So I came back from the good ol' NOLA with a wicked cold/cough/nastiness, and then my six year old computer at home was being mean and wouldn't let me upload my pictures. I finally got them onto my Picasaweb, though, and I owe you people a New Orleans post!
We got into New Orleans late Friday night (March 28, gosh, three weeks ago!). Bryan wasn't sure until two days before that if he was going to be able to get away from work, so we ended up on different flights. He actually left Richmond about two hours after me, but he flew US Air through Charlotte and I flew Delta through Atlanta, so he arrived in New Orleans about 15 minutes BEFORE me. (If you've forgotten how I feel about Delta, I direct you to this post from last year, when I attended this same conference only in Toronto.)
Anyway, normally neither of us is the going out type anymore. We did a lot of partying in our college days and even into our early twenties, but since we moved to the 'burbs, we just don't go out much. But we were in New Orleans. Three blocks from Bourbon Street. And so, we went out.
Can I just say that Bourbon Street is out of control? I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like during Mardi Gras. I mean, the only thing I can compare it to is being in a giant club, and having lots of big clubs all around it that you can go into, too. We wandered to the end (well, almost the end--we stopped at the gay clubs, figured we didn't need to go down that way being straight and all...) and bought ourselves some Hand Grenades, one of the signature drinks of Bourbon Street. Then we made our way back towards our hotel and towards what has now become my favorite place ever, the Blues Club.
And let me tell you why it's my favorite place. It's because one of my all time favorite scenes from a movie is when Chris sings the "Babysittin' Blues" in Adventures in Babysitting. Here's the clip:
THIS WAS THAT PLACE! Aw, man, it was SO FUN!!! I was soooooo tempted to ask if I could sing the Babysittin' Blues, but I resisted...
Saturday we got up and began to wander. It wasn't a pretty day... really humid and overcast. Before we left the hotel I washed and blow dried my hair as usual. This was a huge mistake. As we walked out onto Canal Street, I could literally feel my hair turning into an afro. Oh, it was bad. But there was nothing I could do about it except try to smooth it down, which resulted in non-existent curls. Whatever. We still had fun.
We tried to get beignets (a type of doughnut) from this famous place, Cafe du Monde, but we were not the only tourists in New Orleans on Saturday morning who were told that was the place to get them, so out of starvation/desperation we went to another place down the street and got them instead. Maybe they weren't as good as they would have been had we gotten them from THE place, but they were still damn good.
We went and watched the IMAX movie about Katrina's effect on the area, and wandered around some more, and then it was time for lunch. We found a great outdoor cafe with a band (there's bands EVERYWHERE down there) and ordered the Louisiana sampler platter, complete with gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice and crawfish etoufee.
We ate the hell out of it... it was SO GOOD!
After lunch we went back to the room for a nap before hopping on the St. Charles Ave streetcar. We wanted to check out a different part of the city (and the streetcar experience), and this gave us the chance to see all sorts of beautiful homes. We stopped along the way and had some yummy barbecue, and then it was time to turn in for the evening.
NOT! Of course it was time to head back out to Bourbon Street. And yes, we did manage to revert to 23 year olds for the weekend (but I did take care of the business I was there for, I promise!).
A few shots from our evening:
First things first: more Hand Grenades:
After one of these and a shot or two, I can't remember if we had this club in the background on purpose or by accident... because you really can't avoid having these places in the background:
We eventually ended up back at my FAVORITE PLACE EVER (yes, it deserves all caps), the Blues Club. I made some friends:
By 1am or so, I had decided I needed a boa--and a picture with this suave dude who had just come from his high school prom....
...and Bryan had decided the best place for his excess beads was on his ears:
Somehow we made it up and out the door by a fairly decent hour on Sunday. I had learned that there was no hair drying allowed in NOLA and double the hair gunk was required, so unfortunately my photos with Jackson Square and the St. Louis Cathedral have me lookin' like a drowned rat:
It was a beautiful day for sightseeing, and we spent part of it on a tour of the areas hit hardest by Katrina. A few lowlights, if you will:
The markings on this home show that two peoples' bodies were found on the right side. Their bodies were not recovered until about a month after Katrina. :(
Many homes still have the flood line. You can see it here, it's kind of orange:
And finally, FEMA trailers were still EVERYWHERE:
There were so many homes and businesses that were still boarded up... in some cases because people couldn't afford to come back and rebuild, in other cases because people chose not to since others in their neighborhoods weren't coming back. It was really sad. We were a little unsure about paying a tour company to show us the devastation, but I'm glad we did. I felt it was important to see the remnants of the worst natural disaster of our lifetime. There is still so much work to be done.
Of course, parts of the city are still beautiful, like the good ol' Mississippi River!
Sunday night we needed a break from the partying, so we went to the casino and played poker for a few hours. Monday, Bryan headed home and I headed to my conference. After the conference, I did get to go out with some coworkers, and guess what we drank?
And Tuesday, it was home again home again jiggity jig... besides the cold I came home with, it was really a great weekend!!!