Day 1: Daiquiris, Muffulettas, & Shopping It all starts here! Day 1
Day 2: Andre Agassi, Good Food, & Local Music
Day 3: A Pound of Butta & Napoleon
The very first time I saw New Orleans, I was 12 years old and it was a hot and humid July. My parents were attending a week-long conference, so I was shuffled off to the day-camp that was provided.
I saw the amazing Audubon Zoo and the park with its crazy live oaks, and was mesmerized by Oak Alley Plantation with its canopy of oak trees swathed in Spanish moss.
I ate Red Beans & Rice with a dollop of Tabasco every day and beignets every other day.
I remember riding on the paddlewheeler along the Mississippi River, thinking of Huck Finn. One day we went to the shops at Jackson Brewery, where they had a whole floor dedicated to dining. I was both curious and revolted by some of the southern menu items, such as alligator. However, when my father ordered some raw oysters and bit a real pearl (admitted small and rough-looking), that sealed the deal for me.
I determined that this city was a magical place, more exotic and foreign than it was southern, a place where you might find gems in the most unexpected places. And, the crush hasn't really lessened over the years; I've visited New Orleans five more time since that first time.
As a college student, I spent my fair share of time on Bourbon Street on the lookout for flashers and cheap drinks. Even in the years after college, I still walked around with my frozen daiquiri and enjoyed a conga line as much as the next gal, but I also started developing more interest in good but affordable restaurants and spending quality time with friends.
<--- Um, yes, the second one is me. For the sake of this story, I am willing to share this with you!
It's been nearly five years since my last visit, and I was excited to see what New Orleans would be like. A lot has happened in the Crescent City, namely Hurricane Katrina, the renewal of corruption (they'd been doing better for a while), and an explosion in crime. Apparently, New Orleans has the highest murder rate in the nation right now. A lot has changed in my life, too. Nothing like a hurricane, mind you. But, I have grown up a bit. I'm more interested in people and the history of a place and while I like to get my drink on from time to time, I'm no longer a Bourbon Street party girl.
Instead, interesting architecture, the sight of a tantalizing menu, and a shop window full of pretty things have a lot more impact on me these days. And seeing, really seeing the people who generously open up their city to me, well that's more meaningful to me these days.
It all starts here! Day 1