Last weekend, as you may already know, I was in New Orleans for the annual national conference of the Pop Culture Association/ American Culture Association, giving a paper. The trip was ridiculously, ridiculously expensive (conference registration was $125, after the $55 association membership fee, in addition to airfare, hotel, and food) and rather stressful, as these things are, but was still a good time.
I could spend hours telling stories (as a few of you can confirm), but in the interest of this post, I'll stick to bullets (call me if you want longer versions!).
- I didn't miss my flight Thursday morning, even though, despite my otherwise judicious planning, I discovered, upon reaching the front of a long security line, that I was in the WRONG TERMINAL (this happens).* I ended up putting my marathon training to good use by sprinting (with rolling suitcase) back through the Lindbergh terminal, onto a shuttle, back onto the light rail, through the parking garage to the Humphrey terminal, through security, and to my gate, arriving almost exactly 10 minutes before the flight was to leave.
- On non-holiday weekdays, the city bus runs straight from the airport into downtown, for just $1.60
- Warm weather in New Orleans
- Comfortable rooms
- Lunching like a lady of luxury at a cafe near the hotel just after arriving Thursday; despite a rather blustery breeze, I enjoyed sitting outside people watching and lingering clear through white chocolate bread pudding and coffee.
- Hanging out with Leah and Brett (definitely the highlight): beignets at Cafe du Monde, strolling the French Quarter, Louis Armstrong Park, St. Louis Cemetery, French Market, delicious African food...
- Taking a bump that not only earned me (hopefully... still waiting) a roundtrip fare voucher, but actually got me home earlier than my original flight
- Feeling like I gave a bang-up presentation at my panel on Friday
- I was the only person (of three!) on my panel to show up on Friday; the audience was also quite small
- My antiperspirant wasn't up to the New Orleans challenge: Wunderground tells me that although it only hit 81°, the humidity hit 90%!
- Because food was so expensive, I felt underfed for most of the trip, with the notable exception of Friday afternoon and evening, when beignets and coffee sustained me through miles of walking until I stuffed myself with vegetables and couscous at dinner.
- The city can feel a little sketchy, especially when one is by oneself and pulling a rolling suitcase (although I'd heard the phrase "murder capital" bandied about, I'm glad I didn't look up crime statistics before going...)
- Our touring took place on Good Friday, which meant that several attractions, including Preservation Hall, were closed
- The airport bus does not pick up downtown/in the French Quarter on holidays or weekends, stopping two and a half miles away
- The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority website is the worst transit website I have ever seen, let alone tried to use. Look at the "routes and schedules" link, just for fun. Even if you're intimately familiar with the city geography, and don't need to get to, say, the airport (it's in another parish!), it still strikes me as basically unusable.** After great frustration, I finally gave up and took a cab the two and half miles to the airport express bus stop Saturday morning.
*In my case, it happened because I had checked in from school the afternoon before and printed my boarding passes there; had I attempted to check in at the terminal, or to check bags, I would have realized my error before spending 40 minutes in the wrong line.
**I do realize I'm spoiled by the inimitable Metro Transit website, and am further convinced of the superiority of the Twin Cities' public transit.