Now I, Becca Bee, have always been called towards the crescent city of New Orleans. The alluring mystery over how the bloody streets turned to party central, captures many. Add in all the mystical lore attached, paired with the fact that the crescent city is sinking per year. People flock to see how downtown is ravaged, by hurricanes, mystical energy, and history. So I am not the only one who was drawn to The Big Easy.
In this blog, I revisit our trip with friends to the City that Care Forgot about.
Ironically we went with them to a nursing conference, all about care.
Wandering through the past of the land, allows one to see through a lens as they travel presently–without a camera.
My goal with these breadcrumbs of history nuggets is to showcase what exactly shifted me from “a place that sounds cool”, to “a place I am visiting”. Some folk like to visit a place based on how trendy gram feeds or shows depict it. However, for me, it is always history. Every trip I plan, I come ready like a historical guide, with fun facts and an understanding of importance.
History Lesson Time: New Orleans.
Okay, so part of my planning for trips is researching the land. Diving deep into how I am able to travel there, now. What it took to be able to visit, what used to be dirt roads. Here is a website that has shortened the history of all the key cultural spices that turned New Orleans into the big pot of gumbo it is now. Click here. For my quick rundown, continue reading.
Somewhere their hearts are their sleeves. The Big Easy wears its history on its street.
So the town is known for surviving the natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina, and sinking two inches every year. Soon the streets paved with bloody history will be underwater, which has only created more of a lure for this to be a destination spot, not just for travelers. For Destination Elopements and Weddings as well, because sure history is in the concrete above cobblestone covered in blood. Yet, Jazz fills the air above.
Historically speaking, the Paris of the South city, has always attracted many.
It was not partying or jazz back in the day, but rather resources navigable rivers and bayous. Tropical, Caribbean-like weather, had the French laying first claim to it in 1682. La-Nouvelle Orleans was founded in 1718. Today’s Jackson Square was Vieux Carré. Which paved the way for the present-day French Quarter.
From France to Spain, oh the land gains new chapter in History.
In hopes of keeping the land away from the British, France said hot potato, “here ya go”, to Spain. And just like that, La-Nouvelle Orleans became Nueva Orleans. Thousands of french houses and architectural buildings were destroyed in a fire, which led to better building codes. Transforming Nueva Orleans from a wooden village to sturdy urban infrastructure, on the backs of enslaved people.
French, Spanish, French to American. Oh and don’t forget the creole folk.
In 1800, Spanish said “here ya go” back to French. Then 1803, the French sold their sinking potato, to the Americans. No worries, creolization had already taken New Orleans hostage. What is creolization? Creolization is: racially mixing ethnic groups such as West Africans, French, Spanish, and Indigenous American groups. This is where things get a little whodovoodoo. Creole people, had a mix of traditional West African religious practices, Roman Catholic, Christianity, and Haitian Voodoo. This religion lasted from the 18th century to the early 20th century. Now late 20th century, no one owns Lousiana Voodoo, however, it is used by autonomous groups.
So there be truth to the lure that brings many mystical believers to
The South’s Most Interesting City.
Anyhow, the new American Creole folk held tight to their French heritage.
Just like the French are known for their pride today, the same can be said about the Creole Americans with their French heritage. Through keeping the following: language, religion, customs, social strata. Although born American, the creoles’ descendants with French blood, kept the suave society that stood apart from nearly all other American cities. The easiest way to spot this today is the everlasting architect: French Quarter, Creole Cottages (not shotgun homes), Old Ursuline Convent, and former Charity Hospital.
Buildings can hold gatherings for religious groups, or Voodoo Queens themselves.
Streets hold room for marching, to the beat a Voodoo drumming as well as slaves revolting.
Slaves credited escaping due to voodoo gris-gris. Anglo-American and people of color, women sought refugee in freedom of voodoo, then and now. Even if today it is deemed as witchcraft by the opposition of non-practitioners. Yet many have found their freedom today through the practice. Much like how slaves acclaimed their founded freedom, was due to voodoo gris-gris. It could also be credited towards the slave revolution that painted the town red in 1811. You can read more on both voodoo and the revolution here.
Crash Course in History of New Orleans completed AND bags packed.
Ready to travel down to N’erlins even if not for Mardi Gras.
Mardi Gras in New Orleans is the main attraction. It has given the city the nickname, of “the city that never stops celebrating.” Although the actual Mardi Gras is Fat Tuesday, 40 days before Easter and a time of feasting. Fat Tuesday is a day for king cakes, meats, and spoils before the historic 40 days of lent take place. Thankfully for all visitors of New Orleans, the party doesn’t stop. Fat Tuesday can be every night in the quarter. Beads rain down and slosh of alcohol paint the streets.
Not going for this energy, definitely was different.
We were meeting up with friends, who were older for a nurse conference. Which did not leave room for rowdy nights, but did leave room for days spent exploring the crescent city.
The Northernmost Carraiban City Adventure or better known as visiting New Orleans.
Colorful houses, tropical weather, and all that… JAAAAAAZZZZ.
Okay, so what I did know before researching was that New Orleans was known for jazz, like Nashville is known for country music. Every street is supposedly littered with live music along with everyone’s emptied booze cups.
That made me excited, yet everyone warned me about the pickpocketers more than fun times.
Protip: Don’t Stop for anyone who compliments shoes… or really anything.
Keep moving and keep vigilant.
So how does the party not stop doing both?
When’s the last time you stood still at a loud celebration?
So party hard, and mosy on around is the Big Easy way.
After driving into town, checking our car into a garage with a ticket stub system, we went ahead and hailed an uber just 2 blocks down. Friends warned that we would be easy targets at night if we did not know our way around, so heard their care and respected their wisdom.
Meeting up with our fellow out of towners at their more well-lit, central Canal street hotel, drinks started the moment we got to their hotel room.
We heard from the hallway, and out popped two hands, filled with drinks, and then a friendly face. Sitting around discussing their flying in, our driving. The months we have been apart. We sat and talked for hours before my stomach let it be known, WE WERE WELL PAST FOOD O’CLOCK. Add in the booze, oh brother, I needed carbs fast.
It’s a good thing, The Paris of the South, kept its love of bread from its French heritage.
Thankfully the closest place nearby was The Creole House. Ordering an appetizer of carbs while ordering another round, we were definitely living it up the Nola way. Our waitress thankfully kept us at her table. Feeding us food and nibbles of local knowledge. Paired with what I was sent with from friends, and man was it nice to know that during the day things would be less packed.
Protip: You don’t have to buy alcohol in bars to walk around canal street (what Nola knows as party central). You can buy clear cups from Starbucks, get ice from your hotel and walk around with your own booze bought in bottles vs solo.
So something I did wrong in planning: planning all excursions in one day.
We were going to be there for 3 days, and all of us voiced the need for free things or cheap things to do. On canal street, you can: catch many Street Cars (read: trollies, but locals call it streetcars, tourists call them trollies), walk the french quarter, Jackson square, cafe du monde, slave houses and walk the riverfront mall down to the ferry. Just a few things.
That I decided to do it all one day. We were there for 3.
And out of the four of us, one just had knee surgery.
I get a little too ambitious on day one, on all of my trips.
That way when jet lag, travel times, catch up to me… well, I can take it easy.
Well, this was The Big Easy, and taking it easy, is definitely hinted at in the name.
So Jazzed packed first day.
We started right where the previous night had ended, The Creole House of New Orleans.
Bloody Mary batches were prepped for the party-goers who were waking eager to continue the big easy lifestyle. The waitress was there from the night before and reminded us of knowledge and expanded on things that were accidentally forgotten.
Okay before any readers jump to their guns, to tell travelers to try as many places as possible when abroad- and we say “We Know”. But its if it’s something we have learned in traveling- good food is hard to find. So eat what is good. Our Friends have traveled more than we, and this is the advice they told us. “If it’s good, we go back.”
After a good brunch, we got started.
Street Car Tour of old District, check.
French Quarter, check.
Cafe Du Monde, Check.
Jackson Square, check.
Humid heat, check.
Then the next two days? Taking it easy in The Big Easy.
Besides revisiting what we already saw and taking a ferry or streetcar. We were drinking booze and playing cards in a hotel room, or walking around and finding new food places to try. As the waitress in Creole House warned, most of the ma and pa shops had been sold cheap after Hurricane Katrina. Then they were bought up by corporations, named to fit in, and recipes mimicked or downright altered. Enough to trick the tourists to think it was local, yet the locals know better.
So that in mind, we tried a few places by foot that were farther than the creole house, but certainly became temporary locals there when we struck out. Which was nice, because sadly when we went, there were not many street performers. The streets sounded more haunting than joyful. Which left time to research the city of the south. Here are things you should know about before you go.
Spooky town, Voodoo origins, and plenty of ghosties to become your new bestie.
So back to the mystical lure of New Orleans. Past the Voodoo origins, there are plenty of other things that go bump in the night, that supposedly are crawling the streets of Nawlins. Plenty of the locals believe in The Cursed Carnival of Two. Here is another link, possibly explaining “the curse” away, click here.
Yet the curse of New Orleans that can be supported and seen easily?
How its cultured has been eroded away. Not just through the sinking of the city, but also by corporations turning culture into gimmicks. You can read more here.
Unlike the locals who get to keep the party going, out-of-towners, have a time limit.
So for us, all of that jazz ends with a pitstop for food before heading home.
Thankfully our friends who have visited before left us the best place for last. Taking an uber there, per their advice, Cajun Seafood was our destination. Cheapest food we ate the entire time, and most authentic. First Uber driver tried their best to talk us out of going there. The Uber driver on the way back to the hotel said only locals knew about the place. Asked where we were from in Lousiana and was shocked how we weren’t. Since we were not looking or sounding like tourists. She then confirmed that most places on Canal Street weren’t local.
They were money pits.
Which is how we felt looking for things to do that did not cost a lot. New Orleans was a tourist money trap. Smelled foul, humid heat, and basically, the neverending party, kept one moving long enough not to sit and realize anything. Due to the curse that Corporate America brought on by buying out the authentic Nawlins. The city isn’t sunken entirely yet physically, but the heritage is getting cleaned out daily along with the tossed boozed cups.
Much like Peterpan syndrome in grown adults, glorifying high school days. Allowing nostalgia to blind, the same goes for how New Orleans or Hollywood South is looked at.
So overall, the lure makes New Orleans but there isn’t much left if one is not impaired and partying. Many of the locals know their history was lost in Katrina. What remained, was merely painted over by buyouts by corporations. Locals pointed out how after Katrina, Canal Street was renovated enough to look put together, but shadows still remained from damage, even after all these years.
Knowing the history, allowed us to understand what the locals were talking about.
See their perspective, through their lenses so to speak.
Now tips for when you go to NOLA.
- Be vigilant.
- Don’t fall for pickpocketers’ kindness.
- The locals are friendly though.
- New Orleans lure is more than what is left of said lure.
- History paved the streets, but Corporate America is painting it away under marketable attractions.
- Park your car in a garage with a ticket stub. Leave it there, uber, or walk. But stay on Canal Street.
- Take things slowly, again it is the Big Easy.
- Tip the street performers.
- Don’t expect it to smell nice.
- You can only drink on Canal St, in clear containers. Buy your own booze, and save a little.
So I hope these travel tips help with not just New Orleans, but any trip!
Till Next Buzz, Honeybeees!
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