Sunday, December 03, 2006

We're in New Orleans!

What the title said! Alana has a Medicaid Purchase Plan conference in New Orlenas, and I came down to join her. We're staying at the Bourbon Orleans hotel in the heart of the French Quarter. We stayed in the same hotel back in 2004 when we had to come down here for my Employment Authorization Document. At the time the hotel was undergoing renovations with workers pounding away at 7:00 a.m. We paid less than $60 a night then. This time the rate is over $100 a night, but the State of Louisiana is picking up the tab. The "rack rate" of the room is $1000, so even the price on this trip is a discount!

I can say that the French Quarter is up and running more or less as normal. There are one or two empty buildings; can't tell if that was due to the hurricane or just bad business. A couple of souvenir shops have "going out of business" sale messages. Oddly, they are fully stocked. The Tower Records store has been mostly picked clean, though Alana did pick up the Vincent Black Shadow CD she's been looking for. Tower Records' demise had nothing to do with the hurricane. A bunch of places, like Mulates (a famouse New Orleans restaurant near the convention centre) have new coats of paint. The big difference is that Bourbon Street isn't as busy as we've seen it in the past. There are people out and about, but the numbers are much lower than I've seen before in non-Mardi Gras periods.

The only direct evidence we saw of the hurricane was eastbound on I-10 a mile or two before the Houma, LA exit. I saw a very large shed or very small warehouse on wooden stilts. The stilts were new. Nearby was a metal shed, mangled, discarded like a crumpled up piece of paper. Indirectly, there are a number of t-shirts available that reference the hurricane, FEMA, and New Orleans' mayor Ray Nagin's post-Katrina comment about the city being a "chocolate city". One of the better ones had a picture of Nagin dressed as Willy Wonka, and the message, "It's a chocolate city. Semi-sweet and full of nuts". Alana bought a t-shirt with a bad word on it (grin!) dealing with FEMA. She's going to have to show it to the folks at her work.

If we get the chance, we intend to drive down into the 9th Ward. Not sure if we'll have the time, though; depends on when her conference ends.

For lunch we ate at Johnny's Poboys, on St. Louis near Decatur. A client suggested that we go there, and his recommendation was a good one. There's not much to the decor. You give them your order, sit at a table with plastic red and white checked table cloths, and they call your number. However, they make excellent poboys. They suggest that they are the best in the city. I could believe that. I had the calamari poboy; the calamari was perfectly cooked and the toasted bread melted in your mouth. Relly liked it, and the price wasn't bad given the size of the sandwich.

We finally made it to Port of Call for supper. We had to wait quite a while to be served as they were packed. Normally we wouldn't wait so long, but it's within a ten or fifteen minute walk, and we'd talked about going there every time we'd visited New Orleans. They have a limited menu: three or four types of steaks and four types of burgers. That's it. For good reason. The burger was excellent; and, yes, I could believe the claim of reviewers that they are the best in the city.

I'll write more about our trip later. As it is, I'm having trouble keeping my eyes open. Time to head to bed!

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