Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Diary of a Vacation: New Orleans - Finding the Charm

The first night in New Orleans passed and soon we found ourselves waking up at a leisurely late hour of nearly eight thirty in the morning. We debated about what we wanted to do. We wanted to go to some cemetaries and to the zoo as well as some museums before we leave on Thursday. With rain in the forecast for tomorrow we decided to take on the more outdoor adventures today.

First though we had to have breakfast. Of course we had to go to Cafe du Monde for beignets. I mean we are in New Orleans after all, it only made sense. We decided to walk since it was only about 7 blocks away, and honestly after our 30+ some odd treck the day before that seemed easy.

When we hit Jackson square I was immediately struck by how lovely it was. I mean it was really more what I was expecting out of New Orleans. There was a sense of ease and charm that I had been looking for. Honestly it sort of reminded me of New York in that good way.

Jackson square and the market had not been on our list of things to do, but we figured since we were there we might as well look around for a while. We are on vacation so there is no real set thing we have to do. So we just started walking around.

Four hours and eighty blocks later we collapsed in the hotel. We wondered up and down the streets of New Orleans taking pictures, stopping in shops, and roaming through St Louis cemetery #1. Somewhere between the powdered sugar covered pigeons at Cafe du Monde, the impromptu concerts in Jackson square, and an old rare book store I fell in love with the city.

I  can not really say what it is about it that I found so endearing about it. Perhaps it was the fact that it became incredibly familiar so fast. Perhaps it was because I felt like it all seemed so natural. All I know is I had this strange sense of being at home.

We went out for lunch and ended up past Jackson Square again even though we had only meant to go up a couple of blocks. We just kept going and didn't seem to notice. We came across young boys tap dancing in the street with bottle caps on their shoes. We passed a group of dredlocked guys playing banjos while sitting on paint buckets. We watched locals chat with each other easily as though they were all familiar. We saw a group of young men walking through the streets with stringed insturments in cases, two carrying a standing base.

We had to come back to the hotel and shower befor even considering going out to dinner. We were fairly well exhausted but had managed to walk off lunch easily. Plans for a casual dinner went by the wayside as we decided to try a nicer restaurant that had been suggested to us. It was incredibly satisfying, but afterwards I wanted to avoid the crazyness of Bourbon street so opted to wonder down Royal instead. It was quieter and a pleasant stroll.

As we made our way down the street we wondered into the sound of a quartet playing some old timey blue grass music. I think it was the same four boys I saw walking through the streets earlier in the day. They looked to be 20 something white boys in suspenders, bow ties, and flip flops. They were incredibly good, and I found that I was reluctant to move on without listening.

They had taken a request and were in the middle of a slower song when a car pulled to a stop just in front of them. An elderly woman with a cane got out and immediately began to scold the musicians who seem to have set up in the doorway of her shop. She demanded that they get out of her doorway despite the fact that her shop was closed.

I wanted to drop something in their tip jar but we realized we had no cash on us. The husbeast called across the road to see if they were going to just move one store front down to continue and for a moment the guys got scared we owned the next shop and were going to run them off as well. We told them we just wanted to make sure they were not going anywhere while we went to the ATM.

In the end we bought a CD from them and talked to them for a little while. Tricky Britches was their name, and they had come all the way from Maine to spend a week playing in New Orleans. They were pretty cool, and their music was good. I liked them a lot. Plus they gave me a sticker.

As we made our way back to the hotel to make it an early evening I realized that New Orleans has a feel to it that lives somewhere between the eclectic artist free spirit of Austin that I love so, and the old world community of New York, with all the charm and slow ease of the deep south.

Yea I think it is safe to say that I have fallen in love with the city.

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