Bourbon St. is awake. That is to say it is not quite alive, not quite vibrant and booming, but it is awake – until it is passed out in the bathroom of an Air BnB.
My wife and I, contrary to the presuppositions of our host and others have not come to New Orleans to drink, party, and drink some more. "No one comes to New Orleans to not party," a phrase suggested to us by a fellow guest, struck me as both sad and mistaken.
That is not all of what New Orleans has to offer, in fact there is only one street dedicated to such activity. There are, however, dozens of beautiful old cemeteries, countless old French style houses and buildings, and plenty of other non-alcohol related activities and places worth enjoying. But I must be here to party, no?
My wife and I took a canoe down one of the main bayous here (we would call it a river in Texas were it located anywhere outside of Houston). The half-day trip involved a summoning of my Boy Scout abilities, an exercise in marriage communication, feeding ducks and seagulls, failing to ease my wife of the potential alligator sighting (there was no spotting the ancient dinosaur-relative), and plenty of sun. The past two days involved wandering around the French quarter, drinking coffee in what I imagine some Parisian cafes authenticate, gazing silently in the old catholic churches and several old graveyards, and taking in New Orleans. (Does it look much different than before the wretched storm? This thought hangs on you as a first-time visitor.)
Like true millennials, we’re staying in an old home in a gentrifying neighborhood – the presence of a Whole Foods might suggest that this gentrification has taken full effect, the bars on the windows suggest otherwise. We’re hailing the old streetcars into town and around the Garden District, something it seems only tourists and those of low-income do.
None of our activities surround “partying.” The only bars we’ve occasioned were chosen for the live Parisian music and Jazz bands. There is much more to this city than the culture of Mardi Gras. (What makes less sense than partying before Lent? Stuffing yourself with McDonalds before a fast?) The city is beautiful. The culture of the week – weekends being far different – is kind and southern. The sun shines and the rain is welcomed. It’s wonderful, it truly is, and taking to the culture of Bourbon St. for the entirety of your visit would be to simply miss the point, the culture, and the life inside. The bars are awake, New Orleans is alive.