Visiting New Orleans for the first time

I’ve got a thing for cities that exude positive energy. I’ve always felt that Nashville is like that, with music constantly playing and people just in all around good moods. After visiting New Orleans for the first time, I think the Crescent City certainly falls into that category. There are musicians in the streets of the French Quarter everywhere playing jazz music and jamming out. I even saw a random lone cellist playing music on a street that is known for their art and antiques. There is nothing better than a city so alive with culture!

Here is a video I took with my iPhone in Jackson Square:

I’ve lived in Louisiana for around four months now and one of the first things people ask me is, “Have you been to New Orleans yet?” and when I shake my head they say, “You have to go! South Louisiana is a whole different world.” It has been on my to do list to go visit for a while now, but never had the opportunity.

When a friend asked me if I wanted to go with him to experience the first weekend of parades, I jumped at the chance. Only problem? You don’t get time off during sweeps. Since I couldn’t use one of my comp days, I instead worked a double shift.  I had to turn in the same amount of work for the shows the next day in order to go. So, I got into work around 9am on Thursday and left at midnight. I only took one small break for dinner but other than that I worked for 15 hours straight, that’s how bad I wanted to go!  Then I packed up my stuff and headed to south Louisiana!

Eve Parade in Mandeville

We first stopped in Mandeville, Louisiana for the Eve Parade. The first thing I noticed was the people were different than they are here in Northeast Louisiana. They didn’t have the same drawls and almost seemed less country. The accents down there have a touch of southern twang but that’s about it. It kind of reminded me of the people in Virginia.

The parade was a fun event! The whole community lined the streets waiting for the floats to roll through. Little kids sat on the top of shoulders and a ladder type structure waving their hands wildly. It was fun to see how excited they got over the plastic beads. One of the things I didn’t anticipate though was how terrifying dozens of beads raining down from the sky can be. Think about it, you’re standing in front of a float with people just throwing things at you. Many of the teenagers and adults didn’t react the same way I did and that’s probably because they’ve been catching beads and trinkets since they were little kids.

I didn't catch any of these beads myself!

But for me, a girl who dodged softballs instead of catching them when I was a right fielder in 5th grade, I don’t think I have the right instincts for that kind of thing. Every time I looked up and saw beads raining down from the sky, I would cover my face and go “ahh!” At one point someone from the float tossed a bundle of beads and my friend jumped up in front of me to catch them but the beads still flung over his shoulder and whipped my back…painful yes. But overall the parade was fun, it was a nice family friendly event and everyone kept joking that they were “easing me into Mardi Gras”.

New Orleans all decked out in Mardi Gras colors

The next day I had a chance to be very touristy in New Orleans. The people I went with were born and raised in the area so I had excellent tour guides. The French Quarter is just beautiful, I almost felt like I was in a Carribean city like San Juan or the Bahamas! We walked the open air french market, walked Jackson Square, went inside the St. Louis Cathedral, walked along the Mississippi river, and even visited the Muriel’s haunted restaurant.

Cafe Du Monde

Of course we also had to stop at Cafe Du Monde for beignets and hot chocolate. When I first walked into the Cafe I noticed there was white powder all over each table. Turns out these french doughnuts are CAKED with powder sugar. And from what I was told, it’s part of the experience to learn the proper way to eat these things.

 

So from how it was explained to me there are three techniques to follow when eating beignets:

1) Lean over table

2) Don’t inhale or exhale unless you want the powdered sugar to go everywhere.

3) Nash teeth

Take a bite and hope you don’t get the sugar all over your clothes.

Crawfish float!

 

Afterward we hopped over to Metairie for the Caesar parade, it was bigger than the one in Mandeville, but the same idea. Even with the bitter cold outside, it was a lot of fun to see the big colorful floats and the highschool marching bands. I love how involved each community gets with the Mardi Gras holiday. It’s nice to see people who appreciate their state culture, especially when it is so unique!

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