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Over Veteran’s Day weekend my husband and I took a delightfully relaxing trip down to New Orleans to belatedly celebrate our anniversary. Since we don’t really buy presents for things like birthdays or anniversaries, we usually try to go somewhere fun, see a show, or do something adventurous. We like experiences more than things–we’re kind of hippies that way–plus god knows we already have a ton of stuff the movers are going to have to pack up so the least we can do to help them is not buy more crap.  🙂

We headed down to New Orleans on Friday morning, early. When we got to Nashville, our connecting flight was delayed so we spent an extra hour and a half chilling in the airport reading and watching CNN do an impressively poor job covering the Penn State football scandal. (Side note: When did CNN turn into a tabloid on TV?)  By the time we got to NOLA, I was starving and we both were tired. We took a cab to our hotel, expecting it to be a basic but comfortable place and boy, were we wrong. This hotel was quite possibly the worst hotel I’ve stayed at in this country. Actually, I’ve stayed a several hotels in Morocco and in Turkey that were way, way better for less than half the price. First off, the lobby smelled like cigarettes and cigars because there is a bar next door and they share an entrance. Gross. Then, when we got off the elevator, we found that we had to walk up a weird ramp and through a super creepy stairwell to get to the hallway where our room was. We later figured out that this is just because the hotel takes up a couple of buildings that are connected but man, that stairwell was CREEPY. Like, serial-killer-movie creepy: black painted wooden stairs with shreds of wood coming off of them, exposed pipes and ductwork, zero natural light, and a ton of weird shadowy places where a psycho serial killer could totally hide. But that wasn’t even the worst part.

We opened the door to our room and I just about died. The entry way had no light and a weird wall directly in front of it. To get into the room you had to walk past the closet (where there really was zero light: no natural light and no light fixture) and then make a sharp left turn then a sharp right turn to be in the main part of the room. The carpet was super old and spotted. We were in a “mini-suite” so we had a couch, a coffee table, a mini fridge, and a microwave but the couch freaked me out so much I refused to touch it the entire weekend. On one of the cushions there was a stain about 5 inches wide that looked like blood or vomit…I couldn’t tell which. It didn’t smell or anything and the stain was obviously old but it just looked so gross I couldn’t take it. The room had one window, which was made of that weird frosted bubbly glass that you usually see on shower doors so we couldn’t actually see out of it and even if we had been able to, we wouldn’t have seen much as it looked out over a building that was just close enough so as to block out almost every shred of sunlight. It was noon when we checked in, but if you had just walked into the room and didn’t know the time you would have thought it was twilight.

At that point I didn’t think things could get much worse but then I saw the bathroom. The seashell shaped sink and weirdly narrow tub were made of old gray laminate and in a misguided attempt to match the grout to the laminate, the hotel chose to use dingy gray caulk on both of them, which just made everything look dirty. The grout on the tile floor in the bathroom looked like it had seen better days (about 20 years ago) and the shower curtain was covered in a pattern that looked grotesquely reminiscent of mold. We double checked to make sure it was just a pattern, which it was, but the whole time I just kept thinking “who on earth thought THAT was a good idea in an already weird/gross/old bathroom?”

After having a minor panic attack and being utterly pissed that we were spending over $120 a night on what I secretly termed THE ROOM OF DOOM, my husband reminded me of a hotel room we stayed at in Morocco where the bedsprings were so stretched out they touched the floor, the blankets smelled like wet dog, and the balcony door had an air leak that not only made the room FREEZING but whistled something fierce. This NOLA room was bad, but it wasn’t THAT bad, so I started to feel a little better about it. We also checked out the bed (not like that!) and found that aside from the pillows being crap, which is par for the course (I HATE hotel pillows…they are always utter rubbish), the bed was fine which really was all that mattered since we didn’t plan to spend a ton of time there anyway.*

We have some fellow FSO friends who used to live in NOLA and they were kind enough to sit down with us for a couple of hours a few weeks ago to give us their recommendations for food and events in the city. Following their suggestion, we hightailed it out of the ROOM OF DOOM and headed to the Warehouse District to Cochon Butcher where I ate what was hands down the best hot dog I have ever had in my entire life. Admittedly, I wouldn’t normally order a hot dog at a restaurant but I got the hot dog because my friend had said it was so fabulous. It absolutely exceeded my expectations. Seriously. It was AMAZING. They also have this sweet potato habanero sauce that I wanted to drink right from the bottle. It was so spicy that my tongue was on fire and my eyes were watering but I could not stop eating it. I ended up pouring a puddle of it on my plate and dipping my chips in it even though it was burning like hell solely because it was SO DELICIOUS.

After Cochon, we headed into the French Quarter and wandered around people watching, perusing art galleries, and drinking tasty watermelon daiquiris. We ate a small, late evening dinner at a Crescent City Brewhouse where I got a beer sampler that was amazing. Crescent City’s Weiss Beer tastes like banana bread, which I absolutely loved. It was incredible. Post dinner, we wandered through the quarter and around Jackson Square where all the palm and tarot card readers were setting up for the night. We were so tired from the early flight that we made it kind of an early night, especially because we wanted to be good and rested for the adventure we had planned for Saturday…

*The room was bad, but I *may* have described it here a teensy bit melodramatically because it makes for a much more fun read, no? I’m also pretty sure that I’ve been a bit coddled this last year in terms of hotels because before I joined the Foreign Service I was traveling a ton for work and staying in super nice hotels with fancy pillow menus and granite counters. Don’t get me wrong, this room was bad, but it obviously wasn’t bad enough that we checked out and found somewhere nicer… 🙂