One of the first things I fell in love with while in New Orleans was the Airbnb Donte' and I stayed in.
It was a deceptively large house equipped with four bedrooms and while initially, we thought we were the only couples staying there, we were happily introduced to two others, one of them who were Australians whose accent and authentic love for travel and each other was inspiring to me. Our host was eccentric and musical, like a lot of people in the city. He was our first glimpse at what the city had to offer and it did not disappoint.
I was surprised by how walkable the city is, even though Donte' and I opted to take the bikes that the Airbnb stay had available for our first day out and about, having traveled to the city the night before. I had way too much fun stopping at every colorful house that's hue caught my eye, much to D's dismay. In his defense, it was really hot and humid that day and we were on bikes, but I couldn't help myself with some of the beauty that presented itself to me and my lens en route to the French Quarter.
I remembered the name Royal House from some web browsing that I had done so naturally it was our first stop in French Quarter. I really wanted some oysters while I was in NOLA. It was D's first time trying them so he was hesitant about jumping into it headfirst so fried seemed like the safer option versus the texture it often has when it's raw. We ordered the seafood platter, half shrimp/half oysters - along with two Hurricanes. I started feeling myself halfway through mine so I gave mine to him. I loved the waiters there, everyone was happy and magical. I think that's the word I'd use to describe the city. How can you not be magical when you're able to be drunk before noon and no one seems to have a problem with that?
After that, we explored the French Quarter, traveling down one street and then another, cashing in on drink specials at various bars in between. I really liked how accessible the art galleries are. I walked in, was able to admire and take note of pieces I liked that I couldn't afford to buy, but admired all the same. Another awesome quirk about New Orleans are the street performers. We had one guy perform an acoustic version of "Your Song" on guitar while we waited at a cafe.
Later on in the day, with our bellies filled with brew and my head weighing heavily with a migraine, we attempted to be cost effective by finding some groceries to cook back at the b&b. Along the way to find the French Market we happened upon this river instead. It was one of those things that could only happen when you aren't looking for it. I had no idea it could be such a scenic place, but it was. And despite my migraine, I got a little happy about being lost. It was the kind of thing trips like that were made for.
We found pleasure in exploring our neck of the woods quite a bit as well. St. Claude has its own market place where you could get sandwiches and eat on the patio. St. Roch had a bar that had its own pool table, which piqued my interest quite a bit. And somewhere in the mix, there was a place called Melba's that wings were mmm mmm good and had frozen daiquiris by the ounce and shots for $1 - happiness was a warm gun. The latter things I mentioned were more of a nighttime kind of thing though, but during the day, we decided to check out the St. Roch's Cemetery that was nearby, since New Orleans are known for burying their dead above ground in beautiful mausoleums.
And after the more morbid part of our day, we opted to walk past the houses versus riding a bike to indulge in our surroundings more. We also took a recommendation from two guys the day before about trying the food at the very quaint breakfast/lunch spot Cake Cafe & Bakery and it was absolutely delicious. I loved loved loved the fact that with every lunch order, a cupcake could be added on for just a dollar more. I had the grilled cheese and tomato sandwich and D ordered a roasted turkey sandwich with the soup of the day which was chicken vegetable. We shared the yellow cupcake with chocolate icing, it was rich and delicious.
When I say I needed this trip, I needed this trip and I was glad to have such an adventure with my most favorite man, and happy he conquered his fear of flying to be there for me and with me. He was admittedly a lot calmer the second time around than the first. We had to down a couple of drinks together to get on the first flight. It was very topsy-turvy and he couldn't get comfortable enough to sleep through it - it was just not a smooth ride in the least. But the flight back to Atlanta, we were sober and he told me the butterflies he had were there but not nearly as strong as they were a few days before. He proudly said, "I'm a pro at this now!" To which I laughed. I loved how open the air there made us equally as open to one another. We breathed new life into our love and into our relationship. Travel can do that to you. And 3 1/2 hours of playing hangman nonstop (I'm not joking - we were competitive and WAY too entertained). Thank you D for loving me.
As far as my life in a larger sense, I think I've come to some conclusions about my life and where I'd like to lead it, but more than that, I've learned that sometimes you have to just let shit go, especially the poisonous things that bring you pain and cripple you. I've talked to God and I think I know where I need to go now, I know where I need to be.
Travel Tips for A Budget Friendly New Orleans
- Take a taxi from the airport versus an Uber. Take the Uber to the airport versus the taxi. You will thank me later.
- Consider staying at a budget friendly Airbnb instead of a hotel stay. You meet interesting people and you have a kitchen option, win win.
- If it's nighttime and you're wanting to venture out, choose Frenchmen over Bourbon.
- Don't be afraid to get lost. Gems will light up and you'll find your way.
- If available to you, ride a bike.
- If walking isn't your thing, public transportation is 1.75 a ride and 3.00 for an all day Jazzy Pass.
- If all else fails, ask the locals.