When people mention New Orleans, it tends to evoke visions of musicians playing jazz and people having the time of their lives. This is a place that’s special to so many people who don’t live here that it’s almost difficult to remember sometimes that a lot of people do call this wondrous city home. I was in town for a convention, but as it turned out I was finished with what I needed to do a day ahead of time. I decided that rather than fly home early, assuming I could even get on a flight that day, that I’d just see if it was possible to spend a day here and try to experience New Orleans like someone who lives here. Getting a rental car was easy, as all I had to do was extend my current contract. I was worried about whether or not I could find a New Orleans hotel, though, as I had to check out of where I was staying.
Fortunately, I found HotelTonight. I logged on and within a matter of minutes I had found the perfect choice for me out of a wide range of New Orleans hotels. I couldn’t believe how easy it was. Before I knew it, I was putting my luggage into the rental car and heading to my hotel. I was going to see New Orleans from a new perspective, and I was really looking forward to it. The staff at the hotel were gracious and helpful, and they were happy to give me some ideas for living the “local life” in New Orleans. I was ready to roll.
Yes, the French Quarter is the ultimate tourist destination in New Orleans, but it was where my hotel was and I was also going to see it in the morning, when most tourists are still asleep. This was a different French Quarter than what I remembered from my younger days, for obvious reasons. Instead of booming bars and festive people everywhere, there were friendly locals inviting me into their shops to try their coffee and beignets. It was an interesting experience seeing the French Quarter from this new perspective. I’m glad I did so.
Not far from the French Quarter was the Garden District, an area of town that dates back to the early 19th Century. Like so many of the neighborhoods in New Orleans, the Garden District has undergone a bit of a revival in recent years, although it still holds onto its history carefully. Walking down Magazine Street, I couldn’t help but marvel at all of the different antique shops that I was sure were carrying items that would match perfectly with many of the nearby homes. I kept walking through a beautiful park where people were playing with their dogs and enjoying the sun. It was a picture in time.
Just a bit away from the Garden District sat Uptown, a part of New Orleans that seemed almost set off from the rest of the city, but in a good way. This is a neighborhood that’s filled with immaculate and stunning homes, many of which are 200 years old or darn near. I soon found myself on Freret Street, and I was happy to be there because it was lunchtime and I was ravenous. Is there a better city in the world in which to be hungry than New Orleans? I stopped in a local restaurant and had a classic bowl of gumbo and a po’boy that I’m pretty sure I’ll never forget. If I lived in New Orleans, I’d weigh at least 50 pounds more than I do right now.
I ventured out a bit to find my next stop, which was Carrollton. Carrollton is an interesting place in that it’s a college town, what with Tulane and Loyola here, but it’s also extremely laid back in terms of its vibe. I spent time on the campuses and made sure to pick up some memorabilia for my family. The schools were beautiful, the open spaces stunning and as I was walking down Oak Street I thought I was traveling back in time. This was quite a find and I can see now why so many young people want to enroll in these schools.
Anytime you need to take a ferry to get somewhere within a city, I’m interested. That’s why I decided to head over to Algiers. This was once a place that was basically nothing but industrial warehouses, but it’s been developed beautifully since then. I walked along the river and once again started to get that empty feeling in my stomach. I was going to find a place for dinner, and while looking around I knew immediately that I was in for the real deal. I was – the seafood was something special and I was euphoric as I headed back to the city.
As I made my way back to my hotel, completely full and happy, I reflected on the day I had spent here. It was exactly what I had wanted in that it gave me a slice of life in this wonderful place. I was also happy that I had worked with HotelTonight, as that made the entire process of finding a New Orleans hotel as easy as 1-2-3. I would definitely come back here, I thought, and I would do so with the help of HotelTonight.