Mama has been to New Orleans several times but I had only been once for a long weekend when I was 17 and in a French emersion program at Georgia Tech. Clearly, I don’t remember much. I was eagerly awaiting this part of the trip since so many friends in New York rave about modern New Orleans and how it will be my spirit home.
Sadly, I missed what they find magical and I don’t see myself returning there. I think some people who don’t know the South find this the perverted, dark South they read about. I guess there is that, but spending so much time in the incredibly elegant cities of Charleston and Savannah, New Orleans simply fell flat.
It had it’s highlights. Our hotel, Soniat House, was sublime. I will never forget those biscuits.
Commanders Palace lunch was amusing, Galatoire’s was chaotic but epic Red Fish menieuiere, potato soufflé and Oysters Rockefeller. The carousel bar was a hoot and I nearly got sick spinning around that thing. I loved, loved Magazine Street and its charming boutiques and great antiques and Myscha Lake belting out standards at The Spotted Cat was gorgeous. And who can complain about the architecture?
(The Garden District)
But the amount of drunk, delirious, drug riddled people that greet you at every corner in every area was sad to me and mother, not to mention scary. We were admiring the beauty of a white husky regally perched on the sidewalk while his filthy owner was drinking and attempting to play a guitar. When another dog came up to say hello the owner grabbed the husky by the collar and threw him against a wall. Mother and I were so angry and certainly said something but he just threw an F-bomb our way and went on looking for discarded cigarettes. Another man yelled at his son so loudly we just ducked into a corner to wait for him to pass. A drunk man was waving his paper bag of booze around so violently in front of the Carousel Bar even the door man got nervous. And you can forget Bourbon Street.
I didn’t find any of it charming, amusing or exciting. It was just dirty, depressing and dangerous. Those poor 18 year old girls slouched up against poles in thongs and too big heels waiting for customers just turned my stomach.
Maybe I’m getting old! Maybe I am in a different head space, regardless, it soured the city for me. One place I did go gaga for was the New Orleans Athletic Club. Our hotel has free passes for guests so I got up Tuesday morning and jogged over to the Edwardian explosion for a little work out. The marble slab showers, indoor pool and deep red drinking room were enough to make me want to move in.
(Myscha Lake belting out standards at The Spotted Cat)
This morning mama and I woke up for one last biscuit before heading to the airport on the busiest travel day of the year. We were blessed with great weather, no traffic and two hours to spare before our on time flights.
I can only imagine what boat we will float on next be it on the Nile, the Ashely or Bosphorus. Stay tuned.