Dadtography Travel: Once Upon a Time (72 Hours) in New Orleans
Dadtography is at it again, this time traveling to New Orleans, Louisiana. It had been a few years since I was last in the "Big Easy". My last visit was 2008, just 3 years after Hurricane Katrina. Much has happened to and within the city and I was excited to see how it had evolved during this trip.
New Orleans - Then (2008)
My last trip to NOLA was back when I was single with the person I was dating at the time. The trip didn't go very well. Actually, she and I broke up on the way home. So I was very eager to give the city another try.
I was also more prepared this time around and was anxious to explore the city with my new Samsung NX500 camera. Florida, and especially Orlando, isn't known for it's history, architecture or "character", so I was more than ready for a change of scenery.
I just knew this visit to NOLA was going to be a good one.
Looking for more ideas of things to do in New Orleans? Check out our post!
21 Awesome Things To Do On Bourbon Street, the French Quarter, and Downtown New Orleans
Where did I stay in New Orleans?
I prefer to walk in most cities, so I wanted to try to stay within walking distance of as many attractions as I possibly could. I chose the Hilton New Orleans Riverside, right in the heart of the central business district (CBD).
The Hilton New Orleans Riverside is ideally located for exploring on foot. The famous Riverwalk is just steps from the front door of the hotel. The Riverwalk may be known for its outlet shopping, but I much was on a different mission for this trip. I was in it for the views of the river and the green spaces along the path up-river from the hotel.
I'll save a hotel review for another time, but let's just say for now that the Hilton Riverside didn't impress me with its customer service. I've reached out to them to offer any assistance I can provide. I don't like complaining without offering suggestions to improve. I hope Hilton takes me up on my offer.
What did I do and what did I see in New Orleans?
Day 1 - Wandering the Riverwalk Area
My primary purpose of the trip was to attend a conference, however, I made sure to make time to explore the city - at night and during the day.
The first night in town, I started out on my own, wandering just to satisfy my wanderlust, but also looking for my first meal in the city. New Orleans, after all, is known for its awesome food!
I headed down Poydras St to Harrah's New Orleans where I duck into the lobby to snap a few photos and check out the lower floor. From Harrah's, I head down Fulton St to Girod St, where I snap the photo you see as the cover photo at the top of this blog post.
From there, I hang a left on Girod St back past the Hilton Riverside, to the Riverwalk area. I walk down by the river to the Canal Street Ferry terminal, where I snap a few photos of a riverboat tied to the pier. I also snap a ton of photos along the river and of the bridge not far to the south.
Day 2 - Jazz & swing dancing in the French Quarter
On day two - actually, that night, a group of a few guys and I went to explore the French Quarter of New Orleans. We wandered around until we found a spot for dinner, and all enjoyed our local faire. Then we set out once again in search of equally famous New Orleans entertainment - namely, a bar with live jazz.
We almost weren't prepared for what we would find, though.
We found ourselves at the corner of Frenchmen St and Chartres St in front of a bright blue building. A crowd had gathered around 6 or 8 people playing various instruments from a tubas to trumpets, a cello and trombone. They appeared to be an unorganized, impromptu band that just started playing in the street.
And they were awesome!
From there, we continued on for a bit and landed in a bar with a 3-piece band playing. This is pretty common, as we found, even on a Thursday night. The bad was decent and the beer was cold, so we were pretty content. The night was still young after our beer was done, so we decided to wander on and see what else we could find. We headed further down Frenchmen St until we ducked into our next New Orleans experience.
Now, part of Bamboula's being a gem is likely just fate and timing. Don't get me wrong, the club seemed very "authentic" New Orleans to me. Somewhat dimly lit, lots of brick and "character" and bar tenders that were actually nice! The New Orleans Swinging Gypsies were playing that night, and when we walked in at first, it looked like the other 3 or 4 clubs we walked into in New Orleans.
That all changed on the band's second set.
We had a fairly inconspicuous seat right up front over by the far wall. On the second set, the band began to play, and a couple stepped up and started to dance.
No, they started to whirl. They were spinning around the dancing area (not really a dance floor per se) like they had done that before.
Then a second couple showed up and started to dance.
Then a third. And a fourth. Until at least ten dancing couples were filling the 15ft x 15ft area in front of the band. Bamboula's was officially jumping.
It was at that moment that someone we had seen just a few moments ago strolled in from off the street. The trumpet player we saw in the impromptu street performance not more than 30 minutes ago wandered into the club and asked the band if he could play.
They obliged and he worked in with them. He was good - I never got his name. But his girlfriend sat next to me on the bench and explained that he had recently gotten off a European tour with Sting.
Sting?! Yes, Sting.
She also explained that a Swing Dancing convention was in town, which explained the 20 or so semi-pro looking dancers whirling about on the floor in front of us. The scene was amazing and I was snapping away with my NX500 like a crazy person.
I felt like I was in a documentary about Jazz clubs in New Orleans at that moment and I also felt like my New Orleans experience had been repaired since my original trip there in 2008.