Monday, March 01, 2010

New Orleans. Overrated?

We took a mini vacation to New Orleans back in November. For some reason, that city is not what I thought it would be. I wish we had followed through with going to Williamsburg, VA but the thought of flying with a baby just did not appeal to me. The fact that VA was flooded by rain around the time we were supposed to be there also validated our decision to go somewhere else. I'm just not sure we should have picked New Orleans. We've been planning to go there since before Katrina and finally made it there. I hate to say it but it was a pretty big letdown. It almost felt like when we went to Los Angeles.

I was so psyched to go see the Walk of Fame and then I got there and realized that it was in the hood. There was a woman sitting on someone's star begging. The area was dirty...well, LA was dirty period...and it just did not live up to the hype for me. The infamous Crenshaw Blvd. is only a few streets over from the street the Walk of Fame is on. It was a big letdown. New Orleans felt the same way to me.

We got there on Friday around 5:30 pm and promptly got stuck in traffic. Luckily, we had stopped on Bullard Ave to get something to eat before we headed to the hotel because I just did not want to go out into that traffic again. We walked to the French Quarter on Saturday and decided to head down Decatur St. First, the roads and sidewalks are in horrible shape. Cracks and potholes all over the place. The nicest street we saw was St. Charles Ave. Decatur St. was absolutely packed. I was heading to Central Grocery because I watched a show a few years ago that featured their muffalettas and I just had to have one. I get there and the line is out the door which did not surprise me. I order a whole muffaletta and to take back to the hotel to sit in the fridge overnight. We then, walk a little further down Decatur St. looking for Coop's Place restaurant.

I'd read about the Coop's plate which is a sampler of cajun dishes with fried chicken. First, there is a big sign on the door that no one under 18 is allowed. So, since we have our baby with us, we can't go in. Second, the place is TINY. There are like 3 tables at the front of the restaurant and a small bar behind that. I kept walking back and peering to the back of the restaurant because I just couldn't believe that there was nothing else to this restaurant. The term "hole in the wall" has never seemed more appropriate.

We crossed to the other side of the street to head back toward Canal St. I was thirsty and my baby was hungry so we stopped at the French Market hoping to find a table to sit and get a drink and feed the baby. There was a live band playing and Cayden did not like the noise. Also, it was PACKED. There was not an empty table in sight. We walked a little further and then sat on a bench trying to figure out where to feed the baby and get something to drink that was not alcoholic. I ended up going into the public restroom to change Cayden. Thank God I brought a disposable changing pad because that changing table was dirty as all get out. I went back outside and sat on the bench to feed Cayden. I'm normally shy about breastfeeding in public but I was so disgusted that I just did not care. Is it too much to ask to have a presentable restroom and a nice place to sit and regroup?

We started walking back to Canal Street after I finished feeding the baby. My husband wanted a beer so we stopped at one of the dairiqui stands. I got a margarita and almost fainted when the bartender said $8. That was nothing, however, because the next day my husband paid $10 for a hurricane. Ouch! We were hungry and since it seemed that every restaurant on Decatur Street was packed, we stopped at Huck Finn's for a bite to eat. I got the jambalaya wrap and my husband got the Shrimp po'boy. A po'boy is nothing but a glorified sandwich BTW. I have no idea why people make such a big deal about them. I appreciated that my wrap was toasted and served hot. I enjoyed it....probably because there was cheese on it.

We made our way back to the hotel sidestepping some vomit on the sidewalk. I ate a quarter of the muffaletta for dinner that night and I hated it. The large chunks of olives and the saltiness just overpowered the sandwich for me. I really tried to make it palatable by picking off the olive salad to cut down the salt but the oil had seeped in the bread so that was to no avail. I ended up throwing half the sandwich away because I just couldn't eat it.

The next day, Sunday, was a lot quieter and not as crowded. Surprisingly most of the businesses were closed so there wasn't much to experience on a Sunday. We decided to head over to Bourbon Street. The first thing we see when we enter Bourbon Street are police arresting people for crimes unknown. Bourbon Street is also pretty dirty. There's dirty looking water on the sidewalks and in the street. There's also no appealing place for us to eat. We ended up stopping at La Bayou where my husband indulged in a $10 hurricane. I had the Tabasco wings and red beans and rice. The wings weren't bad but they were breaded so once the sauce was added, the coating got soggy. I was not happy when I had to change the baby and went into their bathroom only to discover that there was no changing table.

I bought some souvenirs at the CVS on Canal Street which seemed to have more reasonable prices than the souvenir shops. Other than Central Grocery, we didn't get to visit any of the other famous New Orleans staples like Cafe du Monde (crowded and no tables) and we did very little shopping. I'm sure we didn't get to experience half of what New Orleans had to offer but I have no desire to go back.

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