For a little while now, I've been working in the French Quarter, and while I love having a nice picturesque ride to and from the daily grind every day, it's also been a test in handling the joys of tourism. It would be a bit stupid of me to drive to work. The commute from the Bywater is short, and parking in the Quarter is a nightmare, so I opt to take my bike, which I am really enjoying. For one: I am a bit more content about my carbon footprint, and two: hell, it's exercise. Just doing my part. After my first week, I got a flat tire, but I wasn't exactly surprised … and walking my bike the mile and a half after work to the shop wasn't exactly fun. But after awhile, you develop muscle memory for where all the pot holes are on your route and learn how to go about dodging barely moving cars full of people ogling the cool buildings; wandering tour groups; carriages; and strangely enough, Segweys.
The other thing I've ran into while working in the French Quarter is of course tourists, or more specifically, tourists asking me things. The first time it happened, I thought nothing of it, but by about the fifth time it happened in a span of two weeks, I started wondering if this was to be some kind of trend. Is this something that happens to all locals who work in the Quarter? Is it because tourists see me on a bike and figure that I live here? Am I a person who seems more approachable than others? I never thought so, but maybe when it comes between asking me or a gutterpunk where to get a good daiquiri, the tourist sees me and thinks hey, she might know where to get a good rum drink. I'm not sure. I haven't quite figured that out yet.
But what I do know is that in the past few weeks, I've been asked some pretty strange questions, or as I like to call them, adorable, questions. And I have been trying to do my civic duty and be as helpful as possible, passing down any sage advice or knowledge I have, and also trying to subtly correct people if they pronounce a street name or a restaurant wrong, because hey, I'm rooting for them.
As for the questions, I'll rate some from least to most adorable:
"Where can I find a good po' boy?"
I was on Royal at CC's grabbing an iced mocha, when a hipster couple asked me where they could find the best po' boy. This was actually a pretty legit question, but my first reaction was, "in the French Quarter?" I was a bit stumped for a second. I asked them how far they were willing to walk and they said a couple of blocks, so that meant Frady's in the Bywater was out. They have my favorite, the breakfast po' boy, and they're cool enough to make it for me even when it's not breakfast. But then I remembered Killer PoBoys, who's name is seriously on, because in my experience, pretty much anything they serve is phenomenal. It's also a bit of a little-known treasure, at least to tourists, being located on Conti Street in the Erin Rose Bar.
"Where can I find some good microbrews?"
Here's the thing about microbrews … I just don't know much about them. I drank them in college because that's what the cool kids did, but I don't do that shit anymore. I'm a rather simple girl these days when it comes to beer, pretty much drinking my "house beer" or Miller Lite and maybe the occasional Blue Moon or seasonal Abita offering if I'm feeling wild. I directed the pair of bros who asked me where they could find microbrews in the French Quarter to Crescent City Brewery, and I hope it ended up working out for them. But I also told them that if they got the chance to make it outside the Quarter, to try the Avenue Pub on St. Charles as it has a wicked selection of beers. Apparently these guys were trying to bump up their scores, or what have you, on the beer social networking site, “Untappd," and trying exotic New Orleans beers would get them a level up. It's like Facebook for beer. I had no idea it existed, but it's a whole thing. You and your friends can try and out-beer each other, if that's what you're into.
"Where is Bourbon Street?"
I swear to God, I am not making this up. I was buying a Starbucks double-shot at the Walgreens on Decatur and an older couple wearing Hawaiian shirts and khaki shorts asked me where Bourbon was. They must have just gotten here. Perhaps they were having a fun day in NOLA before boarding a cruise. I mean, let's hope so. I pointed in the direction with a smile and was on my way.
"What does the Louisiana state flag look like?"
It appeared to be a bit of an argument between two ladies with big cameras. I had stopped at an antique shop that had a Captain America shield hanging on display and I wanted to take a picture of it, because that's the type of weird stuff I do, so I have no right judging someone for asking a total stranger about state flags. One lady was convinced that the Louisiana flag was the Confederate flag, and the other lady was trying to tell her different. I told them that the Confederate flag was its own thing and that in the great state of Louisiana, our flag is blue and features a pelican. So pretty much nothing like the Confederate flag. One lady flashed the other lady a serious "TOLD YA" facial expression and I slowly backed away.
"Where is Lestat's house?"
I was grabbing a coffee at PJ's (and in writing this I've just discovered how addicted to caffeine I am since I'm always getting coffee somewhere), and two college-aged girls with long neon-green hand grenades asked me where Lestat lived. I kind of did a double-take and then asked them if they meant where Interview With the Vampire was filmed, but they were like, “No, we want to know where his house is." Like, the actual person, Lestat de Lioncourt, 18th-century vampire and apparent owner of property in the French Quarter. Because he's just a regular guy that walks around and exists in real life. I shrugged and directed them towards Dumaine St. and Madame John's Legacy where part of Lestat's "life" was filmed for the movie. I also told them to try a vampire walking tour, as those guys certainly know a lot more than I do, and to also come back to New Orleans for the Anne Rice Vampire Ball in October if they really wanted to see the man himself. I'm not so sure vampires like to hang out in New Orleans during the sweltering summer months. Seems like blood might be tastier in cooler temperatures.
I really hope they found what they were looking for, along with everyone else. I'll shall continue to try and come up with good and honest answers to wandering questioning French Quarter tourists. I'm the girl with the blue Schwinn.