On to the next stop and we hit the famous New Orleans. Feel like this will be a short blog. New Orleans is definitely a bucket list stop. Mom you probably don’t want to read this one, it will break your heart.
There are a couple of spots in the world you hear a lot about. Las Vegas is one that is a recommended stop by many. New Orleans is another. So when planning our trip we decided to stick New Orleans in to break up the travel and to cross off a bucket list item. The fact my mother has written an incredible book about Hurricane Katrina, that included a trip to New Orleans for her helped.
So we left Houston Sunday afternoon on our way to the east coast. Along the way our next target was New Orleans. We traced our way up the golf coast and into the small area of Kenner, just outside of NOLA, and the home of the Louis Armstrong Airport. We checked into our hotel, took our things to the room and returned downstairs to restaurant for a bite. Tiana enjoyed a wonderful Crawfish Etouffe and I had the fried catfish. Both meals were awesome and Etouffe has become Tiana’s new recipe to look up when we got home. After dinner it was bedtime.
The next morning we got up pretty early and headed for the famous French Quarter. We would walk about 30km this day and it started at 9am in a parking garage in the French Quarter. Here we went out and started wandering up and down the streets. We wandered into the market, which was really just a flea market like at home. We wandered up and down the famous old streets. The buildings so unique from what we are used to. Really very interesting sites. But what struck me the most was the terrible smell, the smell of sour milk and rotting garbage was everywhere. It really was disgusting. Outside of that the french quarter holds its charm of the buildings, but for them most part the shops are on of 2 things, booze dispensaries or trinket shops meant to sucker in tourists. Nothing unique or overly cultured. We took our walk to Mothers for lunch and had Po’Boy sandwiches. This place came highly recommended and the food did not disappoint at all. Mothers is a bit of a dive looking interior, a part of its charm. The walls are littered with pictures of famous people who enjoyed the food. Littered is the right word because there is no way those are hung in a planned or level manner. You can see the plates made behind a stainless steel station from the tables. When you come in you grab a menu and stand in line, by the time you work your way to the front you hopefully have decided. The line winds down the steel serving station and to a register. The lady behind the register took our order and charged us way too much for a sandwich. Then she handed us a receipt and told us to take it to a table. A wonderful server came by and took the receipt to the back along with a couple of others. She referred to everyone as “my babies” as she served them. She made some great jokes and was very pleasant. The food was out quickly and was truly great. Definitely worth a stop for those considering going to New Orleans.
After Lunch we walked out to the Mississippi and up the river bank back to the French Quarter. I was really struck by the poverty and homelessness early in this area but even more so when I saw a young boy playing a small drum and singing for change near a statue. It shocked me more because just moments early we had passed the aquarium where a number of school groups were organizing to go in. The boy should have been in school or doing something fun not singing for change at the side of the Mississippi. Panhandling was fairly regular all over the area. We worked our way back up to the river to try the world-famous coffee at Cafe Du Monde. I have to say this was the most disappointing part of this stop. The coffee was just good average coffee, nothing more. I would not recommend you go out of your way to stop by this place, especially since the lineup we were in was short and took well over 15 minutes. I am pretty sure better coffee was to be had all over the French Quarter.
After walking the French Quarter for about 5.5 hours we headed back to the Hotel to get cleaned up and wait for Tiana’s friend Larry. Larry is a Navy man and was stationed in New Orleans as a recruiter. He was going to show us around a bit in town. Meeting Larry was pretty exciting. Tiana had told me he was a great guy and he didn’t disappoint. He was a lot of fun to talk to and he brought us a bag full of Navy items. He also brought a Challenge Coin and explained its significance. Was very cool. Larry took us to the Spotted Cat a jazz bar. The band members were weird and it isn’t what you traditionally imagine as New Orleans jazz but it was cool to be in a famous jazz bar in New Orleans. After that we walked into the French Quarter and into the Bourbon Street area we ended up at Deanie’s for dinner for some more local cuisine. Another pretty darn good restaurant. Larry told us a couple of stops for food we should make before we left the south. The man should get a commission from these places and my bet is he recruits a lot of new Navy members with his pitch. Very persuasive. Chic-Fil-A at least owes him for convincing me to go. After dinner we walked up Bourbon Street back to where we parked. We walked Bourbon past where it is parties and where it becomes quiet. Maybe a bit of a gay district up at this point. Included a number of same-sex couples holding hands and one panhandler with a sign that said “Lesbian, Need Money for Dildo.” Was interesting for sure. Just as we got back to the car we had a real cool moment. On the corner of the street we were parked was a crowd. As we got closer we could hear music and there was a 7 member band just playing on a street corner. The music was beautiful and a lot more of what you would expect from New Orleans. We stood and listened to their whole set before packing up to leave. This moment was absolutely amazing, was really a special thing to see. On the way home Larry stopped us by the Calliope Projects where Master P was raised. They are tearing it down and replacing it with much nicer project homes with money from Katrina recovery. It was interesting to see these depressing buildings, now being torn down but I can imagine it being a tough place to live.
Outside of that one moment and getting to catch up with Larry, I think New Orleans was a huge disappointment. The culture is beaten out of the city with the over commercialized tourist shops and the poverty is incredible. The city smells awful and while the buildings are cool once seen it is done. I wouldn’t mind going back for a couple of days to see a few more things but it isn’t high on my list of to visits. Maybe if I liked partying it would be better but mostly I just found it dirty and lacking any attachment to its true history.
New Orleans – Definitely Can’t live there
PART 5 – Savannah Sunburns and Girls With Curves