You can call it NOLA (stands for New Orleans, Louisiana, betcha didn’t know that, huh?!), N’awlins, or good ol’ New Orleans; the truth is always the same: this place puts a twinkle in my eye and has rightfully earned itself a spot in my heart as one of my favorite U.S. cities.
I took a trip to New Orleans two years back; it was a Mother’s Day gift to my mommy, and my bro tagged along to create one of the most fun family trips… I mean, one out of the three we’ve ever taken due to finances, but so much fun nonetheless. Here’s the episode that I filmed on our channel, you can laugh at me going insane at the very end.
Landing at Louis Armstrong was an experience in itself, let me tell ya. First step off the plane and the mid-April heat created little sweat droplets at my baby hairs, “damn girl, it’s hot,” my mother tells me in her Brazilian accent. We start laughing it off as we walked through the terminal to find transportation from the airport to the Latin Quarter where our hotel was situated. We approach this adorable lady at a transportation kiosk who immediately greets us,
“Haai there ya lovely ladies, how may I assist you now?”
My mom, “Hi, how do we get to the West Bestern?”
The woman started laughing,”now what was that child? The West Bestern? Now, honey, let me look that up in ma system here, I’m not quite sure I recon a hotel ’round here by that name.”
Of course, Joanna the translator has to interject, “She means the Best Western!” #immigrantprobz.
All three of us started cracking up because communicating became twice as hard with both this woman’s thick Southern accent, and my mother’s Brazilian brain. We make it to the hotel in the Latin Quarter and decided we’d stroll NOLA’s cobblestone streets on a Friday night, coincidentally during Jazz Fest weekend which is the busiest time of year next to Mardi Gras. We were flip-flop deep in beads while having to dodge drunk happy people the minute we stepped on Bourbon street. For five full days, I was completely immersed in the funky, melting pot culture of the city that’s gone through a hell of a lot. And below are five things to love about New Orleans
1. Bourbon Street, Obviously.
If you ask a local, they’ll probably cringe that this is the number one thing I’m recommending seeing in New Orleans, but no shame in my game, it’s cringe-worthy! I listed it as number one because life is the only way to describe what happens there. LIFE. Music, food, alcohol, laughter, crazy people, tourists, more music, more food, dancing, and everything else that makes the world go ’round. No cars allowed on this pedestrian street either, just massive police horses carrying patrol officers through the happy and drunk crowds. Alcohol is completely legal on the street, and you can’t avoid trying either a Grenade, or a Hurricane, both NOLA drink specials that’ll do the trick.
(one of these bad boys and you’ll be swagged out)
The minute you step on the street, you’re swallowed by entertainment in all forms, and all you should be doing is soaking in the magical madness.
2. Music-Mania; Everywhere and All the Time.
If you like to groove, shake your booty, jive, or swing, this is your city. There wasn’t one music-less moment in my five day trip to New Orleans, and no I’m not exaggerating (for once). The city breathes music notes and locals take pride in playing their horns, drums, and even trash cans for passerby’s just because they love to.
One of my favorite places to listen to music, aside from the streets, was this small jazz and swing club called The Spotted Cat on Old Frenchmen street. There’s no cover in this bar/lounge and you walk right into the 1950’s to watch professional swing dancers put your booty-popping skills to shame with their jump-jives on the dance floor.
3. Gator on a Stick, Cajun, Crawfish,
Ok, slight disclaimer here, I wasn’t able to try crawfish because I may or may not have a shellfish allergy, flashback to a terrible swollen lip incident in the Chinese Buffet seven years ago because of a crab leg, but Gator on a stick and anything with Cajun seasoning will give you stories to tell. As a traveler, it’s my personal goal to eat the nastiest, craziest sounding dishes just for the experience. When I heard that eating alligator was a thing in New Orleans, I was determined to try this mysterious meat in all shapes and sizes. So I first tried “popcorn gator” which is exactly like popcorn chicken, but popcorn alligator, and it was da bomb.com. I’d describe it like this: it’s like the meat between the actual juicy meat of a pig, and the fat. After popcorn gator, I wanted to go big and try Gator on a stick, which looks overly sexual and tastes like a salty sausage.
4. Hospitality on Point, This is Not a Myth
Before going to the South, I always considered myself a Southerner. I was drawn to their warm portrayal in movies, books, and in music. It was as though I had always wanted to have Southern friends, family, or be Southern myself. When I met real locals of New Orleans, all of my feelings were validated, these people are so damn nice. It’s as though they get life; it’s all about music, drinking, eating, and relationships with friends and family. They have not a care in the world for rushing, or for phony greetings. Every exchange with a local that I had was genuine, and thorough. Basically, like the opposite of New York.
5. Crescent Box Lids, Art Beneath Yo Feet
This pretty piece of iron is actually a New Orleans artifact that was designed in the 1920s by a man named Edwin Ford, of the Ford Meter Box Company, ironically from Wabash, Indiana. Ford designed the lid after he was inspired by New Orleans rich culture, and it would also serve as a water meter cover with pizzaz. The problem was that the lids were so attractive that in the early 2000’s there were reports of thieves stealing and selling them to different states. When Katrina hit, the scarce amount that was left were snatched up and traded in for cash money, apparently one of these 9 pound lids could be sold for $100. Now, wherever you go in the streets of New Orleans, you’ll see souvenirs and jewelry pieces crafted to resemble the Crescent Box Lid, not just because of it’s intricate design, but because of the resilience of the people who have made it through so much struggle. If you’re lucky, you just might get to see one of the originals throughout the city’s ground.
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