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Discovering the Heart and Soul of the Big Easy: Our First Time Visiting New Orleans

A corner two story brik building with long windows on each side and a wrought iron balcony on the second floor wrapping around the exterior.

Welcome to “The Big Easy”

Visiting New Orleans, also known as “The Big Easy,” for the first time, I was captivated by its reputation for a relaxed and easy-going atmosphere. I was eagerly awaiting our visit to the iconic city, however it was a a dream delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. At last, the lively and colorful streets of New Orleans called to me, and I was ready to dive into its soulful embrace.

Exploring Magazine Street: A Must-Visit for New Orleans Travelers

Our adventure began on the iconic Magazine Street. This six-mile stretch brimming with eclectic boutiques, quaint cafes, and restaurants, runs through the heart of the Garden District’s Southern grandeur. Our lodging? A charming two-story VRBO home, rumored to house friendly ghosts and a colorful past. While no spectral visitors graced our stay, the house’s rich history added an exciting layer of intrigue and romance when visiting New Orleans

A turquoise 2 story home in New Orleans Garden district  with a second story porch and wrought iron railing.

Sailing the Mississippi

Our first stop on our travels was a quintessential New Orleans experience—a ride aboard an iconic paddlewheel boat. As we cruised along the Mississippi, the air was alive with the soulful strains of live jazz. A delicious buffet offering local favorites like red beans, rice, and jambalaya complemented the journey while a guide shared tales and landmarks along the river.

Visiting New Orleans Food Scene

New Orleans’ culinary scene is an adventure in itself. We indulged in an array of local delicacies—Oysters Rockefeller, Po’ boys, Gumbo, Muffuletta sandwiches, and scallops swimming in creamy grits. Each bite was a testament to the city’s unparalleled culinary mastery.

A visit to Cafe Dumond in New Orleans serves up 3 benigets covered in powdered sugar and a coffee cup of coffee au lait.

And, of course, one can not visit New Orleans without stopping by Café Du Monde for a sweet treat.

Their beignets, a warm, pillowy delight paired perfectly with the robust café au lait, became a daily ritual.

Exploring the Historical and Cultural Richness of the Big Easy

While the gastronomical journey was a highlight, New Orleans offered more.

Established in 1718 by French settlers, the French Quarter, or Vieux Carré, is the oldest area in New Orleans. This historic neighborhood has seen influences from around the world, telling stories about trade, piracy, and unique traditions like voodoo. Jean Lafitte, a famous pirate owned a blacksmith shop here.

Our visit to New Orleans wasn’t just about the food; we also explored the city’s rich history and architecture. We explored its unique cemeteries, each a narrative of history and architectural ingenuity. Particularly the city’s ingenious methods of dealing with flood risks. These visits, along with the local culture and flavors, deeply enriched our experience of New Orleans’ historical significance.

Adjacent to Pirates Alley, is the the Faulkner House. This literary sanctuary, offers a rich collection of rare editions and works by William Faulkner, who once called it home. It’s ages walls lines and book lined shelves tell tales of broken hearts and dreams imagined and left us longing to get lost in the words.

In Pirates Alley, we indulged in the local anise-flavored absinthe cocktails. This tates is not for everyone but definitely has its followers.

The absinthe, crafted locally, boasts a robust anise (black licorice) flavor. Traditional preparation of the cocktails involves the use of an absinthe fountain.

Although the drink wasn’t to my liking, the New Orleans’ official state cocktail, the Sazerac, left a memorable impression. It too has a hint of absinthe, making it a drink I still remember to this day and for all the right reasons.

Why Visiting New Orleans Leaves an Indelible Mark

During our visit to New Orleans, we were captivated by its unique charm. This charm springs from a blend of historical significance, stunning architecture, and exceptional local cuisine. The city’s historic architecture, with intricate designs, share tales of the past, while its lively food scene offers a taste of the region’s rich flavors. This combination of historical elements and contemporary life is what makes New Orleans so special.

On our last night it was only fitting that we went to The Maison on Frenchman Street, the vibrant heart of New Orleans’ jazz scene. The aatmosphere pulsated with the soulful rhythms of live jazz and immediatly enveloped us. The music here, rich with history and passion, seemed to flow through the air, carrying with it the legacy of jazz legends. Every note played by the talented musicians resonated with the cultural tapestry of the city.

Jazz band playing at The Maison in New Orleans

The food, was a delightful blend of Cajun and Creole influences, offering a taste of New Orleans’ unique gastronomic heritage. At The Maison, it wasn’t just about enjoying a meal or a drink; it was about experiencing the essence of this vibrant city – its music, its flavors, and its spirited atmosphere.

New Orleans enveloped us in a world of vivid colors, enchanting music, and an indomitable spirit in just four days. From the cognac-soaked cigars to the vibrant art of Jackson Square, the city is a tapestry of Southern charm. Creole culture, jazz rhythms, and a hint of voodoo adds it’s own mystique. The architecture and people resonate with a unique rhythm as the city is cradled by the gentle Mississippi and scented with spicy Creole and blooming magnolias.

A Fond Farewell

I will long remember and cherish visiting New Orleans, for she can not be duplicated, only experienced. As they say in New Orleans, Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Let the good times roll!

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