New Orleans: So good it makes you wanna slap yo Mama!

Katrina Memorial on Convention Center Blvd

I’m not what anyone would call a world traveller; I’ve been to almost every state, across Canada and Cuba. Las Vegas is a good time if you can afford to go there between Thursday and Sunday, I long for the beach at Iberostar Varadero, and Savannah Georgia is breathtaking, rich with history and splendour, but New Orleans…Oh.My.Gawd! Not only is it tragically beautiful, the people completely hospitable but its one hell of a GREAT time!

Usually when I travel for work I spend most of my time setting up the booth, working the booth and tearing it down with maybe a few hours to see some sights. I’m lucky enough to work with vendor partners who truly appreciate the work we do with them and like to take us to fabulous restaurants. But when I found out I was going to New Orleans, I made a vow – Come hell or high water I was going to see some of the “Big Easy”.

Most of my friends asked the typical questions about my trip – Is there still a lot of damage? What is the French Quarter like? Did you do a swamp tour? Or, Are the houses in the Garden District as gorgeous as described in an Anne Rice novel? Only one answer is simple.

I didn’t do a swamp tour.

The Garden District is like nothing I have ever seen. While you can feel the houses history and stand in awe of the splendid, romantic beauty of it, the age is apparent and the lack of upkeep on some adds character, but makes you wonder was some of this caused because of Katrina? I admit I lived in a bubble, knowing only what was shown to me briefly on the news during the Katrina disaster so I don’t know if the Garden District was greatly affected by the hurricane. I can say that it lived up to my expectations and I fell in love.

As for the damage, yes there is still damage and it is heartbreaking. A woman approached my car asking for money for food. I was taken aback at first, and regretfully explained that I didn’t have American money on me only Canadian and instead of the usual grunt and look of displeasure I get from people asking for money here at home, this kind woman grabbed my hand to shake it meaningfully and warmly welcomed me to her city. I was floored! She has nothing – yet she was wishing me a great trip! WOW! One thing that bothered me was seeing boarded and broken down homes for stretches of road and then come to the end to find a Popeye’s Chicken, Wendy’s and Taco Bell – huh? I get that it provides jobs for them, but down the street I was just asked for money for food by a woman who had about 20 other homeless people living behind her.

And now the fun stuff… Bourbon Street was the best time of my life (except for my wedding)

Jeanette and I on Bourbon Street

It has every type of music you can imagine! Live music so good it hits you in your soul. I danced until my feet hurt in bars, stores and in the middle of the street. The food was phenomenal! I had the opportunity to eat at the Bourbon House and felt like I was transported back to the 1920’s. I rode a bull at Bourbon Cowboy…twice! I drank Hand Grenades, Hurricanes, and Baconators (I was drunk and decided that my signature drink of Vodka and Diet Coke needed a name – don’t ask the thought process cause I still don’t know). I saw a kid tap dancing for money with pop cans on his shoes and he was GOOD, I wore hats, a mask – I did it all!* And at the end of the night or should I say 6 o’clock in the morning, like Harold and Kumar before me I went to Whitecastle!

The whole trip was only made better sharing it with my co-worker and friend Jeanette who thought the Tempura Shrimp was so good it makes you wanna slap yo mama!

*Disclaimer: At no point did I flash ANYONE anything but the top of my head – I am a married woman 😉

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