Date: 29 May
Location: the balcony, out of the heavy southern rain, Inn On Ursulines, New Orleans
Notable sightings: the a French Quarter, Hurricanes, beignet and bad coffee, the Lalaurie Mansion, the Mississippi River.
We were onto our second lurid red Hurricane from Pat O’Brien’s before we thought to ask what went into them. FYI: it’s essentially KoolAid and four shots of rum. Which of course goes some way towards explaining how we soon found ourselves wandering Bourbon Street in the steamy, pouring rain in a giggling knot of linked arms, bedecked in beads, Hurricanes in ‘to go’ cups in hand. The night escalated quickly.
The highlights include (wisely) deciding food was a sensible option and hoeing into a pile of deep fried crawfish and poboys; our new friends — Mr Love, the doorman at Pat O’Brien’s, and our private dancing saxophonist at the deserted 365 Bar — adopting a boys trip from upstate New York, karaoke at the Cat’s Meow, breaking my wet shoes on the dance floor and having to buy new ones at midnight on Bourbon St (they’re glittery, heeled things emblazoned with gold fleur de lis — I love/hate them), Hand Grenade drinks at Tropical Isle, losing Tassels, test tube shots of fire whiskey at Razoo, learning a new line dance, losing and refinding everyone, last drinks (water, at that point) at the pirate Lafitte’s Blacksmith, losing Tassels again, raiding the corner store for post midnight snacks, Tassels deciding she needed more cookies and dashing back out before our slowed reflexes could catch her.
I’d actually arrived the evening before from Japan, via Los Angeles and Houston and, already sweating, caught a cab from Louis Armstrong Airport to the French Quarter, the vieux carre. The driver was a chatty Arabian and during the ride I added yet another two countries (both Jordan and Lebanon) to my already lengthy Must Buy a Ticket To list. Isn’t that list meant to shrink as you travel, not grow?
A storm had rolled into and over the city and the quarter was now eerily still. And not quite what I’d imagined, if I’d imagined anything at all. The streets were dark and narrow, lit only by flickering gas lamps, the houses’ lower windows were blank and shuttered. However, our inn was warmly illuminated and snug. Settled, I talked myself into, then out of, then swiftly back into taking myself for a celebratory drink somewhere, even googled a great place nearby.
And then I passed out face down and fully clothed in a deliciously air conditioned room.
The next morning I was up, sprightly and wide awake, with the birds. One of the cab drive’s reccomendations came back to me: “breakfast at Cafe du Monde on coffee and beignet, around 6am is best”. I explored the quarter as it too woke up, then ate what only the Americans and the French could possibly consider ‘breakfast’: deliciously doughy fritters in powered sugar with creamy weak coffee. When a local remarked to me that there was ‘a serious storm a comin’ in’ and that the city was under flash flood lockdown, I looped home to wait out the torrential rain – which turned on and off as if someone was toying with a switch – and wait for Bunky & Tassels to turn up. Which they soon did, leading to last night’s Bourbon Street-centric adventures.
It’s safe to say that today I was not up with the birds, did not feel or look sprightly and did not emerge for beignet for breakfast.