This last February, my amazing girlfriend took me on holiday to the wonderful city of New Orleans, LA as a birthday gift. Of course, we made it a three day photowalk, as one does, and were able to drink in the city (both literally and figuratively). We spent the majority of the time trekking around the French Quarter, but that alone blew me away. The city, aside from culturally fascinating, was enchanting to all the senses. There was extraordinary music on every street corner! It didn't matter if it was a single fellow with a guitar, or a full bluegrass band. They were all worth stopping to listen to.
There is an unusual charm to the architecture and stylings of NoLa that is a curious mix of French style terraces & cobblestone streets, Spanish-esque festivals, Creole-American food & scents. If you walk around any European town during a festival parade, you would see the same scene of people looking on from their balcony. Even the tattered building faces hold a special charisma that make you feel the suffered history of this great port city.
And, just like any European city, there are churches a-plenty, and of coarse, the quintessential cathedral. Coming from NYC by way of Spain, I was much more used to Gothic style cathedrals. This cathedral looked great from up close, but as we walked across the street and up the step to the small park overlooking the Mississippi, we had to stop and stare as we finished our beignets (If you go, forget the hype about Cafe Du Monde... The best are at Cafe Beignet on Royale Street!!).
Besides looking at the buildings from the outside, it is enlightening to take a look inside, as well. There are old throwbacks to times all but forgotten, when the height of Creole lifestyle and American's fascination with French culture was thriving with a flare for fashion. The entire quarter was full of boutique shops selling early century hats, dresses, suits, and books, that I could imagine would only be deemed normal to don while in NoLa.. unless, of course, it's halloween or carnava elsewherel.
Outside of the French Quarter, we decided to visit the Oak Alley Plantation. This was an amazing experience that was bittersweet on so many levels. For starters, as soon as you get there you are taken aback by the beauty and grandness of the grounds. As you explore the landscape, however, you are reminded of darker times, coming to terms with the fact that the entire property was erected by the labored backs of slaves. It serves as a very real wake-up call to how we see things and seldom stop to think about what we are looking at on a deeper level. Here's a bit of trivia about the place, however.. It was the location where they filmed Interview with a Vampire.
Last, but not least, we partied as one only does in New Orleans! We had bacon peanut butter burgers (yep, you read that right.. she absolutely LOVED it, I thought it was aaaight), partook of some deep green Absenthe, and even went all night walking around Bourbon Street on a guided ghost tour with a world famous Hurricane in hand. One cannot say he has had a Hurricane, if one hasn't had one at its birthplace..
It was a great trip, and well worth both living it, and shooting it. I recommend it if you haven't been there and figure 3-4 day should be enough to get it all in. I'm sure we missed some stuff, but I, for one, left a happy guy.
Buen Camino, FP