Tuesday, March 13, 2012

First Impressions of the Big Easy

Last week, I spent several days in New Orleans. Seeing as it was my first time visiting this historical city, I was anxious to delve into the chaos of Bourbon Street, the delicacies of Café Du Monde, and the history of a city that holds so many stories.
As some of you may know, it was the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament last week as well, so naturally, everywhere I looked, I ran into a blue-faced, super fan who was cheering constantly for their Kentucky Wildcats. Not so much a Kentucky Wildcat fan, I turned away and went about my business.
Leaving on Tuesday, the nine hour drive was enough to make my lower back ache and my poor behind numb. The headrest pushed my head forward and our car was so packed that there was no hope of reclining so I could partake in a nice nap. Needless to say, I was awake all nine hours and with each stop we made for gas, my butt was out of the car stretching and sighing in relief.

Arriving in NOLA around five o’clock, we checked into the hotel and enjoyed the fantastic view from our room. Staying at the New Orleans Marriott, having a corner room on the 29th floor, it provided us with two large windows – one overlooking Lake Ponchatoula and the other overlooking the French Quarter…not too shabby.
Seeing the Big Easy on the way in, I was a bit underwhelmed to be honest. Driving on Poydras Street, I saw the gambler’s haven, Harrah’s, but it wasn’t until Canal that I finally cracked a smile. Reminding me much of New York City and San Juan, Puerto Rico wrapped up in one, I was quickly coming to like New Orleans.

Judging by the sound of my stomach, we agreed it was time to go grab some grub. For those of you who read my previous post about my fascination with Hard Rock Café t-shirt, we opted to eat dinner there.  Grabbing my collectible t-shirt, designed with Mardi Gras masks and a drawing of the French Quarter, I was satisfied with my purchase. The pulled pork sandwich tasted delicious after a day of eating out of a snack bag and making a pit stop at Sonic for a quick lunch.
Before leaving for New Orleans, I had heard from many that it was best to always be on guard when walking the streets; however, I never for one single second felt paranoid or fearful. Granted, as with anywhere, there are certain places I wouldn’t want to be after dark, but I figure as long as I walk with a purpose and don’t pull a map out every five seconds, I’ll be fine.

Walking back to the hotel after dinner, I found myself taking in the shops around me and bobbing my head to the music that wafted into the streets from certain stores. That is one thing that I absolutely love and cannot get enough of…the music of New Orleans. Give me horns, the accordion, and the sounds of a washboard and I can be entertained for hours! I later bought a Zydeco cd which I must admit, has been played constantly in my car since my arrival back home.
Slipping into bed that night, I was excited to experience the days ahead in New Orleans. There was still much for me to see and do and I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed.


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