Wednesday, March 28, 2012

vacation pt. 2: what was SEEN AND DONE in New Orleans

the second part of my vacation was in New Orleans. after an unexpected delayed flight extended my layover time in Atlana, i finally made it and couldn't wait to walk the streets. the friend that i was visiting, Ciara, was at work still so i roamed the streets solo for a bit. she lives a few blocks away from the French Quarter where it's sort of hella [i really should work on slowly letting this word exit my daily vocabulary]) ghetto. the first thing i noticed as i walked towards the more touristy area was "wow, how come everybody looks like they're on meth or drunk?" then as i walked through the French Quarter all i could think was "this place reminds me of a more grungy looking Fisherman's Wharf." needless to say, my initial reaction to Nola wasn't exactly what i expected. i was told i'd fall in love with the place but i couldn't see that happening. 

one of the first things i saw was remnants of a Mardi Gras past. little did i know i'd see something similar every few steps after that for the rest of my vacation. these New Orleaners sure love their beads!

art lines the streets surrounding Jackson Square

Jackson Square

magic in the streets!

tree lined streets. in the nicer areas of town it adds a very nice southern touch to the ambiance of the streets. 

after Ciara got off work, we went to Wednesday at the Square, where live bands play, beer is served and food stands line the streets. the music is exactly what would you expect coming from New Orleans. think banjos. think bluegrass. you could tell the crowd was excited. the New Orleans natives love their music and their festivals. older couples danced while the youngsters hit up the beer stands. everybody just enjoying the music.

the humidity in New Orleans is ridiculous. even my super thin, super straight hair was doing some weird stuff while i was there. 

the next day Ciara had work yet again, so i roamed the streets some more. i stumbled upon the Audubon Aquarium and ventured inside. i wasn't expecting much but it actually was a pretty great aquarium. they had a white alligator (which i've seen in SF before, but it's still pretty cool)!! alongside the aquarium was an insectarium but uhhh...never in my life would i ever pay money to be surrounded by bugs sooo i skipped that. 

they're smiling at you!

with not much to do, i walked over to the Riverwalk, which is a mall. but not your typical mall that has name brand stores. this mall held more independent stores, none that were of great interest to me.  i feel like walking around anywhere gives you a better idea of what the culture of an area is like so i just continued to walk around aimlessly.

as i walked down Royal St. towards and through the French Quarter, i noticed that the street was closed off to cars and that on every other street there was some sort of musical act. the types of music varied, but remained very New Orleans. 

this band was funny. 

i'm preeeetttty sure i saw them the next day as well but they'd changed their little cardboard sign and advertised themselves under a different name. 

i like Pirate's Booty, but i'm not liking this pirate's booty.

next i roamed about the French Market, which was part flea market, part food vendors and part farmers market. it reminded me a lot of the Ferry Building on a saturday, except not as awesome.

keepin hopes high in Nola

when i go on vacation my souvenirs are the photos i take. i never stop into shops and look around or roam a flea market intently. i don't like junk and trinkets or cheesy things that have loud bold lettering stating that i did indeed visit New Orleans. so with all the extra time i had where most people would be shopping, i ran out of things to do. i decided to hop on the St. Charles St. trolley and just take a ride. it was two hours roundtrip. it brought me through the nicer areas of New Orleans. where the giant ten bedroom houses are. where Tulane University is. where i didn't see people who looked like they were drunk or on meth. where nobody was dressed in some crazy outfit.  it was refreshing to finally see an area where it seemed people lived a normal life.

just more random.

the next morning Ciara and i went for brunch. after brunch we walked along the Mississippi River.

this day was also St. Patty's Day. when i had booked my flight out to New Orleans i didn't realize that i'd be there through the holiday. but i'm glad i was because we went to the St. Patty's Day parade which was much like a tamer version of Mardi Gras. the streets were lined with green and people drinking the day away.

and of course beads were involved.

Sort of Creepy Man: do you know what this is?
Ciara: umm no
SoCM: it's a cleavage clover

he then put it on Ciara's chest and kissed it. i'm not sure she loved that.

on St. Patty's Day not only do they throw beads at you, give the women flowers, put stickers on you, kiss you, hug you, throw Lucky Charms at you along with other Irish things, they also throw cabbages at you. so if you're ever in town for this, watch your noggin!

the next day we partook in yet ANOTHER parade. i swear it seems like there are parades or festivals every weekend in New Orleans. this one was called Super Sunday. because i haven't educated myself on what exactly this was all about, i'll just give you the gist of what i understand about this. back in the days of slavery Native American tribes would occasionally adopt some of the slaves (or ex-slaves?) into their tribe. those people eventually formed gangs. annually there is a parade to honor these gangs. the Mardi Gras Indians, as they're called, parade in the streets dressed to represent various gangs. none of these people are actually fully Native American. i imagine some of them are part, but most of them just look black. they dress in what looks to be ridiculous feathered ensembles, but they're actually very intricate and sort of awesome. nonetheless, if you look into their eyes, they still look like they could shank someone real quick. 

this shit mad creeped me out

whoa, bro.

and that was my trip to New Orleans!! overall i am happy that i went to Nola. the culture is very different and the people are really proud of their city. the random art, whether it be musicians, artists or street performers, offers up a lot of entertainment. the parades and festivals give you a sense of community. while i can see why people love New Orleans, i can say for myself that i appreciate New Orleans. will i ever find myself itching to go back? probably not. been there done that. but i'm glad i got to see it.

 if you know me at all, you're probably wondering how i could do a whole post on Nola and not have any pictures of food. well, my friends, if you really knew me, you'd already have guessed that i ate so. much. food. that the food itself is enough material to have a whole separate post. coming soon: what i devoured in New Orleans.

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