Ask a native New Orleanian which way is up and he may just scratch his head. The local’s skewed sense of place is because the river’s crescent curve turns everything upside down, creating a maze of loopy streets in a city surrounded by so much water it may as well be an island. Locals don’t give directions using ho-hum terms like east, west, north and south. Instead, it’s uptown, downtown, lakebound, as in Lake Ponchartrain on the city’s northern border, and riverbound, as in the Mississippi. So ask somebody to pinpoint a building’s location, and you might hear “it’s on the downtown, lakeside corner.” If that isn’t confusing enough, if you’re on the east bank of the river downtown and you need to head to the west bank, you go east. In fact, if you're going to understand New Orleans geography your best bet is to give up your compass altogether. That’s just how directions are done in the Big Easy.