I spent most of my time romanticizing in and out of the French Quarters and surrounding nearby areas of New Orleans. In a city where their bread n’ butter comes from an image as unauthentic as the beads themselves so much lays beneath the surface if you travel smart. The French Quarter is the city’s oldest historic neighborhood. It’s a town that speaks in shadows and the steady flow of bitter sweet liquor that soothes the imbibing soul. Being the quintessential home of the cocktail, New Orleans has drinking down to a lifestyle, a business and an art, not to mention you can walk with your drink in hand as you peruse town. Feeling thirsty? Not a problem, let’s walk and drink, cause my friend we have lots of street musicians to tip and live music to wander to. One thing I gather quickly, there is no formula for a trip to New Orleans, and that my Smart is Sexy loves is one reason New Orleans will have me coming back for more!
So what’s the Smart is Sexy approach to traveling? What makes you think #travelSmartisSexy?
There is a lot of hype about traveling like a local—not doing the mainstream things. And I agree but sometimes I don’t want to be a local. I know, slap me, but I don’t want to act like I already know. But I do want to peel beyond the tourist gimmicks and get beyond what’s obvious to any city’s first timers. I just don’t want to experience the city like I already know everything….I want to experience it all like I DON’T know…to hear it for the first time, to taste it for the first time.
Taking a street car headed towards the French Quarter with a quick pit stop for coffee to wander and soak in the ambiance was the preferred Smart is Sexy approach. The tempo of the city is slow but inviting to my non-stop Angelino brain, and I’m attracted to the mysterious lingering vibe the city has. As if it says don’t let my looks deceive you, I’ve been through a lot.. full of stories, full of deep rooted history. As you walk the streets you can’t help but wonder how many other stories have shared this same road. Then following suite after just the right amount of daiquiris I am now flirting with the potential thoughts of ghost stories. One more fascinating then the next. As the evening progresses, a slight fog permeated with rain, as it cools the air, the streets dances with a slight stench and I find myself in a walking ghost tour of the town…Oh la la did I have too many daiquiris?
Enchanted by the voodoo potions, historical encounters of ghosts and landmarks full of history, the architecture in the town feeds my soul. It has beautiful cast iron fence work, if you have any pre-conceived notions of southern elegance and privilege, it’s most likely to re-affirm it. Similar to most of the city, the homes began as plantations and were divided into lots. The Garden District, developed between 1840 and the 1870s, displays houses with luxury and gardens, mostly occupied by the rising mercantile elite at the time, a definite contrast to the stacked townhouses and courtyards of the French and Spanish business district (Vieux Carré). The design development of the city plays on a lot of your carnal pleasures, as the traffic flow along Rue Royale and Rue Bourbon have a night time and day time focus. So houses in this new section of the periphery of the city, was considered “American,” English-speaking, and was intended to provide a healthy, leafy refuge against the city and it’s temptations.
Peeling below the surface, and nailing those damn taste buds….the FOOD, oh the food was bomb! Sometimes fried and sometimes taken very seriously for it’s innovation. Restaurants such as Couchon and Kingfish kitchen+cocktails (the yummy sea bass, chard, grapefruit served on a giant hymalyan salt dish), and the classic Mahony’s shrimp po boy since crawfish was not in season.
So the Smart is Sexy approach is to NOT be just any ordinary tourist but be a smarter tourist…be a traveler that is ready to embrace the tourist like a local. Enjoy and learn about the city as if you never knew anything about it—but miles and miles away from the superficiality propaganda, off the beaten path with the locals that share you their stories of the city from pride.
Have you ever had the experience of a local taking you around, proud to share where they live and what made them fall in love with the city, time after time again?
Special thanks to Ari, our New Orleans local, who shared her home away from home with us.
Smart Travel is Sexy Travel