Atlanta Airport is crazy busy: at the gate our flight to New Orleans was due to depart from there was a flight arriving from Memphis, a flight to or from New Mexico that I couldn't quite follow, and a flight due to depart for Seattle as soon as we'd gotten out of the damn way. And that was one gate, in one terminal, at an airport that has at least five.
Our shuttle bus driver from Louis Armstrong Airport had a lovely mellifluous accent as he described the sites of the city we were passing. There were some signs of rebuilding, but probably no more so than any urban area of similar size.
(Dave later said that some sections of the city had been rebuilt better than before.)
Our hotel, the Monteleone, is located on Royal St in the French Quarter. Right in the heart of the tourist area but a safe arm's length (just!) from the debauchery of Bourbon Street. It's an old building and would probably have wowed us with its history if we hadn't just come from the gleaming edifice that is the Shoreham Hotel.
We took a stroll through the French Quarter in the late afternoon, then along the Riverwalk where our ears were assailed by the calliope tunes of the Natchez steamboat. The French Market was closing up for the evening as we reached it, and we made a mental note to come back the next day.
The air was warm and humid but not oppressively so, and the forecast rain failed to eventuate.
I rang Dave, whose number Gabe had given me in New York, and we arranged to meet up after dinner.
We ate gumbo at the appropriately named Gumbo Shop. It was an unexpectedly brief dinner: the soup came quickly, and was as quickly eaten. Meg had the Seafood Okra Gumbo, complete with an entire crab's leg in it. Susan and I had the Chicken Andouille Gumbo.
Thus recharged we headed back to the Monteleone to rendezvous with Dave. "I'm wearing a shirt, jeans and flip-flops", he said, failing the basic rendezvous strategy of the white flower in the lapel. Nevertheless we managed to locate each other and he took us out to a couple of bars - including Pat O'Brien's, where we gaped at the Hurricanes, tall glasses of rum with some sort of kool-aid mix - and a wander down Bourbon Street. Dave's a local, and he valiantly outlined for us the quintessential (yet less touristy) aspects of the city.