On Friday 7/16, Chris and I took a slightly spontaneous trip to New Orleans. Thank god for it too because we had really hardly seen or spoken to each other all week. Every night we were out with friends. That essentially looks like us just going to work, hanging out until 9 or 10pm, passing out, and repeating. As exhausting as the week was, it was so full of fun and ease.
On Friday, Chris and I left for New Orleans around 8am, stopped at Buccees and made the long trek to Louisiana. I love long car rides with him. There’s nothing better than being stuck in a box together for hours. Literally, it’s the highlight of my trip both directions. When we got into town we dropped by our AirBnb first- a cute little studio apartment located on the back of a duplex just down the road from Frenchman St. We ate lunch at a Mediterranean hole in the wall, called 1000 Figs. It was beautiful and our food was delicious. At 1000 figs, Chris encourage me to ask the cashier for advice on things to do around and it was a fantastic decision. Her name was Dani and she went around to gather recommendations from all her staff-mates and handed us a full on list. Per her advice, we avoided Bourbon street completely. We got bloody Marys and walked around French Quarter during the day. I passed Cafe Du Monde longingly- but the line was never ending and our stay limited.
We went to Frenchmen Street around 8pm, while the sun was still out. Our lyft’s driver name was Felicia and I missed what may have been my only chance to genuinely say “Bye Felicia”. We started off on the very corner of the street and went to a hotel roof top bar. It was desolate and jamming Safety Dance when we made it up, so we knew we were in the right spot. We took our canned beers to go and poured into the streets for additional exploring. We peaked inside bars, that were as empty as the night was young, and made our list of where to go to throughout the evening. About halfway along Frenchman St. we found a local art market. I purchased a few small items for Levy and an iced coffee for Chris and I. We visited about 5 bars total, each providing their own very New Orleans experience. Our last stop for the night was at a 2 story restaurant and bar, Dat Dog. We took to the second floor and had a perfect view of a large live jazz band along the street. They may have been associated with a high school band even. It was fabulous. Sitting there, drunk on beers stretched over a period of hours and this crazy handsome boy along with me, I was in a bliss. We sat on the balcony longer than we spent at any other bar and every moment I was falling in love with the environment around me. I loved how barely clothed everyone around us is due to the sweltering heat. Despite being in the 90’s at 11pm, not a single beat was missed. Crowds gathered, rubbing their sweaty elbows up against strangers just to dance to some real, live, jazz music. The south is a really fucking beautiful thing.
We ended the night swirled up in each other at our Airbnb. Our neighbors had a backyard party until 4am, but it didn’t bother us.
We woke up the next morning and it felt like the minutes were expanded into 5 minute intervals. It was like time was moving slower in NOLA. We woke up at 7:45 and left for breakfast at about 8:30. We got to an industrial/rodeo of a breakfast place called toast. We sat at the bar, took pictures, and drank our coffee. Afterwards we headed to the New Orleans City park area. The park spans over 1300 acres and is thick with crouching oak trees and spanish moss. The New Orleans Botanical Gardens was our final stop in the city and it was the highlight. It was early enough in the day that we were the only ones in the garden. We were also very lucky it hadn’t hit peak heat for the day yet. The gardens feature historic plants and lily pads the size of float rafts. We found a succulent green room that had breeds I had never seen before. The whole experience was serene. We mozzied around for 2 hours, and finally concluded our trip with a 5 hour drive back to Houston.
I’ve honestly held disdain for Louisiana for years. Knowing it only as what I saw along interstate 10, which was mostly oil rigs, I held an unfair evaluation of the state. What I failed to see were all the same southern themes that run through Texas. The emphasis on food, fun, and togetherness is identical. Every night I spend out in a hot, humid, Houston surrounded by excited Texans and travelers, I think of how pure the place I live is. New Orleans made me feel just the same.