Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Few Final Words On New Orleans

I've got a number of bullet points on my latest trip to New Orleans that I wanted to talk about. These observations are all minor and I didn't think they could be fleshed out enough to make individual posts out of them, but I wanted to talk about these things anyway.

  • The Homeless in the French Quarter: It's pretty apparent that there is a sizable homeless population in the French Quarter. On this trip alone, I've seen the homeless crapping directly on the street, pissing in doorways and digging through trash. I have never been directly asked for money by any of them during any of my four trips to New Orleans. However, while bringing some leftovers from the Louisiana Pizza Kitchen on Decatur back to my room at the Bourbon Orleans hotel, I was asked by no less than four people to surrender my food. Most were polite, one was borderline belligerent. The homeless problem is a daunting issue in any major city, but, in New Orleans, the trend seems to be to legislate the symptoms (making begging illegal, etc) rather than legislating the actual causes of homelessness. 

  • Coffee Shops: Cafe Du Monde is great and you should visit it, buy a cafe au lait and some beignets. If you're truly a coffee lover, though, make sure you visit some of the smaller coffee houses in the area. Spitfire Coffee is new to the French Quarter and is doing some excellent stuff with beans and flavor extraction. Getting your coffee hand brewed is worth the wait. I just wish they had seating available so I could sit down and enjoy the coffee in a ceramic mug rather than a paper cup. Royal Blend is also worth a mention as they provide good coffee and a beautiful courtyard in which to enjoy it. 

  • Souvenirs: I brought a few alligator heads back with me. The souvenir shops will charge you around $30 for a decent sized alligator head. I was able to get them for around $14 from vendors at the French Market on Decatur. And I think you'll find that the French Market will offer souvenirs cheaper than the tourist shops. They just don't have the variety that the shops do. So, be smart. Shop around. 

  • Bringing Coffee Home: You love Cafe Du Monde coffee and you want to bring some home with you. That's cool. But, they come in these round tins that cost upwards of $11. They're a nightmare to pack and having them shipped home is pretty costly. If you absolutely need to bring coffee home with you, then buy it in vaccum packed bricks from one of the local markets for $6 instead. The bricks are easier to pack. I lined the bottom of my luggage with them and was still able to get it closed. I know that the Rouses Market on Royal sells them, so check there if you're in the French Quarter looking to buy coffee.

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