Have you ever been someplace your soul immediately responded to? That’s Chicago for me. Not everyone understands it and I genuinely like it that way. Chicago isn’t for everyone. It’s where my roots are, where my grandparents rest peacefully. The food in Chicago is the best in the world to me, and I will argue you down about it. It always seemed like my start and end would be there. Until I arrived in New Orleans. Stepping into the Marigny neighborhood, my insides said, “Oh I get it. I understand here.”
I had been to New Orleans a couple times but accompanied by people, and while it was good it wasn’t amazing. Touring the city alone made me excited, and I’m grateful for Joy giving me the opportunity to do so. I stayed at the Hotel Peter & Paul – a converted Catholic church, school, convent and rectory turned hotel, bar, event space, and ice cream parlor. It is exactly what it should be – vintage, a little moody, and filled with stories. Arriving early, I settled in at the hotel’s bar, The Elysian Bar. The room is warm and cozy because of the curved amber bamboo wall surrounding the center of the room. A gentle breeze ruffled plaid curtains by the window. Feeling incredibly lucky, I ordered a Pimm’s cup and a light salad, smiling to myself the whole time.
Calling myself an adventurer would be a slight exaggeration. I definitely partake in adventuring but it is very planned. I’m checking the websites, I’m seeing if there’s parking, I’m reading the reviews and ignoring them. But catch me on vacation? Oh, you’re seeing a different Abby. There is a balance between seeing, doing, and relaxing on vacation. Vacation Abby is so chill, spontaneous even! You want to go for an impromptu walk? Say less! Recently though, my body has enjoyed letting me know it’s getting older very… forcefully. Nonchalant exploration has been harder for me and anxiety inducing. Instead, I take my time, stop frequently, and wear these shoes. They’re a godsend.
Inside my frequent stops I found gems. Colorful yet unassuming house siding holds historic homes and neighborhood eateries like Alma. It begs you to judge a book by its cover, and delivers a surprise every time. Houses that serve tacos with twinkle lights and heavy poured margaritas like Rosalita’s. Go pick up a Barq’s Root Beer at the corner store (specifically The Orange Store), only to find the best po’boy ever made in the back. Walk the neighborhood and find Loretta’s Authentic Pralines on Frenchmen & Rampart. Get a praline filled beignet. Grab a lot of napkins to wipe tears of unbridled joy and the mountain of powdered sugar that falls down into the front pocket of your overalls (me). Take the shakiest elevator ride up and over a bridge that leads you to the best view of the Mississippi River, where you feel small and part of it all at the same time.
Life here moves at its own pace. If it wants to move fast, sure. If it wants to move slow, absolutely. If it doesn’t want to move at all? Mind your business. Stores that should be open might not be open. Know why? I think you’re getting the hang of the answer. My little bit of meandering led my findings to be correct. Even when I made my way to Joy, we ended up spontaneously ice dyeing shirts in her backyard before rolling about town leisurely. You take the pace as is. Even if the pace is backyard ice dyeing (which was so fun!).
New Orleans isn’t pretty. It’s old and beautiful. It reminds you of that fact when visiting – its Parisian roots reflect it. Grungey, graffitied, narrow… and perfect. I find myself in love with a city and its food for the first time outside of my hometown. I know I’ll be back over and over again.
If you’re visiting New Orleans and want to stop at Joy’s favorite spots, check them out here!
Oh how I love this! We’re city twins, but reversed – I’m a New Orleans native in Chicago and share your sentiments about both cities. I never thought I’d love or truly feel at home in another city like I do NOLA, until I moved to Chicago. Such different places, but complex and beautiful in their own way. And comfy shoes are a must for getting around both! :)
Omg I love this so much!!
This is wonderful! I live in Chicago and knew I would LOVE New Orleans before I even went. When I finally got there, my love was solidified. Now I need to go back post haste!
Great post! I could feel the magic of New Orelans. I want to see your Ice Dye results!
I had to leave the ice dyed shirt there to get washed! So I would ALSO like to see the results, JOY WILSON *ahem*
oh, how I would love to meet Vacation Abby in NOLA sometime!
Oh my goodness I would love that! She’s a good time! She also WILL be taking a nap.
PRALINE FILLED BEIGNET.
Oh yes! 100%—thank you for saying it so well.
Thank you for an unforgettable lunch time trip to New Orleans. Loved it.
Hi mama!! Thank you :)
Felt like I was right there with her! Amazing use of words.
:) :) :) thanks Dad!
Abby-I really really appreciated this post. How you described your time, the FOOD and your adventures in one of my favorite places in America! Im heading to Loretta’s one of the days I’m in town to eat and enjoy a chocolate praline…..
Thank you so much! And I’m so excited for you over this beignet!
Oh man, I loved reading this. Also, lol me for not realizing you live in Chicago. Well, joke’s on them because I can drive to Chicago faster than I can drive to NOLA. See you soon? ?
South Side born and bred! Honestly, maybe I’ll come to you, it’s been a minute since I’ve been to Frothy Monkey!
Yes, please come to TN :-) AND I live right by a Frothy!
Do check out 3 Southern Girls restaurant, right outside of NOLA in Old Jefferson! The smell and feels are like stepping into your grandma’s home after church on Sundays!
Honey, noted and archived! I’ll make sure to check it out – thank you!
Abby, your voice as a writer welcomes the reader like an old friend!
Thank you so much!
Loved reading this! I’m ready to travel to New Orleans!
Ramona, I was born in New Orleans. Please check the weather before you go, the heat & humidity, it’s like walking through a “wet wool blanket”. Also, use the Streetcars they’ll take you through the French Quarters and The Garden District. I really enjoyed Abby’s article, she said it well! My favorite sandwich in the FQ’s is the Muffuletta at Central Grocery & Deli.
Thanks, Connie, I’ve lived in South Texas and currently in Oklahoma City so I’m familiar with humidity! Lol! I screenshot your reply so I can keep the information of the street cars! Thank you so much ??
I hope you do soon! Please PLEASE stay at the Hotel Peter & Paul. It makes the entire trip so dreamy!
Abby, I could read your writing all day, Thanks for this “offering” as Joy often calls it.
Love this writing! I absolutely relate to the adventure side when traveling and exploring… but yeah I’m reading all the reviews too! Thank you for sharing Abby! May our sensible shoes take us far.
Thank you so much! Sensible shoes have saved me. It’s TEVA’s and Chaco’s all summer!