First impression: If you don’t want summer to end and you’re in the mood for more August heat, then the perfect spot for you is New Orleans. My husband and I visited this southern city in late September (pre-Katrina) and we couldn’t believe the blast of hot air that hit us every time we stepped outside.
New Orleans likes vibrant colors for its floats
Second impression: While walking on Canal Street (the downtown hub of the city), several days after our arrival, we decided to stop for cold beers in a hotel lounge. However, we wanted to sightsee so we didn’t bother finishing our drinks. Imagine our surprise when the bartender rushed over and said, “Oh, you must take this with you” and poured our beers into paper cups.
It’s illegal to drink in public in almost every American city because of “The Open Container Law” which prohibits holding open containers of alcoholic beverages. But in New Orleans it’s a different story.
Third impression: We stayed at the Hilton Riverside with its spectacular view of the Mississippi River. I had read a great deal about the Mississippi because I wrote my senior thesis at Columbia on Mark Twain. But seeing it was quite different. The traffic on the river is unceasing and the range of vessels is mind-boggling. Watching all this was a new experience.
Fourth impression: The architecture in New Orleans takes one’s breath away: exquisite wrought iron balconies with marvelous hanging plants, stately old mansions in the Garden District and the ubiquitous shotgun houses (so named because one can shoot from the front door to the back door without hitting any walls) all vie for one’s attention.
New Orleans is an American city that is totally unique
Fifth impression: The food scene is every bit as good, if not better, than New York. Among others, we decided to visit Commander’s Palace and it definitely met our expectations. Going in, the hostess took us to our table – right through the kitchen. When I remarked on this she replied in her charming southern way, “We’re showing you we have nothing to hide.”
We couldn’t resist the turtle soup with dry sherry simply because we’d never had turtle soup and, for dessert, we opted for the specialty of the house, Commander’s Bread Pudding Soufflé. I’m still dreaming about that dessert.
Of course, we had to visit the famous Café du Monde (open 24 hours, seven days a week, closes one day a year: Christmas) with its chicory coffee and beignets (a doughnut eaten hot with powdered sugar). And yes, one will end up a mess because the sugar invariably goes on you, the table and the floor. Everyone is in the same boat.
Sixth impression: It may be directed to the tourist trade, but taking the steamboat dinner cruise up the Mississippi is great fun. One leaves in daylight and returns as night falls and all the lights start to twinkle on the far shore. When we signed up for this I told Peter not to complain about the food because it would probably be mediocre.
Boy, was I wrong! The food was excellent. The entrée was pecan-crusted catfish that made me a little wary, but after the first bite I was won over.
UPDATE ON THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF KATRINA The number of visitors to The Big Easy reached 9.5 million in 2014. And they’re spending more, $6.8 billion in 2014, compared to $4.9 billion in 2004. “Visitors are staying longer and not just going to the French Quarter,” says Kristian Sonnier of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. New York Observer, 8/17/15
MAY WE SUGGEST… Adea’s new Modal T-shirts are perfect for traveling to hot climes. I got one and I love it – lightweight and silky soft. A girl couldn’t ask for anything more.
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