Going with the advice I’d gotten yesterday, I started the day with a walk through the various streets of the French Quarter.

Got some coffee from “CC’s”, the local institution (coffee here, btw, is quite good, and 1/2 the price I pay at any botique coffee shop back home. Black and Cafe O’lait are the top sellers).

From there went to the New Orleans Cooking school.

For 2-1/2 hours, you get entertaining stories from your instructor, ours was a history major, and told us all about the history of the region, especially as it related to food. He was very funny, and very interactive with the audience. Then, he cooked artichoke and shrimp soup, crawfish etoffe, bread pudding, and pralines. This included making everything from scratch, so was very fun to watch. Then, we ate! The food was astounding, absolutely first rate, flavorful, fresh. And, it only cost $27 for the course, receipes and lunch. Plus, a lady in line gave me a $3 coupon! People are so nice here. Well, at least I ran into several nice people.

After that I went to Jefferson Square park.

I had heard the street performers were great, but there weren’t many there. Walked north and did a graveyard tour, very interesting, then was going to go to Mardi Gras world, the warehouse where the floats are designed and constructed, but by the time I walked down, got the ferry across the Mississippi, and landed, it was too late to visit. Went back to the hotel, did a quick business call, took a shower after walking in the sun all day, and a short rest. Then, headed out for an early dinner, figuring more people would be here on Friday. Went to get a Muffaletta (a ham/salami/pastrami sandwich, with marinated veggies) at another recommended place, was a small line, but when the hostess came out to ask how many people from various parties, she told me I could sit at the counter, if I was on my own, so I popped right in, no waiting! Ordered my sandwich, and before I knew it (probably 2 minutes), my order arrived. Well, it’s Lent, and it’s a Friday, so apparently the seafood chef was swamped, but if you weren’t ordering fish, you went to the top of the list.

Went back up through the neighborhoods, listened to some celtic music on the way at an Irish Pub, hit Bourbon street, and it was already hopping. Found some great bands, popped between them, then found Big WillyLuckett! Well, after the adventure finding him last night, I had to see what the fuss was about. He was great, a lot of fun. So, I spent the evening popping between three clubs, as they took breaks in between sets. It was a lot more crowded, and being on my own, not as fun to hang with the crowds outside, but club hopping was a great way to spend the evening and hear some amazing musicians.

Things stay hopping later on Friday, at 12:30, Big Willy was just starting a new set, but I was done with crowds, so I headed back to pack and be ready to head out of New Orleans in the morning. My summary, very fun place, it would be ideal if you went with someone who knew the area, or at least spent some time there, and with a bunch of recommendations. I was lucky, had people who’d been there before steer me to a bunch of great places I would have missed otherwise. And, if you’re going to partake of the Bourbon Street party, it’s a lot more fun with other folks, so bring a couple friends. Letting your hair down (a reasonable amount) is both tolerated, and encouraged, and makes for a more emersive experience. My second night, I had my “on my own” mindset on, and it wasn’t as much fun as the first night. Definately a town best enjoyed with friends.