Our Last Night in New Orleans

Trip Start Apr 30, 2010
Trip End Sep 05, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Louisiana
Thursday, May 6, 2010

Every Person has a Story

After getting the bike sorted, we walked around a bit more and realized it was Happy Hour – well, it's pretty much always happy hour here, but it was official Happy Hour (which I think is 3-8). We tried out a bar called Voila that had big open windows and doorways, which would allow us to people watch but provide some shade and refuge from the ever-oppressive heat. Diane, the bartender, listed the beers and recommended the Abita Purple Haze – a light, summer raspberry beer made by the local Louisiana brewery.

Diane chatted with us and told us a bit of her story. Her family, the Blanques (pronounced Blonk!) has been in New Orleans since the 1700s, and she has ancestors who were reportedly in cahoots with Jean Lafitte himself. The family had a lot of old money that dwindled somewhat over the generations, but up until recently there was still an interesting family home nearby – a haunted mansion on Royale Street. The house had apparently been in the family since the slave-owning days, and even now the clinking chains that held the workers captive in the basement can still be heard rattling by night. The family sold the house, and finally it is now reportedly owned by Nicolas Cage, whose photo we saw on the walls of the Blacksmith Shop (amongst many other celebrities who frequent the bar).

Diane also told us about her more recent history, specifically that she stayed in her home during Katrina and the days after. Four feet of water for four days, she stayed. She had a fierce glimmer in her eyes as she told us, "I saved more of my belongings that way. Some people left, they lost it all. I stayed in New Orleans, I stayed in my home until the waters went down".

Five years later, Katrina’s impact on the minds and hearts here is constantly tangible. It’s rare to get past “How are y’all” without hearing a mention, if not a full tragic story, about the storm.

Playoffs, Louisiana Style

While we were enjoying our Purple Haze at the bar, some sixth sense must have kicked in because I swivelled my head my head towards the TV screens on the far wall to see a glorious, familiar site – the Habs, and only about a minute into the first period! We nearly fell over ourselves scrambling to get off our barstools and to the couches by the TVs. Needless to say, we were the only ones hooting and hollering when the Canadiens scored just minutes into the game. It was great to watch a playoff game, sunburnt, in a tank top and shorts, kicked back on a couch with a cold beer....during only the second round, not even the finals in June.

We ended up heading back to the hotel to watch the end of the game online and get ready to go out for dinner. We still hadn’t really sampled too much of Louisiana’s gourmet offerings, so we thought we’d treat ourselves to one night of fine (on our budget of fine) dining.  

We tried to find a couple of recommended restaurants off the main drag, but when they were closed or we just couldn’t find them, we settled on a spot on Bourbon called Bayou. Fortunately, it turned out to be a great pick. We were seated upstairs on the balcony overlooking Bourbon and our waiter Tim was a riot – bursting with giddy enthusiasm and charming humour. Tim is originally from a town a bit further Northeast of New Orleans, but came this way to find work. He’d been here just two months and was loving every minute.

We sampled some real Lousiana cuisine – check out the pics to see some great food and drink. Also be sure to check out the videos of the random parade that broke out on Bourbon while we strolled around that night!!

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