Saturday, February 23, 2013

Charming New Orleans

“But during all these years I had a vague but persistent desire to return to New Orleans. I never forgot New Orleans."

-Anne Rice

A week ago, I had the opportunity to travel to a city that has been calling my name ever since.  I'm not sure why, but New Orleans has never been on my bucket list.  There's really no reason, other than the fact that I just haven't thought about it; however, the few days I spent in this city have opened my eyes to a place I never really knew existed.  This city of charm put a spell on me, and I am longing to take my husband back to the sunshine, the carefree slow pace, and the gumbo.  Omgumbo.

It was a work trip, but fortunately, the conference allowed some time to explore and more importantly, eat out on our own.  It could have been the perfect sunny and 70 weather, the banjos, tubas, and trumpets on every street corner, or the ferns that danced five stories high on every wrought iron balcony in the French Quarter, but this place was so full of life, charm, and culture, that I couldn't help but smile while I walked its narrow streets.  I felt as though I had entered a new world, one that ran on slow time and took pride in its music, its art, and its amazing food above all else.  From the big pot of gumbo brewing in the open air market, the beignets and chicory coffee at Cafe du Monde, and K Paul's blackened Louisiana drum, I had some of the best food I've ever tasted, exploding with spice and flavor much like the city itself.  I loved this place --- the cathedral and all its preserved history, the miles of art that lined the iron fences of Jackson Square, the hurricanes and red beans and rice at Pat O'Brien's, and the tiny shops full of beads, masks, gators, and voo doo charm.  I found Cruz the perfect stuffed gator, a Cajun Jack and the Beanstalk, and one of my new favorite books to read to him, Mama on the Bayou.  I loved that every street just begged to be explored, and provided its own unique look at the city that most definitely earned its nickname, The Big Easy.  

And while I could have spent days exploring the open markets and cobblestone streets of the French Quarter, Bourbon Street proved to be something I've never seen before.  The people, the music, and the shower of beads that seemed to fall from the sky was something you have to see to believe.  We walked its never-ending streets, found some great food, and tipped back pints of Abita at one of the streets oldest jazz joints.

I have promised myself I will go back to the big easy.  Beau wants to book a trip in two weeks, as the stories of jambalaya, creole, and dark beer have made his mouth water in envy.  Sooner, rather than later we'll explore this city in the south and take back more stories of its soul.    

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