Our contributing blogger Lisa Glover spent some time in New Orléans soaking in the culture.
Five years ago, instead of taking a senior year spring break trip to some tropical island like the majority of my graduating class, a few of us did something different. Organized by members of our school and a club we were involved in, our group of 30 students spent spring break building homes with Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans. I often reflect on my time in New Orleans and know it made a big impact on who I am today. It’s crazy how one week can give you that kind of perspective on life, and I’m so fortunate to have had the opportunity. So when my Mom and I wanted to plan a quick getaway trip, I immediately thought of New Orleans. It’s an amazing city and there was still more of it that I didn’t get to see all those years ago. Now, I feel like I was exposed to the culture, the history and the best parts of New Orleans. While I would love to expose a day-by-day recap of my trip, I decided to share three key insights that I captured.
Leave the Restaurant List at Home
Before I left, I received many restaurant recommendations from friends and colleagues. I went down with an itemized list of the “must-visit” restaurants. While it’s impossible to not have the Café au Lait and beignets at Café du Monde, my Mom and I stumbled upon our own hidden gems. While it’s always helpful to have a reference list, one of the best parts about exploring a new city is finding new restaurants to try. So rather than listing all of the amazing places we ate at, I encourage you to research, read reviews, but eventually find your own. That said, the one place I feel compelled to share that wasn’t pre-recommended to me is Café Conti. The food and service at this simple, yet quaint café was so good, that I went against my policy of “not eating at the same restaurant twice while touring” and had breakfast there two days in a row! We felt like we were in someone’s kitchen, rather than at a restaurant. As someone who is not a big egg-eater, I thoroughly enjoyed the variety on the menu – from breakfast sandwiches to crepes.
I’m the planner of the group. I like to have an itinerary and know that activities are booked before arrival. However this time, I did it a little differently. The weather forecast predicted thunderstorms for all four days that we’d be there, so I was hesitant to make reservations for outdoor activities when the weather might not be all that agreeable. After check-in, I grabbed some brochures and booked a couple of tours and excursions right at the front desk. Each day had about two things planned, which still allowed for ample exploring time. I felt relaxed. Usually, I try to cram as many activities into a single day as possible, but not this time. This trip showed me the beauty of not being stuck in a rigid schedule. Our flexibility allowed us to spend time walking through parts of the city we may not have had the chance to. It gave us the opportunity to just be together and talk about life, conversations that I know I’ll treasure someday.
Talk to the Locals and the Tourists
Whenever you return from a vacation, everyone always asks “how was it?” My answer to every person has been, “we met the friendliest people.” The way of life is much slower than what I’m used to, having lived on Long Island and in New York City all my life, but it was a nice change of pace. We spent an entire afternoon hanging out with a couple who won their trip to New Orleans while being contestants on the Price is Right. An elderly couple who took our photo in front of the cathedral turned out to have gone to college just miles away from Marist, the school I attended. The waiter who served us dinner spent a good portion of the evening talking to us about his former life as a Nutritionist Professor at Barnard, a well-known college in New York City. The man who helped us figure out the cable car system used to live in Poughkeepsie, the town of Marist! It felt like everyone we met had some sort of connection to New York. And the ones who didn’t, were people who we shared the most pleasant, almost life-changing conversations with. It’s funny how strangers who know little about you, can give you such perspective on life.
For a city that has seen so much devastation, most notably Hurricane Katrina, the spirit is still alive and thriving. I am so thankful and grateful for having experienced both sides of this city, as it is truly a gem. Book a ticket, and build your own adventure.
Lisa Glover recently joined the Laura Davidson public relations firm in New York City. Her passion for travel was sparked during her semester abroad in Florence, Italy. She’s never caught without a camera in hand and she enjoys cooking and making decorative crafts.
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