USA Travel

I had long dreamed of going to New Orleans. The music, the culture and the history was a fascination of mine, on par with Mexico. But more than that, it was the food. Saskatoon was lucky enough to have a Cajun and Creole restaurant called Crawdaddy’s that fueled my imagination.

Many years after Crawdaddy’s closed down, I finally made the holy pilgrimage I had always hoped to make to The Big Easy. Not only did it live up to my dreams, it exceeded them. And it was incredibly hard for me to get on a plane and fly away.

Eating in the French Quarter

The French Quarter is the part of New Orleans most visitors to the city end up stopping by. And I am not embarrassed to say that I did the touristy thing by spending a good percentage of my trip in that part of town.

New Orleans City Park

NEW ORLEANS, LA – JANUARY 10: Tourists look for wildlife from Dreyfous Bridge at City Park on January 10, 2020, in New Orleans, Louisiana. City Park, a 1,300-acre public park is the 87th largest and 20th-most-visited urban public park in the United States. (Photo by Paul Rovere/Getty Images)

It was everything I wanted it to be. There were interesting shops, music everywhere and more amazing restaurants than I could shake a stick at, which I was asked to stop doing. If all I did the entire time I was there was eat in the French Quarter, I would have been a happy man.

Muriel’s Jackson Square served me one of my favorite meals, specifically a delicious turtle soup. It was my first time having that dish, and it was great. On top of that, I also ate at Emeril Lagasse’s NOLA, which actually exceeded the hype.

But it wasn’t just restaurants in that range. The Krystal on Bourbon Street was a go to for me while I was in town. It might have been fast food but at least it was fast food I can’t normally get when I’m at home.

The unexpected shined through

Eating good wasn’t what surprised me, though. Again, that was a big part of the reason I went to New Orleans in the first place. There was so much I didn’t expect that caught me off guard, which just made me want to go back even more.

While wandering around town, I ended up in New Orleans City Park. I didn’t plan on going there, and didn’t have as much time to explore it as I would have liked. But there are a lot of attractions and experiences I would love to devote some serious time to.

Additionally, I love books and New Orleans might have the cooled bookstore I’ve ever been in. Faulkner House Books on Pirate Alley is a small, quaint bookstore in the former home of acclaimed author Willian Faulkner. That’s just cool.

Getting out of the city was equally interesting. Simply taking a tour of the bayou was incredibly illuminating, and offered a different view of the region than most people take the time to see. It was nice to get a look at the natural aspects of the culture that developed here.

Having to leave New Orleans

I can honestly say that leaving New Orleans was one of the hardest travel moments of my life. This was a place I had built up in my heart and mind for decades, and it certainly lived up to my expectations. Honestly, it overwhelmed all of them.

Jackson Square, New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – JULY 14: Jackson Square in the French Quarter is seen on July 14, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards issued three new restrictions for Phase II of reopening that will be in place until at least until July 24 across Louisiana to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Restrictions include mandatory mask or face covering outside of the home for those eight years old and older, bars will be closed unless providing curbside pickup, and indoor social gatherings are to be limited to 50 people. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

My favorite time was spent in Jackson Square. It was a warm evening with a cool breeze, almost perfect weather. I had just eaten an outstanding meal, and sat down on the steps of the St. Louis Cathedral to listen to the sweet notes of an unreal band fill the air.

This evening was already damn near perfect but the Beignets I was savoring took the whole experience over the top. I’ve been lucky enough to go on some truly amazing trips in my life, but it’s hard to imagine one singular moment that tops this one.

There will come a time that I go back to New Orleans, and that may be the trip when I decide to stay after a vacation for good. All I know is that I haven’t been able to get that city out of my system since the last time I was there and I doubt I will anytime soon.

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