After a few days in New Orleans, I fell in love with the city. I am back in my little apartment after a crazy morning with a delayed flight and a long afternoon layover and came up with a list of ten ways to live like those in New Orleans, no matter where you are! I had an excellent time and can’t wait to visit soon. Look out tomorrow for a recap of my last night + day of traveling as a vegan (warning: today tested me in may ways).
Without further delay!
10 WAYS TO LIVE LIKE A NEW ORLEAN-EAN
1) Eat (and drink) like you mean it
When I left for New Orleans, so many people told me some variation of “There isn’t a bad place to eat in New Orleans.” I can say with confidence there is so much truth in that statement. New Orleans has food, food and more food to suit any palate. Sushi? Done. Indian? Right around the corner. Gumbo? There are places to boot. Simply put, there is good food and there is a lot of it. I can’t speak much to the drinks except for they are expensive, but with all of the dives on Bourbon Street, I’d bet there is something for anyone. If you want to spend $10 on a drink, go big or go home with a Hurricane or a Hand Grenade. It’s practically a rite of passage when on Bourbon Street.
Lesson learned: try something new no matter where you are and go on a gastronomical adventure!
2) Look both ways before you cross the street
Canal Street is an animal of its own and with it’s angular streets, trolleys and sidewalks galore, it can be tough to discern the flow of traffic…especially if you’re a pedestrian. Be mindful of cars and trolleys coming from every direction. Also, the crosswalk lights in NOLA often have the “stop” and “walk” symbols lit up simultaneously, so proceed with caution.
Lesson learned: When in doubt, watch what other pedestrians are doing and blend with them. You’ll also look like you know what you’re doing even if you don’t . And remember what you’re parents always told you about crossing the street.
3) Support your home team
Walk down any street in The Big Easy during the fall and you will see more people sporting Saints garb than you’ll know what to do with! Seriously, these people love their team and it is quite possibly the most charming thing about New Orleaneans.
Lesson learned: Wear your colors, be proud of your city and fall in love with its sports!
4) Work hard, play hard
The mornings here are a bustle to get coffee and get to where you need to be. Lunch was always a rush of young people in business clothes to grab a bite out of the office. There are always people going to and from but every night around 5 p.m., you can actually feel the city breathe a sigh of contentment. As the night wears on, the music gets louder and the streets fill with people walking, laughing, drinking and enjoying the city.
Lesson learned: Crank it out during the day so you can have time to enjoy life at night.
PJ’s , Community and Café du Monde, oh my! With so many great, exclusive options, there is no real reason you should be walking around with a Starbuck’s cup since you can get that anywhere. New Orleans has a great tradition of chicory coffee and is available at small, independent coffee shops. Your time in NOLA might be short and there is a lot to do — stay awake for it. There are few times I strolled New Orleans without a coffee in my hand.
Lesson learned: Find a good coffee shop and stay true to it. Be bold enough to venture beyond that white cup with a green logo on it.
6) Get a little lost
The streets in New Orleans are laid out in a strange way (or maybe that’s just me) and I can never seem to remember where things are located in relation to other places. This can be problematic when trying to find a spot to explore and with The French Quarter, the Garden District, Lafayette Square and more, how is a girl to decide? The first full evening here, I got lost for thirty minutes trying to get from one hotel to the other. I’m glad I did, because I saw The Warehouse District and some cool art galleries that I otherwise wouldn’t have. I had to get over my own stubbornness and consult Siri for some advice on how to make my way back, but it was nice to roam the city and see something unexpected.
Lesson learned: Ditch your phone maps and take to the sidewalks to find something new — you might just surprise yourself with what you find. Bonus, you can walk off some of the calories from your foodie experiences (see item 1).
7) Be kind and take life a slowly
They don’t call it The Big Easy for nothing! Everyone here is one of the nicest people I have met — everyone smiles, waves and has called me things like “lovely” and “sunshine” and everyone is very warm and outgoing. By the same token, nobody gets in a big hurry to get to where they need to be. I can’t say I blame them — if I lived in this gorgeous sunshine, I’d probably take my time getting from place to place, too. Don’t sweat the small things, smile and talk to the people you are next to at the crosswalk and may the toughest decision you make all day be where you will grab your afternoon coffee.
Lesson learned: Be happy and others around you will be happy too. And listen to Ferris Bueller’s advice about slowing down and enjoying life.
8) Find a good wifi spot…or not.
I was in PJ’s coffee yesterday trying to get an internet connection and one of the network names was “The City of NO WIFI.” It had me in stitches, but it is so true. I haven’t been online too much because I have been using free time to explore New Orleans, but every time I have needed wifi, it hasn’t been available. Just be flexible!
Lesson learned: Find a good wifi spot and camp out for a bit to knock some work out, then get off the grid and get to know your surroundings.
9) When given the option, eat outdoors.
With the warm sun during the day and the breeze at night, I have no idea why anyone would want to eat indoors if the outdoor option exists. Whether it is coffee, lunch or dinner, get outside! Plus, you get to people watch and in New Orleans, the people watching is prime real estate. There is just something about fresh air and delicious food that makes life a lot better.
Lesson learned: Find a restaurant with a patio.
10) Keep it jazzy.
New Orleans is so proud of its Jazz Heritage (they founded the genre!) and you can’t walk down any street without hearing something jazzy or bluesy. Most of the time, this is because of the music floating out of the bars and restaurants, but it’s extra special when there is a musician or group of musicians playing on the sidewalk. There’s a certain element of whimsy to it and awakens a part of you that makes you feel just a little bit more creative and relaxed.
Lesson learned: Get a little bit more jazz into your life! I have a Spotify station for those times when I just need something of the sort. You’ll feel like you have transported to the French Quarter in no time.