New Orleans is the second to last city on my U.S destination list, and I am SO happy I got to check off this city on my list. We got into New Orleans at 1 AM, and our Airbnb host was so kind to let us in at 2 AM and show us what we needed to know when we finally got to her house. We woke up the next morning ready to explore the city, and ended up catching the bus over at the University of New Orleans which took us to the French Quarter.
The French Quarter was beyond what I imagined. The architecture of the homes there are so beautiful; the balconies were stunning and the homes were painted so colorfully and decorated with pots of flowers left and right. The French Quarter itself is bustling, but not in the NYC kind of way. It’s more settle, with bands playing music on the street, cafes left and right, people walking around with alcoholic beverages at 11 AM, the smell of food surrounding you no matter what street you take… Wow. I’m making this sound a lot like NYC lol. It’s really not though; it’s something you have to experience for yourself to really understand the vibe and feel of the city!
BUT THE HUMIDITY OH MY GOD. It was hot, and I like to think I’ve built my tolerance to “hot”, but Nola takes it to another level. We did a lot of walking and exploring, and we indulged food wise during our entire trip there. I don’t think I will ever eat more delicious beignets than the ones I had in Nola. They were ridiculous and though I questioned my sanity of eating a hot fried piece of dough smothered in powder sugar while sitting in 95 degree humid hot weather, I still had a smile on my face while doing so. I also ate some delicious African/Caribbean cuisine for lunch!
Natalie and I were able to catch the bus to a nearby mall, where we did a little bit of shopping before getting caught in the Nola rain. It cleared up pretty quick though, and we made our way back to our Airbnb which was thankfully in a safe neighborhood on the outskirts of the popular landmarks in New Orleans. I also want to mention that our Uber driver was like 34 years old but I swear he looked like he was 21. I was in disbelief during the entire car ride home, questioning his life story because I genuinely couldn’t get over his baby face. Wow, that poor Uber driver! Once we got home, we walked to a nearby grocery store where we bought a bunch of fruits and vegetables for our stay to balance out all the disgustingly good but terrible food we would eat while being in the city. We also got to meet our Airbnb host at a more appropiate time rather than in the middle of the night. She invited us to go to the Bayou Bugaloo with her, which is a music festival in Nola. The Whalers were playing, and Natalie loves them, so we went. We ate these insanely good crawfish beignets, danced to the music under the full moon, and admired the homes along the river before heading back home and calling it a night. That was probably one of my favorite nights in New Orleans.
The next day was a fun one! We explored the French Quarter once again, this time getting a late start to the day. We ate these delicious Poboys from some random little market in the French Quarter that I can’t remember the name of. There was a deli in the back of the store, and I got the shrimp and oyster poboy whereas Natalie got the shrimp cheesesteak poboy. Both were heavenly, I’ll never forget my first pobpoy!
We decided to do some more walking around, and I stopped at a Walgreens so I could get a postcard! I collect postcards from every place I travel to, and I am so upset that I forgot to purchase one while I was in Chicago. But if you’ve ready my Chicago post, I forgot for… valid reason (we’ll just go with that). Anyway, Natalie went to the post office and to get her nails done, so I just went to a PJ’s Coffee Shop where I sipped on a Southern Wedding Cake Iced Coffee in the cool, refreshing AC.
We decided to head out to Frenchman Street and Bourbon Street later that night to get an idea of what the nightlife is like in New Orleans…
Holy. CRAP. is all I have to say. I first want to mention, I did not take any photos which I’m bummed about, but should give you all the more reason to go out to NOLA and see what I’m talking about (if you’re 21 of course). It was a little crazy, and I was mesmerized by the amount of shouting and chaos that was taking place before my eyes. Frenchman Street had a bunch of bars with some Jazz bands playing, and while we didn’t stay for long, it was cool to explore! We headed to Bourbon Street next, and that’s where I was like “uhhh…”. The streets were closed off, and the strip was packed with people. There were men on balconies shouting at us; some even had beads in their hands to throw at us. We had guys taking our hand in the middle of the street to tango with us, and then as we were walking back to an open street, we hear an obnoxious amount of shouting from a balcony we’re passing, and these guys were shouting at us to come up there. I was ready to go home, but I looked at Natalie, and she shrugged, so I shrugged, and we found ourselves walking into the bar. NOT THE GREATEST IDEA. While Natalie kicked it off with one of the boys who was shouting at us, I had two guys talking to me with my back against the wall. Granted, they were very nice boys, but I honestly wasn’t in the mood to mingle that much. My outfit should have said it all— I was in jeans, chucks, and a V neck! Totally not girl’s night attire, but I sucked it up for Natalie and talked to these boys for the next hour or so. They were… interesting, to say the least. The were all on a road trip to California in which they started out of Pennsylvania. There were four of them (I think) and they got really excited when they learned we were from San Diego, which of course, they planned on making a pitstop once in California. Unfortunately for them, by the time they’d get there, Natalie would be in Costa Rica and I would be in Maui. Natalie and I finally were ready to head home, but before doing so, we had our Uber driver make a pit stop at Waffle House where we picked up a delicious breakfast of cholesterol filled hash browns, waffles, biscuits and gravy and brought it back home to devour. It was SO good…
Until my menstrual cycle decided to make an appearance at that very moment and ruin the blissful joy of me eating a perfectly smothered jellied biscuit. I’m not even kidding you. I got this super sharp cramp, quickly did the math, and realized I was going to have my period (sorry tmi) during my next trip. I WAS DEVASTATED. So Natalie made me take a bath and made me a cup of ginger tea to help relax me, isn’t she such a sweetheart?!
So we finally went to bed by 7 AM, I woke up at 11:30 AM, and decided to go for a run in the muggy NOLA heat in hopes that I would sweat out that Waffle House. Meh, that didn’t really happen, but it’s the effort that counts, right? And then I walked to Rouses (the nearby grocery store) and bought a watermelon to eat while walking home lol. It was moments like those that I cherish the most on these kind of trips, as ridiculous as I might have looked walking home while eating half a watermelon with a spoon. I just love the freedom of doing whatever my heart desires on these trips I take; granted, I’m adamant about doing the touristy things, but I also love relaxing and being able to really enjoy the serenity of seeing a different part of the world. On these solo walks home, I admired the beautiful homes in the neighborhood while reflecting on the past week of being in a new place, meeting new faces, eating wonderful food, and actually comprehending with the fact that I am a college graduate. Where does the time go?
Our last full day in Nola couldn’t have ended any better. Nicole, my Airbnb host, drove Natalie and I around all of New Orleans. She showed us the parts where Katrina really took its toll, and the new developments that both Harry Connick Junior and Brad Pitt built for those who have lost their home from the storm. She showed us Tulane University and Loyola Marymount which has one of the most gorgeous campuses I’ve ever seen! After our personalized tour of the city, Nicole took us to one of her favorite restaurants for dinner which overlooked the lake. It was honestly a perfect way to end our time in New Orleans.
Since being home and summarizing our trip to all my friends and family, I told them that while I loved New Orleans, it was a one-and-done kinda city. As fun as it was, I didn’t think I’d return. WELL. After documenting this trip, I actually really miss it and would love the opportunity to return to this gem of a city. I think New Orleans would be the perfect weekend trip, but I think spending four days in a city with the kinds of food that will give you a heart attack, diabetes, and liver failure all at once is a little much. Not to mention the heat and humidity isn’t the greatest perk, either. Maybe one day I’ll make another trip out there, but for now, I am so glad to say I can cross New Orleans off my list. It’s a wonderful city; it has culture and soul and an immense amount of beauty. Of course– no city is perfect, so yes, there are parts of New Orleans that are still recovering from the storm. But the city is truly one of a kind, and I highly recommend NOLA as a city to cross of your US destination list. Incredible food, gorgeous scenery, soulful people, and a spectacular night life will prove why this city has so much southern charm.