What a whirlwind.
I’m not sure I did it “right” but it’s pretty obvious that you’d need more than one day to get to know the city so I did my best and learned a lot.
I spent the morning like a tourist and quite frankly, New Orleans felt like a different country. I woke up in a hostel bed (well technically a hostel couch, the hostel snorer was SO ROUGH that after I realized she wasn’t strangling herself in her sleep I left the room to sleep on a couch elsewhere). I made some pancakes, studied the maps, and headed out on some walking tours. I did a few classic stops- Lafayette Cemetery, Magazine St., and some aimless walking through uptown. I hopped on a street car and road down St. Charles until it plopped you out on Canal & Bourbon St. despite the hostel staff’s advice that it’s super boring in the day but I should definitely go at night. No thank you. I wanted a safe distance between me and sloppy drunk spring-breakers. It was neat, the French Quarter is as iconic as everyone had mentioned.
I walked all morning, all over. Stopping periodically to sit and drink coffee and get snacks. I didn’t eat much traditional food during the time I was there, but you know what? THAT’S OKAY. While I meant to but simply didn’t have much time, money, or the right options at the right time, that does not make me a failure as a tourist. Just a thing to remember in case you ever find yourself struggling with those things you “absolutely have to do,” according to everyone. It’s fine. That’s just advice, not a law. Anyway, people were furious that I wasn’t eating jambalaya and beignets and here is a psa for everyone: I’m still alive and well and I hope to have another chance to do more eating next time.
Then things got fun. I found a cool gym to train at (shout out to NOLA Muscle Gym) that had some ninja obstacles and an OCR (obstacle course racing) class that I was hoping to drop into. It was a blast. The owners hung out to teach me a ton of new things after class- a huge thanks to them for taking the time and interest in teaching me new things. One of them also offered to let me stay in his spare bedroom and feed me for the night- let’s pause a moment and give a round of applause for all the wonderful humans out there that remember “what it was like” to be a wandering twenty-something looking for adventure on a budget.
What was even cooler was getting to chat with him and his roommate all night. Most notably, listening to how Katrina changed their lives. Of course I heard about it and knew the headlines, but hearing stories is different. Listening to them describe the ghost town that was New Orleans a week after the hurricane hit, their accounts of the chaos of the Superdome shelter situation, and the extent of their personal struggles. “Everyone who was here at that time has their life divided in two. Life pre-Katrina and life after Katrina.” I learned a lot, made some new friends, and left at the crack of dawn to beat rush hour traffic and set out for High Cliffs Park, AL.
Cheers NOLA, until we meet again,
PS > Real sry I didn’t eat your beignets.