Blog Master G

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New Orleans

Monday, May 30th, 2005 · No Comments

With a rich history dating back hundreds of years to King Louis XIV, New Orleans feels real, evoking a distinct sensation of being in Venice or elsewhere in Europe. I had to remind myself time and again over the past few days that I was deeper in the South than I had previously been — that I was in Louisiana. It’s not the manufactured adult Disneyland that is Vegas and, as Jen aptly put it, “New Orleans is everything that Vegas over-compensates to be.” (Right down to the casinos.) It is an experience. It’s about being there.

Jen, Ben, Kat, and I descended from around the country upon the Big Easy for three full days of non-stop weekend fun. We even hung out a couple times with Heather and Lisbeth, who also happened to be in town.

We got our fill of the French Quarter and Bourbon Street, for which New Orleans is probably most famous. We spent our share of time strolling up and down block after block of the drunken street party that is Bourbon Street (I finally understand why Caroline Street is known as the Bourbon Street of Saratoga). We experienced the potent drinks — the Jester (strange and wheatgrass green), the Hurricane (red and sweet), and the Hand Grenade (pineappley and my favorite) — along with the bead-hungry, flashing women (and men) and more than one bride who’d had one too many Hand Grenades. There were the classic rock bands belting out Jon Bovi, the sex clubs with the enticing shadow dancers in the windows, the female impersonator clubs, and even the Evangelical Christians with their L.E.D. crosses reminding us that Jesus died for our sins (but that he supports the death penalty… seriously, it said that).

We took the railcar to the Garden District and saw Cemetery #1, though only from the outside since we didn’t expect it to close at noon on a Saturday. We enjoyed a stroll to the beautiful Columns Hotel (“Built 1883 | Listed in the National Registry of Historic Places”), where we spent the afternoon sipping cocktails on the porch, watching the streetcars go by and soaking in Southern living at its best. That night we had dinner at an oyster shack on Bourbon, where we ate lots of greasy seafood, before taking to the streets again. We partied the night away, capping it off with 2 AM beignets at Cafe du Monde.

Sunday began with brunch at Annette’s Cafe, a little Greek establishment where omlettes were our only option because they were “too busy” to make anything else (we were one of three tables). The proprietress told Jen she looked like spinach and feta after she had ordered the same. We chilled in the humid afternoon sun at Pat O’Brien’s, located in what was originally a 1791 Spanish villa, after hanging out for a bit and losing some money (but gaining free drinks) at the Harrah’s slots.

Dinner at Mona Lisa hit the spot — a welcome and relaxing break from all the greasy food and loud crowds — and we capped off the evening listening to jazz at the Apple Barrel on Frenchman Street outside the touristy part of the French Quarter. It was a most refreshing finale to a perfect vacation to get a taste of the local New Orleans flavor.

Jen and I ran back toward the hotel through the pouring rain — with a final stop at Cafe du Monde for more beignets — and clocked in a handful of hours of sleep before catching our flight back home.

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