Coming to New Orleans early for DRI2012 is a wise decision for many reasons. Being in this fun city not only provides you with an opportunity to do much-needed volunteer work on May 19, but it also allows you to spend free time in an exhilarating place. I first started to come to New Orleans several years before Katrina and fell in love with all it has to offer. After Katrina, I realized that I needed to help to rebuild by volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, Second Harvest and others. I have been to New Orleans each year since Katrina and the city is recovering nicely. There’s much more to do, yet the progress is obvious. Combining my time in the city each year with volunteerism, experiencing the music, restaurant hoping and site seeing always makes for a very rewarding and fun-filled visit. So my focus in this week’s “Clyde’s Corner” is on a few of the many things you can experience while in The Big Easy for our conference in May.
Our conference hotel, the Roosevelt, is in the famed French Quarter where Mardi Gras is taking place right now! In and around the French Quarter you will find great restaurants, cafes, music venues of all kinds, boutique shops, book stores and souvenir shops. Walking Bourbon Street you quickly realize that it is a unique blend of music, food and shopping. Close by “the quarter,” you will find the St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square (where local artists sell their art in an outdoor daily craft show), Café De Monde (where you can sample their famous Beignets in an outdoor setting), the French Market (an outdoor covered huge flea market with an abundance of assorted new merchandise), the RiverWalk Marketplace is a short walk away (an indoor shopping market on the Mississippi with food venues and interesting shops) and wherever you are in new Orleans there’s the music and the food.
Oh the food! New Orleans has some of the finest restaurants and best food you can find anywhere. Some of the local specialties include: Gumbo, Jambalaya, the Muffuletta Sandwich, Andouille, Crawfish Etoufee, Shrimp Creole, Po-Boy Sandwiches (of all kinds – shrimp, oyster, chicken, roast beef, catfish etc.), Oysters Rockefeller, Red Rice and Beans, Bread Pudding, Bananas Foster, and Beignets. In addition to the food establishments throughout the city, New Orleans is also known for their bars, taverns, pubs, and music halls where cocktails flow plentifully. There is also an abundance of steak houses, Italian restaurants, Seafood, Mediterranean, Pizza, and Mexican restaurants – to name just a few. Next time I will share some of my local favorites, tips on sight-seeing, and more!