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Wild Weekend: New Orleans

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Wild Weekend: New Orleans  |  The Fresh Exchange

I hope y’all had an awesome weekend and you are hopefully getting on the other side of your holiday hangover. We just got back to Raleigh and couldn’t be happier to settle in for real, now that the holidays are over. To kick off the week, and the first real work week of the year, I thought I would share our December Wild Weekend with y’all.

As y’all know, we have given ourselves the challenge of taking a weekend trip every month, called a #Wildweekend in order to both creatively challenge ourselves to take more photos, and to prove to ourselves that adventure can come in big and small doses. Last month we went camping, but this time we decided to add some adventure in the middle of our road trip to Texas for Christmas and New Years by stopping in New Orleans for 36 hours.

Wild Weekend: New Orleans  |  The Fresh Exchange

This was my first time to New Orleans, but Mike’s family has been in Louisiana for generations so this was common ground for him. But this was the first time we had been together so it was a deep and meaningful visit. He shared stories about places he had seen when he had come before, and he shared about the culture his roots sprung had from. Listening to all of his stories and memories made me excited to experience the city when we woke up Friday morning. His great great grandfather was a ship pilots in the New Orleans harbor. We didn’t have time on this trip but he is buried in one of the ornate above ground grave yards that surround the city.

While we drove south, with the dogs in tow, we had that amazing experience that I only remember from Spring Break trips where you leave the cold weather and come into the humid, Gulf air. Even though we arrived in New Orleans at midnight we drove through town with the windows down listening to Texas country ballads. It felt didn’t quite feel like the weekend before Christmas, but goodness I wasn’t about to complain about 65 degrees at midnight on the 20th of December.

Wild Weekend: New Orleans  |  The Fresh Exchange

When we arrived we stayed at the Hotel Modern in the Garden District. It is affordable, accepted dogs for a minimal fee, and is an easy walk into the French Quarter. So, when we woke up the next morning we got dressed for the 80 degrees and 110% humidity and took the dogs for a walk to Cafe Du Monde. The whole time we walked through the Garden District I was smitten with the type, colors, and historic buildings. I kept thinking about the stories these buildings could tell. From the days of Pirates, to the floods, and heartache they must have seen.

Wild Weekend: New Orleans  |  The Fresh Exchange

The thing I instantly realized about New Orleans is this is a city that doesn’t fake it. The people here are real. The buildings are not created to be something they are not. The food embraces its roots. This city embraces its grit and I love it. Everything from the plants growing uncontrolled from every balcony to the way the locals sing, dance, and let loose. It is real and it doesn’t apologize for it.

Wild Weekend: New Orleans  |  The Fresh Exchange

After we nabbed Beignets and Chicory coffee from Cafe Du Monde (seriously so good you have to go!) we took the dogs back to the hotel to relax. They really are not much for the city life and were much happier snuggled in our bed. This left Mike and I free to explore the city more. We decided to take the challenge of strictly using our iPhones for this post. I know that may sound like a very small challenge, but Mike and I try to create these small challenges when we travel in order to push our creativity as well as find new ways to do what we love. We had recently watched Cory Staudacher, of With Hearts on instagram, in a Skill Share class on Mobile Photography, which left us wanting to try out some new ways of editing and shooting. It really pushed us to think harder about what we captured with our phones. Thus, even though we brought our Canon 5D Mark III with the 35mm, we decided to leave it in the hotel room.

Wild Weekend: New Orleans  |  The Fresh Exchange

The challenge brought about some of our best iPhone photos yet, I think. Every corner of this city is begging to be captured, but most of the time the truly small and beautiful details of a place are overlooked because we are not searching for them or allowing ourselves to enjoy them. With us both photographing we both were searching and watching for them. It was a blast to get lost in the French Quarter and find alley ways, markets, doors, courtyards, and shops that simply begged to be captured.

Wild Weekend: New Orleans  |  The Fresh Exchange

For most of the afternoon we wandered the quarter taking in the buildings and feeling as if we had escaped to the rawest parts of Paris overnight. There are not many cities, if any, in the US that feel this old and this much like being in parts of Europe. I know there are parts of Boston and Savannah that have this feeling, but this was my first time experiencing a city in the US that did still have such a European style.

Wild Weekend: New Orleans  |  The Fresh Exchange

Of course, you cannot talk about New Orleans without chatting about the food right?! As you wander the streets you smell honest-to-goodness po boys, crawfish being boiled, and of course the unique smell of cajun and creole spices. I always believe in the saying “When in Rome…” but as someone who doesn’t do great with southern food, I tried to find some happy medians in tasting the local flavor, while trying not to hurt myself. That being said Mike and I were told to go to Cochon Butcher, which was right by our hotel. There we nabbed local beer, split a Muffaletta, and had marinated Brussel sprouts. It was over the top AMAZING! Serious… make this place a stop.

Wild Weekend: New Orleans  |  The Fresh Exchange

We also were totally being killed by the humidity and heat that day so we decided to taste some local cocktails at Kingfish, which was on Anthony Bourdain’s list (fyi: every time we travel we check for his list for the city we are going to… never question his list, seriously it won’t steer you wrong). Sure enough we were treated royally there with not only the best mint juleps we have ever had, but also with some seriously great bar tending skills. If you are looking for a place to either grab dinner or just grab a cocktail this is a perfect stop.

Wild Weekend: New Orleans  |  The Fresh Exchange

Before we walked to dinner, we took some time to wander antique shops and other funky stores. The colorful buildings, the neon signs, and the old french inspired architecture were just the surface of the style and culture of this city. Hunting in the shops showed us even more of the secrets and voodoo this city holds. I always try to find an antique store in every city we visit because I feel they always tell you a pretty special story about a city.

Wild Weekend: New Orleans  |  The Fresh Exchange

After we hit our walking limit, we came back to the hotel and changed to grab dinner at Peche on Magazine Street. My friend, Cammie of Epicure Catering had suggested it. Like Bourbain, you don’t question Cammie. Seriously, this is who she rolls with when she is in NOLA. We got a late reservation and enjoyed one of the greatest meals of my life. The restaurant is VERY fresh seafood done in a simple beautiful creole way. We had amazing gumbo and hush puppies which were both super fresh. My suggestion though (because it was Cammie’s suggestion as well, and it was out of this world good… of course), order the crab claws in mint and chili from the raw bar… incredible!

After our meal we got some dessert to-go and ate it in our pajamas in our hotel room while cuddled with the pups. It felt like a super special 24 hour vacation. In just that small amount of time I felt as if I had been refreshed, inspired, and far more educated about a culture that is very special to my husband.

Wild Weekend: New Orleans  |  The Fresh Exchange

The next morning when we left, it was pouring rain, the streets were soaked and the temperatures had dropped. The city felt still, but the beauty shined through the dreariness of the rain. The streets still felt as if they held secrets that only streets as old as New Orleans can hold. This city grabbed on to parts of me I never expected. The Spanish moss dripping from the limbs of trees, the brass bands hollering the sounds of the good old days, the nods to the French settlers who brought this city to life, and the smells of flavors you will only experience here… that is New Orleans. One of the few cities still left in our country with true culture and a real flavor of its own.

Thank you New Orleans for having us, even for a short time. You were pretty amazing.

42 Comments

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  1. love the delacroix picture SO much. glad you enjoyed your trip!

    http://www.oolretaw.com/blog

  2. Gosh, I love the heck out of New Orleans. What a unique city. I absolutely adored the energy stirred from such a diverse history. Glad you enjoyed yourselves, too!

  3. Wow, wow, wow. I LOVE these photos of New Orleans so much. It sounds like you had an incredible time. I’ve only visited once and would love to go back one of these days!

  4. I love New Orleans through your eyes. I moved to New Orleans from Vermont when I was 10 (crazy culture shock) and lived there until college. It never really became home in my heart but posts like this one make me wish I could go back and try to see the city again as if it were all brand new to me.

  5. Looks like an amazing trip! We loved our meals at Peche & Butcher when we visited New Orleans in October.

  6. New Orleans looks beautiful as always, so much color and attitude. Great food selections too! I think your #WildWeekend idea is great. It is always nice to get out and explore, even if it is only for a weekend. I plan weekend trips for my clients all the time as an effort to refresh from the everyday grind.

  7. Beautiful! Can’t wait to go one day.

  8. Love, Love this post. I follow you on Pinterest and notice this, because a gf and I are going to NOLA for the first time this month.

    Such a lovely post. Love your pictures. (I am Pythagoras on Pinterest:) I think I found you from twitter!

    XO

  9. Wow when I first starting looking through the photos in this post, I was like, that HAS to be their mark iii. So I am totes blown away that these are phone photos. Thanks for the tips on that class, have just bough it and looking forward to getting stuck in. By the way, looks like you used some VSCO on these photos, no?

  10. Wow, I am just blown away by your photos! I knew New Orleans was a city with a lot of character, but I had never been there before to experience it. Thanks for sharing your Wild Weekend. :)

  11. So glad you had a great time in my hometown, photos are stunning as always!

  12. LOVE your blog, and the way you both challenge yourselves creatively! Keep up the great work.

    I work here http://www.travelmindset.com and http://www.iexplore.com ,where I manage their blog. We’re always looking for fresh content. Hit me up if you’re interested.

  13. Jen

    Hi Megan, I’ve been reading your blog for a year now and no better post than this one to be the first one I comment on. New Orleans has been my home for 5 years, and will likely be my home for quite some time – I’m so glad you enjoyed your time in this creative, entrepreneurial city. Your words and photos captured the essence of the city perfectly. And Butcher is my fave lunch spot!

  14. These photos are amazing!! And how lucky of you two to catch some pretty weather! My husband and I did the same thing right before Thanksgiving, but in the opposite direction – we live in west Texas and drove home to Tennessee for the holiday, taking a two-night stop in NOLA. The city is like no other. Unfortunately, it was so cold there that I didn’t take as many photos as I had hoped. Your post is making me want to plan another trip in the warmer months!! Beautiful work, as always – and thanks for the tip on Cory’s class!! :)

  15. New Orleans is beautiful. I haven’t been there since I was a kid but I still remember the vibe of the streets. The music, the energy, it’s great.

  16. Right?!?! I love it!

  17. Thank you!! So exciting you did the same! The drive from West Texas to Tennessee is a tough one. I am glad you had that stop to make a little more doable!

  18. So glad you commented! New Orleans is so special, you are so lucky to get to live there! And yeah I am still craving Butcher!

  19. So awesome! Shoot me an email and let’s connect!

  20. Yes! So glad you think they turned out so well. It was a really fun challenge. Enjoy the class! It is an awesome one!

  21. Oh that is so awesome!!! Enjoy it and make sure to stop at Cafe Du Monde

  22. I went to NOLA the last few years for Mardi Gras. This makes me want to take a road trip when things are much calmer. Awesome photos. You and Mike captured it so beautifully.

  23. Hey there!
    Loved this post about my city! My husband and I live here with our pup Indie. Your photos looked amazing too!
    Sara

  24. Ohhh! A lovely post. I am in Perth, Western Australia and never had any particular interest in checking out New Orleans, until now! Now I really want to go! Love your Wild Weekend idea.

  25. Wonderful photos!

  26. I love this post. I saw the pictures on Pinterest yesterday and finally had time to read it this morning. It always blows me away how intentional and beautiful each post is on your blog–I love that your posts of your travels aren’t the typical tourist shots but you focus on the little moments that make up the trip. You are both such an inspiration!

  27. This was so beautifully written! You managed to bring me back to my time in New Orleans last July. It is truly a city of a different vibe, one of the few that has character streaming from every crack in the sidewalks. One of my favorite places I’ve ever been to.

  28. Thank you!!! :)

  29. Love this post you guys! I have a feeling with our little guy on the way we’re going to have to make adventures happen closer to home – NOLA is definitely on the list. Did you happen to hit up any of the graveyards? I’m fascinated by them. Also, I started traveling with just my iPhone as a point-and-shoot last summer. It made me feel more comfortable going off the beaten path (like someone wasn’t going to mug me for my camera) + also made for lighter packing. XO

  30. thanks lady!! You totally should!!

  31. Totally and places like New Orleans that are all walking make it way easier to tote around a little one and there are hotels that are even more centrally located that I would suggest so you can easily get back for down time and naps between lunch and dinners and so on.

    We walked past a graveyard and wandered in one it was incredible. So creepy but way cool with the raised graves. You def have to go!

  32. i’ve never been to New Orleans but seriously I love these pictures! I agree with you as well regarding #wildweekends It’s so important to hash time out to work on your craft and on being adventurers.

  33. Oh, wow, looks like such an amazing city! What a fantastic adventure!

  34. WOW. you wrote a great blog post, I felt like I was there and it reminded me of going to The Key West.. some of that small city looks similar to New Orleans. I love how creative you guys are and always push to find new ways, its something Im trying to do.. I wish I had more time to travel, but for now I find creativity in other way.

    http://www.whimsicalappeal.com

  35. fantastic post! i was just in NOLA a few days before you & also had a wonderful experience at cochon! i was with a group of 9 for work so tried. alot of their menu (oysters, alligator, pork cheeks, beef brisket, twice-baked potato, & greens) and it was all AMAZING! gw fins was also superb! excited to go back to NOLA for another foodie adventure and try out cammie’s reco!

  36. Also, didn’t mean to make a bad pun with the “fresh” content line :P

  37. I love the color, texture, and mood of the series! Thank you for letting your blog a daily inspiration for me!

    http://urbanjunglefashion.wordpress.com

  38. hehe no worries :)

  39. Is that Cafe Amelie I spot in one of the pictures? My boyfriend and I had one of the most amazing meals of our lives at that place, and it is so beautiful right as the sun is setting.

  40. Amazing!! Thanks for sharing your vacay recommendations and beautiful pictures!!

  41. Hey Megan … We are headed to NO tomorrow for the jazz Fest !
    What apps do you use for writing fonts on your pictures?

  42. I upload all those graphics from my hand writing. You can use Over for fun graphics to add.

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