The birthplace of jazz, the Paris of the South, NOLA; whatever you may prefer to call it, they all refer to one of the most culturally sound places in the United States: New Orleans. A lot of friends, family, and people I've worked with have told me such cool stories about NOLA (mainly during Mardi Gras) and it has always appealed to me. I even remember working in the tube feeding clinic years ago and when we would call our patients who lived in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, they would either not answer or answer and hurriedly tell us they can't talk right now because they're out celebrating.
I've heard about their amazing southern cuisine, fun night life filled with jazz music, and beautiful architecture that almost brings you back to a different time. I was so excited that NOLA was going to be one of the first places on our trip! Again, when we first arrived it was pretty dark out and we were exhausted so we decided to stay in and rest so that tomorrow we could explore one of the best parts of NOLA: The French Quarter.
I took French in high school and am currently re-taking lessons through Rosetta Stone so the French Quarter in New Orleans was one of my favorite highlights from our trip. The culture still has a French twist to it even today with their Southern-French cuisine and architecture. In fact, I tried a lot of new foods that I would have never imagined myself trying in any other setting however being in "The Paris of the South", I felt compelled to at least try them. Some of my favorites were the shrimp 'n' grits, fried catfish, and of course the beignets.
The third and fourth pictures above are from my favorite restaurant in New Orleans called the Court of Two Sisters. It's absolutely beautiful in scenery with a garden patio for patrons to eat and beautiful in their cuisine with exquisite flavors. That fried catfish was so incredibly delicate, it essentially melted in my mouth. Another reason why I love this restaurant so much is due to it's history. There is a "charm gate" at the front entrance of the restaurant and according to legend, it was blessed by Queen Isabella of Spain so charm would pass on to any passerby who touched it. Don't worry, we made sure we got lots of charm when we stopped by. You can read more about the history of this big cultural icon here.
Another big highlight for me was the jazz scene, from morning until night lots of jazz musicians sat outside of restaurants or on the street playing for the pedestrians coming through. My favorite was the night jazz club called The Spotted Cat. This is a must go to spot when you visit New Orleans, the musicians there were fantastic and played a variety of jazz and scat singing. It felt as if I was thrown into a different time, back in the 1920's except there was no worry of prohibition.
I think a big reason why jazz is still such a big part of New Orleans culture, is because of their biggest star: Louis Armstrong. That's right, Louis Armstrong was born in New Orleans and they celebrate him everyday in their live jazz music, monuments, and a park that's dedicated to him and other jazz musicians.
The architecture is also absolutely gorgeous, it honestly felt as if I was somewhere in Europe as opposed to the United States! Beautifully built cathedrals that look as if they're from the Gothic era and golden monuments dedicated to the Maid of Orleans herself, Joan of Arc who is credited and and canonized as a saint for saving Orleans (now known as New Orleans).
New Orleans is such a beautiful city full of culture and I think that's what draws people to visit and re-visit. I've never been to a city that still holds on to their culture like New Orleans does, it's very beautiful and refreshing.
If you have to ask what jazz is, you'll never know.
I am not afraid, I was born to do this.
Joan of Arc
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