I am having a great time in New Orleans. My first and only trip to New Orleans before this was the 2003 Fall Nationals. The weather that time was surprisingly cold. The clothes I brought with me to that tournament were not suitable for the chill, so I did not venture out too much during that time.
This time, on the other hand, there is no surprise. New Orleans is hot and oppressively humid. But, it does at least allow for exploration of the city. I’ve been to a lot of cities between work and bridge and without a doubt, there is no other city like New Orleans in the U.S. The first notice of that happens on the ride from the airport into the city. The taxi took me past a huge cemetery. Because of the water table in New Orleans, if you bury a person in the ground, the coffin often fills with water and floats up out of the ground. As a result, the dead in New Orleans are buried in above-ground crypts. It is a vivid demonstration of how much history grips this city. The dead stay on the Earth with the living.
My hotel is on the edge of the French Quarter. From those I’ve talked to here, one doesn’t visit or see the French Quarter, one “goes into” the French Quarter. And from what I’ve see, I understand why. There is a bit of leaving the world behind when you go into the FQ. The narrow streets, the balconies, the wrought iron all transport you to a different time. You have to love a city where a person walking down the street wearing a Sousaphone is completely normal. My trip through the Quarter came with at least two singing groups doing “Amazing Grace” (I think it’s a state law that every singing group in Louisiana must do that at least once an hour), “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies” on the harmonica and “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” on the trombone. Artists and artist shops line the street. And of course, the crowd flaunts the ability to drink openly on the streets.
The food here has been wonderful. If you don’t have a good meal in New Orleans, it’s your own damn fault. My friend Dede has been in charge of the restaurant selections and has done a wonderful job. Mike’s on the Avenue, formerly owned by Mike Ditka, had an out-of-this-world Sake-Soy Seared Tuna, which is not only delicious, but fun to say.
The bridge has been very good. We have made it to the semi-finals of the 0-5000 Spingold, otherwise known as the Mini-Spingold. We have a tough match today and, if we survive, a very strong team will be waiting in the finals. I will be posting hands in a subsequent post.