And I always say ‘Damn right!’ because I have a humongous love for travel. Hell, I’ve been a resident of Philadelphia for 35 years so what new and exciting things does my city have to offer me? Should I visit the Liberty Bell and admire the crack? Maybe go to the hood and admire the crackheads?
None of that seems fun for me. I’ll gladly save up some money and carry my ass out of town for a few days.
Recently my travels have taken me to DC and Baltimore on numerous occasions. I Love to go to NY but I need to find a friend I can stay with for free up there because the hotel prices are never low. It’s cool to get to those three cities because they’re local and offer something different than AC or Wildwood in New Jersey.
But my most memorable stories come from places I need to access via the friendly skies. Those destinations are the difference between a Trip Out of Town and a Vacation.
Some past highlights include Las Vegas, Miami and (wh)Orlando.
Last year I went to New Orleans for the first time with a few friends. My parents had been there on many different occasions and each time they came back they always said ‘Ben, you’ve got to go’. So when I told them I was finally going they looked at me and said ‘Ben, you’re gonna LOVE it!’
Now, I’m not easily impressed by much. However, I will give new things a try for the sake of not being close-minded.
In the coming months before my trip both of my parents told me where I needed to go.
“Make sure you go to Café Du Monde” my mom said
“Go to Willie Mae’s for their chicken” my dad said
“Get a shrimp po’boy” my mom said
“Go to the French Quarter Market” my dad said
But the one thing they both agreed on “GO TO BOURBON STREET!”
So where did I go when I first got there?
Bourbon Street of course.
First let me say that there is sensory overload as you walk down Bourbon Street. The smell of fried seafood, Cajun spices, sweat, perfume and heat all coagulate in the air. The endless crowd of people from all walks of life laughing, stumbling, drinking and singing loudly puts your mind at ease from any earlier thoughts of bad energy. Sexy ladies adorn bar doorways clad in lingerie and stilettos, beckoning all to come in for some liquor and a lap dance. Buff bros and their bros stumble through crowds with a beer in one hand and beads in the other. Bridal parties wearing a variety of funny T-Shirts and many colorful beads giggle alongside the inebriated bride-to-be. Street performers dress as popular movie characters won’t take a photo with you unless you pay them. I even saw a dude transform into a car and ride around in a circle while the crowd watched.
It was the wildest shit I’ve seen since I was at Vodka Bar in Moscow and two dudes were tossing a female midget around on stage.
And the drinks? Dawg, I don’t think I was ever sober while I was down there. Even during breakfast I was drinking endless mimosas. I didn’t give a fuck that it was 9 in the morning and I had just awoken from a night of partying. Shit, it came with the meal!
I was there from Friday to Monday and of the suggestions that were given to me by my parents I only did two of them: Bourbon Street and the shrimp po’boy. I actually had the po’boy after I staggered out of a bar on Bourbon Street so technically I killed those two birds with one stone.
The saddest thing about my trip is that I was so enamored with the relaxed drinking laws, friendly people and two-for-one drink specials that I didn’t really get into New Orleans the way I should have. Aside from all of the exciting nightlife and cuisine New Orleans is a world-renowned city filled with breathtaking architecture, fascinating history, and cool jazz.
But it’s also hot as shit.
It’s hotter than my apartment, and that’s saying a lot.
As I await my next trip to N’awlins this August I’m taking the following things into consideration:
1) I must MUST go to Café Du Monde because their beignets look like delicious fried balls of dough with mountains of powdered sugar piled atop. And you know my fat ass loves to eat.
2) I’m going to find a museum or something cultural to do during the day because I don’t want to just wake up at noon, wait for the sun to go down and then run to the bars at 7:30 like I did last year.
(S/N I wrote 7:30 but it was probably more like 3:45)
3) Buy myself at least one souvenir. I never bring anything back for myself when I visit these cities except stories that I can never tell anyone (ask me about Miami one day. That story is hilarious)
4) Drink, Hydrate, Drink, Nap, Hydrate and repeat. Last year I was like Rihanna, except instead of ‘Cake, Cake, Cake’ I was singing ‘Drink, Drink, Drink’ and on my last night in New Orleans I went to the hotel to take a nap and woke up the next morning when it was time to leave. A beginner’s mistake I tell you.
I want to close with this, and if you’ve ever been to New Orleans before you may agree. Before the plane took off I looked out of the window and said to myself ‘I”ll be back soon’.
When I got home I couldn’t shake this feeling of sadness. The whole time I was in New Orleans I remained in such a euphoric state from the atmosphere, the people and the food that I underestimated its power. My friends and I met so many inviting people from the city who would tell us about how New Orleans is still rebuilding after Katrina and how they’ve had the same attitude of resurrection since the day after the storm tore through their city. Granted, this is just the account from a few people. But the friendliness was like an epidemic and being from Philly coming across a consistent string of pleasant people is an anomaly. Call it Southern Hospitality or whatever but that shit exists all over the place on N’awlins.
I’m not sure what magic this city holds but when you leave it haunts you and sticks with you for a few days as its lingering intoxication slowly leaves your body.
New Orleans is like a drug. And I would gladly tell everyone to take at least one hit.