New Orleans: The City of Sunshine

I had never visited any city like New Orleans before. It is such a combination of modernity and antiquity.

I booked a flight to New Orleans with other international students. We landed at 6 pm. The sun was going down at that time. From the window of the plane, I could see the sunset which was blended by blue, pink and orange colors. The last sunshine shone on my face, which made me think that New Orleans wanted to say “welcome” to us in a warm way.

After checking in at the hostel, we went to the Oceana Grill restaurant that was proud to be one of the most famous seafood restaurants in the US. As we expected, the seafood there was extremely delicious. I tried Fried Shrimp Po-boy, which was fried shrimp with cheese and french fries as well as baked bread. I was a fussy-eater when I enjoyed seafood because my hometown—Da Nang, Vietnam— had one of the most delicious seafood places. However, Oceana Grill and its seafood didn’t make me disappointed.

Because Oceana Grill was in the French Quarter district, the oldest neighborhood of New Orleans, founded by the French Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, we decided to walk around this area. The district still brought the classical French architecture with colorful houses and balconies full of flowers. The French Quarter is the most beautiful if you go in the morning. At that time, everything is immersed in sunshine, creating a poetic scene. I could imagine we were in a French village, where the artists would play guitar and sing many love songs. But if you go at night, the French Quarter is surrounded by colorful clubs, bars, and dance music. It was a very interesting district when the modernity and antiquity combined and just switch their positions when the sun went down.

I also visited Café du Monde—the most famous coffee shop in New Orleans with French coffee as well as beignets. It was so weird when I came to Café du Monde and met a lot of…Vietnamese people who worked there as waiters and waitresses. However, the coffee tasted strong and the beignets were big and wrapped by sugar. We brought coffee and beignets to Mississippi riverside, enjoyed the sun together and sang when the windblown our faces.

We registered a tour to Saint Louis Cemetery Number one. The cemetery was constructed for the first time in the 18th century. Most of the tombs there belonged to the French, who were the first people found in this city. Many tombs were constructed for an entire family, so their members could lay in a tomb together. I felt like they were beside each other until the next life. Most of the tombs were built as small castles with patterns and white colors. Their family, whenever they visit the tombs, always put flowers at the foot of the tomb. We visited the cemetery in the late afternoon, so it was a little bit scary. However, it let me know about the beauty of French architecture, even in a cemetery.

One of the biggest tombs in the cemetery. Photo by Mien Le.

Our last night in New Orleans we went to Amorino USA to buy ice cream. The reason we went there and not other stores was that they shape their ice cream as a flower. We were able to pick the flavors we wanted, then their staff would use a special tool to shape flower frames. It was late at night at that time; therefore, we didn’t have macaroons on the top of our ice cream. But if we had a chance to come back to New Orleans, we would come here in the morning to enjoy ice cream with waffles and macaroons.

The day I left, I just wanted to bring some sunshine from New Orleans and send it to Saint Paul. A city with French style in the west of the US, it was the city I never forget.