DASHING TO GAINSVILLE to catch the train seemed to set the tone for our rush to relax vacation in the Big Easy. The thirteen-hour train ride was as comfortable as any thirteen-hour ride can be. I arrived feeling good. Lyft was not available, so we had to take a cab. It wasn’t a positive experience, which reminds me that I need to download Uber. When we arrived at our hostel, Nola Jazz House on Canal Street, I was quickly reminded of why I don’t stay in hostels anymore. But I’m not one to focus on the negative, so after a quick change, we bought our 24-hour pass for the trolley and set off to meet up with friends on Bourbon Street. Walking on Bourbon Street reminds me of why I don’t like streets like Bourbon Street. But I do like my friends, so when we finally found them celebrating at a house off Bourbon Street, the party took off. Drink. Yes, that’s a full sentence, both a question and a statement of fact. I hadn't eaten since lunch. Which reminds me; alcohol takes my appetite away. Let’s just sum it up by writing that we left a club around 3:30, and for some reason thought it smart to skip a cab and walk back to the hostel. An hour later and a block away from our hostel, we stopped for a beer (again, so intelligent of us). What a fun night!
We closed the bar, made it to our NO residence, passed out in the 8x12 room with three twin beds next to a dormitory of fourteen British sailors. When I woke up at 9:30am, I wasn’t exactly feeling refreshed. I made coffee in the common area kitchen, hungover, in a household of hungover boys and girls walking around in their underwear. For that brief moment in time, we were of one mind. Susan and I made it to Katy’s (on Iberville Street) for brunch around 11. I don’t know, but when you ask for a green salad, you expect it to be green. The salad had so much added crap; it failed at being green. The Bloody Mary, however, was perfect. I returned to the Nola Jazz House for a quick nap and then took the trolley to meet Susan for a VIP City Tours. You can pick up this excellent tour bus on Canal and Royal. It is a good idea for this to be the very first thing you do when visiting a city. NOLA is interesting and entertaining. We saw the Ninth Ward, the levees that broke, plus we visited a beautiful city park. Every local we met had a Katrina story. I had a lot of fun that afternoon. Later in the evening, the morning headache had faded, the weather taking a cooler turn, we made it back to the hostel for jackets before using our freshly downloaded Uber application to ensure a most enjoyable trip uptown to dine at the Upplerline Restaurant. The evening was simply perfect. New and newer friends were already there when we arrived. The atmosphere is... Well, I already wrote perfect, so I’m not going to write it again. You can just guess what I thought about the food and drink. The beautiful faces, conversation, and artwork on the walls were the absolute highlight of the trip for me. Go to the Upperline Restaurant when you are in New Orleans. Say hello to the owner, JoAnn Clevenger, she’s awesome. Which reminds me; my friends are so much fun.
NOTES TO SELF: stay in a hotel, eat before drinking, don’t make yourself drunk, use a driver (Lyft and Uber), take a city tour when you get to town, tell your friends how much fun they are
Afterward, we engaged in our world by having an enlightening conversation with an Uber driver from Palestine. Awesome, again. He dropped us off in the French Quarter. We walked the street hearing jazz, blues, and cajun from inside the clubs. When we heard something we liked, we stopped, went inside and listened. No suggestions here, just go and stop when and where you hear something you like. For us, the trip was over very shortly after; another incredible Katrina story from Uber driver Darlene, a few hours sleeping at the Nola Jazz, Amtrak for another thirteen hours, and after a drive from Gainesville, I am reminded; home sweet home. JOE