This past weekend, I happened to be visiting New Orleans for a few days. And here’s how that went.
I was driven from the airport to my place of stay by a taxi driver. Attention – a happy taxi driver. My flight was delayed by two hours, and I arrived at 1 am, and this taxi driver was just so upbeat and alive. Right away he told me how awesome their city is, that rents are cheap, work is plentiful, people are awesome, nightlife is crazy and fun, and he’s going to live forever. This last piece I added in my head, but taxi drivers are supposed to be bitchy and lost for directions. This one had a GPS maybe that helped. So to put it short that night I went to bed intrigued. But before, a toilet paper bow tie welcomed me into the fine city of New Orleans.
We woke up and set off looking for breakfast. And I don’t think we got to breakfast for a good hour because we just started walking and kept walking, and walking. The streets and the houses, all the houses – they were beautiful. They were competing with each other in designs, or harmonizing, or competing, I’m not sure. And it looked like Key West on steroids or nothing like it at all. The city had its own look, a mixture of French, Spanish, and Creole influences. And cats, it had a lot of stray cats. Considering a prominent voodoo culture of the region, stray cats were fitting and creepy. Speaking of creepy, before we get to beautiful houses, this was not far from our place of stay:
You know how to make a tilted cross creepier? With body restrains.
But mostly it had buildings with beautiful verandas.
And I’m happy to report that almost every breakfast started off with a Bloody Mary. It just seemed fitting. People were all wandering buzzed and happy. Tourists mostly, but still. So this was purely peer pressure. As for food it was almost perfectly good, almost all of the time. And I say almost because we had to try some of the local concoctions such jambalaya, gumbo, and various fried alligator pieces. And you know what? Just stick to the human food, they have plenty of that and it’s delicious.
And then we just kept on wandering the streets. French Quarter: Bourbon street, Royal street (personal favorite), Frenchman street (local favorite (a local told us)). And they all had those ridiculously cute verandas with plants and tiny tables, and it was all, restaurants, bars, shops, and galleries. At one point we got to the Jackson square with a gorgeous colonial looking church, a park with palm trees right in front of it, and a huge line of psychics sitting right there offering their services. It’s all about convenience, pray at church, see a psychic, or do both. Great marketing strategy or stupidity, not sure which.
Live music was everywhere. Jazz of course, good and a lot of it. But don’t expect it to start anytime sooner than noon because hangover musicians need their beauty sleep as well. And as the day progressed, things got busier, wilder, loader, drunker. And all sorts of people were there, young and old, and black and white, with a baby in one hand, and a drink in another. No babies got hurt during the process. I hope.
And then one day, we took a tour of the local Saint Luis Cemetery. And I just googled it to look up the name again, and apparently this cemetery has 3.8 star reviews, as opposed to Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 with 4.0 stars. Tough competition. Anyway, we had a guide and she told us all how the graves are above ground because of the swampy lands. And those that choose to be buried underground need to have brick walls, and as it rains, the water rises, and caskets hit against the walls, making ‘beautiful’ noises. Like I needed that picture in my head. And then we visited a grave of the local voodoo queen – Marie Laveau. And the wind picked up and the clouds darkened… Not really, nothing happened.
Then we went to see the Garden district, which was just streets lined with wealthy colonial houses, and it was exactly how I pictured rich, Deep South to look. And we just walked for hours, and took pictures, and it was day, and it was good.
As we got back closer to the French Quarters, we stopped to have a drink. And this bartender kept talking about his life in New Orleans. To put it short, here’s a story he told me ‘you know, I have a neighbor, and she’s 50, she’s a bartender same as me, and sometimes when I get home late, she walks out of her apartment, and we sit down and have a beer, and a cigarette. Sometimes, she walks out exactly as she was in her apartment. You don’t know how many times I have seen her naked. She’s the most normal person I know around here.’
And it’s true, people of New Orleans seemed to be very liberal, and with diverse life values: like curing all types of cancer, and killing a cop (that actually happened)
So that’s New Orleans for you.