Monday, January 28, 2013

Louisiana: New Orleans or Cajun Country?

A roommate from college called me in early December to let me know that he was back living in Salt Lake after 3 years in Shanghai, China. He asked if we could meet for lunch that next week; not an invitation that I would normally turn down. However, I was scheduled to be out of town. He asked where I was going. I replied "Louisiana." Of course the next question was, "why are you going there?" My answer: "because I have never been to that state." He really didn't say anything other than, "oh, okay then."

Yes, I have a goal to visit every state in the nation. Yes, this might sound odd to some but I have learned to embrace what I love; weird or not. I also love to plan travel around locales where I can experience the cuisine. Often, I book the airfare, usually a place to stay and nothing else. Let the day unwind as it was meant to be. Having traveled with my Dad & brothers to Tennessee & Mississippi in 2011, I thought it would be fun to invite them. I called my Dad and he called me back within 10 minutes telling me that he & my mom were coming. They had booked their airfare, a rental car and a hotel in New Orleans for a couple nights. Okay, I thought; "pick me up at the airport" I said since they were going a few days earlier than myself.

I had a little anxiety figuring out what to do since I would only be there for 3 days. Spend all the time in New Orleans or venture out into Cajun Country? I wanted to do both but over scheduling a vacation is worse than not going at all. Ever been on a trip with someone who schedules every minute? You quickly start to wonder if their sudden disappearance could be traced back to you.

Flying into New Orleans late on a Wednesday evening, I got a cab and made my way to the hotel on St. Charles Avenue. This is one of the avenues in the Big Easy with the historic cable cars. I was excited and a little nervous. The nerves came from wondering how many restaurants I could hit the next day.

Usually I have a hard time getting to sleep my first night in a new place. Some NyQuil in my hygiene bag that had expired 5 1/2 years ago did the trick. So much so that the whole next day I was a little groggy. Being able to walk around in shorts in early December definitely helped my mood.

Thursday morning we made our way to the French Quarter. We stopped to take a picture of a quaint little cafe on Royal St. and ultimately decided to eat there for breakfast. Louisiana is famous for their beignets as it's the official state donut. Ironically this place was called Cafe Beignet. It had such a relaxed feel to it; actually much of Louisiana has a relaxed, laid-back vibe. I ate Cajun Hashbrowns and a Beignet. This place must be famous for their coffee because the food wasn't very good. Here I had flown all this way for great food and the bar was being set low. Maybe I should have sprinkled the food with the "Slap Yo Mama's Cajun Seasoning."

Would the rest of trip disappoint also?

A not-unusal store in New Orleans. They didn't have anything in my size however.

Happy Eating

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