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  • Writer's pictureEsther Mehesz

New Orleans: Part 1 of 3 Unforgettable Explorations

French Quarter during Carnival season with Mardi Gras decorations
Ready for Carnival season in NOLA

Everything is scheduled as should be for this next leg of the trip. We get to New Orleans mid-afternoon and I am thrilled! I was supposed to visit New Orleans back in 2001, but then 9/11 happened and there was no chance that me and my parents were going to be flying 2 weeks after all of that. Well, only 23 years later, I finally made it down to New Orleans. Me, myself, and I make it to New Orleans, great! What could possibly happen?

Now, let's talk about our accommodation. I cannot stress enough how important it is to choose the right hotel in a city like New Orleans. I did my research and found a place that not only had great reviews but also had a location that suited my travel plans perfectly. The hotel I stayed at was just a stone's throw away from the French Quarter, where all the action happens. There is nothing better than being a short walk away from the buzz of everything. Perfect!

I've made it to NOLA, the hotel location is great, 2 for 2, we're on a roll.

Speaking of the French Quarter, let me tell you, I was out that door Tuesday afternoon ready to do a quick exploration before it started to get dark - I'll get into that in a little bit as to why that's important to me. Back to the French Quarter, it's as vibrant and lively as they say. The moment I stepped foot into the streets of this historic neighborhood, I was immediately captivated by the music, the colors, and the energy. The sound of jazz filled the air, and people were dancing (and drinking) and enjoying themselves everywhere I looked. It was like being transported into a different world. It was wonderful!

french quarter in NOLA
French Quarter in NOLA

And to top it all off, it was Mardi Gras season! More so Carnival season had started on January 6 so once again, perfect timing! Things were lining up. I had a chance to experience New Orleans, more specifically Bourbon Street during Carnival. Name something better.

If you didn't know, Mardi Gras falls 47 days before Easter which means that in 2024, it will be on February 13 (also Fat Tuesday). However, Carnival (also known as Mardi Gras season) is much longer than that and it's the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras. This year it's January 6 through February 13. If you can, GO during that time.

At the beginning of January, there are no parades but, as the time gets closer to the actual Mardi Gras day, parades start to kick off in the evenings too. But, Carnival season was just starting so they were just putting out the King Cakes as well since that's only available during this time. Mardi Gras season = King Cake season. It's a celebration like no other.

Once again, what could be wrong, I'm in NOLA during Mardi Gras season and the streets are lively, we're 3 for 3 for NOLA.

Now that it starts getting a little dark, I make my way back up to the hotel. This is one thing that I do when I'm in a city or new location for the first time and the first few hours. I don't go out exploring alone at night.

Travel Tip (for Solo Female Travelers)

Right Accommodation

I may be someone who goes a little out of their way to ensure safety, but I've been followed before (another post about that at a different time). But, to ensure a safe exploration of New Orleans, it is important to plan and take necessary precautions. One of the best ways to stay safe while traveling is by choosing the right accommodation. When selecting a hotel, make sure it is in a safe and well-lit area, preferably near popular tourist attractions. This will not only provide convenience but also ensure that you are surrounded by people and activities.

Be Mindful of Surroundings

Another crucial aspect of safety is being mindful of your surroundings at all times. While NOLA may be known for its lively atmosphere, it is essential to stay vigilant and aware of your surroundings, especially when wandering alone. Avoid dimly lit or deserted streets, and try to stick to well-populated areas. It's always a good idea to get a sense of direction of where you want to go without looking at the map on your phone constantly (that screams tourist), make sure your phone is fully charged (or have a power bank with you), and I even have a Birdie (if/when you pull the alarm to activate it - it makes a loud beeping sound and flashes uncontrollably) that I carry around in my pocket for added security.

Use Transportation Services

If you're not familiar with the area or unsure about certain neighborhoods, it's wise to rely on transportation services rather than walking alone at night. This will ensure a safer and more reliable mode of transportation. But even with this, do your research. I personally opt for Lyft over Uber.

Trust Your Instincts

Lastly, it's important to keep in mind that New Orleans (or any other city really) is a vibrant city with a unique culture. While it is generally safe, it's always a good idea to trust your instincts and avoid any suspicious or uncomfortable situations. Don't hesitate to ask locals or hotel staff for recommendations on safe areas to explore, as they often have valuable insights.

Granted there are many other tips for being mindful of your safety, but these cover a great deal of them. Your safety should always be a top priority while traveling - don't neglect it.

And I didn't neglect my safety. I went back up to the room, worked, and booked a tour for the following morning in the cemetery. I had a general plan for the following day once the sun would be back up. Exploring cemeteries, trying local foods, the Voodoo Museum, planning a ghost tour. At this rate, you would think we're 4 for 4 with things going well in NOLA!

Well my friend, get ready, tomorrow is about to ruffle some feathers.

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