Once we got past the mysteriously appearing Interstate Mattress the drive to New Orleans was uneventful. Just mile after mile of that lush greenery that’s taken for granted in the south, but looks shockingly green to refugees from the semi-arid mountain regions. After that we hit a few (dozen) miles of causeway over the swamp, drove through a nice thunderstorm, and took a quick jaunt down some narrow streets to our hotel. Wendy scored us a very nice place just off of Royal Street, which is about as close to Bourbon as we really wanted to be anyway.
Of course the first thing we had to do in the hotel was get out of it and go see the city! We took off for some real New Orleans food, three kinds of fried seafood with a side of French Fries and beer. Oh, and none of those scary green vegetables, if you please. This delicious grease-fest was served under the typically hyperactive New Orleans air conditioning, the kind that makes you wonder whether the hostess accidentally seated you in the freezer. After that, we were off to Wendy’s favorite Bourbon Street dive.
Yes, the (in)famous Pat O’Brien’s! We scored a seat in the courtyard, not far from their signature flaming fountain. But burning water is merely a sideshow, the main attraction at Pat’s is the firewater, for it’s home of the Hurricane. That fruity yet intoxicating concoction is possibly Wendy’s favorite drink of all time. She loves them to death – or would if she didn’t pass out first. It was my first encounter with the original article, and I liked them, but not with quite the same fervor. So I explored all the offerings of their bar. Since we didn’t have a menu, I’d just name a color and the waitress would bring me a neon alcohol in that color. Of them all I think I liked Green the best, though Blue was pretty good too.
We were seated next to a little strip of plants and trees bordering the courtyard. Apparently it’s a popular disposal location for the maraschino cherries and little slices of orange that come in the drinks. Unsurprisingly there are a lot of animals in the near-tropics, and they’re not above eating cast-off orange slices.
So a little while into our drinking we discovered a good sized rat had joined us for dinner. I’d guess he weighed at least a couple pounds. We caused a bit of commotion, which attracted some other patrons who caused even more commotion. Soon enough one of the bars roving party photographers wandered over, squealed, and started snapping photos. By then there were actually two rats there, doing a little dominance dance over the prime feeding grounds. The south can be such a charming place sometimes. Somewhere along the way another couple was seated nearby. Since we were at a four seat table we invited them to join us. Thus did we meet Brian and Nadine. They were visitors like us, in town from Detroit to experience the local music scene. Having been to the Big Easy a few times before, they knew some of the spots to go. Since we were at loose ends and had no agenda, we tagged along with them.
First, to Fritzel’s, certainly the first German-themed jazz club I’ve been in. Pretty good music too, and a decent vibe. But we stayed for only a drink. It turns out that they’re big fans of zydeco music, so we caught a cab to a zydeco club somewhere away from Bourbon Street.
Things get a little hazy at this point. You could say the photo matches quite well with the way I remember things. After a while we caught another cab back downtown and went to some other random Bourbon Street club. Then we staggered out into the street and continued to the only place we could go.
Cafe du Monde, of course! Because after a long night of drinking there’s nothing quite like
donuts beignets and coffee. Oh, and a truly frightening bathroom – if you ever get the chance I definitely recommend avoiding it. After our sugary drunk food we wandered back to the hotel and collapsed into bed around 3 AM. We got some good New Orleans flavor our first night!