This year, I took a trip to one of the most beautiful and culturally rich places I've ever been; New Orleans, Louisiana. I flew out Thursday Night and returned Sunday afternoon, just in time to get myself together for my regular Monday morning schedule.
While in New Orleans, I had the chance to partake in the 2017 Mardi Gras celebration. In addition to participating in my first Mardi Gras celebration, I had the chance to experience a Haunted Ghost tour within the French Quarter, try new foods and create lasting memories with great friends. I began my journey in Baton Rouge with a close friend from high school and some new friends that I met along the way. Friday, I linked up with more friends and headed to New Orleans to see what Bourbon Street was all about. Now, I thought that up until this point, all parties were the same but baby, people in New Orleans know how to celebrate! There were people everywhere! You can't walk down Bourbon during this time without getting in a traffic jam. People were dancing, singing, chanting and flashing their breast for beads from the people hanging over their balconies on Bourbon Street. Some people didn't wear shirts at all. I witnessed both natives and tourists completely unbothered with only paint and glitter camouflaging their bodies parts (which I found to be pretty dope).
For those of you who may not know what Mardi Gras is and/or where it originates from, here is a link to a brief history lesson:
History of New Orleans Mardi Gras
The French Quarter is one of the most beautiful and authentic places I've ever visited. The architecture, vibrant colors and cultural history is unreal. Whenever I travel to a new place, I always try to imagine what the place looked like hundreds of years ago. The French Quarter (also known as Vieux Carré) is a place that makes it relatively easy to imagine what life was like during that time. This area of New Orleans actually burned down during the Great New Orleans fire in 1788. Colonial officials set out to rebuild the city following the fire in which much of the original architecture was replaced by masonry structure. In 1794 another fire destroyed a total of 212 buildings in the area. Following this fire, city officials continued to rebuild the city, replacing much of the French architecture with Spanish architecture. The French Quarter is home to a number of historical shops (some of which escaped the fires), store fronts, original Creole architecture (Creole cottages) restaurants and bars including the oldest known bar in the world, Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop.
Now I would like to dispel the myth that you have to show your breasts in order to gain beads from Mardi Gras. Although there were some people who were wildly flashing their breasts on the street, this is not true. If you walk up Bourbon Street with your hands up and make eye contact with the people along the balconies, I guarantee that you will walk away with a load of beads (like I did, haha).
Prior to attending the Haunted Ghost Tour, I was a little spooked by a conversation I had with my Godfather about avoiding ghost tours in Louisiana. He told me that a friend who participated in a tour believed he and his wife brought a spirit back with him. Despite this conversation, my curiosity would not allow me to miss out on this opportunity. Thankfully, the tour turned out to be more of a history lesson throughout the French Quarter as opposed to a ghost busters experience. I had the chance to visit a few places that were historically known to be haunted such as the mansion of socialite and alleged serial killer, Marie Delphine LaLaurie, and Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop. Although some people have reported ghost sightings on this tour, I did not witness anything paranormal during my visit.
New Orleans is home to some of the most talented and artistically driven individuals. On every corner and every block, you are openly exposed to musicians, visual art and live artists dwelling in their craft. This is one of the greatest components of Louisiana culture in my opinion. Not to mention, the food and language. I love the way the natives speak and the hospitality is like no other. Of course, we had to swing by the Gumbo Shop in the French Quarter. I tried the sauteed shrimp po' boy and a side of the shrimp creole. I truly enjoyed both of these dishes. Everything was so fresh and flavorful, the Gumbo Shop is a must try if you ever find yourself in New Orleans! Here are a few other places that I recommend while in NOLA:
-Tropical Isle (ask for a hand grenade)
-Cafe Du Monde (famous for their beignets and coffee)
-Parkway Bakery & Tavern (famous for their Po' boys)
-Cane's (apparently I'm late but we don't have one of these in Michigan)
-Jester Mardi Gras Daquiris
Be sure to check out the photos and videos from my visit. As always, please subscribe, share with a friend and make it your mission to go to a place you've never been this year.