Archived Story

Discovering New Orleans for the first time

Published 7:38pm Monday, August 30, 2010

Jazz music, beignets and fleur de lis, oh my.

This past weekend, I road-tripped down to New Orleans with three of my girlfriends as part of what has now turned into my month-long 24th birthday celebration.

It was my first ever trip to the Big Easy, and it just happened to fall on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Ironically, it rained almost the entire time we were there, but that didn’t stop us from experiencing NOLA to the best of our abilities.

With umbrellas in hand, we trekked out for a full day of shopping in the French Quarter. From elegant boutiques to antique shops to art galleries, the four of us darted in and out of storefronts all day Saturday, all the while admiring the city’s awe-inspiring architecture.

After stopping for lunch in Jackson Square, we admired the famous St. Louis Cathedral and checked out the unique artwork set out by several street artists braving the rain.

At night, of course, we set out on Bourbon Street for the real birthday celebration. The world-famous street was buzzing with tourists drinking hand grenades and hurricanes and the city’s open-container laws helped make it as much fun outside as it was inside any of the countless bars lining the street.

We danced the night away and made a few friends along the way. I even had my own “War Eagle” moment with a group of other tourists who turned out to be from Alexander City and Dadeville. What are the odds of that?

Before leaving Sunday, we spotted a few national news crews setting up for President Obama’s visit to commemorate the anniversary of Katrina, and although I unfortunately did not spy Anderson Cooper anywhere, it was still an intriguing sight to see.

New Orleans is still recovering from Katrina, but it’s come a long way from the footage of the flooded city I remember seeing on the news in the aftermath of the tragedy, and I’m thankful for that.

I’m not sure why it took me 24 years to discover the city’s unruly culture, wrought-iron architecture and unique Cajun culinary, but I certainly can’t wait to go back.

Natalie Nettles is a staff writer for The Alexander City Outlook.