out for people who don’t blink, as they may not be what they seem. Now this worm can inform you that alligators do blink, so you can trust that they are what they seem.

The photos

Me, your intrepid travelling worm, about to set out on the swamp tour:

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At the start of the tour we were on a wide river with swampy banks on each side:

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This vertical-lift bridge is in working order. The entire bridge, including the house in the middle, rises up the towers to let higher craft pass underneath. Our boat captain said you need to call about four hours beforehand if you want the bridge to lift:

Honey Island swamp tour in New Orleans

Water lilies on the river bank:

Honey Island swamp tour in New Orleans

Witch’s hair lichen drapes the trees:

Honey Island swamp tour in New Orleans

Are those all lily pads amongst the trees? The powerful zoom on the TC’s camera reveals a usurper:

Honey Island swamp tour in New Orleans

A snake coils comfortably on a tree trunk. I’m not sure what type of snake it is. Maybe a Copperhead:

Honey Island swamp tour in New Orleans

Reflections of trees wobble in the boat’s wake:

Honey Island swamp tour in New Orleans

Another quiet scene of lilly pads, trees and reflections. The TC is fond of such scenes:

Honey Island swamp tour in New Orleans

All is quiet, nothing stirs:

Honey Island swamp tour in New Orleans

Yet danger lurks ever close by. Here, in the bank next to the boat, a Cottonmouth rests:

Honey Island swamp tour in New Orleans

Locals build their houses safely above flood level:

Honey Island swamp tour in New Orleans

Right next door, someone thinks the safe level is even higher. A reaction to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, our guide informs us:

Honey Island swamp tour in New Orleans

Alligators smile on a log:

Honey Island swamp tour in New Orleans

Inexorable beauty:

Honey Island swamp tour in New Orleans

Do alligators like marshmallows? Watch this video to find out:

That’s all for today, dudes.

New Orleans views and vampires

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC are in New Orleans for just two days. This city is gorgeous. Colour and light, in the buildings and the people. Tourists at play. Locals working hard for a living.

My impressions? An abundance of stories.

And the vampires? Join me in a journey from light to dark, if you dare.

The book I’m in

Wool, by Hugh Howey. The TC is about half way through the book. It looks like the IT crowd are the baddies. This worm whole-heartedly approves of this choice of reading matter.

Travel tip

Drop in on Bourbon Street at dusk. It rocks. Literally.

And watch out for people who don’t blink. They may not be what they seem.

Pronunciation tip

To say “New Orleans” like a local, pronounce it as “Norlns”. And go heavy on the “or” part.

Recommended accommodation

Hotel Mazarin, 730 Bienville Street, New Orleans. Clean, comfortable, and conveniently located in the French Quarter. Just a single complaint from the TC: Our room was near a generator, which emitted a constant uncomfortable hum and high-pitched squeal.

Recommended restaurant

Olivier’s, 204 Decatur Street, New Orleans. Tasty Creole food, excellent and caring service.

The photos

Me on the streests of New Orleans, with the city seal:

New Orleans and vampires

A view from the aeroplane on our way in, showing the city centre on the bend of the Mississipi river The bridge is actually two bridges, forming the Crescent City Connection:

New Orleans and vampires

The beautiful, wide Canal Street, which runs along the edge of the French Quarter and leads down to the Mississipi River:

New Orleans and vampires

Jazz Gumbo in Canal Street:

New Orleans and vampires

The Mississippi River:

New Orleans and vampires

A tasty and colourful dish of Creole food from Olivier’s in Decatur Street:

New Orleans and vampires

A colourful row of houses in the French Quarter of New Orleans:

New Orleans and vampires

A mule wending its way through the French Quarter. The TC was taking a photograph of the gallery above, and the interesting door at bottom right, when the mule wandered into the shot:

New Orleans and vampires

Many of the buildings are decorated with ornate ironwork, which the TC calls “broekie lace”. This ornate gallery sports a drape showing the New Orleans fleur-de-lis, used all over the city to symbolise its recovery since Hurricane Katrina:

New Orleans and vampires

Renovating a lovely house:

New Orleans and vampires

Are you ready to share a slide down the slippery slope into another world? It begins here:

New Orleans views and vampires

Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo:

New Orleans views and vampires

This worm, hob-nobbing with the zombies and voodoo dolls:

New Orleans views and vampires

A palm reader in Bourbon Street:

New Orleans views and vampires

As dusk draws in, Bourbon Street hots up:

New Orleans views and vampires

And the serious dudes move in. The TC and I dared to do a ghost and vampire tour with Lord Chaz:

New Orleans views and vampires

How does a vampire use a mobile phone? With a pen, of course:

New Orleans views and vampires

One of the eeriest spots on the tour was the nunnery next to St Mary’s Catholic Church. The attic windows are permanently closed, with dormers that are nailed shut. As our tour guide pointed out, this is most unusual in New Orleans, especially in edifices from the days before air conditioning. The attic windows form an essential cooling function. This sealed attic is the source of the belief that New Orleans has vampire inhabitants, and has had them for generations. We also heard perplexing and inexplicable stories of women shipped to New Orleans with arrays of 5-sided coffins, all to disappear into the nunnery. And hundreds of dead babies under the wall. This has to be the spookiest place to be, especially when you’re there with a being who doesn’t blink. As we were:

New Orleands views and vampires

This woman, all unknowing, is leaning against a lamp post on the most dangerous corner of  New Orleans. In the house above her, the Carter brothers murdered 18 people by drinking their blood through their wrists. A little girl escaped one night, after suffering through five nights of feasting, and the Carter brothers were at last brought to justice. But later when the city opened the Carter brothers’ graves, they found nothing. The brothers had vanished. And since then, so the stories go, New Orleans has suffered from numerous serial killers, some apprehended, some not. There’s one active right now ….

New Orleans views and vampires

That’s all for today, dudes.

Ghosts in Atlanta GA

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

This week me and the TC spent four days in Atlanta, Georgia. That’s in the deep south of the United States, where people speak with a delightful slow drawl and are very, very polite. They also say “y’all” to get around the lamentable lack of a second-person plural in the English language. The deep south is also the home of deep-fried everything. A picture in the post proves it.

The TC spent most of her time working hard at a conference. This worm spent most of my time on the same page of the book I’m currently in, because the TC didn’t have much time to read.

We did get out one evening, to do the famous Atlanta Ghost Tour.

My impressions? Wide quiet streets, imposing churches, boarded-up buildings, and shiny office blocks. Not many ghosts materialised. To be exact, not a one. But the tour was fun anyway. A good way to see the night-time streets of Atlanta.

The book I’m in

Wool, by Hugh Howey. The TC has only just started this science fiction novel. This worm is enthralled by the characters and their situation, and keen to know more. I’ll have to prod the TC to get a move on.

Travel tip

If your bag keeps falling off your shoulder, or you feel a tap on your arm, or your hat lifts off your head, there’s a ghost in the ‘hood.

Recommended accommodation

Hyatt Regency Atlanta, at 265 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta. The TC is attending a conference, so we’re residing in the conference hotel. It’s a large, well-organised and very pleasant place to stay. Highly recommended for location, service and comfort.

Recommended restaurant

Ted’s Montana Grill, 133 Luckie Street, Atlanta. Excellent service, a friendly ambience, and plenty of character. The food is tasty too.

The photos

Me cowering in a park opposite the eerily-named and ghost-ridden Medical Arts building in Atlanta:

Ghosts in Atlanta GA

Our tech-savvy band of ghost-busters brandished various electronic gadgets to aid in the search. Below is the Ghost Radar app on my iPhone. This screenshot shows the Ghost Radar has picked up two presences. The red blip is emitting the strongest phantom vibes ,the yellow has medium strengths:

Ghosts in Atlanta GA

The leader of the ghost tour brought along a couple of K2 ghost meters, powerful detectors of spirit presence:

Ghosts in Atlanta GA

What struck me is the way the churches muddle in with the city’s glossy sky scrapers:

Ghosts in Atlanta GA

Outside the Medical Arts building, the K2 devices picked up a ghost. She’s well known. Her name is Sally, and she reputedly can tell creepy stories of the medical experiments carried out on hapless patients in the Medical Arts building of old.

Ghosts in Atlanta GA

We took a closer look at the Medical Arts building, later the same evening. Yes, we looped back for more chills:

Ghosts in Atlanta GA

This is the door. Knock if you dare:

Ghosts in Atlanta GA

The leader of our ghost tour told us the sad story of the Ellis Hotel in Peachtree Street, Atlanta. This building, then called the Winecoff Hotel, was the location of America’s most deadly hotel fire. Candy Kid, a well-known local thief, set the fire on purpose, because he wanted to kill a particular man.  The intended victim escaped, and 119 died in his stead. Unsurprisingly, there are reports of many hauntings in and around the Ellis Hotel:

Ghosts in Atlanta GA

Many people take photos of this church, only to find a ghost or two in the shot. Do you see any?

Ghosts in Atlanta GA

As the night grows darker, the display in an army surplus store is evocative of other worlds:

Ghosts in Atlanta GA

A gas mask in the next window sends a shudder up this worm’s spine. (And my spine is not stiff, even at the best of times.)

Ghosts in Atlanta GA

The TC snapped this picture of the Atlanta city seal at the base of a lamp post. The bird is a phoenix rising from its ashes. The motto is “resurgens”, Latin for “rising again”. These symbolise the rebuilding of the city after it was destroyed in the American Civil War.

Ghosts in Atlanta GA

To finish off with, I’d like to lighten the tone. Looking for proof that they fry everything in the deep south? Look no further:

Ghosts in Atlanta GA

That’s all for today, dudes.