This year is our 20th wedding anniversary. We decided to celebrate by taking a trip to New Orleans! My husband has wanted to go for years, and after the both of us played some roleplaying games taking place in New Orleans, we both had an interest in the city. It was interesting the reaction we got from people out here. Some of our friends had gone and loved it. Others, not so much. "It's good to go, but you probably won't ever want to go back." one person said, "Why would you want to go to that pit?" said another. Another person mentioned that the people were horrible. I was starting to get worried. We don't even drink, so we were betting our anniversary trip on the idea that there was more to do out there than hang out on Bourbon street!
My fears weren't alleviated when we arrived. Our hotel was located ON Bourbon street, right across the street from a blues club and bar. Although we had requested an inner room, we were given a room right on Bourbon street. As we stepped out on to Bourbon street for the first time, I got a good whiff....okay, some of the critics were right. Bourbon street stank. Everything was old and run down. Maybe this was a mistake.
I shouldn't have worried. The trip was delightful! The food was amazing- we had po' boys, beignets, muffuletta, gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish, alligator, and I even learned that I liked grits! Our room was beautiful, and very comfortable. While we could hear some of the music, the hotel had done very well damping the sound, so it wasn't a problem getting to sleep at all. Being around the old buildings was like travelling back in time. Everything had an old world feel to it, and we were enchanted by the balconies, and narrow little streets. We toured the St. Louis Cemetery, marvelling how living below sea level necessitated building above ground vaults for the bodies. We visited the Voodoo temple, and spoke to the Voodoo priestess. We went on a ghost tour, and visited such haunted sites as the Lalaurie mansion, and the little alleyway by the St. Louis Cathedral where a priest is said to be singing the Catholic Kyrie on late rainy nights. We even got to take a steamboat ride on the Mississippi river.
The people were welcoming and charming. As we were walking to our hotel one afternoon, a street musician asked me if we were here for the jazz festival. I replied no, that we were leaving the day the jazz festival started, but that we were here for our 20th wedding anniversary. He grinned and said, "Well, congratulations to you! Did you get married here?" I said no, but that for our 20th, we needed to do something really spectacular. He shook my hand and said, "You have a wonderful anniversary here, honey." In the end, we came home happy, well rested, and really not wanting to get back into our regular every day lives!
Were the bad things there? Sure they were! My critics were right about many of the things they brought up. They were also wrong. I think you find what you're looking for. I found a city full of interesting culture, architecture, and history. I found people to love and food to crave. I loved our vacation, and I hope to return someday- my box of beignet mix isn't going to last forever!