Posted on Monday, May 28th, 2012
I recently visited an old friend of mine who now resides in the city of New Orleans. He and I had visited the Crescent City as volunteers in our college years, helping with reconstruction in neighborhoods devastated by Hurricane Katrina. In fact, he single-handedly established the Katrina relief volunteer group (CSNO) at San Diego State University, which still makes pilgrimages so that others may experience this magical city. As is the case with many visitors to this shining emerald of a place, my friend eventually decided to make himself a more permanent resident. Even after one visit, it definitely becomes a tempting option. The people’s lust for life becomes apparent quickly, revealing itself in their amazing culinary dishes, and upon the lively dancefloors, which are almost always full and in front of real live musicians. Smiling faces of true southern hospitality abound.
My buddy has established himself pretty well into his Mid-City neighborhood. There was a certain level of confidence personally knowing a resident of the city, instead of visiting as complete outsiders as we had before. He showed us all the local necessities that most tourists do not have an opportunity to realize.
Additionally, he provided me with an experience I wish I could have in every city; he had a couple of extra bicycles for my fellow travelers and I. The city is flat, a luxury I have rarely been able to enjoy. However, one must be much more cautious than they would be used to, having ridden mostly through the Bay Area, Portland or other significantly friendlier biking cities. Even so, I did still notice a large amount of people riding bikes around the NOLA streets. One accessory that is not quite so common for their California counterparts is the addition of a drink cozy on the handlebars. Drinking alcohol in public is perfectly acceptable in New Orleans, even promoted with such factors as drive-thru daiquiri joints or bars offering to-go cups.
Sun shining with 80 degrees humid days makes it easy to ride around the flatlands nice and slow. We discovered some areas of town I had never seen in my previous excursions, such as the nice manors passed while riding down the shaded Audubon Boulevard. Riding through City Park, my friend explained the scenes as we passed. We biked to Tulane University and hung out on the beautiful campus for a while before then heading over to a street fair. I grabbed a NOLA Blonde Ale and a Fish Fry sandwich: catfish on a roll with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, tartar sauce and of course some hot sauce.