The summer of 2015 is the time I believe I had the most intimate experience with the city of New Orleans (the touristy parts at least). The previous times I had been downtown New Orleans were with my family or through a double decker bus specialized for tourists. The tour guides on the double decker gave me a general knowledge of the city.
This year, I wanted something more authentic. So, I contacted a family friend, Mrs. Zulu. Mrs. Zulu is a local of New Orleans and is very passionate about her New Orleans culture. My friends, sisters and I decided to head down one early Monday morning to check what this unique city had to offer.
Congo Square (1817): Located on the corner of Louis Armstrong Park, this was the first place we visited during our tour. The Congo square was a place where by slaves gathered. It’s a symbolism of good and bad times for the African slaves. It was used by Slave traders to gather slaves for auctions it was also used by the slaves for communal gatherings. African slaves would meet every Sunday afternoon to trade with one another, socialize, dance, drum or create music (Congo Square, The Soul of New Orleans, 1817). The gathering at the Congo Square brought the African community together. What make the Congo Square important is its significance to African Americans and also the role “the Square played to the contribution of New Orleans musical heritage” which includes Jazz (Congo Square, The Soul of New Orleans, 1817).
Today the Congo square is a cobble stoned park that includes a sculpture of slaves from different regions in Africa
French Quarter (1718): Most of you are aware of what the French quarter is, based T.V. shows that showcase Mardi Gras and heavy party scenes. The French quarter is the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans. It is the top attraction for tourists visiting New Orleans. Walking through this famous neighborhood, we saw beautiful and uniquely designed houses which had European influences. All the houses were placed nearly close to one another probably to save space. What fascinated me was how they looked small from the front but through the tiny spaces between the houses, I could see how long they really were. The beautiful architecture applied also to the restaurants, hotels and other institutions located in the French Quarter.
Jazz Park (1994): New Orleans is the home of Jazz. Throughout our walk around the streets of New Orleans, Jazz was played in almost every location we visited. The Jazz Park was created to celebrate this ingenious musical form and its evolution. The Jazz Park is also located in the Louis Armstrong Park. . One of my friends is a Jazz aficionado, so she was really excited to be in the city of Jazz
Some notable Jazz musicians that hail from the city of New Orleans include but not limited to: Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bethchew, Champion Jack Dupree, Mahalia Jackson, Jelly Roll Morton and many more.
For other Jazz lovers, I recommend visiting Irvin Mayfield Jazz playhouse. It is located by the lounge of the Royal Sonesta hotel. Wanna enjoy an upscale retro-tinged Jazz bar with foods and drinks, then this is the place to be. What’s awesome is that they usually have free shows starting at 8:00pm.
French/Farmer’s market (1791): America’s oldest public market, the French market is a symbol of pride and progress for New Orleanians (About Us). The French market had a huge tent- like structure that consisted of business owners selling their fresh products and many more. Although I didn’t get anything from the French market, it was a pleasure walking through it.
Golden Feather restaurant (include restaurant link): This is the restaurant owned by Mrs. Zulu and her husband. Mr. and Mrs. Zulu have a little daughter named Sauraniya. Mrs. Zulu also lives in the same city as her parents and sister. The whole family helps in managing the restaurant. Before we had the tour, we met her here. What makes this place so enchanting and comforting is the air of New Orleans pride felt when walking in. Mr. and Mrs. Zulu are masquerade dancers, so besides serving food to guests, they are also giving a brief overview about the significance of their dance. The restaurant is very spacious with seating arrangements to fit about 30 people. It is a reservation only restaurant. The interior of the restaurant is decorated with artifacts from Africa and also the masquerades used for their dance. On the walls one can see portraits of dances the Zulu’s partook in and also portraits of famous celebrities who have visited. One of the celebrities I remember seeing was Angela Bassett from How Stella got her groove back. Masquerades of different bright feathered colors are placed in two angles of the restaurant. Each of these masquerades cost $10,000 to make.
We didn’t have the opportunity to eat at Golden Feather this year but I have done so before with my family. We were served with white rice, shrimp gumbo, and creole sauce for the meal and then hibiscus flower juice for the drink. I believe we had dessert but I was too busy devouring the savory sweet to take a picture or remember its name.
Golden feather is the restaurant to go if you want to experience authentic Creole/New Orleans dish with priceless information about this city not often mentioned.
For more information about Golden Feather visit: http://www.goldenfeatherneworleans.com/#
SoBou restaurant: So Bourbon or SoBou for short was a restaurant I recommended we go to after seeing it being mentioned on Yahoo travel!. Any one eating at SoBou would have the feeling of elegance when doing so. The interior has dim light bulbs on the wall encased in a glass refracting its reflection. This refraction creates an infinitive image to the light bulbs.
I ordered the Churasco steak a la plancha while the others had the Saffron butter glazed geaux fish. What we loved the most was the sweet potato beignets. I still can’t stop thinking about this delicious appetizer
. The meal was the perfect size for us because after eating we weren’t too full nor did we feel still hungry. Calm jazz music was played continuously during our time at SoBou.
On a scale from 1-10, below is our rating for SoBou
Design: 9.6 Fullness level: 5.3 Price: 6 Service: 9.6 Comfort: 10
Sucre: Walking through the streets of New Orleans, I could see the French and Spanish influences. It was on the names of the streets, the vocabularies of the inhabitants and also the name of the restaurants. Sucre is French word for sugar/sweet, so you can guess this is a dessert shop. I love milkshake so I asked my friend to google milkshake shop in New Orleans and Sucre came up. Sucre is a cute shop that offers a wide variety of sweets from Macarons to Gelatos to Milkshakes. Sucre is pretty big for a dessert shop as it even has an upstairs seating location.
Design: 10 Fullness level: 6 Price: 8 Service: 10 Comfort: 10
I think I’m a little biased here because I love desserts.
Audubon aquarium: Audubon is another neighborhood in New Orleans. In this neighborhood there are centers such as the Zoo, Aquarium, Insectarium, IMAX studio, and Park/Golf which all have Audubon before their names. We only visited the aquarium. After we paid for our tickets, a picture was immediately taken of all five of us. We saw an alligator, sharks, turtles, sea horses, penguins and almost anything you can find in the sea or lake. My favorite animal there was the seal mainly because she put on a show for us. I’ll give her the name Sally for now as I can’t remember her real name. An instructor would tell us about Sally and then instruct Sally to wave, give a high five or blow kisses to the enthusiastic audience. There was an option in the Audubon aquarium to feed and touch the sting rays; my sisters, friends did that but I didn’t want to smell fishy so I passed.
We had a great time here at the Audubon aquarium, I also had the opportunity to blow kisses to a frog in hopes of finding my prince charming. I am still waiting for him.
This was our experience in New Orleans. It took us about 9 hours to comb all through the places I listed above. There are so much more to still explore in this gorgeous city and I am definitely coming back to discover it.