New Orleans is open for business
I can't believe that nearly 4 years after Hurricane Katrina people still ask me if they should visit New Orleans. They wonder if it's still badly damaged. If there's anything to do or see. I've been here a number of times since that tragic event in August, 2005, including a visit last year with my partner, pictured here.
Just to be clear. Yes. Yes, it's open for business. Yes, it's a great place to visit and yes they really want you to come. To be honest, the city feels quieter and indeed the current population of under 300,000 is still far short of the pre-hurricane population of nearly 400,000.
In a way that makes it better since there are smaller crowds, shorter lines and locals are even friendlier than ever. This is the first day of a long-weekend visit and so far my partner and I have really enjoyed ourselves. First of all the temperature -- though a unseasonably cool 62 degrees -- is a lot warmer than what it is in New York (7 degrees last time I checked!).
Second, the hotels are open, refurbished and offering great deals. We snagged a suite in the Ritz-Carlton Club Level at the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans for a great price. It's a big, sprawling property with a super-friendly staff, fabulous restaurant choices (we tried Le Mélange with jazz wonder Jeremy Davenport). The Club offers four meal 'presentations' per day (lots of small bites and the spirits and wine flow) and super-attentive service.
We had breakfast at justifiably popular Mother's Restaurant a classic New Orleans breakfast and lunch institution with great biscuits, breakfast meats and grits. Go early to avoid the long lines.
Above you'll find a picture of us in front of St. Louis Cathedral. Check back for more later. If you want to start planning your next trip, click here for the up-to-the-minute skinny on where to stay, eat and play/meet in gay New Orleans.