For a list of all of the pictures, see the separate blog post here.
To see Tiffany's blog post, click here.
Instead of waking up early to get here, Tiff and I slept in and left at around 9AM EST. We drove about 679 miles which took about 11 hours. While that may mean we arrived at 8PM EST, the local time of arrival was 7PM. Louisiana is within the Central Time Zone.
When we made the first trip to NC, both Tiff and I ran on a few hours of sleep. It made the 14 ride seem pretty nice. One person drove while the other rested, and we switched every couple of hours.
This time we both had a good night's rest which was great because each person was more alert and could drive longer. I got stir crazy, just sitting there full of energy doing nothing while Tiff drove for a continuous 5 hour stretch. On the next trip to San Antonio I'm going to intentionally run on less sleep while Tiff will have a full night's rest.
The home we stayed in was beautiful. Very spacious and clean, with ten foot tall ceilings and an open living room. Outside of the home was a vegetable garden, multiple compost piles, and a chicken coop. Free, organic, yummy eggs!
One host was a musician in the truest sense, with a full time 20 year history of taking lessons at a young age, playing in bands, going to college to further his skill, and now performing regularly in New Orleans. The best part is that he's a DRUMMER. Dat's mah jam. Anyways, the right side of the living room housed musical instruments and equipment where the band jams. The left was a nice chill spot with futons, a table, and record player.
Another one of our hosts is both a private and commercial chef who has been a part of the New Orleans food scene for quite some time. His culinary history goes even farther, from landing a job as a line cook by chance to studying intensively in Paris for a year. Getting food recommendations and tips on cooking in general was such a treat.
Lately I've been messing around with making dishes that are both healthy and tasty. I asked him about tips on how to cook with quinoa, to which he led us to the kitchen where we were able to sample the tastiest quinoa dish I've ever had; a heavenly mix of shallots, garlic, parsely, onions, and chicken broth. Being from Ecuador, he laughs at how people in the U.S. tend to cook quinoa like rice and recommends a slow simmer with some broth.
For dinner on our first night here we had MoPho, a restaraunt started by lifelong local Michael Gulotta. In a nutshell, it's New Orleans meets Vietnam. While similar restaraunts exist in Nola, Mopho is different in that it's run by a New Orleans native incorporating Vietnamese cuisine, not the other way around. I Enjoyed a bowl of chicken pho and shrimp spring rolls that just made me melt.
Meals from the Heart
In one of the marketplaces of the French Quarter there were so many places to grab food from. Meals from the heart is a health conscious New Orleans based cafe.
I enjoyed a delicious crabcake Po' Boy sandwhich while Tiff had the crabcake tacos.
Crab cake Po Boy Sandwhich
Big Fisherman's Seafood
A relative of mine suggested we get some crawfish from Big Fisherman's Seafood, something that I've never tried before. We grabbed two pounds of crawfish + two crawfish pies, and mannnnnnnn was it good. A bit of work but tasty nonetheless.
The French Quarter
We happened to end up in New Orleans on St. Patty's day. Everyone was wearing emerald green, and I confirmed with the locals that the occassion made things much livelier than usual. The main streets were really crowded but the side streets were just fine.
I was finally able to see a first person perspective of the iconic architecture that filed pictures and videos of Mardi Gras; people partying on balconies of crazy colored houses.
Street performers were also responsible for crowding the French Quarter. I ran into someone who was playing songs from the original Mario on a banjo. Another impressive group was a jazz trio of siblings who I liked enough to buy albums from. The Yisrael Trio , definitely check them out.
Upoon leaving the French Quarter for other parts of New Orleans, I was able to catch a glimpse of life on the outside. The contrast between the French Quarter, modern day city, and suburbs were visible within minutes of driving. To me it seems like time evolved around the French Quarter, unlike Boston where time evolved right on top of it.
One of our AirBnB hosts suggested that we visit City Park. In my own words, it's a massive, amusement park sized nature trip. In Wikipedia's words:
City Park, a 1,300 acre (5.3 km²) public park in New Orleans, Louisiana, is the 87th largest and 7th-most-visited urban public park in the United States. City Park is approximately 50% larger than Central Park in New York City, the municipal park recognized by Americans nationwide as the archetypal urban greenspace.
The entire space was enchanting. There were spaces setup for pretty much any type of activity. Soccer and tennis fields were on the side that was closest to the river. Some parts of the area looked so natural that the only thing that gave it away was the paved road.
In my opinion, the best part of the entire area was the dog park. Unfortunately access was gated, but I was able to use my amazing social engineering skills (asking nicely) to have a fellow cardholder let us in.
Anxious Douken, he can see the dog park!
The vast dog park
Other Cool Details
In New Orleans, it's legal to carry & consume aloholic beverages in open plastic containers. Bars have stacks of plastic cups, "go cups", where guests can transfer their drink into when leaving.
The summer isn't as busy as you'd think, it's just too hot to do anything. According to one of our hosts, August is so quiet that it's both eerie and wonderful.
Thoughts on Travel
I'm still new to traveling, but so far it's been freaking awesome.
Meeting people is just as important as traveling. It's one thing to explore new places and do new things as an outsider, but it's another to get to know the people who call those new things normal and those same places home. Doing both maximizes your experience and creates lasting friendships.
Another reason that I love meeting new people is learning about their background/history. You get to learn so much about anything and everything through someone else's shoes, experiences you wouldn't know unless you either are a native of some place or invested a ton of time and money on something.
There's a lot to enjoy in this world, so much more than we have the time in our lives to take advantage of. Being able to learn who a person is and how they came to be is legit life experience hacking. Freaking life power leveling!