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New Orleans, first night

Had a long layover in Nashville, and spent some time trying to find the best BBQ in the airport, by asking local employees and looking online. Seemed to come down to Neely's (Memphis style?) and Whitts (Nashville style?) both holes in the wall; no one recommended the sit down tourist places with live country music. I went to Whitts and had decent pulled pork and, hmm, interesting fried okra. From the plane I'd seen a big river and appalling proliferation of suburban cul-de-sacs.

First impressions of New Orleans were off putting at best. Airport food close at 8 or 9; not that I personally cared, but I take it as Indicating Something. The shuttle I'd reserved through Southwest is $19 each way, yet seemed the cheapest option. And it seems to consist of 3 14 seat vans. Took at least half an hour to get us, by which time a half-decent transit system would have me downtown. The driver later was hard to understand, but seemed to be apologizing for speeding on the highway, justifying it by pointing to Saints game traffic we were just squeezing through, and saying a bit later we'd be stuck for 2-3 hours in traffic. If true that's rather appalling for Monday night football. Or would this be some special thing? I don't remember when football season starts. Anyway, it all smacks of a poor city run by corrupt small-government politicians.

But I started seeing pretty interesting architecture. My hotel looks nice, and the front desk woman was pretty friendly and helpful. Big room! I could almost do laps. Though I worry about morning noise from a skylighted garden I overlook. Speaking of which, I like these things, but it seems unnecessary for a subtropical climate. Though I think I saw "sculpture garden" on a sign.

I went walking, first away from the French Quarter, through the Warehouse District. Seems a lot like SoMa in San Francisco; an old, er, warehouse or factory district, that's been arted up a bit, but is still pretty dead. I did see many buildings packed wall to wall, and multi-story... still supporting no street life, in fact seeming unoccupied.

Finally I hit the French Quarter, first down the Canal Street border a bit, then into it. Here's there's life. I ate at Popeye's, sort of Louisiana fast food, which feels lame, but at that point I was getting worried about finding dinner at all. And it's an Experience too, though not one I'll rush to repeat. (Had popcorn shrimp, a piece of chicken, red beans and rice, and cajon fries, plus a biscuit. All meh. And that was the spicy chicken...)

I wandered a fair bit around the southwest French Quarter, and I did find a cheapish 24 hour bar/food place, Deja Vu. (Off Bourbon, not to be confused with some Deja Vu club on Bourbon.) Also found a corner store open to 1am and got some groceries in case of late night munchies. Lots of really amazing antiques in the windows of antique stores. More densely packed though shorter architecture, dominated by porches and elaborate railings.

But, Bourbon Street? Yes it's a cliche tourist street with lots of drunk college students throwing beads down at women. But it's also where most of the life is: people, open businesses, that sort of thing. Restaurants, music clubs, dance clubs, exotic dance/strip clubs (with some amazing, ah, public exposure), more. Of course, it's Monday night, so maybe more of the Quarter will stay up late later in the week. Of course, I leave Friday afternoon, so I may never know.

I seem to be about half an hour from halfway down Bourbon. Good thing I got groceries, not walking that far for a snack.

Plans: none cast yet. But there's possibilities of daytime walking, streetcars[1], a free ferry across the Mississippi, lots of museums, an aqaurium, a park and zoo that'll be a bit involved to get to, one of those touristy hop on/off buses ($40 for a day, but $60 for 3 days, almost tempting, especially if more frequent than the public buses.)

[1] "How frequently do they and the buses run?"
"Really frequently!"
"Yeah?"
"Like, every 15 minutes!"
"Uh."

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( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
februaryfour
Nov. 6th, 2012 04:24 pm (UTC)
Oooh. I haven't been to New Orleans and really want to. I'll have to ask you for recs if I ever do get there.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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Damien Sullivan
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