If you have never been to the southern part of the United States, you haven’t experienced southern hospitality. It is a throwback to a more relaxed, genteel time – of women in hoop skirts fanning themselves.
Well, with the exception of the loss of the hoop skirts, I’m happy to say that southern hospitality is alive and
well in New Orleans. Even after all these folks have been through with Hurricane Katrina, they are still upbeat,
friendly and eager to have tourism resume.
Katrina’s destruction had little physical impact on the French Quarter, especially Bourbon Street, other than a loss
of visitors and business. It’s safe to return. I can assure you, they will welcome you with open arms.
Bourbon Street is lined with bars, jazz clubs and watering holes. Imagine stopping in a storefront where the frozen
drink machines are lined up and ready to dispense your favorite libation! I speak from experience when I say choosing
one from the twenty or so choices was not an easy task. Even more of a surprise was the live alligator in the glass tank
just below the machines. But that’s New Orleans. Expect the unexpected.
Bourbon Street is the epicenter of the New Orleans experience. It’s loud, it’s rowdy and it’s a wild, no-holds-barred
experience. And that’s not even during Mardi Gras. If you have any hope of sleeping during your visit to New Orleans,
book a hotel a block or two away. Seriously. The old hotels on Bourbon Street have little balconies, where people hang
out and cheer on the crowd below. The party never ends. There are police on horseback to keep matters
in check. And, as always, if there’s a crowd, there’s a pickpocket nearby.
You can stroll the streets, cocktail in hand, listening to the music wafting from the clubs and watching the people. Most
bars and clubs only require a minimal cover charge, if any. You can spend a leisurely evening wandering in and out of all
A word of caution about Louisiana. It’s hot. Hotter than you can even imagine. Even at midnight. A humid, heavy,
hang-in-the-air kind of heat still persists, it will leave you weak and weary in no time.
If you want to get out and about in the daylight hours, there’s more than a few things to see and do without traveling
too far. The aquarium is a great way to spend the day. My son especially enjoyed the rare white alligator, only one
of eighteen ever found in Louisiana.
Take the trolley through the lush Garden District and view all the exquisite Victorian houses. This is a great way to kill a
couple of hours on a hot, sultry day.
Or how about a tour of a local cemetery? Visit St. Louis, the oldest burying ground in New Orleans. Many of the original citizens
are there, along with Marie Laveau, the legendary voodoo priestess. You will see many “X” marks on her crypt, a lot of visitors
have carved believing it promotes good luck. But remember, this is a final resting place, and thus should be given the proper respect.
Back in the French Quarter you can visit the St. Louis Cathedral dating back to the 1700’s where crooner Harry Connick was married.
Or how about some lunch? Try a muffaletta. It’s an Italian coldcut sandwich spread with a chopped olive salad, it’s everywhere
in New Orleans. Or maybe a beignet, (ben-yay), a deeply fried piece of dough sprinkled with powdered sugar. You can wash both
down with a hickory coffee at the original Café Du Monde, a New Orleans landmark. The hickory coffee is not for the faint of latte:
it’s a harsh, bitter concoction posing as coffee.
New Orleans is the perfect destination for a lost weekend. They have nothing on Las Vegas. I’m betting that what happens in New Orleans
stays in New Orleans as well.