Not long back from two days in New Orleans, city most recently famous for Katrina, and long famous for its cooking, its jazz, Mardi Gras, French Quarter and excellent bookshops. Spent the time there with my lifelong friend, Raymond, and it was a grand two days and nights. The best of times it was, but with all that we arrived back in Baton Rouge tired and road beaten.
Large amount of walking during the New Orleans hours, but how else can you absorb the fullness of the streets with all their sounds, sights and smells? A dozen or two reasons make Raymond and I the best possible travel mates, and we are especially in tune with and about the art of book buying and collecting. That pursuit was a big part of the hours we roamed and rested. Crescent City Books is a book lover’s dream, The Librarie Bookstore, Beckham’s, Octavia Books and perhaps the best of the lot, Garden District Book Shop, where a superb collection is watched over by a friendly and helpful crew. Raymond has better control of his wallet than I do. He came home with two books to my seventeen.
There’s little need to crow and croon about the food in New Orleans, which is famously good. Any way you turn it’s easy to find good spots for local specialties like crawfish, stuffed softshell crab or red beans and rice with boudin sausage. We had it all and the very best was at Pontalba House on Jackson Square. On the way south yesterday we stopped in LaPlace for lunch at the Bully Bar and had a couple of great po-boys, crawfish and catfish.
We wandered in and out of French Quarter bars all day and night, and in the process of testing our endurance, met a few people who made the good time better. Unlikely that any of those people will ever see these words, but I’m shouting out anyway… You entertained us, assisted us, explained and smiled—Appreciation and thanks to Melanie, Jake, Michelle, Frank, Julie, Corvana and T’meeka. We brought a little of your smile back to Baton Rouge. Hats off to the Marriot Hotel for platinum-like service; you all did good.
Raymond says he’s too tired for lagniappe tonight. That’s our loss, and we’ll be looking for more later.
Top photo: A house on Chartres Street that caught my eye; in the bottom photo Raymond studies a menu in the Garden District, visualizing a Cuban sandwich.