thoughts, updates, stories and ideas from a girl and her mom
Monday, June 11, 2012
I LOVE NEW ORLEANS
I really couldn't tell you how many times I declared my love for the Big Easy while we were walking its streets.
Thursday afternoon, my mom and dad took Sophia home with them. Our plan was to come back to St. Louis and get about five hours of sleep before leaving at midnight. It's a ten hour drive from St. Louis. But, seeing as we were like children waiting to go to Disneyland (children who can drive), we ended up just staying awake instead. We watched The Avengers at a local theatre, and got onto I-55.
We arrived in New Orleans just in time to eat an early lunch. I'll try not to go into detail about every meal, but it may be difficult. Anyway, first meal was The Gumbo Shop, a favorite of ours. It was great, and everything would just get better from there.
After lunch, we did what we would do for the majority of our weekend - walked and walked. We walked every street of the French Quarter. We strolled down blocks we haven't been on before and we explored all of the busiest blocks as well. I don't know when they did this, but the city has now blocked off several blocks of Royal Street for pedestrians during the day, allowing vehicles down Bourbon instead. Then switching those two at night. This change brought out some fantastic entertainment on Royal. We saw jazz bands, jazz solos, contemporary musicians, street performers, an opera singer and many more. Until the rain washed everyone out for an hour or two. Then another group would start all over again. At night, it was much quieter, especially off Bourbon.
A new walk for us was into a neighborhood called the Marigny, east of the French Quarter. It's a little edgier and local than that neighborhood. The Marigny is home to the jazz club, Snug Harbor, which often hosts Ellis Marsalis. He's been a jazz musician and teacher, primarily in New Orleans, for more than five decades. He's also father to four currently successful jazz musicians. After doing some research on jazz clubs, we bought tickets to his Friday night show. Marsalis led a fantastic jazz quartet. Watching them communicate and perform together was mesmerizing.
Saturday was walking, shopping, eating, drinking, walking. So wonderful. The evening was spent on a tour of the French Quarter with a haunted history group. It wasn't the jump out at you and grab you type of tour. It was a walk and chat about various tragic events in the area that have led to some mysterious occurrences. It was quite fun. There are some stories and histories that I look forward to reading more about.
After our tour, we found another place for great jazz, Fritzel's European Jazz Club. Completely different, but absolutely fun. This group was dedicated to keeping people happy and bouncing. They play a short set so the hostess can rotate a new group in for drinks and tips. They were highly entertaining! And hard to get a picture of...
All of these things don't explain why I love New Orleans. I don't fully understand, so explaining it is pretty hopeless. It's the one city I know that simply fills me up. I'm satisfied in my belly, my ears, my mind, my soul and my heart.
One reason I can name is the people - its residents and tourists both. Mind you, there are some in both categories that aren't easy to love, but, for the most part, everyone is fun to be around. The residents are happy you're there, especially since Katrina. They are interested in your story. They want to share part of theirs, and they're willing to go way above and beyond normal interaction - even if you're not eating at their table or buying their art or coming into their bar. They just make it fun to walk around. The tourists there are a different sort, too. Eye contact is easy to come by and is usually followed up with conversation. We met people from all over the place. We know that because we actually chatted. In lines, in restaurants, just standing around. It's almost like people want to confirm that others are having this same incredible experience. People, in general, are easier to be around in New Orleans. (And it's not the alcohol.)
Another reason that I love New Orleans is our own history here. We started our life together there ten years ago. Highs and lows and lots of life later, it still meets us where we are.
I love this city. Because I think it loves me back.