Friday, January 1, 2016

USA Travel Review: Mississippi - Yazoo and Natchez

I never finished my USA travel reviews after the part I did on Memphis, as they take a lot longer to write - but there are definitely some useful tips I can pass on for anyone planning a road trip!

The next stop on our trip was Natchez, Mississippi, but as it was a 5 hour drive from Memphis we decided to take our time and stop for lunch. I'd had a look at the map in advance and thought Jackson was too large a city for a brief lunch stop and found somewhere called Yazoo City; there were some restaurant reviews on TripAdvisor that looked decent. I had picked out Stubs, a sort of diner on the edge of town. I had a shrimp po'boy which reminded me a bit of a fish finger sandwich! My fiancé had mozzarella sticks and a grilled cheese sandwich and his mum had fried green tomatoes and fried okra, which she said was very good - the portions were huge and the prices really reasonable - we paid $50 including a 20% tip.

Even though the portions were large the desserts looked so good we decided to indulge; I had a Boston cream pie, my fiancé had a chocolate pie and his mum had lemon meringue pie. Stubs does good pie! The service was friendly and it seemed like a good local neighbourhood, family kind of place that was just as welcoming to travellers passing through.
On the way out of Yazoo City the road we needed was closed and there was no detour so we ended up getting lost in quite a rundown area in torrential rain then going back the way we had come, adding about 40 minutes to our journey!

The terrible weather made driving slow and it was 5pm before we arrived at the Oak Hill Historic Inn in Natchez - my mother-in-law had wanted to sit outside on the verandah but the weather meant there was no chance of that!

The B&B was fairly expensive and we were only there one night, and with arriving at 5 and needing to leave early the next morning (before breakfast) we may have been better off staying somewhere like a Holiday Inn. The owners were very friendly and insisted on carrying our cases up a pretty steep staircase and they made a real effort, making us mint juleps when we arrived, offering home baked cookies and making sure we had coffee and muffins in the morning since we were on a tight schedule and had to miss breakfast.

mint julep, served properly

We had two adjacent rooms on the top floor; one had a double and a single bed and one had a queen bed, so this would be a good option for a family. Once again both beds were really high but they had provided steps which I found quite fun, not being used to climbing up steps to get into bed. The house is about 150 years old and decorated in period style with lots of interesting ornaments and objects like a stuffed owl. They have three cats, but they kept themselves to themselves and I only saw them because I went looking for them!

The owners gave us a leaflet about historic houses around Natchez - of which there are many, several of which offer guided tours. You can stay in them as well but my mother in law stayed in a similar place once before and every time she came out of her bedroom found a party of tourists walking around! As we didn't have time for a tour we followed a suggested driving route around town to see a lot of the houses from the outside (they are set back from the road and you can drive up to them); we also went to Five Points, the site of an old slave market which has information signs to read and some shackles still in the ground to mark the spot. There is space for a few cars to park nearby and it was deserted while we were there.

We asked the B&B owners where they recommended for dinner and their suggestion was excellent: the Magnolia Grill  which is right on the river near a steamship which made for some nice photos.

The restaurant isn't cheap but the menu had so many things I wanted  and was very good. I had tuna cooked medium rare, which came with crabmeat and a choice of two sides so I had broccoli (I hadn't seen much green veg so far on this trip!) and a baked potato with sour cream which was absolutely delicious.

My fiancé had a cheeseburger and said it was the best one he'd had on this trip so far (and he'd had a few!). His mum had a pasta dish that came with chicken, and she asked for it without chicken explaining she was vegetarian and when it came, it had no chicken but did have bacon sprinkled on the top! Luckily she isn't a full vegetarian and does eat bacon and I'm sure they would have changed it if not.

Coming next: the reason we had to leave before breakfast - the Honey Island Swamp Tour - and New Orleans.


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