No doubt I would find New Orleans interesting, since I've heard so much about it. The conference I was working at was in the main convention center uptown and within walking distance to my hotel, The Holiday Inn, French Quarter. I figured I'd get out as much as I could to see the most of NOLA during my free time.
But first comes business and that means meeting up with the rest of the crew and getting things setup. Most of the people I've worked with are people I've never met or only worked with infrequently. But sometimes, and in this case, one of them is a person that I've worked with many times before. It was good to see Al again because we are never without anything to talk about. After a while of catching up I mentioned that this was my first time in New Orleans and Al promptly reminded me that he grew up here. With that bit of knowledge it seem that this whole trip just change into something I will never forget.
After getting everything setup and tested the four of us went back to the hotel and soon afterward went out for dinner. It's always difficult to choose a restaurant that makes everyone happy but with our home grown tour guide we left if up to Al to take us to a unique local establishment. We were not disappointed. Al had called up a friend and he drove us to Cooter Brown's which was on the other end of St. Charles st. from the French Quarter. The food was excellent but I did not try the oysters like the rest of them did.
Since the night was still early we decided to take in some music so we drove back to the French Quarter and again Al took us to a couple places that is only frequented by locals and people in the know. It was fun listening to local talent and certainly hearing a brass band which are far and few between up in my neck of the woods.
Needless to say we were up very late. The first night we didn't get back to the hotel until 2 am with a call time for work that morning at 6 am...ugh.
The days work went well and I didn't have any problem staying awake and then the evening came around. Out for dinner again at a place just around the block from the hotel. I order the Jambalaya and it was fantastic. Then the conversation was around where should we go tonight? I thought about not going because I basically got no sleep last night but then I thought, how often will I have this opportunity to enjoy New Orleans like this. So we all loaded up in Al's friends truck and drove to the Rock N' Bowl. Wow, what fun it was to kick back and listen to Zydeco music. Watching people dance was a treat too. There is no comparison to how they handled themselves on the dance floor compared to a place here in Madison. They danced for the sake of dancing and did very well at it too.
Well we left the Rock N' Bowl around 1 am and headed to another local joint called Vaughans. Now this place was a local “dive” and just as we got there the band was playing it's last song for the night. Apparently this place, since it's in a residential area, has a curfew on noise and they are only allow to play on certain nights. Well we just missed the band so we took a picture and head back to the hotel. Ah, 2 am again. At least call time is 7 am...Ha!
Oh 7 am came to early but I was determine not to let it slow me down. So day two of the conference went well, even though I had a head bob or two while monitoring the webcast. We worked up until noon normally and reconvened around 2 pm. Well that was everyone but me. I had to cover the lunch keynotes while the rest of the crew when back to the hotel to nap. Well we finished at 5 pm and yup made plans for the night. This time we stayed in the French Quarter to sample the fine dining. So let me stop here and just say that the food in NOLA is supreme and my taste buds were on holiday as well. After the tasty dishes we took the touristy route through Bourbon St to see all the people and finished it off around 1 am with a stop at Cafe Du Monde. Now that was a treat...literally. Beignets and Chicory Coffee...yum.
So it's the last day off the conference and all went well. I was so tired that I actually couldn't sleep. We finished in the early afternoon so as the others took time to rest I went out on my own and looked around the French Quarter during the day. Then later we all went to dinner at Cafe Pontalba for a second time. It was that good. We walked around and saw more of NOLA and hit Cafe Du Monde one more time as well. At least we got back to the hotel by 11:00 pm.
I had a good nights rest and the next morning I met up with Al one last time for a late breakfast. Again the food was excellent and it seemed that way where ever we went. And now my wait for the shuttle bus to the airport and and back home. This is one trip I won't soon forget! Thanks Al, I'll miss you NOLA!