The Big Easy: a love and hate relationship

10 Jun

I know many of you have been anxiously awaiting my next blog entry… my intentions are honest in that I wish to blog everyday but it never seems to happen!  And, having a profession that requires frequent traveling often leaves me with little time to put my thoughts to the keyboard let alone paper!

I am returning from a fast-paced and exhausting work trip to New Orleans.  I find this city amazing yet overwhelming at the same time.  On some level it is a microcosm of Las Vegas with its scantily clad young women prancing about on Bourbon Street, beckoning young, intoxicated men to spend their last dollar in hopes of receiving some small amount of attention.  On another level, one finds themselves wandering through a deeper part of the French Quarter, admiring the wrought iron balconies, draped with red geraniums cascading down as if to announce the presence of royalty.  The architecture takes you to possibly the 5th or 6th arrondissement of Paris, a welcoming change from the flashing neon of Bourbon Street.  

Don’t get me wrong: every last nook and cranny of the city should be explored.  There are wonderful restaurants around every corner, when you least expect it, filled with southern hospitality and delicious cajun specialties like jambalaya and shrimp creole.  Wolfe’s is a new restaurant just behind the New Orleans Convention Center that I discovered this past week.  If you find an opportunity to visit, please ask to be seated in Tyronne’s section.  Tyronne is an excellent host, and he offers a secret that he is famous for around the world… he was on Oprah!  I’ll give you a hint: it has to do with napkins!  I’ll let you discover this one for yourself!  

One must also enjoy the river when spending time in New Orleans.  I have only two recommendations: walking/jogging alongside the river while admiring the early morning sunrise and taking a riverboat cruise.  On this particular visit I had the opportunity to ride aboard the steamboat Natchez.  It was so peaceful and relaxing; offering dinner, drinks and interesting conversation.  The air was crisp and the sunset was simply stunning.  I sat at a small bistro table along the lower deck balcony, sipping vodka/tonic and watching the sun ever so slowly slip beneath the horizon.  It is amazing how all of your cares go unnoticed for a moment; I believe it is partly rooted in my love of water.  Nevertheless, when I could no longer hear the hum of the mighty beauty, it’s giant cylinders working by steam power to drive the massive, shiny red paddle round and round, I knew my tour had ended.  I felt sad yet satisfied!

Another secret to New Orleans is that the good jazz cannot be found among the noisy, touristy clubs of Bourbon Street.  One must venture out (generally a cab ride from the riverfront/Canal street area) to the small, quaint bars on the eastern side of the French Quarter.  It is not unusual for someone famous to show up, unannounced, to entertain an appreciative crowd.  On this trip I unfortunately had no time to explore this relaxed and entertaining side of New Orleans, but it is important for you to know that it does exist.

I must get back to my work, but I also want to remind you of another highlight in the city.  One must visit the original Cafe du Monde http://www.cafedumonde.com/ for their famous beignets.  My cousin first introduced beignets to me not very long ago, and once I found this cafe in the heart of Jackson Square I was in heaven!  This cafe was originally introduced in 1862, and today they still offer their warm, moist powder sugar coated beignets 24 hours a day!  

In summary, I hope everyone visits this unique city at least once in their lifetime.  If you have any experiences in the Big Easy that you wish to share please do!  Also, if you want any specific recommendations regarding restaurants and bars, please let me know!  Happy travels-

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