I’ll have some seafood gumbo, a side of jambalaya, together with some shrimp and grits, please.

It’s midnight on a Friday night and I have been up since 6:00 a.m. for work. I just landed in New Orleans after two flights from New York City. My taxi driver just pulled over on Bourbon street and has thrown me into the blissful chaos that is New Orleans. There I am, a sober 23-year old girl standing on the streets with her bags, mesmerized by everything happening around her and thinking “What did I get myself into?”

Fast-forward to the next day, my first real encounter with the French Quarter. The streets are a different world and I can appreciate the beautiful architecture and the relaxing feeling of slow-paced freedom. My first impression of New Orleans was that it looked like if Old San Juan and France had a baby with a wild side (a.k.a. Bourbon street).

It was a lot to take in, especially because I was only there for less than 48 hours, but I loved it (48 hours is what happens when your sister decides to turn 30 in New Orleans and you’ve basically already used all of your vacation days, much love sis). One of my favorite parts was Frenchmen street, where I encountered artists from all walks of life sharing their passion, whether it was music, jewelry designing, poetry or fire breathing (No, I’m not kidding. The fire breather said he was drinking magic fluid to make it happen.)

It seemed to me that New Orleans was full of people that know how to appreciate life and value passions as a whole. There seems to be a general understanding that you should admire what inspires you and practice what moves you. Needless to say I was tempted to sit by the poet who was writing verses on the spot. We could have been good friends, just saying.

Speaking of friends, I obviously became best friends with my cab drivers both from and to the airport. That’s not really common for me in New York City, where striking a conversation with a stranger is not always that easy or even desirable. The man that took me to the airport was proud to have been born and raised in New Orleans. Listening to his stories, I couldn’t help but smile as I heard reflected on his voice the voice of many other fighters here that have been through so much since Hurricane Katrina destroyed the area in 2005. New Orleans definitely is an admirable city that has stood back up firmly (Don’t mind the stumbling drunks on Bourbon street).

Below, some pictures of my *lengthy* stay.

St. Louis Cathedral

St. Louis Cathedral

Me posing at a beautiful mural down in Frenchmen street

Me posing at a beautiful mural down in Frenchmen street

Art market down in Frenchmen St.

Art market down in Frenchmen St.

Of course, the infamous Hand Grenade

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