Monday, August 07, 2006

It was like a hurricane...

First day back at work after my trip to New Orleans and my weekend of fun and I definitely don’t want to be here.

I didn’t know what I would think of my short business trip – but overall I think it was good that I went.

I got to see a new city and a new state and I also got to see how the higher ups do business. It was a good thing.

Flying into New Orleans – I was looking out the window and was very surprised to see just how many blue tarps are still on the rooftops there. It has been a year (almost) since Katrina and I guess I just expected it to be further along in its re-development. It still looks like the pictures I remember seeing from a few days/weeks after the hurricane. Driving along highway 10 – it was as if we were driving through a former war zone. Apartment complexes had missing walls and roofs and looked like they had been bombed. Most of the stores in the area were still boarded up, trees were uprooted, signs were bent over and everything looked deserted. It was very sad to see.

In downtown – things were better – Bourbon St

and the French Quarter seem to be intact (although I have nothing to compare it to – since this was my first trip to New Orleans).

I loved the houses that had balconys - they looked so romantic! Too bad they were next door to strip clubs and peep shows!

Bourbon street was lacking for tourists and the bars were practically begging people to come in. The main streets in town were mostly boarded up too. The hotels and fancy boutiques were not open and I’m not sure they were going to re-open. It was not a place I would want to walk around alone.

Other than that – I had fun. I stayed at the Marriot and had a nice room. Here's my view:

and at night...

We were on the 32 floor - which ordinarilly would have been cool - BUT they decided to implement a new elevator system while we were there and let me just say - it SUCKED! You're supposed to enter the floor you want to go to and then you will be assigned an elevator. There are no buttons inside the elevator - only on the outside. So - you can't just get on the first elevator that comes. It took FOREVER to get on an elevator. Then once you were on one - you ended up stopping on like every floor. Most of the time - no one was even got off. They had all boarded another elevator and were no where to be found. It was a nightmare. It took us over 20 minutes to get up and down each time. If I were on floor 20 or lower I think I would have walked up and down.

Anyway - enough of that...

We went to dinner at some lovely restaurants. The Red Fish Grill

the first night and GW Fins the second night. The Sea bass at GW Fins was amazing. The waiter told us that one lady had described it as “Dancing in her mouth” I would have to agree and add that it did the Tango to be exact!

After dinner the second night – my co-worker and I decided to make the most of our location and walk around for a bit.
We started walking toward Jackson Square - but were soon accosted by a guy with gold teeth - who serenaded us...badly - but it was still funny..

He even did a little whistleing for us - through his fingers:

We nearly died laughing.

We passed a great many more gorgeous balconys...

Before finally arriving at Jackson Square.

We walked around to the other side and saw the "famous levees" - not too impressive...

There was a beautiful sunset behind the church on Jackson Square...

After the required eating of the a “beignet” from Café Du Monde

– we headed back to Bourbon street – bought some cigars and checked out a few voodoo shops. (No – I didn’t buy any shrunken heads). We stopped at the Daiquiri stop and taste tested various flavors before deciding on the house special – man was it potent!

We sat in the Muscial Legends Park near Cafe Beignet and listened to a jazz band while we sipped at our drinks. These guys were awesome!

We were in good jazz company with Fats Domino, Al Hirt, Pete Fountain and Chris Owens looking on in statue form...

New orleans was one of the hottest places I’ve ever experienced. I’m not sure if it was the alcohol or the heat or what – but I was sweating a river! So – after a few daiquiris, a hurricane and a cigar (and losing about 5 pounds of water from sweating) – let’s just say I was bit hammered…

Hee hee!

In my already altered state - I got an even bigger kick out of some of the T-shirts I saw commenting on FEMA... Here's one of the tamer shirts I saw.

I also liked this sign - stating the obvious...

I managed to score some beads from the nice boys in one of the balconies :) And No!! I didn’t “pay” for them with anything other than a smile :p

So – this evening could have gone on until the wee hours – if it weren’t for a call we received from our project manager – around 11:30 pm.

Project manager - “Hi – just wanted to let you guys know – we’re meeting in the lobby at 3:20 AM tomorrow morning.”

Me – “Wha? AM? Our flight isn’t until 4 PM!”

PM – “Oh yeah – didn’t you get the voicemail? We’re going to try to get an earlier flight since we don’t have any meetings tomorrow.”

Me – "No - i didn't get that message - my phone didn't ring..." (or more likely I didn't hear it!) "what about the 10:55 flight?" (we had previously talked about taking this flight )

PM - "nope – it’s booked and the US air agent said we’d have a better chance of getting on standby with the 6:00am flight."

Me – "and we have to meet at 3:20?"

PM – "yeah – we want to get to the airport by 4."

Me – "Oye – OK – I’ll see you in a few hours."

Me – I proceed to have a fit and order another hurricane. If I’m going down – I’m going all the way. I got back to the room around 12:30

Me three hours later – I am in the lobby – looking all the worse for wear and wearing sunglasses.

Yeah – that was not a fun morning.

But – all is well – I made it back alive and slept it off on Friday.

More on my fun filled weekend later - this post is getting too long!!


Lolly said...

I just love all of the pictures! it appears that the city is rebounding pretty well, which is so good to hear. I was there the summer before Katrina, and I fell in love with the city.

It was SO great to meet you last night! Thank you so much for coming! ;)

Large Marge said...

I SO hope you got the shirt!!!