From Nashville to New Orleans

Two years ago, I went to New Orleans with three friends for Halloween. It was a whirlwind long weekend trip, and the French Quarter’s Halloween nightlife and constant rain combined to result in us not really getting to see much of NOLA in the daytime. On our last day before returning to work, we ventured out to Cafe du Monde to grab beignets and take a few cloudy pictures. We ended that night on Frenchman street, listening to live music and talking about how we wished we had more time. In honor of the fact that I’m finally headed back to the Big Easy next month, I’m sharing a few of my favorites from our first trip and the things I’m looking forward to on this second visit.

My First Impressions of New Orleans

When people travel, they tend to notice and remember a pretty specific set of things about the places they visit. Personally, I take note of the architecture, the nightlife, the food and drink scene, the friendliness of the locals and the things that make the city and culture unique. Since I’m from Nashville, TN, I also tend to look for live music wherever I am.

On all of my personal major metrics for liking a city, New Orleans does not disappoint.

As a novice photographer, I’m always drawn to cities that look unique... and NOLA's architecture makes the city look different than anywhere else in the world I’ve been. NOLA is a music city in its own right, with Frenchmen street dominating the live jazz/big band/blues scene that the town is known for. On my first trip, we didn’t do any research on where to eat, drink or go to brunch… but we had a few great meals by just randomly walking into places, which gives me the impression that the city knows how to eat and drink (and I can respect that). Everywhere we went, people were friendly and welcoming. The Saints were also playing one of the days that we were there, which reminded me of the way that Nashville shows up for the Predators: honestly, the whole city was wearing a Saints jersey!

In a nutshell, I may not ever come back this time (boss, if you are reading this, I’m just kidding. Mostly.)

The Bucket List for My Second Visit to New Orleans

While New Orleans has been on my list of places to revisit for awhile now, this second trip became a reality because of a hostel. Every once in awhile, I’ll come across a hostel while browsing that I just can’t forget… then I’ll end up planning a trip that is built around staying in that hostel. On my first trip to NOLA, we stayed pretty far away from the action in an Airbnb, and one of my goals for this second trip was to stay as close to the French Quarter as our budget would allow. As you can imagine, our budget did not allow us to stay IN the Quarter, but we are staying in the Lower Garden District on the streetcar line (in what may become one of my favorite new hostels in the world)… so I’m very excited about the accommodation.

I'll be traveling with a friend who is also a native Nashvillian, which means several things. One, we are both live music junkies and will likely spend considerably more time on Frenchmen street than we did on our first visit. We’re also foodies, so I expect to do a bit more research about places that we can’t miss on this second visit (if you have any suggestions on that front, please feel free to share in the comments!) I do expect we'll spend some time in the French Quarter because that nightlife is simply one of a kind, but I also plan to explore and photograph more of the city during the day on this trip. Hopefully, we'll find a walking tour or two and I can take lots of pictures for the blog that aren't all cloudy!

Since we’ve both visited NOLA before, I think we’ll be looking to experience the city more organically and slower than last time. I’m sure we’ll have a couple of major bucket list items on our daily itinerary, but we’ll spend a fair amount of time just wandering. That’s the beauty of getting to revisit a place you’ve seen before... after you've ticked off major must-see items on that first trip, you can relax a bit and just let the city wash over you. And honestly, that's my favorite way to travel.

If you have any NOLA recommendations for us, please feel free to share in the comments!