A Good Time NOT to Visit New Orleans.

Apparently, there are not one, but two festivals taking place this week here in New Orleans. The biggie is the French Quarter Festival, but the annual Strawberry Festival is also going on.

I suppose it’s a sign of advancing age, but next time around I will check to be sure there are no festivals happening when I visit here. It’s just too damn crowded.

Some years back, I was given a restaurant recommendation by a woman who is a long-time New Orleans resident. Have dinner at Irene’s in the French Quarter, she said, adding that it was a bit out-of-the-way, but a huge favorite with the locals.

Boy, was she right! I have had wonderful meals at Irene’s on previous visits here, and was looking forward to two dinners there on this trip.

But – alas! – I had failed to consider those festivals and the crowds they attract. I called Irene’s for a reservation and the man actually laughed. “We’re completely sold out for the entire weekend” he said. “Of course, we do set aside a few tables for walk-ins, so you can always come at 5:00 or 5:30 and stand in line.” Right! I’m sure they’ll have a table-for-one any minute now.

Last night, there were lines out the door at every restaurant for blocks around my hotel when I went looking for dinner at around eight o’clock. I finally found a small Italian restaurant with a table the size of a frisbee in a far corner of their bar. The food? Let’s just say this place wouldn’t last a week in Boston’s North End.

I had also been given the name of the Palm Court as a spot for terrific jazz. When I called there for a reservation, someone picked up the phone, shouted “Sold out all weekend!” over a din in the background, and hung up. Another bus’ egg.*

Finally, what is it about festivals that makes people drink and yell and dress sloppy and hang out on the street right under my hotel room window until past 2:00 a.m.?

Probably way too many strawberries.

*Hawaiian pidgin: busted egg, meaning a failure, a really big flop.