New Orleans is quite unlike any city I've ever seen. After a long day of driving, I arrived around 2am -- about the time I'm expecting everything to close up for the night. To my surprise and glee, I found that this was anything but the case and that the party stayed strong for four more hours! Ever since that radioactive-bat bite in my youth I've been a naturally nocturnal person, so this sat with me very well.
First stop, of course, is Bourbon Street. I imagine the bourbon was flowing freely somewhere, but all I saw was horrendously over-priced beer and margarita stands. Regardless, the crowds seemed to lap it up -- literally -- and there was no dearth of drunken debauchery. Walking down Bourbon Street is walking through some modern-day Moulin Rouge where beads take the place of diamonds, and "can cans" aren't a dance. If you get my drift.
After an hour or two I wandering in and out of bars and shops, I directed my oggling to the gorgeous architecture and artwork just filling the city. Every street is a postcard and every courtyard a mystery. Despite being reported as a terribly dangerous place to wander about aimlessly and alone, I did precisely that and found endless sights to see.
Eventually I ended up at a local's bar, got a beer whose price matched its quality, and sat on patio overlooking the street until 5am. Alas, all things must come to a close at some point, even in New Orleans, so with my beer finished I headed home.
Home was, of course, the back seat of my car in a very sketchy alley just a couple streets off of Bourbon. I climbed into the back and tried to get comfortable, only to find that the humidity was just over 100%, as was the temperature, causing me to experience sleeping in a steam-sauna for the first time. And a good thing, too, as I never would have guessed that it's about the least pleasant sleep you can possibly have.
The next morning I climbed out of my pressure-cooker, brushed my teeth in the gutter, and headed out to try the daylight hours. The alleys and courtyards nestled between tall shuttered buldings held limitless adventure -- more than enough to fill my day. I hit no less than three separate coffeeshops (some of which were very nice), talked to many wonderful people, and had some great local food. However, without a doubt the best part of the day: sleeping in the park. Ahh, the joys of sleeping below the dew-point.
As the sun set and the party resumed its inexorable cycle, I decided to steer clear and explore more of the town. Returning to one of the beforementioned coffeeshops for a cup of tea and a moment's respite, I met an extraordinarily kind girl that agreed to alleviate my misery by giving me a spot of floor on which to spend the night. We met at the appointed hour in a bar across town, well outside the din of downtown, then went even further away from the mayham to a bar in who-knows-where, and then to sleep on the cool comfort of her floor. Had I a tail, it would have wagged peacefully to sleep.
The next day I was up, soaked for a while in her fantastic cast-iron, claw-foot bathtub, and headed out on the road to continue the journey. So, like most wonderful places, I may have left New Orleans, but I'm not sure it left me.