Thursday, September 01, 2005

Memories of the Big Easy

Some thoughts and memories of our trip to New Orleans about six or seven years ago.

The "swamp tour" we took. The beauty of the marshland in that area is astounding. This was our first time witnessing that type of geography, and we will never forget when the operator allowed Hubba-hubba to drive the boat all by himself, going at least 20 mph. We did see the small beady eyes of an alligator.

The riverboat tour of the Mississippi, with its Creole buffet and jazz band. I remember specifically being dismayed by all the refineries and businesses built up on either side of the river. I had this grand thought of seeing the Mississippi of Mark Twain, but it was not to be.

Eating beignets at the Cafe du Monde. I even sucked it up and drank coffee with them, because dangit, that is how you are supposed to eat them. They were delicious, but the coffee wasn't.

The "Haunted New Orleans" tour that we also took. The graveyards that we saw are what I remember most. I had not really known that because the city was below sea level, that was the reason for all the above-ground sarcophogi. I also remember being disgusted by some people that were in the tour who actually took a small bone from an exposed skeleton.

Drinking Hurricanes (now the irony of the name is too much for me to bear) at Pat O'Brien's well into the morning hours.

The food, incredible. Actually, we liked the po'boys at a little corner restaurant we stumbled upon better than the fancy schmancy meals we ate.

The air of conviviality at Jackson Square. I don't know if it was only because we were there at Halloween, but there were Tarot, palm, and aura readers, sketch artists, crafters, and just a general air of excitement.

The wonderful wrought-iron work that the French Quarter is deservedly famous for. Gates, balconies, doors, they were all beautiful.

The overall friendliness of the people.

The raucous drunkenness and loudness of Bourbon Street. Several street parties were going on while we were there, and it made for interesting people watching.

Amazement at the engineering marvel of the highway over Lake Pontchartrain.

The "European" hotel we stayed at, where we had to pay extra for our own bathroom. Never mind that you could barely shampoo your hair without painfully banging your elbows on the sides, at least it was ours.

The lovely little Catholic Church we stumbled upon while walking. Especially the large statue of St. Jude in a peaceful garden off to the side.

The poverty just outside the French Quarter. We, as tourists, were gently warned not to stray out of the French Quarter.

So much loss and destruction, it is difficult to even imagine the scope.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

I LOVED NO. There was no other city like it in the US, even the world. It's hard to believe it's gone...for now.

That statue of St. Jude is right outside the French Quarter. I came across it after visiting the St. Louis cememtery, which you weren't supposed to visit alone, even in the daytime. I found out why after being followed the minute I entered.

Perhaps that corner restaurant with the Po-Boys was Mothers. They did indeed make some awesome sammiches.

We were just in NO in May and I'd never eaten at Brennan's and have always wanted to. We had breakfast there, it was delicious. I figure the next trip we'd make it to Galatoire's but that's not to be.

Jackson Square always had the Tarot card and Palm readers, not just at Halloween but what an awesome time to visit NO and go on a ghost tour.

I'm glad you have some really great memories of a very unique city. It wasn't a perfect place, very far from it. The pictures on the news show just how imperfect it was and how the illusion of the French Quarter was just that...an illusion. Behind the curtain simmered a society still steeped in the segregation of the Old South and the extreme, gaping abyss between the haves and have-nots.