“In the spring of 1988, I returned to New Orleans, and as soon as I smelled the air, I knew I was home. It was rich, almost sweet, like the scent of jasmine and roses around our old courtyard. I walked the streets, savoring that long lost perfume.” ― Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire
I was in New Orleans years ago to run a conference attended by 600 + people at one of the large hotels on Canal Street. It was my first time in the Big Easy and I remember looking with awe as the plane descended onto the view of the mighty Mississippi River.
Drawn to cities that have been around far longer than most, there was something so incredibly special about New Orleans that touched my spirit. I yearned to return and I finally did a couple of months ago. As I retraced my steps on Canal and Bourbon Streets, images of lacy ironwork adorning iconic architecture and memories of stirring jazz notes welcomed me back.
My visit to New Orleans was a little less hurried this time and I was able to explore and savor what the French Quarter has to offer. With a cup of cappuccino warming my hands, I went on early morning walks along Canal Street to the river. In the evenings, I peered through the antique shops on Royal Street, walked down rowdy Bourbon Street to listen to music pouring out from jazz bars, watched the street performers, and browsed through the many shops including Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo. At the famed Café du Monde, across historic Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral, I had beignets with cafe au lait. I was not sure if I could (or should) eat all three beignets but after one bite, I did not need further convincing. They were warm, soft, and delicious!
Beyond the French Quarter, I had some time to stroll along the lovely houses in the Garden District and walk through the gates of Lafayette Cemetery which is one of the oldest in the city.
I also managed to squeeze in a tour of both Laura and Oak Alley Plantations in Vacherie, Louisiana – an hour long drive from New Orleans. It is always fascinating to walk back in time to learn about people and places that contributed to the landscape of history.
|Oak Alley Plantation|
Great food, music, architecture, history – just to name a few – the magic of New Orleans lives and I plan to be back.