New Orleans is a fun place to spend a day, or two or three. Find a parking place to leave the car that’s either in, nearby or convenient to the French Quarter, tighten the laces on your walking shoes and strike out. In a matter of minutes you’ll find yourself moving among a throng of fascinating types, most in a friendly and gregarious frame of mind. It is the oldest part of the city and every street corner, every building whether freshly painted, hung in giant ferns, drab or reeking of history is worthy of a moment’s appraisal.
Some of us go for the bookstores, others for the antique shops, and probably a majority for the food and drink. Even the smallest of restaurants could turn out to be the hight point of a day, and the number of friendly watering holes is beyond counting.
For many, afternoon and early evening is a time for meeting friends, new or old at one of those friendly watering holes. If conditions are right you will find a comfortable spot at or around a table on the patio or sidewalk and in no time at all meet four or five people straight out of John Kennedy Toole’s picaresque novel of New Orleans life and dialect, A Confederacy of Dunces.
Whatever time you end up at Café du Monde for coffee and beignets—and everyone does at some juncture of the day—you’ll find a hundred or more crowded tables dusted in powdered sugar and watched over by more waiters than anyone would have thought possible. Those not patrolling sit lined in chairs waiting for a summons and counting their tips. Don’t be surprised if one of them is a long time finding your table hidden in plain view. For this day weary reveler the best time is late at night just before paying the ransom on the car and driving the seventy miles home.