When it comes to travel, I have a lot of places on my “bucket list” that I dream about visiting and New Orleans just so happens to be one of those cities. The best thing about it is that it’s no longer on my “bucket list” because I was fortunate enough to be able to go there and have one of the most interesting and exciting times I’ve had traveling.
When I think back about all the experiences that I had when I visited this incredible city I often find it difficult to find the right words to describe this intriguing city. Not only is it one of the oldest cities in the United States but it has some of the most incredible history, some of the coolest things to do, is one of the most diversified cities you’ll ever see with its unique attitude, flamboyance, cultural differences that all flow together in harmony, from the beautiful to the outright strange, New Orleans has it all. And the people, oh my, that was my selling point, the people. The people of New Orleans are not just strong and resilient, because we all know how much New Orleans has gone through, but they have got to be some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. No matter who you are or where you are from, you will not feel unwelcome, alone or feel like a stranger. The people of New Orleans go out of their way to make everyone feel as if New Orleans was their home. And if I could have, I would have stayed.
I was not like most people when I decided to travel to New Orleans, I did not go during Mardi Gras because I wanted to experience the city with a lot less people so that I could get a more personal look at this wonderful place. So, I chose to go during the summer. Oh, yes, there were a lot less people visiting and I was able to experience the locals better, however, I learned quite quickly why a lot of people do not visit the city in August. The humidity combined with the heat was beyond words. I’ve been to places before and even lived in areas of high humidity but, let me tell you, nothing compares to what I experienced in NOLA in the middle of August. The minute you stepped outside, the humidity alone, took your breath away. However, I did not let that stop me from enjoying NOLA. I just figured out away to try and avoid the heat and humidity by staying in a car with AC and as many structures with AC and made sure that I did most of my traveling during the morning or evening hours. As for mid-day, I did my best to make sure I was somewhere cool.
Even though I didn’t go during Mardi Gras, it was no biggie because this city always finds something to celebrate. They have enough going on every day that there is no way you could ever get bored. They love to party, they even rejoice on the way to a funeral with what they call the “Second Line”. It is a beautiful celebration of the life their loved lived as they dance, sing and play jazz in a procession that takes their loved one to their place of rest. The people of NOLA impressed me with their joy of life as well as the joy they found in celebrating the life of one they lost. Incredible people to say the least.
When exploring NOLA you will never lack for finding something interesting. Everywhere you go you will find artists painting on the streets, musicians playing jazz on the corners and in parks even fortune tellers and card readers right outside the St. Louis Cathedral, which is a story in itself being the center of Catholicism of New Orleans and the state, to say the least that was interesting to see.
Some of the key places you have to see, and yes they are the biggest tourist attractions, but are a must are the following:
• St. Louis Cathedral built in the 1700’s
• The French Quarter
• Jackson Square
• The Mississippi River and its Riverboats
• Cafe du Monde (the home of the original beignets)
• The Street Cars
• Local museums
• The French Market
Much, much more. I could go on and on about places to see but there is so much that I could write a book about the things to do and see while visiting New Orleans. I’m just trying to give an overview of this great city right now and will try to get into more individual details of things in later blog posts. For instance, I could write a complete post just on the culinary delights you will find in NOLA. Right now, it’s just the tip of the ice berg.
Before I conclude this post I do want to give you a list of some of their local summer festivals, because it’s not all about Mardi Gras. Here are some cool festivals they have during the summer months that you might find interesting:
• NOLA Oyster Festival (June 4-5)
• French Market Creole Tomato Festival (June)
• NOLA Pride (June 17-19)
• Bastille Day (July)
• Satchmo SummerFest (August 4-7)
• Red Dress Run (August 13)
• Dirty Linen Night (August 13)
• NOLA Downtown Music and Arts Festival (August)
• We Live to Eat Restaurant Week (September 12-18)
• Southern Decadence (September 1-5)
• NOLA Burlesque Festival (September 15-18)
• NOLA on Tap (September)
The city of New Orleans is a place that blends all kinds of cultures, modern day and the past all flawlessly giving it a unique flair that no other city can come close to doing. One moment you feel as if you stepped back in time nearly 300 years and the next moment you are back in the midst of modern society. One key thing about the atmosphere of this wonderful place is that no matter how hectic life can get, somehow the people of NOLA find no reason to hurry, because they simply want to enjoy and savor every moment that life gives them.