As everyone knows, there is still a very strong French element to New Orleans. The connections to the city’s French past are found in the cuisine, in the name and architecture of the French Quarter, and even in statues found around the city.
Joan of Arc is a popular subject — which is not surprising because she was, after all, the Maid of Orleans. This golden depiction of France’s martial heroine was a gift to the citizens of New Orleans from the people of France and is found in a small park next to the French Market area of the French Quarter.
It’s Navy Week in New Orleans, and when I walked down to the Mississippi River for a stroll along the River Walk I discovered to my delight that a number of tall ships were docked along the pier.
There is something remarkably appealing about large sailing ships, with their masts towering far above, furled sails, and flags snapping in the breeze, all shined and polished and painted for display. When you have the opportunity to see them on the mighty Mississippi, it’s an even bigger treat.
Yesterday I flew to New Orleans through Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C. As we landed at Dulles, the pilot announced that on the left side of the plane we would pass the space shuttle, still atop the special plane that carried it, piggyback, to D.C. so it can be displayed at the Smithsonian. Pretty cool!
Of course, I was on the right side of the plane. So, as the people on the left side of the plane oohed and aahed and took pictures with their phones, blocking their windows in the process, people on the right side of the plane craned their necks to get a crappy look at the shuttle.
This happens to me all the time. Whenever the pilot announces that my plane is passing something interesting — the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the Grand Canyon, the mother ship of an approaching alien invasion — I’m always on the other side of the plane. Always! I never get to look out my window and enjoy the life-defining sight.
What’s the appropriate etiquette in that situation? Elbowing your way across the passengers on the other side of the plane to get a better view? Asking the lucky folks to talk a picture with your phone to dimly capture the moment? Insist that the pilot loop the plane around so that, for once, you can see the landmark from your side of the plane? My choice is always to sit in grim-faced silence, cursing my luck — and then hoping that the pilot stops being a tour guide and gets back to the job of getting to the destination and putting the plane safely back on the ground.