Twas’ the day before our flight. I sit up on my chair with a sudden bolt of panic. My beloved cousin sends me an email about a news article on Tropical Storm Lee. It read something like: The city, anxious about any possibility of a repeat of Hurricane Katrina, has already declared a state of emergency and is taking early precautions…extensive flooding, rainfall amounts of two to three inches per hour. Flashes of catastrophic Katrina footage pops inside my head and chills began to run down my spine.
Why didn’t I just plan to go somewhere sunny and swank like the Greek islands of Corfu in the Ionian Sea? I mull over this for a second- I was sure I could find a last minute vacation deal or at least cheap flights to Corfu. So I began the process of searching online, well, almost. Because out of the blue the third world voice inside my head began to yell at the pansy gentrified person I have become.
See I grew up in a country where we ate tropical storms for breakfast. We have been through every imaginable type of storm: super typhoons, depressions, tropical cyclones, thunderstorms- and my all time favorite- monsoon storms. I remember wading through flooded streets or at times riding small rowboats just to get to school when I was very young and the city didn’t have proper storm drains (yes this happened in the metropolis and not some barrio in the boonies). But now the slightest whisper of a storm makes me almost wet my pants.
What have I become? I felt sick to my stomach. How could I even for a second thought to cancel this trip to The Crescent City? With renewed resolve and a quick call to a fellow travel blogger now living in NOLA (to double check the weather-baby steps people), I proceed with the trip.
The storm was, of course, a dud. Nothing but a few drizzles here and there which worked to our advantage because it cooled down the HOT Louisiana weather. It also gave the city a dark romantic sheen somewhat reminiscent of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. I thought that New Orleans with it’s old world charm and interesting architecture had an almost European feel to it.
To be honest, I didn’t really have a lot of expectations of the city but the two things I looked forward to was the food and the music. I was also curious to try the infamous hurricane drinks that people kept saying to stay away from. Thus, this noble quest took us to what I consider the most memorable part of the city. Frenchmen Street. Forget about Bourbon Street (except for Preservation Hall which is the best live jazz place in the world) it’s a place for amateurs . If you truly want to experience the soul of New Orleans in a short amount of time walk over to Frenchmen Street.
The sights, the sounds, the spirits and the flavors of Frenchmen is a decadent indulgence of the senses. But unlike other places it remains raw and unpretentious. There you will find personality, pride and passion. Three traits which I believe represents New Orleans.
You don’t believe me? I present the following…
Women in dresses dancing the Charleston even though it’s 2011.
Spirits so stiff they bring you back to the old fashioned days of no frills.
Chefs surprise you with dishes other than jambalaya, poboy or gumbo
And a place where spunk isn’t optional.
If these photos and videos do not pique your interest then you must be a lonely hermit living in a cave on a desert. New Orleans has truly impressed and delighted me. So I invite you to explore Frenchmen Street a little more by clicking on the photos below. It’s not the same as being there but it sure is a good preview of what it would be like to experience the sights, sounds, spirits and flavors of Frenchmen Street.
Where to go
*Most places have no cover charge. However, you are highly encouraged to leave tips for these awesome performers.Three Muses 536 Frenchmen St
New Orleans, LA 70116 (504) 298-8746
New Orleans, LA 70116 (504) 944-4744 www.cafenegril.com
New Orleans, LA 70195 (504) 942-3731 dbabars.com/dbano
New Orleans, LA 70116 (504) 943-3887