New Orleans is one of the most cultural and diverse cities of the South, attracting thousands of people every year for its flashy signs and colors along the traditional tourist corners of the French Quarter and Bourbon Street. But past the neon lights and garish décor lies the true reason why I associate myself with this up and coming city: in New Orleans, you live the same vivacious, spontaneous lifestyles of the inhabitants of the city through the music, food, and funky culture. Thriving, flourishing attitudes overflow the streets of the city, weaving in and out of stores, bars, and restaurants, virtually diminishing any racial or spiritual differences people have in this city; cultural barriers have been broken down, and the people are friendly and eager to talk to you and learn your life story, not to dig into your personal business, but to inhale and celebrate your successes. New Orleans is in the quality of life business; it is a melting pot of culture that surely changes the mindset and perspective of visitors in many ways that seem unthinkable.
Music is a large part of the connected community in New Orleans. Jazz bleeds out of musicians and feeds the creativity of the artisans. World-class musicians flood the streets and bars of this magnificent city, especially around the French Quarter. The unique thing about NOLA musicians is not just their talent or their special ability to compose distinctive pieces, but that they work for little to no pay; they play for enjoyment. Hearing the sharp notes of a saxophone or the low bass of the trombone would send me in a sprint, following the sounds to the source, because the music of New Orleans is unlike any other, and is not something to miss.
Along with music, the French- inspired cuisine of this fine city is bubbling and bursting with flavor, and has even diffused into other states and supermarkets because of its legendary taste. Seafood, as to be assumed, is the heart of the food found in New Orleans, not just because Louisiana is a coastal state, but because that has been a long-standing tradition in New Orleans for years. La Petite Grocery may just sound like your average bistro, but the traditional beans, creamy shellfish, and paneed rabbit are to die for. Many other restaurants, such as Clancy’s or Cochon, have spread further out from the French Quarter and offer unique dining experiences unparallel to anything you will have ever tried. The food of NOLA is diverse and aesthetic on the palette, but definitely worth the dare of trying indiscernible dishes to experience the spirited and contagious lifestyle that lives there.
Before leaving, the artisans and street performers congregate in front of the St. Louis Cathedral in downtown NOLA. Don’t get the wrong idea- this is not religious expression, it is an agglomeration of talent that seems to almost drown out the historical importance of the church. Street performers gleefully carry out unimaginable performances that take your breath away, from dressing up like statues to balancing atop a high ladder while juggling. The artisans’ brows are furrowed with pure concentration and inspiration, either painting, drawing, or sculpting away, all at your disposal. The homeless concentrate on park benches, laughing and talking with anyone, further stirring the positive atmosphere around the Cathedral.
New Orleans is a place unlike any other; it takes its visitors and inhabitants and throws them into a world of enlightenment and culture, livening up your personality and world as you know it, and forever changing the way you see vacation and travel ever again.
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