Last summer I had the opportunity to travel to New Orleans for the first time. For years I had been curious about its alluring nature, lively jazz music and its rich and complex history. When I touched down in The Big Easy, the city was everything I imagined it to be and more.
Voodoo museums, art galleries and bustling cafes line the streets. Turn one corner and discover a colorful creole cottage; turn another and find yourself in the middle of an 18th century Spanish courtyard. For my fellow Scorpios and lovers of all things witchy, there are plenty of historic cemeteries and crystal shops to get lost in. Visit Earth Odyssey on Chartres Street for gemstones and tarot readings, or take a stroll through the Lafayette Cemetery in the Garden District.
On a rainy day, visit The Presbytère for a haunting glimpse of Hurricane Katrina and her aftermath, or the National WWII Museum, an immersive experience that will surely expand your perspective on our nation’s history. Coming from New York City where we have no shortage of attractions, the WWII Museum is a must-see for history buffs or anyone who loves good storytelling.
Perhaps my favorite part of New Orleans is the music scene. As a musician, being surrounded by live bands in a new city reminded me of the power of spontaneity and improvisation. From the jazz ensembles on Frenchmen Street to the young street performers blasting their trumpets outside St. Louis Cathedral, the palpable energy of the city leaves a lasting impression.
One afternoon, I ordered a café au lait at Cafe Beignet, nestled in the heart of The French Quarter. Children peered at sugary desserts behind the counter. A couple placed their worn backpacks on the floor and ordered a bottle of red wine. A musician tuned his guitar, and began playing a version of “Vincent” by Don McLean; a tragically beautiful song — and one of my favorites. From the corner of the cafe, I hummed along, wondering how a place could feel so nostalgic, like a moment from a distant dream.
After some time, the children left and danced down the street. The nearby couple finished their wine, and the lights in the cafe gradually dimmed. Taking a last sip of coffee, I pushed in my chair, gathered my things, and left a few dollars in the guitarist’s hat. He slowly glanced up with a twinkle in his eye, “Thank you.”
That’s the magic of New Orleans. It is a charming blend of spunk and spirituality; of eclectic sounds, and stories that unravel with each turn down a cobblestone street. From a silent cathedral to a pulsing dance floor, The Big Easy gives you exactly what you need, and always leaves you wanting more.
If you enjoyed this piece, be sure to check out Whistle of the Wind