This is a busy city when it comes to commerce. Most visitors only see the commercial side of town, so they do it well. The large chain hotels have situated themselves effectively to host huge conferences all week long. The small, private hotels are prepared to host families and small events. All of this brings in folks flowing at a steady pace.
We did not stay at either of those traditional types of lodging- of course. We rented a private camping space just on the edge of the French Quarter and camped on a piece of property right next to the trains!
This acre of land is owned by a young, college grad from the East Coast who has decided to try to make a go of natural farming and self-sufficiency in the city. He “rents” tent space in exchange for cash or work. He has a hand-built structure with tarp walls, a tin roof and open beam walls. He recycles pallets and scrap wood from neighborhood businesses and construction sites. He takes fill dirt and compostable materials from workers in the area. His vision is that all of this will develop into a garden with harvested rainwater. In the meantime it is a rough version of camping. Including a poo-bucket with sawdust and no running water. But it offered us a perfect place to put the van for the past few days. The dogs could hang out and watch trains while we rode our bikes the ½ mile to the French Quarter.
Just for comparison sake, the nearest RV Park is about 8 miles away and charges $96.00 per night plus taxes. While we are not on a tight budget, it always helps to save a little money. So here we are, camped on St. Ferdinand Street and the train tracks.
There is a large population of people in this city that are living in a nomadic, alternative or homeless lifestyle. We have met quite a few on the property. Actually, this land was the site of a warehouse fire a few years ago. This article discusses the fire, the kids that died in it and the “gutter punks” that live this lifestyle. http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2011/01/those_who_died_in_warehouse_fi.html
We strolled around town to look at statues and listen to street music. This was our favorite.
But the highlight of this visit was the food tour. Our tour guide was very kind and very knowledgeable about the city and the restaurants. Clearly a connoisseur of food, he shared stories of restaurateur’s and history with us for four hours. We sampled muffaleta, gumbo, jambalaya and pralines. We had a roast beef po-boy and ended it with chicory coffee and a beignet . What a fun way to learn about a city, their history and their food traditions.
By the way- the title refers to the historied nicknames of the city. Crescent City because the river flows North and then South here, as it turns a sharp corner which forms a crescent. And The Big Easy supposedly because it is easy to get by, easy to get drunk, easy to get in trouble and easy to enjoy this town.