We had not “traveled” for 5 years. Acquiring a second home and feeling obligated to maximize its use with limited vacation time meant that we spent “vacations” in Florida. Florida is, in most ways, not our traditional vacation mode but more just hanging out at the beach for 2 weeks! (Nothing wrong with that at all.)
So I was worried about returning to our more traditional vacation. It’s been 5 years since I planned one. We had gotten into the habit of doing National Parks out west. And had some amazing trips – southern Utah, Yellowstone & Tetons, Badlands & Mt. Rushmore, Glacier, Yosemite, Mt Ranier. Lots of day hikes – un-populated, stunning vistas, one-with-nature.
So, our first trip in 5 years? New Orleans (NOLA). What?!? Why did I pick a southern CITY to re-start this whole thing? Yes, it is one of the very few places my husband has ever mentioned wanting to visit. But, it’s a city and he hates crowds!
OK, I will plan just a long weekend to get me back in the vacation planning mode.
I worried about over-planning. Would I have us too scheduled and not allow for spontaneity? I’ve in the past been known to over-plan. OK, let’s be honest – I have every day hike pre-planned, every night’s lodging pre-set, every contingency thought through. Hubby is the more spontaneous one; actually he’s just not a planner.
On the other hand, I worried about under-planning. What would we do in the hours I didn’t have us booked on a tour or at a restaurant? Could we find things to do on days when nothing at all was pre-planned? Would we find decent places to eat (that we could get into!) on a holiday weekend?
How did the long weekend turn out? It was OK! I didn’t over schedule us. We survived each other’s company 24/7 in the stress of a city. We walked, we laughed, and we walked some more. We stopped to listen to street music and walked some more. We went to a couple of local festivals/art fairs we heard about (spontaneity!). We took the trolley to the City Park for breakfast (fresh beignet and café au lait on a shaded park bench… oh yeah). We learned that art galleries are closed on Sunday afternoon and an Art District with no art galleries open isn’t very interesting. Sigh. We sat and watched the Mississippi flow by. I used Open Table to snag last minute reservations at a place we heard about – one of our best meals of the trip.
He balanced me out when I got into a feeling-lost mode. I took quick turns off streets when the crowds got too intense. We were in bed every night by 10 PM.
Some things were amazing – oh, the food in NOLA!
Some things were depressing – panhandling and homeless abound.
Will our next trip be another city? Probably not. I’m thinking we have a few more National Parks to explore.
Will I continue to try and not over-schedule? Yes – I really enjoyed the slower pace that we had and the “we’re in this together” discovery feeling.
Should NOLA be on your list? YES! For us it was the food, the history, and the architecture. But the music would be on many people’s lists as well. A truly one-of-a-kind city.
Picture credit: Hubby! Sitting eating beignet’s in the park… the view.