I fell in love with New Orleans. That much I know for sure. The difficult part is identifying why the city is so special. Something about the combination of jazz music always playing somewhere in the background, the smells of creole cooking, the spirited and friendly people you meet on the streets, the Spanish colonial architecture, the French influences, or the many colliding cultures, ideas, and traditions that have merged to create a unique city with its own living, breathing identity.
I really had very few expectations for Mardi Gras or New Orleans. We received ample advice and warnings and heard many horror stories, but none of them came true for us.
Even the craziness of Mardi Gras (I will get to more on that soon!) was nothing but fun spirited and nothing like what I expected. Crazy, yes. Dangerous, no.
In retrospect, the best description I heard was from the local woman sitting next to me on the plane over. We were chatting about travels, and I asked if it might be similar to New Years Eve in Vegas. She looked at me and said, "It is like nothing you've experienced before. You can't describe it, you just have to live it."
So true. But I will still try to relay the experience! ;)
To kick off my sharing of the entire experience, here are some images of the lovely French Quarter, the backdrop for all of the festivities. Between the colorful buildings, patios, and intricate details it won me over instantly!