Today, my companion and I completed a whirlwind 24-hours in New Orleans. Arriving the day after Mardi Gras was intentional. Arriving in a cold misty rain was not. Where’s the warmth of the south?
Nevermind, we spent our first few hours in the WW II museum — it was fascinating — more on that another time. Afterwards we located our hotel, left our bags and then walked to the French Quarter.
The sanitation department had done yeoman work cleaning up after Fat Tueday. Beads were still hanging from trees and balconies. Stores were still selling beads, costumes and other party favors. But the tone was subdued. It was like the city was suffering from a severe hangover.
We meandered through stores, tasted pralines (yum), took photos of touristy stuff, visited art galleries and ate dinner at Deanie’s Seafood Restaurant. After dinner we traipsed through the streets looking for some of the famous New Orleans nightlife — all that jazz. There were a few “crazies”, some music — adult beverages were spotted. All in all it was a benign and damp (rainy) evening.
The following morning we took one more walking trip to the French Quarter. This time it was in search of beignets — New Orleans delicacy. We were told Cafe du Mond was the place to go. After a twenty minute hike we found the Cafe entering its courtyard while being serenaded by a small dixieland combo. And yes, they were playing “When the Saints Go Marching In”. Across the street from the restaurant was a line of horse drawn carriages still dressed up for Mardi Gras. Ghost tours and city tours were being offered near a park dedicated to “War of 1812” artillary.
Waitresses sit in a line near the door waiting for customers. Sitting down in immediately earned the attention of next waitress who rushed over to take our order. She pointed out that the menu was on the napkin holder. We ordered hot chocolate and three beignets. As we waited I marveled at the civility of the crowd. Soon the waitress arrived with warm beignets (fried pillow shaped dough covered with an quarter inch of very white powdered sugar) and the hot chocolate. What a feast this was — we scarfed it down, wishing for more and knowing it was not to be. Alas, we had to be satisfied with wonderful combination of grease and the sugar — a high like no other.
Quickly we scurried out of the Cafe heading back to our hotel. Along the way soaking up the last vestiges of the atmosphere — trolley cars, casinos, brick-paver streets and sidewalks. All the while licking powdered sugar from my fingers and my lips. What a delightful buzz!
“In many ways New Orleans is as decadent as Las Vegas”, I said to my companion. To this she commented, “true, but it lacks the glitz of Vegas and it’s dirtier”. I nodded in agreement. We ran between the buildings as the mist changed to rain.
I-10 would soon make this visit a distant memory.