NOLA – it’s slowly creeping into my blood and becoming one of my other loves.
My first time there, however, was a stark contrast to my latest visit a few months ago.
You see, I’d jumped on the greyhound from Austin and decided that I wanted to skip the rest of Texas and get my ass to New Orleans for the 4th of July, Texas had a ban on fireworks due to fire hazards and being a sucker for some bang bang sparkle ooooohhh!!! I decided that New Orleans was it because you know, they are on a river, what fire danger could some bang bang sparkle pose?
This took practically a day of travelling non-stop to get my butt into the city for the morning of the 4th. Thankfully no one on the greyhound decided to use me as their body pillow on this stretch and there were no delays or sleeping on tiled floors in the greyhound stations.
I got into New Orleans greyhound/train station about 6am. The sun was just starting to shimmer over the horizon. I stepped out of the air-conditioned station and then turned my heels right around and went back in to get a drink of water before braving the humidity that reminded me of Darwin all over again. And when I say reminded me of Darwin I mean that as soon as you walk out into it you feel every drop of moisture leave your body and float away merrily while sticking its tongue out at you as you suffer..
Armed with my water and my pink luggage I tentatively walked back out of the building squinting and hoping to all hell that there’s a cab around since I’d lost my phone during my drunken rampage across Austin with a herd of drag queens a few nights before – this meant that I had no way to reference where I was and how I needed to get to hotel.
I walked back out with my water into the bright New Orleans morning and took a big deep breath. Ok. So it’s sweaty. And humid. And hot. What do I expect? I’m in the tropics, suck it up princess and find a taxi.
I look around and there’s a cab rank just to the right of the greyhound/Amtrak station. I walk over and one of the cab drivers gets out to help me with my luggage, as light as it was. I jump in the cab and tell him to take me to the Bourbon Hotel (which has since disappeared!). Since he just nodded and drove off I assumed that he knew where he was going. He dropped me off somewhere near the river and I thought uh. I don’t think this is the right place. He says it is. I shrug and pay him and get out of the cab.
Since I still don’t have a phone or any way to tell where the hell I am I figure I might as well just go into this hotel and ask them. Surely they must have a map somewhere right? I need a map ASAP. So up I went in the lifts and looked sheepishly at the guy behind the desk and asked if this was the Bourbon Hotel, he laughed at me and said no. I said, yeah I thought so too but the cab driver was insistent that it was. Damn you cab driver for making me look like a bumbling idiot at 6.30am!
I asked if they had a map and if I could walk to Bourbon from where we were now. He nodded and handed me a map that would help me navigate the French quarter. Bless him.
I trotted up Rue Iberville until I hit Bourbon, hung a right, stepped over still drunk people all over the place and waltzed up to my hotel. I found out that the drunken people left over from the night before sprawled all over Bourbon Street were a normal occurrence like the full moon every month. Except they were nightly. But since I had no idea about all this when I was booking my hotel I thought it would be great to be literally right in the busy place. Fail.
I left my luggage at the hotel and headed out again as I was advised check in was after 3pm. I had to go and keep myself busy. So I thought I’d go get a cup a coffee.
The only thing on was MacDonald’s on Canal. I kid you not. I had to go get a MacDonald’s coffee. In New Orleans. Mortified much? Quite. Had I have known that if I headed towards Jackson Square I’d find cafes I think I would have been happy, but at this point without a phone GPS for reference any no way of knowing this it was the only thing I could find.
And as soon as I sat down with my book to have a coffee and wait for the phone shop across the road to open so I can buy a new phone and be mobile again I got hit on. Kid you not. Maybe I looked bored reading my book, although I’m not sure I’d pull off looking board reading George. R.R. Martin. He wanted to know if my book was good. If I knew what the time was (obviously he didn’t check my wrists which were devoid of any devices). He wanted to know if I was going to have another coffee. Where I was from. What I was doing there. What kind of coffee was I drinking? Wasn’t the weather hot for this time of morning? If I wanted to go back to his place.
Let’s recap here, this is a guy who is at least 6’1. He was wearing clothes that needed a good wash. He didn’t smell the best. And he looked to be about 50 years old.
Maybe I looked alarmed at his suggestion of going back to his place at 7am in the morning. Alarmed before the bitch came out to play that is.
All I wanted was to read my book and enjoy my coffee. In MacDumpland. But nooooooooo. I might have gotten snarky.
He backed up and apologised for interrupting my reading, he was only trying to be nice.
Note for future reference buddy: if you see a single girl sitting drinking coffee and reading in MacDumpland, don’t fucking go bother her with stupid inane questions if she doesn’t put her book down and engage after the first.
If you do, you might get said book in face – except I wanted to read the rest of my book. Count your blessings I was only rude.
He left and I waited about 10 minutes before getting my coffee and deciding that I was better off making my way back down to the riverside to lie around in the sun and read my book and enjoy my coffee there.
Day 1 in New Orleans was shaping up to be interesting and I’d only been there for a few hours!