Finding the true nature of New Orleans can be accomplished in just three days

Posted November 7, 2013


NEW ORLEANS –- As soon as the plane’s wheels hit the runway of the Louis Armstrong International Airport, I was ready to jump into a cab and explore New Orleans.

My friend and I landed around 11 p.m. and didn’t arrive at our hotel – the Marriott on Canal Street in the heart of downtown – until midnight. That didn’t stop us from exploring the city though. Once we dropped our bags off in our room, we met up with a few friends who were also visiting and found the nearest bar.

The first thing I noticed was that the people in this city were something else: polite, warm, friendly and, most notably, fun. Locals definitely know how to celebrate, but it’s important to note that there aren’t any laws against open containers in public. This is sure to have an effect on the culture of the city. Rather than limiting drinking to restaurants, bars and clubs, it isn’t strange to find pedestrians with a cocktail or even a cup of wine or beer.

While walking around New Orleans, it isn't rare to find a few musicians or artists presenting their art to passer-bys (Photo by Nicky Diaz).

While walking around New Orleans, it isn’t rare to find a few musicians or artists presenting their art to passer-bys (Photo by Nicky Diaz).

After an hour, we returned to the hotel to get some sleep and rest up before exploring the city the next day. My friends and I made sure to take advantage of the short time – less than 72 hours – we had in New Orleans.

“There’s so much to do, but thankfully everything is close and near each other so that helps save time,” said visitor Carlos Mella, who had never visited New Orleans before.

Although we tried to do as much as possible, there were still a few things we missed. We weren’t able to visit Bourbon Street at night – solely because some of the members of our party were sick, not for lack of time.

However, it might’ve honestly been too much to handle because the streets were already bustling with locals and tourists celebrating Halloween during the day.

It is undoubtedly an important holiday in the city, considering houses and businesses alike were more often than not decorated with cobwebs, tombstones and skeletons.

We also weren’t able to take a ghost tour; however, we did take a horse and carriage tour around the French Quarter. It was interesting to hear about the history of the city as well as compare it to what the historical sites looked like now.

On Bourbon Street, for example, you can find college-aged kids partying. Meanwhile, just a block or two away, you can find a band playing music or an artist presenting his work for passer-byes.

With so many sites to visit and so much culture to explore, you’ll need your energy. Thankfully, New Orleans is known for its delicious food. Make sure to try gumbo – meat or shellfish, vegetables and a thickeneror a po-boy – a sub with meat or fried seafood, served on fluffy French bread. You can’t go wrong if you stop by Gumbo Shop or Acme Oyster House. However, if you’re planning on stopping by Acme for dinner, you might want to get there around 6:30-7 p.m. so you and your party don’t have to wait for more than an hour; at around 6:30 p.m., the wait will most likely be around 30 minutes.

Of course, you can’t visit New Orleans without trying a beignet. We decided to make a quick stop at Café Du Monde around midnight on our second night in the city. We each ordered an order of beignets – which, in retrospect, was quite ambitious because each order brings three. The beignets, fried dough covered in powdered sugar, are a must when visiting New Orleans.

Along the street where the Acme Oyster House is located, you'll find brightly lit bars and tourists lining up for drinks (Photo by Nicky Diaz).

Along the street where the Acme Oyster House is located, you’ll find brightly lit bars and tourists lining up for drinks (Photo by Nicky Diaz).

“It literally tastes like heaven,” Mella said. “All I need is a warm glass of milk.”

In case you’re wondering: Yes, Carlos did eventually top the beignet off with a cup of warm milk, but not without going for seconds of the delicious, powdery treat. My friends also enjoyed pairing the beignets with a cup of café ole; I’m not a fan of coffee, so I didn’t drink any.

Apart from the foodies in our group, there were also a few music lovers. We stopped at Peaches Records and almost bought out the entire store. The store’s vinyl collection is impeccable and the prices are fair. There are also jazz clubs throughout the city that are sure to entertain. If jazz clubs like Preservation Hall or Fritzel’s aren’t your thing, stop by Cat’s Meow on Bourbon Street to sing some karaoke.

Leaving New Orleans was bittersweet; I was ready to go home, but I was definitely going to miss the city. There’s no doubt in my mind I’ll be visiting again.

If You Go

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