December 17, 2014

Hey, New Orleans! You're fun.

Aside from my habit of perpetually delayed blog posting, I can't believe it has been three months since our trip to New Orleans in September! Looking through photos, I can still hear the jazz pouring out of smokey bars, taste the salty and sweet indulgences we feasted on, and feel the cobblestone streets under my feet as we dashed around from one historic spot to the next. I'm not exaggerating when I say New Orleans absolutely blew my mind. 

I don't know what I was expecting as I had previously only associated New Orleans with Mardi Gras, fried food, and hurricanes, but I quickly learned that this is one of the most vibrant and diverse cities in the world. In the historic French Quarter, with buildings, roads, and bars dating back to the 1700's, you imagine being in Europe, but just a few blocks over on Frenchman street, saxophone blues and neon signs transport you back to present day. With so many unique cultures alive and thriving in New Orleans you would think there would be a sense of incongruity or rivalry between the neighborhoods but the beauty is that everyone seems to take pride in the collective diversity of the city.  

Our friends Jen & Eric moved back to New Orleans (from Denver, where we met) last year and kept begging us to come visit. We found a good deal on flights and away we went for a long weekend. They took us all over town and made sure we had our fill of food and fun, starting with crepes that were bigger than our faces. 

Walking along Bourbon Street, something everyone has to do once... if only to experience what booze, smoke, cheap cologne, incense, and urine smells like mixed together. Keep smiling!

swoony colors, artist studios, and knitting shops!

 I tried to take a photo of every single corner in the French Quarter. I couldn't get enough of the buildings and balconies and old bricks, oh my!

I'll take one of everything, please.

 I could have moved right in!

 Po boys! My mouth is watering just thinking about this. 

You can live in a Doll House!

3 parts sugar, one part paper cup. 100% Heaven.

The Voodoo Queen's grave

My favorite travel buddy

Steamboat Natchez, riverboat cruise

Be still my heart.

Even the wildlife is friendly! Hey little fellas!

(((objects in photo are actual size)))

shrimp & grits on our last morning

Overall, New Orleans completely surpassed all of our expectations and we can't wait to go back next year to celebrate during one of the city's famous festivals or parades!

Things you should know about visiting New Orleans:

The Food! Plan on gaining at least 5lbs without even trying. I can honestly say that we did not have a single bad dining experience between breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, and dessert each day. Luckily, you can walk anywhere between downtown, the Quarter, and the river, so you can easily justify all those beignets, fried oysters, martinis, and more. 

Getting around- the city is built on a crescent-shaped curve that follows the bend of the river so standard directions (N, S, E, W) don't really apply. I don't generally get disoriented easily while driving, etc. but I was genuinely confused regarding our whereabouts the entire time we were in New Orleans. There are tons of landmarks that make it easy to get your bearings but I would have kept walking in circles if our friends weren't there to guide us.

It's tropical! I couldn't get over the climate while we were there- balmy and humid, it felt like we were on an island! The colorful colonial-style buildings and cobblestone streets reminded me of parts of Guatemala and the Caribbean islands. The weather is deceiving- it feels like you are sitting on the ocean- but the city is actually pretty far from the coast.

It's so freakin' fun! Whatever you are looking for in a vacation destination- historic charm, nightlife, local art scene... New Orleans has it! It's like a real-world Disneyland - think Pirate's of the Carribbean meets old world France meets Gone with the Wind meets blues and soul food meets Las Vegas... you'll love it.

It's still recovering. Mother nature certainly did not discriminate when she tore through New Orleans. Historic mansions and housing projects alike were ravaged and the lasting effects and damage from Hurricane Katrina are still obvious throughout the city. It was a bit of a shock for us to drive from a pristine, fully restored block to the next, where houses are leaning on each other and graffiti symbols still mark doorways where survivors were rescued. Our friends told us that many of the people who were forced out of their homes never returned, simply because they had started their lives elsewhere, but now many young people and companies are moving to New Orleans which will certainly help breathe new life and resources into the city. 

xoxo 'til we meet again, New Orleans xoxo


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