Sunday, August 05, 2007

Greetings from The Big Easy

I love New Orleans! The people here are so great! We took the shuttle from the airport and our rather flummoxed driver left one of my suitcases on the van and drove off with it. George ran after them, but they turned the corner and were gone. I was a little more upset than I should have been and I talked with the bell captain at the hotel. He was SO NICE! He called the company, commiserated with me and assured me that everyone would work together to get my bag back to me.

We checked in and left right away for Riverwalk to get a muffaletta sandwich and an ice cream. We hadn't eaten all day and were famished! The olive salad that they put in those sandwiches make them very special! After that we walked to the steamboat Natchez and took a wonderful cruise down the Mississippi. The narration was educational and afterward the best Jazz band I ever heard took the stage and played for the next two hours. They were top notch, and nothing about the cruise was wearied or worn. It was as if we were the maiden voyage, although I'm sure that boat has taken thousands of trips up and down the Port of New Orleans. George went to get me a gingerale. He told me the bartender said, "we don't have gingerale, but I'll make you a New Orleans bar ginger - 7-up mixed with coke." And, it was delicious. Who knew.

When we got back to the hotel at 9:30 p.m. my bag was in the room. The next day the bell captain told me that the driver insisted on taking the bag himself up to the 11th floor lobby, and that he felt bad about taking off with my bag. That is just the way people in New Orleans are: they are caring and lovely people. Katrina is an awful memory and I get the impression that people are doing their best to get it behind them. Many people we talk to say that they are hoping tourists come often and stay long...and I hope so too!

We have had a lot of fun shopping in the French Quarter. New Orleanians know how to laugh at themselves too. One tee shirt read: I took a trip to New Orleans and all I got was this lousy t-shirt, a Cadillac and a plasma TV.

I was prepared for heat, but we are doing a lot of walking and sometimes the heat and humidity is almost overwhelming. We leave the hotel looking like human beings, and come dragging back with our hair wet and our clothes dripping. People are suffering together, and somehow, with the wonderful food and great music, it is all worth it!

Today I am bringing my parasol and we will go to hear Kermit Ruffins at the Satchmo Summerfest at 5:30. Yesterday we went to the World War II Museum and then to a crowded White Linen Night gallery walk. I was not prepared for the number of people, and the heat was relentless, so we retreated quickly down the street to the air conditioned restaurant Mulates to hear some Cajun music and eat the Cajun sausage boudin at the bar and then walked to the casino, where I won $80! THAT bit of luck rejuvinated us for another hot walk to the Acme Oyster House for a late dinner.

New Orleans in August is NOT for the faint of heart, but it is a city that is full of wonderful people, great food and fabulous music. We are having a really GREAT time!

Have a great day.