In Louisana, I found a cabin to stay in along the river (False River Hideaway Cabins). It offered traditional Louisiana food, food that was new to me - cajun and creole dishes. Delicious and fresh. Those few days along the river were memorable for the solitude that it offered, the exchange of energy with the animals and nature, and a time to reflect on my travels thus far.
I knew I was heading towards New Orleans despite my desire to be spontaneous. I had never been and wanted to see how it had recovered since Katrina. I stopped at an information center where an incredibly kind worker gave me support, information, discounts for accommodations and restaurants in the French Quarters. I am sure he was this way with everyone, but his gentle way of listening to my questions and offering suggestions outside of my own personal knowledge that may have matched my needs better touched my heart.
I arrived on the outskirts of the New Orleans to see remnants of Katrina - downed lines, buildings in disrepair, signs stating things were closed, etc. But, once I got down to the French Quarters I discovered that things pretty much had returned to normal, or seemingly so. Businesses were open, crowds of people mulling around, music blaring, people drinking...and drinking, no matter the time of day...normal, for this area. It was a good feel. The music soothed the soul. A feeling of recovery that one feels after surviving a devastating experience and coming out the other side was present and alive. A sense of lightness floated through the streets and it was such a joy to see.
The Vieux Carré, French Quarter or simply The Quarter, is the oldest neighborhood in the city. It embraces an international influence of many cultures (French, Spanish, Italians, Sicilians, Africans, etc.) So much of what makes New Orleans unique is captured in the melting pot atmosphere of the French Quarter - from the raucous party atmosphere of Bourbon Street to the bohemian elegance of Royal. It's a neighborhood full of surprises, beauty and magic, and is why I ended up here. I meandered the streets, gardens and riverwalk. I ate their famous beignets at Café du Monde, along with cafe au lait. I sat along the riverwalk, people-watching and even met people from Boston.
I stayed at this old historic B&B in the French Quarter, which had rich dark furnishings that made the room even smaller, but elegant. At this time in my life I was not a big party-goer so I was ready for bed long before anyone else. I could hear the music and partying until sunrise, when I dragged my body out of bed for an early morning walk. Leftovers were present at each establishment but mainly the streets were quiet. Relief. And, with it, on my third day, a desire to leave.