When I think of spring, it brings images of sun and flowers and chirping birds. However, that’s not always the case. We just celebrated the first official day of spring with snowfall! No more snow in he forecast for next week but it does have several days with those little cloud & raindrop icons coming up. That’s spring for you, right? A mish mosh of blue skies and threatening clouds, colorful blooms and muddy puddles.
This crazy, mixed up weather is reminding me of another week in which it was supposed to rain for days on end. But it didn’t. I’m talking about my trip to New Orleans last year. Half of the week had rain clouds in the forecast. You know what we got? Sunshine and eighties every. single. day. We had one thunderstorm that lasted all of thirty minutes, I kid you not.
So, I’ve begun reminiscing on that week and thought I would share a few photos of the beautiful Big Easy with y’all.
On the first Friday evening of Spring Break we loaded onto the coach bus and got settled for the 24+ hour bus ride from Connecticut to New Orleans.
We were heading for New Orleans with Greek Intervarsity for a week of hard work, helping and learning from people in a culture different from our own.
We stayed at Camp Hope, which was once a school but now, post-Katrina, houses thousands of volunteers working in New Orleans each year.
On our first day in the Big Easy, we took a tour of both the French Quarter and the Ninth Ward, where we were working and staying for the week. I had gone on this trip three years earlier, during my freshman year, so it was fun to visit places again as a senior.
After a beautiful day exploring and learning about the city, we got to work. My group spent the week painting a house in the lower Ninth Ward. It was actually just down the road from the house I had worked on my freshman year. It was wild to go check out how that house was being used now, as lodging for volunteers. Our house this year belonged to a fabulous lady, Miss Donna, who cooked us genuine southern food for lunch everyday. Meeting and speaking with locals is the best part of the experience.
One evening, we all got cleaned up and put on our best (well, better than our work clothes) and went out on the town. We were dropped off in the French Quarter for a few hours to grab dinner and beignets (!!) and dance down Bourbon Street.
A group of us went a bit off the beaten path to a restaurant called Mulate’s and, if you are ever in New Orleans, go here! It is in downtown NOLA, the less touristy area. First of all, the food is delicious and, on top of that, they’ve got a live band and a dance floor! Between big bites we jumped up and joined the conga line full of people of all ages.
After we were filled with good food and great music, we headed towards Bourbon Street. I’d constantly have to do a silly run to catch up with the group after stopping to take pictures of the beautiful and unique architecture on every street corner.
I couldn’t leave New Orleans without stopping by Cafe du Monde to grab a bag of messy beignets and a cafe au laît. No matter how carefully I tried to eat them, by the time I reached the bottom of the bag, I was absolutely covered in powdered sugar. But that’s part of the fun of it!
Going on an alternative spring break trip is such a rewarding and eye-opening experience. You are plunged into a place and culture that differs from your own greatly but are able to build strong connections with residents and fellow volunteers. I’m so happy that I was able to go on three while in college.
I’m looking forward to returning to New Orleans solely to explore the city.. and eat all of the beignets I can everyday!
Have you ever been to New Orleans? What was your favorite part? Let me know in the comments!