Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Po' Boys, Pralines, and Parades: New Orleans (Vacation 2015, Part 1)

Hello everyone! I have finally returned from my family trip to the Western Caribbean and after a week to get my bearings back to the real world, I'm ready to share with you all what we got up to! Apologies for the two weeks of silence, but we had such a blast! We did so much and I have so many photos that I'll have to break up my trip into a few different posts in order to fit it all in. This post will be dedicated to day 1 - New Orleans!

Our cruise left from NOLA at 4PM on Sunday afternoon, but since we all wanted to experience the city of New Orleans, we decided that we wanted to spend an extra day exploring. We woke up at around 3:00 AM to make it to the airport for out 5:55 AM flight (ouch) and start our journey to warm weather! We flew Manchester to Tampa, then Tampa to NOLA, where we would meet up with my sister.

Of course, I've never been one to sleep well in moving vehicles of any kind, so I got maybe 30 minutes of sleep on the first flight down to Tampa. When we arrived the sun was up which helped me wake up a bit, and we also found some food in the form of a breakfast burger (scrambled eggs, bacon, cheese, on a brioche bun). My dad and I really wanted an actual burger because at that point we had been awake for 6 hours and we were ready for lunch, but it was only 9:30 so we couldn't find anywhere that was serving lunch quite yet.

We arrived in New Orleans around 11:30 AM (Central Time, meaning it was really 12:30 PM to us... time travel is confusing, as you'll see a few different times in this series of posts!) and met up with my sister at the airport! We all jumped in a taxi and got a bit of a tour from our driver, Big E, who reminded us to laissez les bons temps rouler!

Once we got to our hotel to drop our bags, we were in immediate explore mode. We stopped by PJ's, a Louisiana coffee chain, got a praline with cream coffee, and set off on our walking tour of the French Quarter. In our travels, we stopped by Jackson Square, Cafe Du Monde, tried out some pralines (HOLY DELICIOUSNESS), spent some time by the Mississippi River, and stopped in the Market Cafe for a snack of fried crawfish and gumbo, washed down with some Hurricanes!

After our snack, we ventured down Pirate's Alley, where we came across a wedding! From there, we found Royal Street and Bourbon Street and started to get the real flavor of how New Orleans got the reputation it has. Live music on every single corner, impromptu parades every 30 minutes or so, street performers, hand grenades (the drink, not the weapon), and just people all over the place. You really need to watch my vlog (included at the end of this post) to get a real idea of what it's all about, but it. is. AWESOME. There was so much to do and see and try that you couldn't possibly do it all in one visit.

For dinner we stopped by a restaurant called Oceana where I tried a shrimp po' boy (YUM) and fried gator bites (ALSO YUM). If you're a seafood fan, New Orleans is an awesome place for some unique foods to try. And no worries if you're not a fan of fish, there are so many restaurants that all have a ton of different options that will absolutely suit your needs!

 My dad and I headed out on our own after dinner, and decided to do some after-dark exploration of the city. There is SO MUCH going on on a Saturday night in New Orleans. We walked up and down Bourbon Street and stopped into about 10 different bars with a new band playing live in every one, each one with a different style of music! This city really comes alive with people who are just looking to have fun and enjoy what the city has to offer them, which is always so amazing to experience. It's safe to say that NOLA stole my heart, and I hope to return one day very soon!

We ended our stay in New Orleans with a breakfast of beignets and coffee from Cafe Du Monde, enjoyed in the warm Louisiana sunshine next to the Mississippi river. YUM.

We seriously had so much fun in the short time we were in the city, and I definitely fell in love with everything that New Orleans has to offer. If you consider yourself to be adventurous and love to immerse yourself in unique cultures, then I would 100% recommend a visit to the Big Easy. I can not wait to go back!

Check out the vlog from our stay in New Orleans below. 
The city really is so much better when you can see it in action! :)

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