Do summer weeks fly by quicker than other seasons? It seems like every time summer rolls around, my schedule becomes packed with activities after activities (and not complaining)! This past weekend, I was in New Orleans with my high school friends, Suetwa and Amy. They flew in from NYC and we met up in NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) Friday night.
New Orleans is famous for Mardi Gras, a HUGE carnival celebration every year in February. It involves beads, green beads, red beads, gold beads, purple beads, masks, costumes, and king cakes. Mardi Gras was on my list of “things to do before 30”, but after this trip, I’m really glad I came during the off season so I got to experience NOLA as it normally is. Going to NOLA during Mardi Gras is like going to Munich during Oktoberfest or visiting Penn for Spring Fling, it just isn’t what it’s like all year round.
This trip was nothing short of unique:
- We made a brief visit to Bourbon Street, located inside French Quarter, where all the touristy bars and crazy drunks are on Friday (and all other days of the week, we later found out). Bachelorettes wearing tutus and wobbly drunks throwing beads off bar balconies. We soon decided to head back to the hotel room.
- The next morning, I went for a walk around the same street to see the morning scene. It was as different as day and night, literally. Minus the flowing of alcohol and people’s hurrahs, you can clearly see the French influence throughout New Orleans. When you look down the street, you see facades painted in pale colors and ornate balconies. Coupled with a glass of chilled white wine on an outdoor table, it brings me back to Europe.
- Don’t feel dreamy for too long! We walk past stores on Decatur Street with “take-out cocktails” and “spiciest hot sauce in town”. Suetwa, Amy, and I all love spicy food, so we decided to sign a waiver to try the 10+++ spicy sauce.
- NOLA features Cajun cuisine. I didn’t know much about Cajun food, aside from it being the inspiration for Boiling Crab and Angry Crab, which aren’t actually what Cajun is. To be honest, I still don’t really know what Cajun cuisine entails, but this weekend we had a lot of seafood. Shrimp & Grits, Barbeque Shrimp, Shrimp Gumbo, Corn Bread, Chicken and Dumplings, Jambalaya, Fried Chicken, etc…
- We also went to the WWII Museum, the No.1 place to visit on Trip Advisor. Sometimes TripAdvisor rankings intrigue me. For example, the #1 thing to do in Hong Kong is hiking (while many of us from Hong Kong haven’t even hiked there). But Trip Advisor also never fails to impress me – my first time hiking in HK was this past February and it was super fun! The WWII Museum in NOLA was extremely educational. It also reminds me of how grateful we should be for the world we have today and how much things have changed in only 70 years. It makes my problems and complaints so trivial and ignorant.
- Last but not least, there’s the coffee shop that I visited 4 times during 3 day trip. Appropriately named, the café is called Addiction. It’s a cute and quiet coffee shop right across from my hotel. The tables are made from reclaimed wood and the shop is connected to their own barber shop, which was an interesting set-up.
Overall, it was a great and memorable trip. To quote our uber driver, “[NOLA] is a place where there’s no judgment, that’s why it’s called The Big Easy. If people want to wake up to a glass (or two) of mimosas and face their Sunday’s drunk, then so be it.”
New Orleans has its own charm and character that is unlike any other city I’ve seen. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to explore a city that’s not the traditional go-to’s.