My first visit to New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA) was a road trip with friends from Houston to the Essence Music Festival. It was a fun filled weekend with music, food, hair, bonding with friends and the hot, hot heat of the summer. The festival took up most of our time but between running from venue to venue, we strolled through the French Quarter, the oldest neighborhood in the city. There was an influx of tourists for the event but it was cool to see the city’s locals out and about too. I remember we parked my friend’s car in a neighborhood close by and as we walked to eat lunch, there was a family sitting outside on their porch. What struck us most was the fact that we could not understand a word that they spoke. Was creole at play? The accent? The language? They even said a few words to us. We just nodded and smiled.
The French Quarter was ripe with history in the architecture and even in plaques that were posted on the sides of buildings marking landmarks and streets. We didn’t have much time for a deep dive but I’ve vowed to go back to do the city justice by learning about its beginnings.
And did I mention the food? There were so many good places to eat in the heart of NOLA. My favorite was Cafe du Monde for the beignets (and sugar) and Willy Mae’s Scotch House. The former was a place that came highly recommended and the latter we looked up last minute. We waited in line for 1.5 hours but it was well worth it! They served up fried chicken and soul food and I thoroughly enjoyed every bite.
My very first Essence Music Festival was a very cool experience. Not only did I get to see a ton of celebrities and great musical performers (Tank, Jill Scott, Marsha Ambrosius, *The Roots* +Common +Nelly +Biz Markie, May J. Blige and Daley), I was so so so encouraged by all of the #BlackGirlMagic that surrounded me in all of its many forms, colors and styles. I certainly need to return to New Orleans for Essence Fest.
Where should I go next? Perhaps Philadelphia.
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