New Orleans - Part I

"AHA!" the elderly woman yelled out as if she had the correct letters to spell a very complicated word in Scrabble.
"I cannot let you through with this bottle. There might be too much liquid left in there. You're only allowed to carry 100 ml." she explained while starring at the single drop of water that was running down the side of Katharina's drinking bottle, after we had drained it right before the security check.
"Yes, but you can see that this bottle clearly holds less than 100 ml right now." we tried to persuade her.
"I can't see that!"
Well, sure she couldn't see that. She looked like Abraham Lincoln's mom!

 

"Ok" we tried another approach "can we just drink the fluid that's left in the bottle right here?"
"Are you crazy?" she asked and I added in my very quiet angry-security-voice: "That would make the whole process of security checking much more convenient and less humiliating. That's not the way it's supposed to be!"
"What did you say?" she asked and looked at me.
"Nothing, isn't there any way we can circumvent going through the check again?"
"I'm sorry" but she clearly wasn't sorry "but the person whose bottle this is has to empty it outside the airport and come back in through the security check. And look, the line just got a little longer, I'd hurry!"

She smiled as if mocking us was her greatest wish come true and showed us to the exit. Her shaky hands with long, pink finger nails shoved our bags over to us as she turned around looking for her next victim...

You might be wondering why I didn't put out any articles within the last week. That is because I was on a magical journey, which started right here with.... let's call her Susan from the SS. No, not the SS. The security staff! The combination of her thoroughness and her age, however, should have given us a clue about where she most likely completed her apprenticeship: The other SS.

I said this journey was magical and you know my tendency to exaggerate, but it was actually very, very cool! I never would have considered New Orleans a place I needed to see or a travel destination in the first place. In Europe, New Orleans is mostly famous for how badly it was hit by hurricane Katrina in 2005. I started thinking about New Orleans and did recall that Louis Armstrong was born and raised in the "Big Easy". As we would find out walking through the narrow streets of the America-famous French Quarter (and I say "America-famous", because it really isn't known outside the US), we realized just how great of an impact music - and especially live music -  has on the city.

 

But I'm jumping ahead of myself. Let's focus on the important, big things that happened and ignore all the small stuff, unless it's particularly hilarious. Do you want a sneak peek at the funny stuff? I know you do:

Let's dive right into the first day then:

Even though the security check was unnecessarily long, it couldn't scratch the bubble of good mood surrounding us. It was Spring Break! After two weeks of what every student will describe as "the most suicidal I've ever been", it was finally off to New Orleans for us. Why New Orleans? I don't really know. The trip was rather spontaneous. One day Katharina said:

"My roommate's going to New Orleans. Sounds like a fun place to be."
"Ok!" I replied and that was all the travel planning we needed to do.

 

Originally another German friend of mine wanted to come but he didn't have the money after blowing it all on rent and books and stuff... Ha, fool! That's how we came up with New Orleans, anyway, and two weeks later the Big Easy was where we were going. 

 

Before we left we were told we could expect a bit of partying, since we arrived on the final and most intense day of Mardi Gras, a massive celebration with costumes and everything, very similar to 'Karneval' or 'Fasching'. This little bit of partying turned out to be a seemingly collective consensus that all rules of decency shall be disobeyed by everyone on this one, very special day.

 

"People are not dressed up like something in particular, they're just... dressed up!" Katharina screamed through the roaring ringing and screaming and singing, while walking down the main party route for one of the many parades. And truth is, they were. Everybody was just sort of dressed up, but all costumes had one thing in common: They were slutty. 

 

Flashing for beads is a Mardi Gras tradition. For those not familiar with the concept of flashing, it is basically pulling up your shirt in order to publicly expose your chestal area. Originally intended for women - because let's face it, male breasts are weird - guys were doing it now, too, and I really have to say, that just made me... you know, it made me... want to join them right away!

After we had earned ourselves some cool beads (which we forgot to take home and are trying to recover at this very moment) we just strolled through the masses of crazy folks and party people. It was hilariously entertaining just to watch this city go nuts:

It was a fest of diversity and a contest of who could look the dumbest. I was doing very well in that contest and I wasn't even wearing a costume! We had a great time and agreed that this was probably the best day to arrive in New Orleans. In the following days, the city would make a completely different impression, but more on that later.

 

After a couple of hours of walking around without having food, we decided to have dinner somewhere. We didn't think this would turn out to be such a hassle, but after all, the Grasers, as we called them, needed food to fuel the party tank! So, we asked locals (just look for the ones who don't look like Elton John on crack). They recommended a very "fun" place to eat. It was called Mona Lisa and the entire restaurant was filled with... replicas and various versions of the Mona Lisa. While that might seem like a cute idea, it turns out to be intensely creepy having 60 Mona Lisas stare at you eating your pizza. The Grasers on the other side of the window took our mind off the creepiness, though. Many people were wearing much less than they should have and much less people who shouldn't have were wearing even less than that while some people who could have didn't.

 

Mardi Gras was a lot to take in, especially with half a day of travelling gripping us to the marrow. The logical conclusion was to calm our nerves doing something one of us hadn't done before. Somewhere in the craziness of the celebration, someone had tossed us frisbee. Since Katharina hadn't played with a frisbee before in her life - whaaaaaat? - we decided to have a go in the Louis Armstrong Park. When we saw it was already closed shut for the night, we just started playing in front of the illuminated entrance and thus, became part of many tourist's holiday pictures.

That was our first day in New Orleans and it was stressful. It also was very exciting, but Spring Break should be all about recovery. We had some of that in the following days but also cool other stuff. I'll try to squeeze all the rest into another article, but now I should really have some breakfast! 

 

Here are some pictures from the beginning of our trip:

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