I remember the anticipation I felt a few years ago as I waited to travel for my first time to New Orleans. I went to New Zealand when I was 17 with a guy from New Orleans and by all accounts I could look forward to historic buildings, savory “gallbladder challenging” foods, and amazing music. Instead, I felt unsafe, disappointed, and disgusted by the putrid smell of urine in the streets. In hind sight I greatly miscalculated.
Now, two years later, I discovered a city more familiar to the one my friend described. I returned to New Orleans in order to attend a seminar on physician contracting. Last night, as I walked the streets in and around the French Quarter I came to appreciate the notable architecture, cobblestone streets, and delicious foods. Most noticeable, however, was the sound of jazz music flowing from seemingly every structure. After all, I happened to arrive in New Orleans during The Jazz Festival. Every Tuesday and Thursday I have the opportunity to drive Hannah to her Ballet practice. I usually listen to NPR, but quickly change the station after the Jazz show comes on. I have never fully understood Jazz. In fact, I have kinda felt like there was a Jazz elite and I wasn’t intellectual enough for not understanding what was so great. I now get it. It has proven an amazing event for me. Jazz is meant to be experienced live. Granted, I felt a little persona non grata since I was dressed in business casual, but it soon became apparent nobody cared. The music was electrifying.
I wanted to experience true southern cuisine so as I walked around the city I kept my eyes open for places that looked authentic (like I would know). As I walked down Bourbon Street I almost walked right past a corner restaurant with open French doors facing the busy sidewalk. As I approached the entrance I reviewed their menu and saw oysters and Jambalaya. That grabbed my attention. The oysters were the highlight. The presentation was incredible. I am used to oysters out of a can, so this was very delightful. The jambalaya was also very tasty, although not as good as I had hoped.
Samurai sushi was also very good, although the service was less than stellar. I enjoyed the canal and decater rolls.
Perhaps the highlight of the trip was the World War II Museum. I haven’t resolved in my mind why the national WW2 Museum is in New Orleans and not in Washington D.C., nevertheless, it is a memorable experience I would recommend everyone visit. There are really two parts to the museum (1) 60 minute “4-D” movie entitled “Beyond All Borders” (2) the actual museum complete with original memorabilia and multimedia stations. I must admit I was on the verge of tears on several occasions during my 4 hours visit. It made me proud to be and American.
In short, there are still unsavory elements of the city, but what is the value in dwelling on bedraggled conditions of such an iconic city. The sights, sounds, tastes, and atmosphere made for a serendipitous trip.