Our last long weekend trip was in May 2004. We did our usual stuff - gulping freshly shucked oysters at Felix's bar on Bourbon Street, with Abitas to wash them down; indulging in a shared muffuletta sandwich at Central Grocery; staying out too late in the Quarter and sleeping too late in the morning. That trip was also fun for our try-out of the St. Charles streetcar and wandering past Commander's Palace, an old cemetery, and hanging out in a cool neighborhood most of the day.
This post-Katrina trip was a relief in that the Quarter and the central Business District and Warehouse District are still there and largely intact. A casual tourist would never know that there had been the kind of suffering and horror that happened only 2 years ago. But even the big tourist businesses are feeling the pinch of the conventions that are failing to materialize due to the caprice of the meeting planners who make decisions 5+ years out. The taxi drivers and hotel staffs are certainly feeling it.
This city is not for everyone. It is, first of all, a big city. It's got crime, grit, dirt, smells, hucksters, pickpockets, garish strip clubs and tourist-traps galore. However, it also has the Mississippi River, 400+ years of history, a lush climate, unique culture and blending of cultures, amazing music and best of all, fabulous, undeniably wonderful food. This trip let us indulge in some great eats including the aforementioned oysters (eaten standing, at the bar -- there is no other reason you should be in Felix's if you don't want to be disappointed) and muffuletta sandwich. The Bloody Marys are damn good as well. I also indulged in a 2-hour walking tour of the Quarter that was simply marvelous and taught me things I'd never known over a decade of visits.