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05 June 2011

New Orleans, I Love You

Day 10: Monday, May 30
I was sleeping soundly on the couch, and Ueli was still snoozing on the air mattress when Allen and his dog came down the stairs. It was already 8:40 and we needed to leave for breakfast by 9. We rushed ready and Allen drove us across town to Elizabeth's, which unfortunately was closed. We then headed back across New Orleans, Allen giving us a really detailed and local tour along the way. We learned about bounce music, the experience of LSU playing the Sugar Bowl, and passed by a Banksy piece.

The neighbor Isaac met us at the restaurant, Shelley's (or something starting with an "s") on Magazine. which had some great breakfast selections (I had a boudin biscuit and eggs, while Allen opted for some amazing shrimp and grits). Soon Allen had to go to work, and it was Ueli and I left to explore the city.

New Orleans is an incredible city. It is by far the most interesting and unique place that I have visited in the US. Every street corner oozes with history and culture. People here are very genuine, which can often mean that they're excessively upfront and rude, but they're also friendly, just like many Southerners. People here will approach you or comment on something you do without thinking twice about it, but they do so without the slightest hint of judgment. New Orleans is truly one of the most unique places in the world. It's a city of music, jazz, the historic South, cajun culture, swamps, river barges, and (most unfortunately) neglect and natural disaster. And all of these aspects of the city blend together until they become indistinguishable.

Ueli and I began our exploration with a walk through Audobon Park in the "upriver" part of New Orleans. It was a very pleasant place to stroll (it's too hot and humid to run, even in the morning). We then walked through a portion of Tulane University's campus, which was gorgeous. Interestingly, right next to serious academic buildings and historic 19th-century plantation-style houses were trees covered with beads thrown during the mardi gras parades.