At least once in your life you must experience New Orleans. You may visit other cities, but you experience New Orleans. Unfortunately, we only had two short days (and nights) in New Orleans. I had traveled to NOLA many times, but this was Denise’s first visit. Her reaction to Bourbon Street Sunday night, was identical to my reaction on a Tuesday night many years earlier: “Is there something special tonight?” No, Mardi Gras is three weeks away. This is just a “normal” night on Bourbon Street.
We were heading to the Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone, not literally on Bourbon Street but close by in the French Quarter. We were told the bar actually did move. I assumed it was atop a roof with a view of the city. No, the bar is an ornate carousel inside a first floor room. And yes it does move. Which is amazing, considering that the crowd surrounding the bar needs to move in concert with those around them to maintain their conversations with those seated at the bar.
Since we were unable to get anywhere near the bar, we asked the doorman for a recommendation. On his recommendation we visited Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse in the Royal Sonesta Hotel for a light snack and cocktails. Sorry we should have taken a picture of the char-grilled oysters before we ate them all. (Please note, this blogging thing is new to us. We sometimes forget our responsibilities.)
We ventured again onto Bourbon Street, and ducked into a few establishments with live entertainment that was fully clothed. The number and quality of the musicians in this city is truly amazing. Clearly theirs is a labor of love! These are skilled musicians and performers. Jazz, pop, R&B, hard rock, alternative…you can hear it here! And it doesn’t matter if you are a little shy, trust me, you will dance!
The next morning, we walked 10 blocks to Cafe DuMonde. We passed as many street cleaners as pedestrians, but found a crowd when we got to the “coffee stand”. Their French Quarter location spans an entire city block and nearly every table was filled. We grabbed one of the few empty tables and ordered beignets for two and two cafe de lait. The six beignets and coffees ($12) were fresh and piping hot. The service was prompt and efficient, and the servers were more mature (i.e. older) than I have come to expect at a quick serve restaurant. We easily could have gotten by with a single order of beignets. Frankly, though certainly edible they really aren’t as good when you microwave them the next morning.
We strolled back pass beautiful homes with iron work and beautiful gardens hidden behind ornate gates. We passed galleries and antique shops. We wondered who, other than Donald Trump, bought most of the furniture we saw. We wondered what it would be like to live in the quarter. We considered that this part of the city was relatively unscathed by Katrina.
There is so much more to this city than can be covered in this short blurb. A former co-worker kindly took us for a tour of the city outside the quarter and educated us on the devastation she and so many others lived through 10 years ago. We pray that the ACOE got it right this time, because this city is too special to lose.