Welcome back to the Weekly Sip, y’all. It’s been a few weeks but I’m back with a fresh mind and lots of sips of new wisdom to share. Well, maybe “wisdom” is a stretch. But I’ve got things to say this week, so let’s get to it.
Anyway, I’m doing things a bit differently this week, because it’s good to mix it up sometimes. On this week’s Weekly Sip, I’m talking about a new adventure.
A couple weekends ago, I traveled to New Orleans with some friends from the Chattanooga FC supporter group. I’d never been to New Orleans, and I’d never traveled for a soccer match, let alone a match for a semiprofessional, 4th-division club. A group of 10 had gotten an AirBnB about 15 minutes from the French Quarter, and someone mentioned they had a spot open up. I gave it some brief thought, and within 20 minutes I was planning a weekend trip to the Big Easy.
I left that Friday night after work and rode down with two other friends. We arrived at the AirBnB house at 1:45am local time. We stayed up for another hour or so–what could it hurt, after all–then went to bed. I had to be somewhat rested for whatever New Orleans had in store for me the next day.
There was a little cafe and food store two doors down from the house, so in the morning I walked down to grab coffee and breakfast. I’d always heard chicory coffee was a “must” when visiting New Orleans, so of course I got myself a cup. Chicory gives a chocolate-like flavor that brings out the body of the coffee. It’s life changing and I need to find some in Chattanooga ASAP.
Chicory itself is a root that’s roasted, ground and added to coffee as a flavor enhancer. There’s evidence that wild chicory root was used in colonial America, but it became more prominent with the French influence in Louisiana in the 19th century. Blockades and trade disruptions during the Civil War prevented a lot of coffee deliveries, so people used roasted chicory as a substitute, or to make their coffee supplies last longer. When the war was over, chicory remained in Louisiana and New Orleans as a flavor preference rather than a necessity. Those people aren’t ones to let traditions slip away.
I spent that afternoon exploring the French Quarter with several friends from the house. The best way to experience a new city is to do what the locals do; in this case, that was get a daiquiri and a muffuletta sandwich and walk around. It took me a while to understand that it’s okay to walk around public streets with a drink in my hand, but that’s the magic of New Orleans. Everyone does it, so just go with the flow. When in Rome, as they say.
I was the only person in our group who’d never been to New Orleans. That afternoon I soaked in as much as I could. Even at 2:00 in the afternoon, Bourbon Street was hopping with people ready for a good time. If it was that electric at 2:00, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like 10 hours later. Jackson Square was equally beautiful and bustling, with tourists, locals, artists, street performers and everything in between. We were blessed with fantastic weather, so the city’s beauty was magnified tenfold. And of course we stopped for beignets, at a place called Cafe Beignet on Bourbon Street. That was one of my requirements for the trip.
After the match later that evening, a few guys from the house wanted to hit Bourbon Street for a night out. Earlier in the day, I’d been excited to experience Bourbon Street after dark. But after the long day outside and the match, most of my energy was drained and I could feel the exhaustion setting in. I don’t operate well on minimal sleep, so the rational part of me said I should stay in with the others, have some pizza and take it easy.
I almost didn’t go. I almost stayed in. But I was only in New Orleans for a weekend, and even though I already knew I wanted to go back, I didn’t know when I’d get that chance. When in Rome, I told myself again. So I ran a flat iron through my hair, touched up my eyeliner, put on a clean shirt and went out for the full Bourbon Street experience.
I’m so glad I went out. I would have missed out on one of the most fun nights I’ve had in quite a long time.
For the record, those people will appear on my blog (and probably my Instagram, too) more than once between now and August. Just saying.
Spontaneity isn’t in my personality. I’m a notorious planner and need to know what’s going on at any given minute. In the past, I’ve had a hard time letting go of plans and itineraries. I’m also cautious with my money. I don’t advocate for reckless spending, but that time, I was okay spending a little more for this experience. I came away with a ton of memories and new friendships that I wouldn’t have gotten if I’d stayed in Chattanooga for the weekend. My (too short) trip to New Orleans with some of the world’s best people taught me that it’s sometimes okay to let go and be spontaneous and go with the flow. It was the perfect break from my busy day-to-day life I needed.
Spontaneity is good for you. Maybe I should do it a little more often.
No other city I’ve been to had quite the personality New Orleans had, no matter the time of day. I saw a lot of the city, but not nearly enough to satisfy my curiosity and sense of wonder. I can check New Orleans off my “cities to see” bucket list, but I’m not done with it yet. I’ll be back, sooner rather than later.
Let yourself have adventures. Spontaneity isn’t all that bad.
When was the last time you made a spontaneous decision?