This post has been a long time coming. I mean I should’ve written this in May. However, life got in the way and here I am four months after my trip to New Orleans finally writing about it. I was going through my pictures today and started to reminisce about my trip, which was the second half of a much-needed two week vacation that also included a week in Georgia (Atlanta and Canton). I began to feel a bit inspired so I saved a bunch of my favorite photos and well, here goes!
Like I said, I headed to New Orleans for a week after having spent a lovely week in Atlanta with one of my college girls, Anita, and in Canton with my cousin Kristen and her family. I had planned this trip months in advance and it definitely was worth the wait. Anyway, back to New Orleans. I stayed with my friend Scott who lived with his girlfriend Christine on Magazine Street in New Orleans. I say “lived” because they have since moved back north for awhile. I’m sure they’ll embark on another adventure soon!
I was really surprised when I arrived in New Orleans by how small the airport was. They also move at a snail’s pace while unloading your baggage, but I was in the south and things just generally move slower down there. I appreciate that in a way. So Scott picked me up and we headed home.
Scott had snagged a really cute apartment for him and Christine. It was cozy, had a nice balcony that was shaded, which was nice since it was uber-hot down there despite it only being May, and was on the awesome Magazine Street. Magazine is known for its antique shops. They truly are quite incredible and full of expensive items that I was mostly afraid to even touch. I got to wander around Scott’s end of Magazine St. quite a bit over the course of the week while Scott worked. I got quite a bit of shopping in and managed to try some local restaurants and foods.
One of the things I had to do was eat crawfish. We went to a local place and got several pounds of the lil’ guys, boiled potatoes and Abita beer. So you’re supposed to suck the heads of the crawfish, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it after looking inside. The meat is in the tail and it’s quite good. The potatoes were also delicious, but man did they have a bite. I don’t know what they boiled them in, but they were SPICY!
Scott lived down the road from the Audobon Park, which we walked around my first day there. There were a lot of ducks, swans, other birds and even some turtles. One of my favorite parts of the south is the Spanish Moss. It’s just absolutely beautiful. Yes I know it’s moss, but seriously you have to admit it makes what would be typical pictures of trees, homes, etc. look dramatically different, more elegant, maybe even mysterious depending on the time of day.
We managed to spend a decent amount of time downtown, especially in the French Quarter. We did walk around there one time at night just so I could see all the craziness, but we headed to another area where it was less touristy and got to listen to some awesome music. First up was the street band, The Homeless People.
I ended up buying their cd from them, which came in a case made from a brown paper bag. It was pretty cool. They have a really unique sound and the young woman was quite talented vocally. We listened to them for awhile before moving on to a bar for some more live music. I really like the French Quarter during the day, especially the early morning when everyone is still asleep from partying all night. It’s quiet and minus the cars parked on the street, you can almost imagine what the area was like before modern days of technology and cars and everything else we have nowadays. There is so much character in the buildings and the balconies. Things used to be custom-made and were unique. You can tell when you’re walking around what’s new versus the old. Our attempts at character today don’t come close when things are mass produced by machine.
I loved Jackson Square because of all the artists and street musicians. I ended up falling in love with paintings by Katie Leese. Visit her etsy shop! I ended up buying three of her paintings for my apartment. I absolutely love them. The one below is similar to one I bought.
You’re probably wondering why that building is my favorite in all of the French Quarter. It looks a bit shabby, I know. However, I think the shabbyness is it’s charm. This is what I picture many European cities looking like. There’s just so much history and character in this building. Sometimes I look at buildings and just imagine what the walls have seen and the secrets they hold. Maybe it sounds silly, but they’ve been around and will probably be around far longer than most of us will be here. Plus, being in the French Quarter thinking about all the crazy things that happen day in and day out, those walls probably have some of the best stories hidden inside.
One of the things I wanted to do while I was down in NOLA was visit the Ninth Ward, which was devastated during Hurricane Katrina. I really wasn’t sure what to expect. Scott said we needed to go early in the morning. It’s not exactly the safest place even at this point, but what’s more important to remember is that people live there. It’s their home and they’re not zoo animals you go to see. They deserve respect and the ability to rebuild their homes and lives there without people coming to gawk at them. I was, yet was not at the same time, surprised to hear that there were bus charters that would take people on tours of the area after the devastation of Katrina. I can imagine it was a drastically different tour closer to the actual disaster than it is now. People will try to make money off of anything and everything.
On our way there, Scott discovered there was a Civil War battlefield historic site. We headed there first and did a brief tour of Chalmette Battlefield where the Battle of New Orleans occurred. While looking for the link to Chalmette, I found photos of what happened during the recent Hurricane Isaac. This battlefield is stuck right in the middle of industry. It’s this little piece of quiet history in the midst of the modernity. The Chalmette Cemetery was really interesting. It had graves from the Civil War, WWI and II and Viet Nam. Right when you walk in you see this tree, which has basically gobbled up a number of the grave stones.
After we finished exploring Chalmette, we headed back into the Ninth Ward. I didn’t really take many photos. Honestly, it just didn’t feel right. There were a few houses that had survived, mostly brick ones. Some were empty and some were all fixed up. There were also houses from Brad Pitt’s Foundation that had been built. They were quite unique in terms of architectural style. For the buildings that had survived, some of them had kept the spray paint from when they were searched after the hurricane as their badge of honor. They survived and so did their home. Overall I was just really surprised at how empty the area was. Few people had returned, few homes had been rebuilt. It was just empty lot after empty lot. What was even more scary was how tall the grass and other plant life on the lots had become. I can’t even imagine what is living in there. Part of me wishes I had taken more photos, but in the end I can remember it well enough and that’s fine by me.
One of the other things we did was head to the cemetery where the famous Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau is supposedly buried. I found the cemeteries in NOLA to be quite creepy when driving by them. All of the graves are above ground thanks to the water table being so high.
We walked around the rest of the cemetery. It’s pretty neat in the daylight, but I definitely would not set foot in one of those after dark. It’s probably good they’re closed. What really stuck with me from our visit was the age of many of the graves. Many were crumbling or simply weren’t even there anymore. It was really sad and I remember saying to Scott that it was a reminder of our own mortality. After we’re gone, how long is it before there’s no one left living who remembers you or who will visit and tend your grave?
Two other things we did that I wanted to be sure to touch on was the Bayou Boogaloo festival and the trip to the Insectarium.
The Bayou Boogaloo was the perfect festival for me to attend. It was small and catered mostly to locals. There was a ton of art, music and food. Despite being warm, it was a lot of fun and I’m glad I was able to experience one of the countless festivals in New Orleans.
The Insectarium was awesome, even with some crazy children running around. I took a ton of photos and I have to say my favorite part was the Butterfly Room at the very end. Some of the butterflies were absolutely huge. What was even more neat was how still they would stay while you took a picture of them. I pretty much given up on ever getting a photo of a butterfly outside since they can’t seem to stay still for more than a split second here or there. That’s not nearly enough time to take a half decent photo with my camera. Anyways, I like the below photo as it shows me making friends with a neat butterfly so I can take his photo.
I know I didn’t cover my entire trip in the post, but I tried to catch most of it. I had a wonderful time and I’m really glad I planned the trip. Scott was a great host and made sure I got to experience as much as possible that was unique to NOLA, food included. While I’m sad they’ve since moved back north, I know it won’t be the last of their travels and adventures and hopefully I can visit them wherever they settle next.