There is something about the festive spirit, perhaps our Puerto Rican blood, that attracts us, along with the cultural and artistic outburst. We traveled around 8 hours from Memphis to Louisiana; impatiently we waited to finally arrive at what was to be home for the next few days. From the moment we entered the hotel room, our spirits lifted and so began a special memory. There are trips in your life that leave a mark you, not because of how many pictures you took or how many things you did, but because in every simple detail was a story that filled your heart with joy. New Orleans, Louisiana took in a million reasons to make our vacation a memorable one.
New Orleans is a puzzle of a city to a tourist with the desire to uncover it. We started right by pleasing mom with her bowl of the classic Louisianan gumbo soup the moment we arrived. An eagerness aura filled us as we began our journey in the city. We took an afternoon saunter through the alluring streets with their two or three story buildings pressed to each other, each with beautiful balconies from where the colorful gardens sprouted and multiple flags waved. Every building we walked by had a color different from the one next to it, making the place look stunning. Many times, as we walked, antique-like horse drawn carriages passed by creating beautiful memories to other families.
We went to the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans, the French Quarter, where my favorite series The Originals is filmed. It was like walking on art. The streets dressed in vivid colors, the talented musicians on the streets gathered groups of strangers and united them once in the name of music, the public squares covered with paintings by local artists, the smell of the delicious food coming from the restaurants, the bumping into each other, and even the sudden reeks; it was an awakening of all my senses.
We walked across many shops and restaurants and landed on the epitome of the wild nightlife, Bourbon Street. We went during the day embracing the distinct culture and catching the sound of music from every corner. After all, New Orleans is known as the heart of jazz. I caught with the glimpse of the eye, before my mom made me look away because I was only 12, women wearing only lingerie and high stilettos but it was all part of what makes Bourbon Street.
Bourbon Street is the epicenter of the vibrant spirit of New Orleans and its historical background. In the night, it’s a festive and wilder environment with many crowded bars and clubs. When the night arrived, my parents left my sister and I watching movies in our hotel room as they ventured into the wild of Bourbon Street. Every year there’s a a few weeks called Mardi Gras season where Bourbon Street and all New Orleans is overcrowded with many festive events and parades taking course.
For afternoon coffee, we stopped to the iconic coffee place in all New Orleans, Café Du Monde. It is a disgrace to the city of New Orleans, to visit and not go to Café Du Monde. It was very crowded but we managed to find a table for us and ordered fast. Like little girls, both my sister and I got Café Du Monde paper hats and wore them the whole day. My mom and dad ordered their traditional chicory coffee, while my sister and I drank freshly squeezed orange juice. We can’t forget their all-time classic pastry, whom I had been hearing about ever since we decided to go to Louisiana, the beignets. They consist of French style doughnuts with white sugar sprinkled on top for a delicious treat. We came out of Cafe Du Monde with a beignet recipe mix we bought and my mom’s coffee mug souvenir, who sadly I broke in two pieces’ months after, but on the bright side, that’s just an excuse to go back to New Orleans.
Another impressive building, we saw was the St. Louis Cathedral towering high in the Historic Jackson Square Park. I remember seeing street painters crowding that area showing off their works and seeing the beautiful carriages stopping on the popular site while the horses took a break.
The most relaxed stroll we took was when we approached the Riverwalk. It was a sunny day with a fresh breeze and out in the Mississippi River, as we walked the riverfront, we could see a variety of anchored boats at the shore of the New Orleans port and just sat back for a while until we recharged our energy. Riverwalk also has its own outlet mall with popular brands like Coach, American Eagle, and Nordstrom Rack.
New Orleans, Louisiana was my home for 3 days, those which I spent uncovering the uncovering the secrets of the streets while making lifelong memories with my family; starting family traditions and embracing its culture. New Orleans has something for everyone whether its indulging the party spirit, sightseeing or a faint hope of catching a glimpse of the cast of The Originals. The day that this city stops celebrating its culture, its music, its art; the day that it no longer awakens the senses; the day that it doesn’t latch on the heart of tourists leaving a memory on them, that is a day that I cannot imagine, for now we open our hearts and New Orleans does the rest, kindling feelings and making memories.