(New Orleans) - People from outside Louisiana have a tendency to assume that New Orleans is somehow the center of our universe. While it is our state's biggest city and an international tourism destination, many of us just don't visit that often. While I have come to the city frequently for sporting events, a quick review of our records indicates that my family has not been here since 2002.
It is a sad reality that, for us, New Orleans is a place you drive around on your way to the beach. The last time my daughter was here, she was ten years old. She has a few memories of the trip, but they are vague. So, upon our arrival, we retraced our steps.
We are staying in a Canal Street hotel, which puts us close to the most infamous tourist hot spots in the city, particularly the French Quarter. We stopped for dinner and ate in an open-air courtyard, which we all enjoyed. We were out at a relatively early hour and things were still quiet. But we hung around until after sundown. That's when things start to change.
Here's how my daughter summed it up: "New Orleans has its own smell. It's a mixture of liquor, barf, pee and seafood. Mmmm."
She left out the part about the delightful odor of manure coming from behind the horse-drawn carriages, but a lady has her limits.
Her observation may be on the mark for parts of the quarter, but it certainly does not sum up the whole city.
Just riding through that part of the city for an hour or so, you can certainly grasp why New Orleans evokes so much romance and passion from those who love it. My wife and I discussed coming back more often, and next time staying in uptown.
We truly feel a responsibility to play a part in New Orleans' ongoing post-Katrina recovery. Plus, riding the streetcar is just kinda cool.
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When we planned this trip, we didn't realize it would be on Easter weekend. So, we are keeping our eye out for a Sunday service that will work into our schedule. I hope we can squeeze into St. Louis Cathedral. Maybe our daughter would remember that.