french quarter bars

6

Jean Lafitte’s Old Absinthe House (not to be confused with Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, another haunted bar in the French Quarter.)  It’s basically across the street from our hotel (see the wrought iron in the background of two of the sign photos?  That’s our hotel.)

For the first time I will be able to LEGALLY drink Absinthe at the Old Absinthe House.  How cool is that?  ^_^

WALKING TO NAWLINS

Continuing my ultimate road trip, I drove into the French Quarter of New Orleans in the afternoon. Passed by Cafe Du Monde and had to stop out of tradition. I have memories there. Happy ones. A lot of people do. After all it was established in 1862.

Cafe Du Monde is an open-air landmark, the original French Market coffee shop. A spot where you indulge yourself with beignets. Just saying “ben-YAY” makes me smile. There are three to an order; deep fried choux pastries covered in powdered sugar (insert yummm here) served on a small thick ceramic coffee saucer. And the only proper drink to accompany these little delights is their strong Cajun coffee with roasted chicory. So strong most people prefer it cafe au lait style. With steamed hot milk.  

They made coffee “cool” long before Starbuck’s; or rather I should say “hot.” Cafe Du Monde is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week and only closes on Christmas Day … or if a hurricane passes by.

I had to park a few blocks away. On the walk to the café it began to rain, and then rain harder. I arrived soaked.

A young waiter in a crisp white shirt with black bow tie, black slacks, and an old school folded paper hat escorted me to one of the little tables. It was toward the center of the outdoor area covered by a large green and white awning saving us from the rain. But the rain made for a perfect setting for a New Orleans afternoon at Cafe Du Monde.

The name roughly translates to the people’s cafe or cafe. So here I sat with the people around me, for the moment escaping the go faster world on the other side of the rain.  

It was relaxing in this little cafe at the edge of the French Quarter, carefully sipping a cafe’ au lait. Three beignets later I reached a state of caffeine and sugar bliss.

The rain moderated, so I sauntered down the street past one curio shop after another. Those are the shops you enter with no intention of buying anything. Then some item grabs your attention. Some trinket that is destined to be a future garage sell item. Marked down to fifty-cents before it sells.

Buying it seems like a rational idea at that moment. A gewgaw to remind you of the rainy day you spent in New Orleans. Yep, I bought it. A coffee mug. And yes, I’ll send you an email before my next garage sell.

The rain stopped. I meandered down several of the French Quarter sidewalks. Very seedy. Questionable people standing around corners, laying in the doorways. Dirty streets.

I returned that night, curious if things were different. They were. Many of the street people were moved on by the local police. Couples and groups filled the French Quarter going from bar to jazz club to bar. They walked with drinks in hand in party mode. Talking loudly. Laughing for no apparent reason. Bursting out with random chants. Greeting strangers as old long lost friends. Great people watching as the smell of bourbon, daiquiris and beer wafted thru the air.

But being by myself, midst the party, I suddenly felt alone. I do not feel that very often. And I don’t feel lonely when I am alone. It’s when I am in a situation like this, friends laughing at stupid jokes. Couples affectionately holding hands. I feel a void. No one to share the experience with. No one to laugh at my stupid jokes.

Time to get back to ARGO. ARGO was parked in a public City of New Orleans’s parking lot. Not cheap. Another hour in the lot and I would have to finance it. Plus, ahead of me on this night was a drive over Lake Pontchartrain to Covington, where I would spend the night. I would be driving on the longest straight bridge over water in the world. The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, especially if it’s windy, can be dicey.

The street party was still going strong when I left.