Sunday, August 8, 2010

Crescent City

Day 3 of the Young & Stupid, YES! Road Trip:

After a night of drinking in New Orleans, I was surprised how effortless it was getting up. I say that, but I mostly speak for myself. In the last several years I have learned my limit and conditioned my body to not completely punish me for my nightly activities. I acted as the alarm clock for everyone which at first they resented me for but later were thankful for, or at least I hope. We had made plans to meet up with Amy’s friends for lunch at some place in the French Quarter. It was a beautiful day, very sunny with few clouds. We struggled to find it at first because we couldn’t find the street. We knew we were looking for some place called the Green Goddess on Bienville and Exchange Pl but we couldn’t find Exchange Pl. It turns out the at Exchange Pl is an ally of sorts which is why we had overlooked it. Boy was it hot. We didn’t mind too much about the heat, and sat outside to enjoy the city’s quaint atmosphere. We met Amanda and Laura, another one of Amy’s old friends, who was visiting Amanda from Chicago. We were extremely delighted by the food. It was the best food we could ever imagine. I ordered this amazing salad with salmon and avocado and some sort of cheese. Amy had this french toast stuffed with fig and goat cheese. Marvelous. I can’t really describe how good it was. It was just exactly what we needed. We parted way from Amanda and Laura with the promise that we’d see them later. We were off to explore New Orleans!

There’s so much to see, we weren’t sure where to start. We were suppose to meet up with a camp friend, Andrew, a Louisiana naive who had promised to take us to a off-the-beaten-path Voodoo Queen, but we never gota hold of him. We walked around the French quarter with eyes wide open. We took Chartres Str. towards Jackson Square and we dipped into a used bookstore to look at postcards. I picked up a gently loved travel book about Louisiana and Amy got some interesting used postcards.

Jackson Square was hoppin’ and full of a colorful array people, artists, performers and tourists, like us. We gawked at the art in amazement. I was definitely considering getting my tarot cards read from some lady for $30 but didn’t because 1.) that’s kind of a lot of money for something so silly 2.) I know how to read tarot cards and would probably be an ass about it if she read a card differently than I would and 3.) we had better things to do. We walked along the square on St. Peter’s Street towards the water to see the Mighty Mississippi, which is the largest river system in North America. It was all right I guess. I’m only kidding. The foreign boys were super excited by it and we were too. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t what I expected. The color of the water was a sort of brownish grey; I thought it would be bluer. We wondered if it was always this color or if this was part of the afterglow of the BP Oil Spill or if this was all [Hurricane] Katrina’s fault or even just years of muck. I was briefly reminded ofAdventures of Huckleberry Finnwith Huck and Jim on the river and amused myself at the parallels between the book and our real life adventure. Were Amy and I struggling with the life’s expectations for us while Sam and Francesco just looking for something better? Maybe I need to read the book again, I’m not sure if I’m remembering it right.

We continued wandering around the square. We knew that it was our duty as tourists to eat beignets and drink coffee at Cafe Du Monde so we ate beignets but it was way too hot for coffee. We weren’t sure where to go from there but my map showed there was a French Market with a farmers’ market and a flea market, not to far from the square so we headed there. The market seemed to be an open collection of shops, anything from bags, purses, dresses, sunglasses, jewelry, t-shirts, anything really. We wandered without real direction. We saw a Jazz Heritage Museum and decided to see what it was all about. As we went in a concert going on, some sort of jazz student showcase. It was a celebration of Satchmo, aka Louis Armstrong. We listened and absorbed the unique experience we felt like we had stumbled across. We headed back towards the hustle and bustle of the market only to stop and Amy got Sweet Tea Vodka and lemonade which we all of course shared. We stopped and watched another jazz band more , zydeco than big band, play music. It was delightful. John called and laughed when I answered the phone because “that is the most stereotypical sound I could have imagined from you in New Orleans.”

We continued to walk around the market, listening to all the live music, window shopping and tasting any free samples that were offered to us. Amy and the boys got some alligator sausage. It was actually really good despite my initial prejudgments. We were all getting a little tired so we decided to head back to the hotel to unwind, recharge and get cleaned for dinner.

Amy’s friend, Amanda, had recommended a great place for dinner, The Gumbo Shop. The food was to die for. We all shared each others food, assorted seafood, gumbo, jambalaya, Cajun pasta and red beans & rice among other Cajun delicacies. We felt spoiled by a city that we loved. My favorite Louisiana-born person, Mike, had recommended that we head over to Frenchmen Street for some local flavor. We went by Amanda’s place, who has a darling duplex, and convinced Amanda and Laura to come out with us toFrenchmen’s Street. We ended up a bar where a blues bands was playing. I bought a round of shots for everyone and the band was flirting with Amy and asked her to go around and get tips for them. It was a good time.

For Amy’s side of the story go to her blog

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