The first time I visited New Orleans in 2013 I was excited, nervous and so ready to explore. I had traveled there for the Essence Festival. We stayed in an apartment on Burgundy Street (pronounced Bur-GUN-dee) which is part of the French Quarter. I had gotten so many mixed messages about the city but really just wanted to experience it for myself. I was there for Essence Fest but to be honest I was far more excited about visiting "The Craig Tracy Gallery" on Royal.
(The Craig Tracy Gallery)
We spent Four days and Three nights and I fell in love with the city that is affectionately known as Nola.
I've returned twice since then for an annual body art convention called LaFete and of course a little quality time. I can honestly say it is one of my favorite places to visit. The streets of the French quarter are ever flowing with art, music, live performances, the aroma of Cajun cooking and some not so pleasant odors as well. From North Rampart to Decatur there is a little something for everyone to see, hear, touch and taste. My personal favorite places to roam are Royal Street where most of the art galleries reside; Jackson Square where live art and performances happen; and Frenchman Street where the locals go to party. I could spend all day at any of these places just soaking it all up.
(A few photos of galleries I visited)
If you're a foodie you will almost definitely find a favorite dish or two. Beignets, po boy sandwiches, fried alligator,crawfish etouffee, gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice and muffalettas are just a few traditional New Orleans dishes I encourage you to try. If you like to partake in beverages which contain alcohol there is no shortage in New Orleans. You can in fact purchase alcohol just about everywhere including pharmacies and corner stores. In the French quarter, Bourbon Street is filled with bars of all sorts serving up whatever you want to drink. The best part is you can bar hop with your drink in tow because it is not illegal to drink alcoholic beverages in the streets of New Orleans.
(#1Homemade Jambalaya , #2 Beignets from Cafe Du Monde and #3 Grilled BBQ with other sides and Corn Grits)
St. Patrick's Day in New Orleans is probably nowhere near as wild and crazy as Mardi Gras but it's ton's of fun! I've actually spent the last two St. Patrick's day holiday's there because it is during the same time as LaFete. The Fete crew gets all adorned in festive makeup and green garbs. Then we go on a walking tour with Magic Mike until we land on Esplanade and line up for the parade. No (real) flashing or any of that jazz typically happens during this family friendly parade but the ladies can still earn lots of beads! With a little Irish luck and simply standing pretty, I walked away with close to 30 new beaded necklaces to add to my collection.
At the parade (a little blurry)
This is not a city for the faint of heart and broken spirited. It has a very rich but dark history and is said to be one of the most haunted cities in the United States. From fires to torture chambers and tales of voodoo you can feel the energies the moment you step off of the plane.
(A few photos from my first zombie crawl and an unexpected "Fire in the Park" photoshoot)
New Orleans; one of the places I feel most inspired as an artist. It's full of wonder and mystery; I've never been to a place with so much presence for the arts. The French quarter is like an artist's mind turned inside out; colorful, provocative a little twisted but mostly magical. These are the reasons that I love this city so damn much!
From street to street there is always something new to see, and so much to do. It's the kind of place that you should experience at least once in your lifetime. Maybe you'll fall in love, maybe you won't. One thing is for certain, Nola will leave a lasting impression on anyone who stays even if only for a little while.
Some of my favorite places, performances and things in New Orleans:
Street Performers: Tanya & Dorise
Cheap but good eats: Verti Marte
Beignets: Cafe Du Monde
Art Galleries: Craig Tracy Gallery, The Tresor Gallery, Black Heritage Gallery
Hurricanes/Drinks: Pat O'brien's
Places: Audubon Insectarium, Jackson Square
For a cool article on must do's in NOLA click here
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