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In a New Orleans state of mind

March 12, 2010

So let me tell you about New Orleans. It was an entertaining beginning, with Captain Sully and the Jesus cab and it truly only got better from there.  Because Joe was in a seminar during the day, I got to explore the city on my own. The truth is I genuinely enjoy traveling alone. I backpacked Europe solo so I’m comfortable in this kind of situation.

When we got into town, we checked in and immediately went to dinner. I mean, isn’t that what you’re supposed to do in New Orleans? Eat yourself stupid?  On the first night, I had my first crawfish experience, in the form of etouffee. Oh my yum. Spicy, gravy-y, crawfishy, and delicious.

Jackson Square on a gorgeous day

On Thursday, I spent most of my day meandering the French Quarter, the French Market, Jackson Square, the river walk, antique shops, coffee shops, anything that piqued my interest even slightly. I did a lot of people watching, had a lot of time for quality reflection, and listened to copious amounts of ridiculously good street music.

strawberry & balsamic gelato aka best thing I've ever eaten

On my passeggiata, I discovered La Divina Gelateria, a cute little cafe on a busy corner that had the best damned gelato in the United States. (Try the strawberry and balsamic. Holy cow.) I went back three times in two days for incredibly gelato. In the evening, Joe & I met up with some college friends who now live down there. They took us to the trendy/hipster part of town for crazy delicious burritos… and then they turned us on to strawberry beer. God bless the folks at Abita. (Dear Abita, you can have lifelong ads in my sidebar AND in each of my posts if you send me a case of strawberry beer each month. I’d even drive a strawberry beer-mobile every day.)

One of Brad Pitt's green homes in the Ninth Ward

On Friday, I took a tour called the Rebirth Tour. I figure if I’m in Nawlins, I need to see Katrina’s wrath. I feel it’s a vital part of our history and being there made it so very real. This tour took us to the Ninth Ward to see the blight still there. I was so overcome with emotion being there, so sick to my stomach. It wasn’t so much the ruined homes that upset me, it was the fact that I was in a damn TOUR BUS looking at people’s destroyed homes, gawking like I was in a damn zoo. I wasn’t out there, helping, meeting the people, rebuilding with my own dirty hands. I was in my porcelain tower in the black part of town with a bunch of rich white people thinking, “Oh, poor them.” If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know race (as well as gender, see my last post, duh) is a sensitive issue for me. I struggle witha bad case of white guilt and try hard to perpetually unpack my knapsack of privilege.
So there was that. I enjoyed seeing the rebuilding, though. Brad Pitt and Harry Connick, Jr. (and others, I’m sure)have put a lot of money into building new, green, safe homes. It’s impressive and gives me hope for the city.

Sipping strawberry beer at Cafe Amelie

Friday evening, we had a fancy pants dinner at an outdoor patio cafe on a quiet little street. We enjoyed salmon and ahi tuna… and strawberry beer. (I said it was fancy but I never said we were classy enough for wine allllll the time.) We then waded back through Bourbon St. to top off our dinner with bananas foster and a jazz trio.

When we went out for a cab to the airport at 5:30 Saturday morning, Bourbon Street was still partying. Who says New York is the city that never sleeps? Who says Las Vegas is sin city? I think it’s all represented on one street in New Orleans. (Sorry, friends, I didn’t even have one drink on Bourbon.)

I learned a lot about New Orleans in the little time I spent there. The music never stops there. When I went out for breakfast at 8am, I could hear a band in the distance. When we shut off the lights at midnight, we could hear a band on Bourbon. Jazz is everywhere, even in the way people speak. New Orleanians are fantastic people. They’re so proud of their city and its culture which makes me proud to visit. Their food is to die for. I’m sure I could’ve eaten my weight every day if I tried.
And I can’t wait to go back.

Ciao for now, NOLA!

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. March 12, 2010 5:23 pm

    New Orleans is hands down, my favorite U.S. city. I am so glad you enjoyed all the same things I love about NOLA, I tell everyone that they haven’t lived until they have been there. I dream about the food…and often get desperate for a taste and order offerings found here in Chicago. But don’t bother they are NEVER as good. 🙂

  2. March 12, 2010 7:25 pm

    what a great trip, i can’t wait to go back again i love that place for all of the reasons you shared, it’s just an amazing city.

  3. March 13, 2010 4:12 pm

    This post totally warmed my heart because, since I lived in Louisiana for almost six years, I feel like the state adopted me and made me one of its own. NOLA went through some rough times, and it is incredible how a large part of the city has bounced back. (Including parts of the Ninth Ward, though I haven’t been there since the fall of 2006. When it was barren. And I might have cried a lot.)

    Also? You’ve had my favorite beer in the ENTIRE world, and I’m jealous because Nashville doesn’t have strawberry beer.

  4. March 13, 2010 8:33 pm

    My wife and I own La Divina Gelateria, and we are so happy you enjoyed it! Thanks so much for visiting the city, and thank you for taking the time to tell everybody about your time here. Would it be OK if we linked to your blog from our site?
    Carmelo

  5. March 13, 2010 9:10 pm

    This trip looks so awesome! I’m completely jealous that you got to go!

  6. March 13, 2010 11:48 pm

    I’m glad you enjoyed your time in the city, and I know what you mean about the devastation. The only thing that made me feel a little better is the spirit that city has and how thankful they are to have tourists and money flowing in. I did a Ghost Tour while I was there and it was creeeeppy. Seriously.

    The last picture of you and Joe is great! You guys look so adorable =)

  7. March 14, 2010 12:17 pm

    You must tell me where this gelateria is!! I loooooove gelato and have been looking for an awesome one here stateside since I came back from Italy 3 years ago. I’m going to NOLA in a little over a month and after reading this, i’m even more excited to go 🙂

    • March 14, 2010 12:25 pm

      It’s so easy to find! It’s in the French Quarter, less than a block from Jackson Square on St. Peter Street between Royal and Chartres. You MUST try it!!

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