I spent this past Labor Day weekend having flashbacks. Or maybe more a sense of déjà vu.

After spending Labor Day in 2020 with my in-laws and in 2021 with our friend Bill, James and I were able to return to New Orleans for Southern Decadence. And as much as I’d like to say things changed, nothing there really has. We saw friends we hadn’t seen since Decadence in 2019. We ate at a lot of the same restaurants while also trying a few new ones. We also drank at a lot of the same bars, mostly because we’re creatures of habit but also because we know which ones have good air conditioning.

And we used a lot of the same questionable restrooms. Talk about flashbacks!

After Decadence in 2018, New Orleans restrooms was all I could think about when writing that week’s blog post. There’s something about worrying that you could possibly die using a restroom. Although I probably should have been worried more about what that said about the restaurant’s kitchen.

But nice to know things really haven’t changed. Which somehow was oddly comforting.

When James and I went in June of 2021, we stepped out of the cab, took a sniff, and realized NOLA hadn’t changed a bit. Same smell. Same heat. Considering everything that had happened with the pandemic, that was reassuring. Like traveling there in 2006 as the city was still recovering from Katrina. While other areas were still struggling, the French Quarter felt the same.

Which may be why we find ourselves there so much, not to mention Key West. For us, familiarity has bred comfort, not contempt. Comfort in not having to figure out a new city. Comfort in not having to navigate the unfamiliar. Comfort in seeing the same people you’ve met over 20+ years of traveling to the same city.

Bill has spent this week in Sitges, Spain at an event called Bear Week, and this is not his first trip there. He loves the event. He loves the people who attend. And he loves sitting in Judgement Square in the afternoon with friends, drinking mojitos and commenting on the passersby.

I suspect that sense of comfort is what draws a lot of travelers to the same locations again and again. Plus you can always find new places to check out and new people to meet. This year I was quite lucky and had friends take us to a new restaurant on Bourbon. While the food was good, I was more impressed with their restroom. New. Clean. Beautiful. Not something I have ever said about one in the French Quarter.

But definitely a restaurant where I would buy a drink, just to use the restroom. If for no other reason, knowing I could walk in without worrying about whether I’d walk out.

Photo: NOLA.com