Thursday, October 16, 2008

This is a family-friendly site, right?

I made it home late last night (after almost ten hours of cabbing to the airport/checking in at the airport/waiting at the airport/flying home/taxiing to the terminal (good grief, the Detroit airport is huge!)/waiting for my bag to come through the baggage carousel/trying to find my car in the parking garage/driving home in rain, fog, and kick-ass detour-causing construction that caused me to completely lose my way and finally wind up at the tunnel instead of the bridge, but being that both roads lead back to Canada... I was not going to be picky about which I took.) Whew! Coming home is always the worst part of the trip. When you leave, there is the anticipation of the fun things to come, but when you come home all you have to look forward to is a long and tiring day of travel and dirty laundry. Don't get me wrong, I was thrilled to walk in the door and go right upstairs to peek in on my babies and smell the familiar, comforting scents of their stinky rooms (Liam's being the smell of sweaty little boy, Mallory's being eau de diaper pail). But then it was back to the drudgery of unpacking and getting organized, and looking forward to playing catch-up back in the office. Ugh.

New Orleans was a great trip, despite a heart-wrenching phone call home 
during which Liam was teary-eyed as he tried to go to bed without having his usual goodnight cuddle from me. The conference was actually very relevant to what I do, which was a huge plus (I don't often attend functions that are). But I also really enjoy travelling, and have done much less of it these past few years than I'd become accustomed to. If work was going to separate me from my family, then at least it was someplace interesting, and someplace I'd never been before, and before I left home I boned up on travel websites and maps and had a pretty clear idea in mind of what I was going to try to see and do in the 48 hours I had. I didn't accomplish the half of it, of course, but I did get a taste of the Crescent City, including:
  • Three of the best meals I've ever eaten - the shrimp and grits at NOLA (frankly, I hadn't even expected to like the grits), the fresh Gulf flounder and coconut cream pie at Mr. B's, and the crab cakes at Landry's
  • The French Quarter's narrow cobblestone streets jammed full of street cleaners and beer delivery trucks at 7 a.m.
  • Beignets from Cafe du Monde for breakfast (why eat at a hotel buffet when you can go out for something authentic instead?)
  • Steamboats paddling up and down the Mississippi

  • The meant-to-be-racy-but-actually-kind-of-funny signage in the French Quarter (see attached)
  • Driving through a cemetery full of mausoleums en route to the airport (they don't bury the dead in New Orleans because the dead don't stay underground)
  • Hearing When the Saints Go Marching In more times than I could count
  • Endless glasses of iced tea delivered with long iced tea spoons, since you need to sweeten it yourself
  • Vendors selling pralines and caramels on every street corner... yummy!

One thing I wish I had seen more of was evidence of the hurricane. My travels were pretty much limited to the CBD (central business district - Superdome, etc.) and French Quarter. The French Quarter was the original part of the city, built on the highest ground, and therefore didn't flood much. The CBD did flood quite a bit, but that's the area that had the resources to clean up and open for business again fairly quickly. The poorer suburbs and east end of the city got it the worst, and I didn't make it out there. I saw lots of Garden District tours and French Quarter tours and riverfront tours advertised (on buses, streetcars, horse-pulled carts, etc.) I think at one point shortly after the hurricane, a few entrepreneurial sorts got into giving Aftermath tours, but it's 3 years later - there may not be so much to show anymore.


megan said...

Looks like fun!