new-orleans-001Saturday was bittersweet. I wanted to go home; I missed my family badly. But the weather was beautiful and New Orleans was at her beguiling best.

I checked out of my hotel, stored my luggage, and headed out for Cafe du Monde. I was too late. There were throngs of people, mostly locals with families, waiting to get in. I walked over to Frenchmen Street to a small cafe and got a bagel and cafe au lait. It was less crowded than the Quarter and you get that special ambiance and off-center clientèle you can find only in Faubourg Marigny. One of the guys who does the ghost and voodoo tours sat at the table next to me. White ponytail, patchwork leather vest. I know him from the Spotted Cat.

The rest of the morning, I shopped for gifts and souvenirs, listened to street musicians, and people watched. I talked to one of the trombone players from the Hot 8 Brass Band, who was at his usual spot in front of the cathedral. I also saw Chris Owens, long-time owner of the Bourbon Street strip club that bears her name. She was busy getting ready for the French Quarter Easter Parade, which she has sponsored for 25 years now. Only in New Orleans.

After a final lunch — fried chicken and red beans and rice — I walked back to my hotel via Royal Street, which was abuzz with musicians and magicians and other street performers. It was a great image to leave with.

And as usual, once I boarded the airport shuttle and then my flight home, my love for this beautiful, flawed, and unpredictable city was greater than when I arrived a little over a week before. Next year…