So I had the most fantastic opportunity to spend April in New Orleans. I’m not even sure it’s possible to sum up the amazing time and experiences I had while I was there. I was fortunate enough to sync up with some great people and get plugged in almost effortlessly. Within the first week alone I became a part of the local community, becoming an honorary local at Neighbor Nights dinners, a regular on the porches of several residents, and a patron of local businesses and musicians.
New Orleans was also a city that I had trouble taking pictures in. And it wasn’t that I didn’t want to, it was literally that I was too busy enjoying the moment to whip out the camera, thinking sometimes its better to just experience it.
How do I sum up such a cool city?
Here’s how it went down in Nawlins!
Slinging beers – pouring beers from tap, usually at a festival event
Second line – and I quote “we’ll find any reason to have a parade”
Fest-ing – spending all day at a music festival, with drinks, food, chairs, blankets, etc
I rented half of a shotgun style house in Mid City, which the locals call “the middle of awesome.” They are right, its close to so many things, and just 2 miles from the French Quarter amongst other great neighborhoods. Also a stones throw from the Fairgrounds, which is particularly important if you want the hassle free way to go to Jazz Fest. Other perks: close to a couple local bar/restaurants, a nice coffee shop, and City Park.
I worked out of the coworking space, Propeller, on Washington Ave and a short drive from where I lived. The walls were orange, grey and white. The interior was very clean and well put together. It houses a lot of companies and organizations implementing social change. It also houses a lot of creative professionals such as myself.
I also worked out of Community Coffee on Espanade St, which offered indoor and outdoor seating, and a good cup of jo.
While I was in New Orleans, I attended the Young Professionals Night, hosted by the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce. Amongst good food and drink, I was able to mix and mingle with local professionals across the board. A couple good follow up meetings came out of this event, including lunch with the President & CEO of the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce.
Most folks think of Mardi Gras when they hear of New Orleans. But April is really the month you want to be in town. Every weekend there is a festival or live music happening somewhere. While in New Orleans, I attended the French Quarter Festival, Jazz in the Park, and Jazz Fest.
With the help of a new friend I met at Propeller, I had the opportunity to play tourist in the Quarter, roaming through the French Market and some of the artsy spots of the French Quarter, including Franklin Square, the Riverwalk, and enjoying the open bird exhibit at the aquarium on the water.
My most favorite experience was biking through the French Quarter at night. There is something magical about riding through the evening with the breeze at your back, and your way being lit by the lights of the Quarter. There are people everywhere having a good time, and you’re just breezing through. Amazing.
STAPLES AND THINGS YOU MUST DO:
If you’re visiting New Orleans strongly consider staying in a non-touristy spot so you can really get the local flavor of the city. Cafe du Monde is fantastic, if you don’t mind a long wait! I recommend going off-peak hours. Always have a koozie because you’re allowed to take your drink to go and roam around there. Also check out Carrousel Bar, where the bar actually rotates! Also spend an afternoon or evening at Bacchanal Wine, where you can enjoy wine, delicious eats and local jams nestled in a backyard-style setting with assorted furniture pieces and lights. Also hit up Frenchman Street for live music and drinks. And be sure to take the ferry across the water, its free!
In this journey, on more than one occasion, I have seriously relied on the kindness of strangers. New Orleans is the perfect place for this to naturally occur.