Mike and I arrived in New Orleans at 9 p.m. on Thursday. By the time we checked into our hotel on the corner of Bourbon and Orleans Streets we were exhausted but hungry. Mike lived in New Orleans for a summer during his late teens and thought he remembered this really good burger joint just around the corner. His nose remembered because we walked right into Yo Mama's at 10:30 with the intention of getting a burger and a beer.
We stayed until 2 a.m.
New Orleans at night has a way of doing. It sucks you in, allures you with its loud music, blatant debauchery and easy access to booze. So it was that we spent our first night in New Orleans drinking late into the night and walking Bourbon Steet with people of various levels of sobriety. It was good people watching. And Yo Mama's was good conversation with the locals, so we couldn't not stay out. It was as if the city was beckoning us to walk its streets, listen to its music and eat its food. So we did. And we didn't stop for three days.
As we found out though, New Orleans looks slightly different by the light of day - quieter, with an old world beauty.
Of course, it's still New Orleans so even in the light of day there are still signs of the 24 hour shenanigans taking place in the city.
This picture after all, was taken on Bourbon Street at 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. I don't think any part of Chicago is this active at 4 p.m. on a Sunday.
While food and booze is the cornerstone of any NOLA vacation, what really made the trip for me were all of the street performers. Any time of day in almost every corner of the French Quarter, there are performers of all types - full bands complete with drummers and dancers, tarot card readers in Jackson park, duos of fiddlers with dogs and solo guitarists with their cases open and filled with hard-earned, and well-deserved money.
On Saturday night, Mike and headed out without a destination in mind. We wandered the city and started out at a German Jazz bar on Bourbon Street. We ended the night in the back room of a bar that housed a mid-sized concert hall, and one of the best Cajun bands I have ever heard. We danced until they finished playing.
By Sunday, we were heavier and more rested than we were when we arrived. It also was 65 degrees and sunny which was a most welcomed temperature. Remember, Mike and I had braved the Chicago Blizzard of 2011 just a few weeks prior. We wandered the city and at one point laid down in Jackson park for 20 minutes. We baked in the sun because we could.
On our way to get brunch that morning, we passed this man gently strumming "What A Wonderful World" on his guitar. As we walked by, Mike dropped some money in his case and I smiled because I couldn't help but think, it certainly is in New Orleans.
More to come. This is only a small taste of our wonderful trip.