New Orleans:

April 5, 2012

What can I say? New Orleans captured my heart. The time I spent in New Orleans was a once in a lifetime. I was super fortunate to go as a part of the beNOLAbound group and meet so many other amazing people. I decided I'm a big fan of things I've never seen... in real life that is. You can see pictures and watch videos of places & things, but unless you go to the actual place, you can't fully grasp it. New Orleans certainly showed me lots I've never seen before. I felt like I was in so many different places just walking around New Orleans - sometimes I felt like I was in another country, other times I walked around to places I've not ever quite experienced before. So here are some photos I took to share with you. Some of these photos may be a bit random, but for some reason these experiences and things I saw stood out in my mind.

Alligator jerky stand. This is probably a tourist thing but I've never seen it so I took a picture.

Along some street I was walking, a big parade appeared with a full band - it was a couple who had just gotten married. Wedding parade? Amazing! The newlyweds were at the front of the line, followed by the band, followed by all their guests. Is this common in nola? Well, it was one of my favorite things for sure.

Above ground tombs?! Never seen it. Crazy!

The first night they took us to a hornets vs laker game. I've seen the lakers, but never seen the hornets ;) Pretty good game too (lakers won!)

Live music at 2:45 in the afternoon. Can't really go anywhere here at that time to get live music.

Stopped by a tobacco shop. They were rolling cigars right there. Pretty cool ;)

Doughy goodness covered in powdered sugar -- Cafe Du Monde beignets. wish I could have one right now.

Crawfish boil .. what! I've never had crawfish. nor eaten it quite like this.
It was messy. and spicy. and really good!

All our NOLAbound friends, under the tree of life at audubon park.

The last day I was there I got to walk around on my own..
I love exploring new cities on my own, it's so exciting and fun!

On the last night with the group, we had dinner at Irvin Mayfield's house and they had Robert Fogarty there, the founder of Dear World. The Nola bounders wrote messages to New Orleans and he photographed them. Such inspiring messages .. dream it, be it. create the life you wish to live. embrace differences. you are loved ;) It was a pretty cool experience.

Okay, so this isn't my story but I kind of have to share it because it's just too insane to not share. Zooey, the lady behind the whole nolabound initiative, was walking around on the streets of nola one night and the diamond fell out of her ring. She notices the next morning and mentions it in the elevator and our friend, Charlie happens to overhears her. They were together the night before, sitting on a bench or something. He mentioned he remembered seeing something shimmer or glimmer or whatever in a crack in the ground. They figured it was worth going back to look but what are the chances it could be the diamond? They return to the same spot, he digs out some dirt and pulls something out - the diamond! crazy right?! Love that story. I just think it's pretty funny cause Nicholas finds really random things on the ground sometimes.. but why can't he find a 2 karat diamond? ;)

and here are some pics I tweeted in case you don't have twitter!
1. Friends at the hornets/lakers game!
2. Little kid playing the trumpet.. well, he would just blow into it occasionally, it was really cute.
3. Last night in nola sunset.
4. Traffic light on the ground, really big!
5. About 15 mins after we took our group photo, a couple came and got married under the tree!
6. View from our rooftop dinner.

Having had no knowledge of New Orleans beyond Katrina and Mardi Gras, I wasn't sure what to expect. I'll be honest, New Orleans wasn't exactly a forerunner on places I wanted to travel. Probably because I knew nothing about it. I've been around to a couple different countries... India, Vietnam, Rwanda, Philippines. But New Orleans definitely has their own unique thing going on and I don't think anything can quite be compared to it. All I have to say is CULTURE! New Orleans is so full of it! Never have I seen so many people playing on streets, you can walk around and get lost in music everywhere. (and I totally did) I've never seen a street like St. Charles Street, where the trees are so huge they provide a canopy of shade for the streets. I seriously wish we could trade in our palm trees here in California for the awesome oak trees in New Orleans. The buildings were so charming: Brick, old shutters, chippy paint -- so much history, love it! I've really never seen a community so proud of their city.

We actually toured the city and met with local business leaders as a part of entrepreneur week. We got to experience New Orleans from an entrepreneur's viewpoint. NOLA has a lot going on. Exciting things. Inspiring things. The community here recognizes they have something special, something unique. and they're inviting others to come be a part of it. That's pretty inspiring if you ask me. I don't really see a whole lot of community going on where I'm from. Is there really any other city out there that is like New Orleans? I'm pretty sure NOLA stands alone in what they have to offer.

I think the most inspiring thing I took from the trip is simply the people I had an opportunity to talk with and hear stories from. I heard some stories from people that lived through the storm. It kind of opened my eyes to just how devastating it was. Even as I heard stories, I still could not even fully comprehend what they went through. Sure we saw what the media showed us but after they were done covering the story - there was so much rebuilding left they we never saw in the news. Anyone who was there through that insane time has their own experience. It's been 7 years and they have moved on .. New Orleans has rebuilt. They aren't defined by it. But their stories & memories are still apart of them. I hope they will continue to tell their stories. Because their stories represent community. healing. growth. and strength.

So anyway, would I go back to New Orleans? Definitely, I'd hop on a plane tomorrow if I could. Would I recommend visiting? Absolutely. You have to experience this city for yourself. Would I live in New Orleans? Totally. Whether you're considering where to vacation next or even a possible relocation, I'd wholeheartedly say to look into New Orleans. It's a pretty amazing place.

ps: here are some great articles posted by other nolabounders.. A New Orleans for the Future - Yvahn Martin, NOLABound Project Offers Lessons in Turning “Brain Drain” to “Brain Gain" - Hugh Daschbach, How Louisiana is Luring Startups - Anita Hamilton (not a nolabounder but a good article anyway)

pss: if you're planning a visit to New Orleans - Curry left a pretty awesome list in the comments below so check that out and design sponge has a great new orleans city guide, be sure to read the comments in the post too for more suggestions.

38 hello's:

  1. What beautiful images you captured! I have never been on to NOLA but it is certainly on my list, especially after this fun post!

  2. Awesome post!! My husband and I are going to NOLA for our 1st wedding anniversary in June... I was excited before but I'm REALLY excited now! Any tips on particular places not to miss??


  3. I so agree with you. I'm a full time RVer who makes it a point to inclue time in N.O. whenever our route takes us east and south. I wrote a short little blog about beignets last January) Enjoyed your blog!

  4. I loved reading about your trip Danni! I have never been but the culture and history you describe here sounds like something I would really enjoy. Thanks for sharing and I am definitely adding NOLA to my "places to see" list!

  5. Amazing! Lovely lovely lovely photos! You captured New Orleans so perfectly. I cannot wait to see what you're doing for Nola Bound. So exciting!

  6. Thank you for your wonderful spirit my fellow NOLAbounder.

    Stan da Man

  7. Wow, all of these pics are great. Especially the wedding parade. I think that should definitely work it's way into wedding traditions. How fun! One day I will go and dance in the streets to the live jazz =)

    - Sarah
    A Girl In Transit

  8. These images are spectacular! And quite timely- We just booked our flight to NOLA on Monday!

    I MUST get a pic of me standing at Canal Street like that!

    I'm so excited!!! Thanks for the preview!

  9. Your diamond story reminded me of what happened to a friend of mine. Her and her fiancee went to visit some of her family in South Carolina. Well she ended up losing her engagement ring SOMEWHERE on the beach! She was devastated and knew it was probably gone for good but they decided to go back and check the area they were in. There happened to be a person walking around with a metal detector and they asked if he could check around the area, and sure enough they found the ring! I thought that was a crazy story. A ring on a beach seems like a needle in a haystack to me.

  10. love your photos, looks like a great city to visit!

  11. My husband & I adore New Orleans & I wish we there right now eating Cafe du Monde beignets :-) The 2nd line parade for a wedding is a Nola tradition- how cool that you got to see one!

  12. I love your photos!! New Orleans is just as you described it... I find nola so hard to put into words. I visited once and started job hunting as soon as I got home. I now own a house in Louisiana.It was completely impulsive but I don't regret it one bit. I love it! I'm so glad you did too :) Also, the wedding you saw is a traditional southern Louisiana wedding, they're so cool!

  13. Gorgeous photos! New Orleans is amazing, I love it there. I hope you'll get a chance to go back one day and to explore more of the southern US...lots of wonderful places down here :)

  14. You're photos really makes people one to visit Nola! Their beautiful :)
    Would love hear about your other adventures in India, Rwanda etc.

  15. Loving these pretty photos you captured, Danni. Looks like an amazing experience.

    That ginormous tree looks amazing (something I wish I had enough room for in my backyard ... maybe in a far corner, heh). And the shot of the Hotel sign reminded me of Seattle's Pike Place Market sign.

  16. Wonderful post, Danni! You captured so much of the beauty of this city. Really happy that you were part of this experience and that we had the chance to meet. Hope to see you back in NOLA soon.
    - CWS

    @ Megan (comment #2) --
    This is in no particular order. Just stream of consciousness.

    Jacque-Imo's (Oak Street) = generous servings of everything; very Southern, NOLA, Louisiana food; plan to do dinner there one night
    Cochon (Warehouse District) = really, incredibly good Cajun-inspired food; also, attached to Cochon is "Butcher" which serves some of the best sandwiches around
    Johnny's Po-Boys (French Quarter) = assuming you'll be in one of the downtown hotels, this is the most convenient place to get a good po-boy (sandwich made on French bread); I recommend the shrimp, oyster, or half-and-half
    Irene's Cuisine (French Quarter) = one of the best restaurants in a neighborhood that's known as the hub of fine dining in a city known for food
    Galatoire's (French Quarter) = very pricey but definitely an experience; one of the city's oldest restaurants
    Parkway Bakery (Mid-City) = another great spot for po-boys; President Obama stopped in for a bite about two years ago... he got the shrimp; I would've gone with roast beef, but either is awesome
    Ste. Marie (CBD) = somewhat new restaurant with some stellar dishes and a great bar
    Elizabeth's Restaurant (Bywater) = get brunch here; praline bacon... don't ask, just do
    Cafe Du Monde (French Quarter) = home of beignets

    Maple Leaf Bar (next to Jacque-Imo's) = if you're here on a Tuesday night, check out Rebirth Brass Band after you eat at JI... otherwise, check the schedule
    Balcony Music Club (French Quarter) = they book a good number of local acts, and they're right on the edge of the Quarter
    dba (Frenchmen) = great beer bar with live music nightly
    Three Muses (Frenchmen) = really, this could fit in Food, Music, or Drink; but it's good a pretty damn good regular lineup
    Hi-Ho Lounge (St. Claude) = every Monday, they have a bluegrass jam session with free red beans and rice

    Cure (Freret) = 3-yr-old specialty cocktail bar that led that movement in NOLA; incredibly skilled bartenders (or mixologists if you prefer); great menu or ask them to make them something with your favorite liquor
    Mimi's in the Marigny (Marigny) = neighborhood bar downstairs with a decent selection and some pool tables; tapas bar upstairs that turns into a dance party on Saturdays with DJ Soul Sister
    Delachaise (Uptown) = wine bar right on the St. Charles Ave. streetcar line
    The Columns Hotel (Uptown) = right down the street from Delachaise; beautiful old mansion turned into a hotel w/ a great bar
    Bridge Lounge (Magazine) = great spot for an early happy hour on a Friday; cool, dark space right on Magazine in the Lower Garden
    Capdeville (CBD) = bar that's all about whiskey and rock; really solid bar food, as well

    French Quarter = I've hardly mentioned it in this post, but it's a pretty magical neighborhood full of museums, galleries, shops, restaurants, cafes, street artists, gorgeous architecture, and bars; just promise me you'll stay off Bourbon Street -- it's (at its best) a tourist trap or (at its worst) fairly disgusting; and the French Quarter is so much more than the few blocks of Bourbon made famous by drunk out-of-towners
    NOMA (Mid-City) = the 100-yr-old Museum of Art is right in the middle of City Park; beautiful bldg with a huge collection of great art
    World War II Museum (Warehouse District) = the film "Beyond All Boundaries" is, hands down, the best museum movie I've ever seen; the full exhibits are a good way to spend a morning/afternoon
    Magazine Street = antiques, boutique clothing, t-shirts, furniture, vintage, er'rything
    Audubon Institute = Zoo and Park are uptown; Aquarium and Insectarium are downtown

    Aaaaaand that should be a good start. Enjoy your time in NOLA.

  17. Oh, I *LOVE* New Orleans! And these are great photos! However, I believe #2 is a trumpet ;)

  18. oh wow - you have such gorgeous photos!

    i think one day we will get to NOLA - the only hard part is getting there from SF.

  19. beautiful photos!! new orleans is on my "visit really soon" list :)

  20. The dress in that wedding parade was spectacular!

  21. I lived in N.O. for a year and your pictures brought tears to my eyes! Even though I was only there for a year, I consider it home...I love that city! It just stole my heart unlike any other place I've ever lived.

  22. Wow, you've got me intrigued now! It sounds like a magical place. We almost went there for a conference last year, now I'm really wishing we had! One day...

  23. The wedding parade is a Second Line - it's really common, and really fun! You take the party with you from the church to the reception hall. I moved away a few years ago and can't wait to move back!

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  25. I can't wait to travel there some day. Your photos are lovely!

  26. This is probably the best posting I've read about New Orleans in a long time. Having gone to school in the South, and visiting the cities during college breaks, and then working on the city's PR campaign after Katrina, I have an incredible love for the city and profound respect for its residents. You are totally right about saying how proud people are of New Orleans.

    I'm going to have to share this with the bf who has yet to understand my love for the city. When you've never been, it doesn't seem like anything more than a party-hard city with beads and Mardi Gras. But your photos and posting convey what we already know about New Orleans - it is full of the life and culture and oak trees us Californians need!


  27. Cool photos of New Orleans- those cigars are enormous!

  28. I'm SO happy you enjoyed my home town! New Orleans is so special and unique that it's hard to explain to someone who hasn't been there. I'm glad you got to understand and see the magic the the city possess. The food, the music, the culture, and the people combine to make it the coolest place on earth. imho ;)

    Ps: glad you enjoyed the beignets! I'm so obsessed with them that I had to include them in my blog name!

  29. Great post. I live 60 miles north of New Orleans and we go visit all the time. There is so much to do and see. Central Grocery on Decatur St. has the best muffaltas. Pierre Maspero's has great food and a lot of history. Mandina's on Canal St. is another great one, lots of traditional dishes here. Mother's is great southern food. Port of Call has the best burgers, located on Esplanade Ave.

    We love coffee and beignets but usually stop at the Morning Call off Servern in Metarie. It's less touristy.

    The Love sculpture is located in a free park called the Besthoff Sculpture Garden. It's the most awesome place. Located right next to NOMA in City Park.

    So glad so many love New Orleans. I worked as an EMT for 5 years there so I learned a lot of info and discovered so many places. It's always a great time, you just have to know where to avoid.

  30. Great post and pictures. I definitely want to visit NOLA now.

    Unrelated question - can you share more about those shoes you're wearing in the Canal Street photo. They're adorable! :)

  31. NOLA is one of my favorite places in the US--it's magic--and I think your photos have captured it perfectly! Most weddings there do have a second line (parade). Isn't that fantastic?!

  32. What an amazing opportunity! So awesome that you got to go. :) I've always wanted to visit there, probably mostly because of Anne Rice. ;) Thanks for sharing, and I love that portrait of you!

  33. amazing amazing pictures danni!!!

  34. Your photos are so beautiful. New Orleans is one of the places I have to go. After reading your post I just wish I could book my flight right now. x

  35. Beautiful pics. We live about an hour away (we have to drive at least 30 minutes to get anywhere! lol), but hardly every visit NOLA just to visit without any specific reason because it smells & we don't get it...I guess that's just how it is for everyone @ home! BUT your pics made it seem much nicer & more interesting than I've ever experienced. Makes me want to go just to walk around!

    FYI: the graves are above ground because the city is too below sea level. They can't bury people underground or they will float away, which actually happened during Katrina...

  36. Looks like you had a ton of fun :) I want to go there one day and visit some friends that live near there :)

  37. I'm so glad that you had fun in New Orleans. I've always wanted to visit for the seafood and the jazz. It just seems like it would be such a cultural city.

  38. I'm so happy you enjoyed your visit! I live in Baton Rouge(1.5 hours away) and I love being able to go down fairly often(my best friend lives there). It is certainly a unique city where people are proud to call it home. Do come back!


Friends, Thank you so much for reading + supporting my blog, and for taking the time to leave me a comment. Your comment support truly means so much to me. Have a lovely day! xo, danni