A blog about the special cultural, but little known, aspects of New Orleans.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Love letter to New Orleans
Brian Stokes is the General Manager at the Hotel Indigo® New Orleans Garden District hotel. Born and raised in New Orleans, Brian lives in the Lakeview district with his wife and three children and his dog Reese's. He is a second generation New Orleanian. Dear New Orleans,
You are the only city I have ever known and all that I will ever need. I was born at Hotel Dieu hospital in 1966. I went to school at Holy Cross High School, and I have called you home for all of my life. To some, "New Orleans," or as I like to say, "Nawlins," might conjure up images of Mardi Gras debauchery and Hurricane Katrina's devastation, but you and I both know that you are so much more...you are an immersion into a culture rich in history and tradition, full of vibrancy and warmth.
Remember our youthful days together when I used to run up and down your streets, only stopping to enjoy your annual festivals with my family? These days, we have both begun to mature; I'm not that kid anymore, while you seem to get shinier and grander each day with the development of new office buildings, museums, colleges and hotels. Despite our changing appearances, though, you and I are not so different - neither of us could ever resist a good party or a late night of bourbon and jazz at The Catalina Club. Oh yeah, I know you, break out the saxophone, get those drums tapping and you'll be buzzing all night long!
Working in the Garden District of the city, I am lucky enough to live your energy every day. As a hotel general manager, it's my job to bring your magic to life for those staying with us. And let me tell you...it is something that I, along, with the rest of my team, will never grow tired of!
Step out the front door to experience wonderful architecture and gardens into which are tucked famous New Orleans restaurants and lounges, the smell of magnolias wafting through the air - can't beat that! Looking to satisfy your taste buds? Got that covered too! The gathering of food trucks at Oretha Haley Castle Boulevard is a reminder of the blend of nationalities and culture you represent, with your assortment of Cajun and Soul food.
Yet as modern and hip as you are, there is nothing better than being able to travel back in time with a simple ride upon the St. Charles streetcar to the French Quarter with my family on the weekends. Every time I pass by the St. Louis Cathedral, I am truly awed by its magnificence. To end the afternoon, a trip to the French Market, followed by coffee and beignets at the historic Café Du Monde, is simply divine. Everyone should have that fried, doughy, sugary goodness at least once in their life.
You're more than meets the eye and the stomach, though! You are full of hidden secrets waiting to be discovered. Just minutes from our hotel, I often stop by the Bread Woman Statue of Margaret Haughery. The plaque reads just one word, "Margaret." Capturing the generous nature of the people of our city, Margaret gave freely to the poor and hungry from her own bakery and helped fund and build many orphanages throughout New Orleans. Margaret set the standard for our people's unwavering generosity that continues today.
To the people of New Orleans, if someone were to ask me what I love most about the city, above all else, it is you. We are eclectic and outrageous at times, but undeniably welcoming and enthusiastic. We love to talk, so sit down, give us a strong drink and an afternoon, and I have little doubt that we will soon be close friends.
New Orleans, you touch my soul. Each night, I go to sleep thinking of what new adventures we will have tomorrow. I can think of nothing better than stepping out the front door and living life in a place I love.