Thursday, October 14, 2010

New Orleans, It's Time

I have mixed feelings about this city. The city that propels one into a European type setting. The streets are narrow in the 'quarters and pedestrians crowd the sidewalks. Hanging baskets of ferns and flowers decorate the iron balconies overhead, street dancers, con artists and pan handlers mix and mingle up and down Bourbon. In the background, jazz music and blues and always the music. It's the heart of the city, this music and the variety of people that ebb and flow to the beat.
The French Quarter with it's brightly painted apartments above the stores beneath them tuck into a modern city of glass and concrete. Canal Street runs the length of the old city and is lined with stores that cater to the tourist industry. Taxi's and buses careen up and down while the street cars loaded with both the working people of the city and the tourists that are a daily influx moving to jobs or site seeing and contributing to the city's bustling crowds.
I catch the street car and ride to the Camellia Grill, alight and have lunch and then catch the return ride back into the city. The Camellia Grill is one of my very favorite places in New Orleans. Another place to have a meal away from the tourist traffic is Tony Medina's on Canal. This trip, we will visit Mother's. Usually we skip the Quarters for meals. Much too touristy for my taste when other places offer a better flavor of the where the locals hang out.
Acme Oysters is too well known and for this one, it doesn't matter. I'll go anyway. My love of oysters makes this a mandatory visit.

Cafe Dumonde for early coffee and beignets and we will linger to watch the crowd, the mimes and the artists and then to Jackson Square to wander the different stands of  fortune tellers and look at the art work offered for sale. I've never taken a horse and buggy ride through New Orleans; the clip clop of the hoofs I hear as I walk the streets while the driver spins a  history lesson for his clients.
I like the feeling I get as I walk these old streets and quietly watch the city that constantly supplies a free show from the early morning crowd to the late night revelers, drunk and stupid. Viva La New Orleans!
Did I mention..this is my destination this weekend unless something goes awry.

My first visit to this city was when I was in my early 20's. I've made many visits at different times of the year. Mardi Gras, New Year's Eve, Super Bowls at the Dome and just a weekend trip that didn't surround a major holiday. I wander the streets, sip a drink and listen to the music and just "be" in New Orleans. I could tell you some stories about those visits should I feel inclined. I might have to issue a warning on content though. 
I have to be in the right mood to visit this city. It has been almost a year since my last visit and I think I'm ready again.
I'll take a notebook and record the sites in case I want to do a blog after this trip. I'll have my cameras along and though I have stacks of pictures of my previous visits, I'll still find things to photograph.
I want to visit the 9th Ward again to see how much progress has happened since our last visit.
Four months after Katrina struck, we visited this  city. It was something I shall never forget. The parking lots were full of cars that looked as though they had been dipped in milk chocolate. No operating street lights or stop lights and only a gas station or two was in service. The police department was crippled and it was an unsafe place to be. We cautiously made our way around the city and made sure we were out of town before night fall. A very dangerous time in the city and still it remains a place to tread with safety foremost in mind. The tourists that travel there are not aware of the dangers but those of us that live close to this city know to be careful and to stay alert. The police department is still unable to provide the protection once offered and the criminals are edging closer and closer into the Quarters.

I'm outta here. I have to pack. 

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