The Bayou, The Beats, and the Must See Streets with Robyn

Part 2 of the New Orlean’s adventure continues with the amazing POP UP Blogger: Robyn @resipsarob

The Bayou, The Beats, and the Must See Streets

I feel like I could spend weeks in New Orleans and never run out of adventures. Being that my first trip to New Orleans was just four days, I spent hours mapping out the city (and surrounding swampland) and prioritizing my must-see experiences.  Besides the incredible food and drinks that you can read all about here, gator-gazing on the bayou, swaying to killer jazz at Preservation Hall, taking in the beautiful architecture and old world feel of the French Quarter, and ambling through NOLA’s gorgeous above-ground cemeteries led to an incredible and truly unforgettable visit to N’Awlins.

Birthday on the Bayou

 Prior to an incredible birthday dinner at Commander’s Palace, my group and I headed for the swamps of Slidell (about 45 minutes outside of downtown New Orleans) to explore the bayou by boat.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to witness alligators in their natural habitat in all their dinosaur-like glory.  Our swamp tour was not without trouble (we had a stalled motor on our first boat, and had to out-run a violent Southern thunderstorm on our second), but that just made for more of an adventure.  Speeding down the bayou as the sky grew dark nearly instantly, we watched the trees sway and listened to the claps of thunder that preceding the downpour.  The rain was a welcome reprieve from the stifling Louisiana heat, and it the whole experience felt like something out of Storm Chasers.  The alligators did not disappoint.  We saw about a dozen or so during our tour, and our guide would tempt them with fish, often getting the gators to jump up out of the water so we could get a good look at the sheer size and force of them.  Other flora and fauna included Spanish moss, lily pads, cypress, wild boar, and all kinds of birds.  We also passed various residences which were quite literally floating on the bayou.  I thought to myself “Wow, Disney sure did a great job on the beginning of the Pirates of the Carribbean ride!” The overwhelming beauty of the bayou and the thrill of the thunderstorm made for a perfect quintessentially Southern afternoon. 

Preservation Hall 

We all know that New Orleans is synonymous with jazz music.  While the sounds of jazz quite literally float through the city streets, you haven’t seen a jazz show until you watch the Preservation Hall Jazz Band perform. With nightly shows at 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10, you’ll have to line up early to get a spot.  You can pay extra to get a reserved seat, but, to me, the true experience is standing in the crowded hall, clapping your hands, and swaying to the music.  This music hall just oozes history and Southern charm.  The band is incredible.  They take requests, play old favorites, perform solos, and are just generally mesmerizing.  The hour long show was one of my favorite experiences of the trip.  Jazz is just good for the soul.  

The French Quarter

We walked the French Quarter at all times of the day and night, and got something different out of it each time.  The mix of Spanish and French architecture, combined with hanging plants and bright buildings was truly a feast for the eyes during the daytime hours.  Specifically, the French Quarter at golden hour is truly a sight to be seen- the streets coming to life at the beginning of a wild night as the sun drifts between fluffy thunderclouds, casting gorgeous soft light on the building facades. Adorable gift shops, and, of course, a multitude of bars and jazz clubs adorn the charming cobblestone streets. If you’re looking for a brief reprieve from that Southern humidity, consider stopping into the Voodoo Museum.  Located just two blocks from Preservation Hall, this fascinating museum crams a ton of history and wonder into a hallway and two small rooms.  The museum is run by some local voodoo practitioners who are always happy to share a story or two.  At night, the French Quarter becomes the raucous stereotypical New Orleans, where truly anything goes.  Contributing to the party atmosphere is the fact that you can request a “go cup” at any establishment and enjoy your alcoholic beverage as you stroll the streets, seeking out your next adventure.  Be sure to bring your energy- because in NOLA, the party goes all. night. long. 

Lafayette Cemetery No. 1

I find the unique, above-ground cemeteries of New Orleans to be hauntingly beautiful.  I first learned of their uniqueness years ago when I saw the New Orleans funeral procession scene in the movie Double Jeopardy. Although I didn’t personally witness a procession (fit with a jazz band, of course) on this trip, the distant roll of thunder, the church bells tolling, and the leaves whirling around on the concrete created their own eerie melody.  Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 is located in the Garden District, quite literally across the street from Commander’s Palace.  The graves here are large, ornate, and very well kept up.  The cemetery is kept absolutely spotless, and is locked for the night between 3 and 4 PM. Strolling the aisles of this place gives one a sense of calm and reverence, and it is heartwarming to see how the people of New Orleans respect and honor their deceased.  Another cemetery worth visiting is St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, where the fabled voodoo queen herself, Marie Laveau is buried.   

For those of you who’ve been lucky enough to visit New Orleans, what were some of your favorite adventures?

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