Okay, New Orleans. You win.

I just might love you.

So much, in fact, that the hubby and I comforted ourselves when something was closed or we didn’t have time to see it, by saying, “Don’t worry. It’s not like we won’t be back.”

We used Rand’s business trip to San Diego as a jumping off point for the NOLA wedding we were heading to (as did, coincidentally, the Gastrognome. The world is a small place). We arrived late in the evening, and booked it off our American Airlines flight, as the gentleman sitting across from us (who proceeded to down 4 Bud Lights each during the flight) were giving me the look  of death. As in, they were trying to pick a fight with one or both of us. It was weird and scary, and I’ve never left a plane faster in my life.

Our cab driver from the airport to the hotel was an interesting little fellow. Speaking with a thick-accent of undetermined origin (it was not anything regional, I’m sure) he noted points-of-interest, the plastic beads hanging from his rear-view mirror swinging as he drove. As we crossed over a causeway, he explained that it was one of the highest roads in the city, and news footage had been shown of people swimming to it for safety.

Holy crap.

He pointed out buildings, noting the point, stories up, where the water had reached, talked about the chaos and the destruction and the dead. It seemed surreal, something that had happened hundreds of years ago. Not in our lifetimes, anyway.

I remember the news surrounding Katrina, remember people handing off their children to aid workers in helicopters, and then quietly hoping the next one would arrive so they, too, could be airlifted out. I remember Kanye saying that George Bush didn’t care about black people, how the president defended FIFA, and how my relatives from other countries came up and asked me if we had left all the people of New Orleans for dead.

As we drove to our fancy hotel, and I wondered, having never seen New Orleans pre-Katrina, what it would be like now.

I don’t know what’s to blame for the things I saw. Maybe it was the Superbowl win. Maybe it’s the inherent love we all have for our hometowns, distilled. Maybe it’s the unstoppable human spirit, or whatever (which, I saw unstoppably puking, like, everywhere). The point is, New Orleans was alive. Vibrant and effervescent, and a little insane and seedy, sure, but wonderful and charming and breathing.

I suggest you put down whatever you are doing and go, immediately.

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We stayed at the Roosevelt Hotel, owned by the Waldorf Astoria, and just a few blocks away from Bourbon Street. It was gorgeous.

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There was a TV ... IN THE BATHROOM. I know, kids. Im scared, too.

There was a TV ... IN THE BATHROOM. I know, kids. I'm scared, too.

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And since we arrived at midnight-ish, on a Saturday, Rand insisted we check out Bourbon street. As we walked there, a bride (or, at least, I assume she was a bride, as she was wearing a wedding dress) ran past with her entourage in tow, screaming and laughing. Things were about to get very, very interesting.

The next morning, I would try to explain to everyone what, exactly, it was like.

“I saw things. Things you can’t un-see,” was all I could muster.

Imagine a frat-party. With a bit of Vegas tossed in. Add some Disneyland and nudity for good measure. That, as far as I can tell, is Bourbon Street.

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There are balconies all along Bourbon Street, overloaded with drunk people. For obvious reasons, you should not stand directly under them.

There are balconies all along Bourbon Street, overloaded with drunk people. For obvious reasons, you should not stand directly under them.

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Nudity, as promised. Moments before he was on the floor with his pants around his ankles. Good times were had by all.

Nudity, as promised. Moments before he was on the floor with his pants around his ankles. Good times were had by all.

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Whoonu?

A House of Voodoo. Who knew?

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The police were all on horseback. They were amazingly agile, even pinning one extremely drunk and hostile guy against the wall.

They managed to handcuff him from their saddles.

They managed to handcuff him from their saddles.

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And one, in particular, was gorgeous. He looked like a young Lando Calrissian. This did not go unnoticed by the group of ladies clustered around him. One woman pointed to her chest, then traced a heart in the air with her fingers, and pointed to him, eliciting this response:

Sadly, this was the best photo I got of him.

Sadly, this was the best photo I got of him.

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Rand decided that he was peckish, so we popped into the only grocery store we could find, a tiny corner market off a side street that showed no signs of closing anytime soon. While we opted for cherry tomatoes and cheese and crackers, I was amazed by some of the stuff on the shelves.

Rand insisted on trying, and was subsequently disappointed with, the Cajun potato chips.

Rand insisted on trying, and was subsequently disappointed with, the Cajun potato chips.

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Hubrigs New Orleans Style Pies; Available flavors include peach, apple, and sweet potato.

Hubrig's New Orleans Style Pies; Available flavors include peach, apple, and sweet potato.

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I suppose theres something amusing about people drinking Hurricanes throughout New Orleans.

I suppose there's something amusing about people drinking Hurricanes throughout New Orleans.

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Deep fried love.

Deep fried love.

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Ive never had King Cake, but it always looks to me like it was decorated by kindergarteners.

I've never had King Cake, but it always looks to me like it was decorated by kindergarteners.

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In total, we were on Bourbon Street for about 45 minutes. We saw numerous people vomiting, making out, getting naked, trying to pick fights (Note to the preppy frat boys of the world: please stop “fronting”. You look like idiots), making friends, carrying one another home, and, of course, professing undying love … to policemen on horseback.

Like I said before: New Orleans, I just may love you.

(Tomorrow: 24 hours in New Orleans and, gasp, the Wedding!)

Full list of categories:  Attractions » Awesome » City Guide » Local Color » Photos
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Comments (10)

  1. 1
    Mike Perron says:

    You took some great shots. I got to stay a night in New Orleans once with my parents and brother after our connecting flight from Mobile was delayed. It was great to walk through that city. At night, we stayed in a dirty motel near the airport. I woke up in the middle of the night wondering who was eating the take-out Denny’s we had reluctantly ordered. It wasn’t a human. I pulled the covers up over my head and didn’t go back to sleep.

  2. 2
    Philip says:

    Mike, was it a CHUD?

    My brother moved to Lafayette recently and took a sojourn down to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. The only thing he said about it was “Hope that guy who bit me on Bourbon Street wasn’t sick.”

  3. 3
    Jen says:

    I’m starting feel like one of those crazy TV show watchers who is convinced that if their heart-throb “just met them in person” they would fall in love and live happily ever after. Minus the whole falling in love part. I’d settle just to be friends.

    Let me clarify so you don’t have to notify authorities.

    So far we have the following in common: living in the same city (ok so a lot of people live in Seattle, but still); crazy, dysfunctional, yelling at the dinner table family (sub pasta sauce for matzo ball and you have my family); mad love for @gastrognome; VERTIGO (or a general feeling of barf); and a serious adoration for the city of New Orleans. Let’s just say this – If you write a post about needing a beignets intervention, I might have to request a face to face to confirm we are not the same person.

    p.s. upon further review, this maybe creepy. will post anyway.

  4. 4
    Everywhereist says:

    Jen -

    The authorities will be held at bay,
    Until we finish our beignets.

  5. 5
    Philip says:

    That was so close to a haiku that it almost made me weep.

  6. 6
    Trisha says:

    Wow – handcuffing a guy while on horseback. That is talent. I think I would go to NOLA just to see that. And Lando Calrissian. And eat beignets. Which I know you could eat anywhere, but it would be so much cooler to go to New Orleans to eat them.

  7. 7
    randfish says:

    I recall that night on Bourbon Street as being the time in my life in which I witnessed the highest quantity of other people’s bodily fluids in a one-hour timeframe. Vomit, blood, urine, saliva, tears and all on one street. Yikes, but also crazy fun.

  8. 8
    Laura says:

    I wrote a post a/b King Cake last year: http://hollidaysburke.com/2009/02/23/cake-quotes/

    I was in NOLA pre-Katrina for Spring Break in law school. I wasn’t too impressed and it definitely smelled like urine. So I guess…not much has changed?

  9. 9
    JoAnna says:

    We didn’t spend much time on Bourbon Street (I’m not really one to seek out vomit), but we did love New Orleans and constantly found ourselves saying that we, too, would definitely be back.

  10. 10
    Tarah says:

    Now, when you say you saw people making friends do you mean “making friends” as in the “making friends” of one of your previous posts…? Just curious hehehe! Great post! I live relatively close, by that I mean a short plane ride, and I have never been. Maybe I should?! But not because I want to “make friends”.

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