We had a plan for our first ever Final Four and, for the most part, it worked beautifully.
We left the campground at 10:00 a.m. and drove about ten miles to the Algiers Ferry terminal across the Mississippi on the southwest side of New Orleans.
The parking, usually $5, was $20 for today. But at least we didn't have to mess with driving or parking in downtown New Orleans, and we could walk everywhere we wanted to go. The ferry is free for pedestrians.
The ferry leaves Algiers Point on the hour and half hour and leaves the Canal Street terminal downtown on the :15 and :45. The ferry runs from 6:00 a.m. to 12:15 a.m. (quarter after midnight), and it's about an eight-minute ride across the river to Canal Street, next to the Aquarium. From there it is about a mile walk to the Superdome or less than a mile to the French Quarter.
We barely made the 10:30 ferry and found a spot along the railing to watch the city get closer.
We also had a good view of the iconic St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square.
Arriving at Canal Street.
We were plenty early for our noon meeting at the Embassy Suites to pick up some tickets from a friend of a guy in North Carolina who decided not to come once the Tar Heels lost. We considered taking a right out of the ferry terminal and walking to the French Quarter, but we went left to the Riverwalk Marketplace instead. It was more in the direction we needed to go, plus we needed to find some Louisville Final Four t-shirts, and walking in the cool mall got us out of the heat and humidity.
We found t-shirts at slightly lower prices than we expected and put them on. Two teams here are red and two teams here are blue. You can't just go by colors - you have to read the shirts so you don't yell something stupid to another teams' fans. :)
It was good time to make a stop at the Cafe' du Monde in the Riverwalk and get an obligatory order of beignets.
We sat outside on the river.
You have to be careful eating beignets outside - a little breeze and you're wearing a lot of powdered sugar. :)
After our sweet treat, we made our appointment and picked up our packet of tickets.
We hadn't planned to go to the huge, interactive basketball-a-palooza called "Bracket Town" at the convention center. But we walked several blocks to check it out since a ticket was included in our package.
Inside the door are two huge blue walls with the Final Four team logos.
That was an amazing place. I could have stayed in there for hours, but we were getting hungry and wanted to get some lunch.
We walked toward the Superdome until we found Tchoupitoulas Street - I'm still learnin' to pronounce it: chop-a-TOO-las. Da Gumbo Pages - "How ta tawk rite" is a great site for da pronouncin'.
We found the designated Louisville fans restaurant - Lucy's Retired Surfers Bar & Restaurant.
We found a table next to some folks from Louisville. Soon, we were feeling like part of the crowd as we talked basketball and chimed in on the "C-A-R-D-S, CARDS!" chants.
We got our drinks quickly, including the little surfboard stir stick. :)
We were having a great time, and it was a good thing 'cause it took well over an hour to get our food. :)
Linda got a face tattoo and I got a shot of her and our server, Estelle with little cardinals on their cheeks.
Linda is flashing a Louisville "L", although her double-jointed thumb made it a little droopy. :)
We were having a great time and the manager helped by buying us an extra round of drinks 'cause our food took so long. It was at least a two-hour lunch and time to head toward the Superdome when we finished eating.
There were lots of tickets available as we walked up Poydras Street with thousands of other people. Next to the dome was the big ol' tailgate party.
We skipped that and headed on into the dome.
We had to go up several ramps and escalators to get to our seats, but we stopped along the way in the St. Charles Club since we had special passes. We met some Kentucky fans and hung out there for a little while.
A former U of L player, Scooter McCray, and a former UK player, Walter McCarty, did an interview on their thoughts about the game.
Both players had some good years in the NBA.
About a half hour before gametime, we went to our seats. We were in Section 643 and all the 600 sections were waaay up there.
That photo made it look worse than it was. Actually, I've been in other domes for basketball that were much, much worse. It wasn't too bad, especially with the large screens where replays were played all the time.
On the screens and T.V., you couldn't tell so much, but in person Louisville's "infrared" uniforms were traffic cone orange. Strange.
It was a sea of red and blue with each team having predominant sections. Louisville was a 9-point underdog and nobody gave them much of a chance. They would have to play a perfect game.
They certainly didn't play a perfect game and were down by as many as thirteen. But, they came back and tied the game in the second half before the talent of Kentucky finished them off.
We had some exciting moments and met some more nice folks. Now, we have to get some Big Blue shirts for the Championship Game on Monday. :)
They announced attendance of over 73,000, but at least a fourth of those were gone once the first game ended.
Ohio State started the game on a roll and looked like they were going to blow out Kansas. But the Jayhawks made up some points right at the end of the half.
Here's the CBS "At The Half" crew at one end of the court during halftime of the second semi-final.
In the second half, Kansas played tougher and Ohio State let the game slip away. It's gonna be an all blue final Monday night.
By the time the game ended, we didn't have a whole lot of time to get back to the ferry. It was a zoo getting out of the stadium and the streets were packed. Vehicles couldn't go anywhere.
With our Louisville shirts on, people asked us if we wanted to sell tickets. Since we have better seats for Monday night, we sold our upper level seats for what we paid for them. Good deal.
Whew. We were hot and sweaty and tired by the time we reached the ferry terminal. And we just missed the 11:15 ferry. We rested and got on the second-to-last ferry of the evening and left the lights of the city behind.
We had to go in the back entrance to the park and finally made it home around 12:30. We were exhausted, but what a day!
The theme among both Kentucky & Louisville fans was "How can you not be here for this?!" I was hoping for a Louisville victory, but we were going to have a team in the finals either way. And I'm so glad we came. :)