December 26, 2013

by Stephen Jan in new orleans, LA

Time: 4 Days

Distance: 1,669 miles

Odometer: 307,956 miles

Ambulance in new orleans

I often describe the rally as a something that takes people to places off the map and drop them into out of the box experiences the anti-tourist experience. Our decision to check out New Orleans for Christmas flew in the face of all that: Big tourist attraction on a giant holiday. Not 20 minutes after parking the ambulance, we were greeted by angry shouts from locals staring down at us from their second floor balcony, “Hey, don’t take pictures of us! We aren’t tourist attractions!”. Odd that they’d be adamant about picture taking in the French Quarter. Had it been parade time, not only would they insist on a picture, they would probably strip down to nothing for a string of glittery beads.

balcony people

When we were originally planning our visit New Orleans from the comforts of our own apartments, the cold northeast winter was upon us. I fantasized that the south would be sunny and warm. I would be leaving behind my boots, scarf, and coat. I imagined endless parties spilling onto the streets on a day where people had reason to be extra festive. I expected streets lined with Santas handing out presents from sacks of gifts. I imagined eating seafood showcasing the best the american south coast had to offer. After all that, we would dance the night away on the banks of the Mississippi under a full moon.

It turns out that the south isn’t necessarily warm in the winter. Any outdoor activity like strolling, dancing or partying on the streets wasn’t going to be all that fun in the cold. On a holiday like Christmas, most shops are closed. Food was decent, but the staple foods seemed to be limited to fried seafood. Fried foods once in a while is okay but having it every meal gets pretty old.

Closed shop

Staring into the storefronts of businesses closed for the holidays, I can tell that there are a lot of cool interesting things going on in the city. If I had more time i’d wander around the city checking out historic sites. And if it weren’t so cold, i would consider standing an hour on line to check out the hottest jazz club in town. I was tempted to step into one of those souvenir shops off bourbon street and pickup a colorful trinket but instead I left something behind at a busy intersection. Until we meet again New Orleans. I hope that the weather is nicer next time and that shops are actually open. Oh and I hope i don’t have to wait another 14 years.

Bourbon st