Travel Journal: New Orleans

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This is a guide for all you homebody introverts who love a good adventure and want to see the world, but don’t love being drained beyond reason by the time you get home. In this series, I share my city tips on how to conserve your introverted energy and have the best time ever all at once. YOU. CAN. DO. IT. Some people like to call this traveling, but I like to call all trips a vacation. Welcome to a vacationer’s guide to easy travel. You’ll see me uses (+) to denote added energy and (-) to denote lost energy. 

5 Things to Do:

Ferry Boat Ride ($2 each way) 
Energy Level: +5

Practical, relaxing and scenic all at once. If you decide to stay across the river from the French Quarter, this provides views, seats, and a very short “cruise” across the Mississippi. Bonus points for a sunset ride and enjoying the water.

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City Park + Sculpture Garden all at once!
Energy Level: -5

This is just a park, but it’s a pretty park with great trees, interesting sculptures, and a playground. It was fun to walk around this area, appreciate the art, and take a break on a bench every once in awhile.

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Bourbon Street
Energy Level: -10000000

We simply just walked down the street and looked around. Josh bought a drink at one of the stands along the street, just to have the rebellious feeling of carrying a drink in the streets. New Orleans is the only city that allows it, so it’s basically a cultural experience, right? This is loud, dirty, entertaining, fun, and mostly draining if you hate crowds, but love a good scene. Walk through it anyway.

Jazz Bars
Energy Level: +5

After walking along Bourbon street, listen with your ears for the sound of live jazz. I’m sure you’ll find it – just walk towards it until you’re inside and sitting. Ahhhh, jazz music and sitting and drinking. The best. Once you’re inside and find a seat, it’s very relaxing and chill. It’s just getting there that’s the hard part! We went to Fritzel’s and Maison Bourbon Jazz Club. We looked up other places, but ended up here using our mere instincts and grit (ears). Let your ears guide you, people!

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Harrah’s
Energy Level: +2

Casino. So, this only works if you’re with someone who likes to play cards or throw away money into machines. Josh likes to play cards, or that’s what I call it. 😉 This is inside, which was great on a rainy day. It was a surprisingly calming to be in a clean space that felt organized and maintained. (Contrast: Bourbon) This is also called #compromise. I don’t play cards, but had a leisure stroll around the casino and thought about taking a small nap in the bar area. (I didn’t. But I could have. It’s all about having that option, you know?) I ended up watching Josh play cards which was actually entertaining.

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Book Shops: Mid-City Book Shop & Garden District Book Shop
Energy Level: +5

I love a good local book shop. It’s hard for me to justify dishing out $20 for the latest book, so I rarely every buy brand new books. But, I love looking at the locally featured authors and the selection that each shop has. It’s quaint, quiet, and cute – and that for sure refills my energy for a bit. Bonus points for sitting and reading part of a book for a bit, too.

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5 Things to Eat:

Cafe Du Monde (+5)

The line goes by super fast, especially at 11pm at night. Or, it did when we were there. It’s worth the wait to get a table and sit down, don’t be deceived by the “to-go” line that looks shorter. In my opinion, it’s probably not. This gets a +5 energy rating because SUGAR COFFEE DOUGHNUTS, ya hear?

Hansen’s Snow-Bliz Shop (+8)

Refreshing, snowy, and yum. This is a shaved ice place, but with ice that is super smooth and flavors that basically make it taste like ice cream. Thus, it’s the perfect blend between shaved ice and ice cream. Aka the best things ever invented.

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Canjun Seafood (-5)

Crawfish is hard work, so there’s that. There’s no pictures of this because who can pick up a camera when your hands have absorbed all of the juices involved in crawfish. So very tasty, but so much work.

Restaurant Rebirth (+100000000)

An introverts dream! Small, quiet, not crowded, comfy, great bathrooms, and the best and most fancy seafood we’ll ever eat. This is a fancy pants place where you have to be prepared to spend a lot of money, but it’s totally worth it. If anything, you can save all your money eating just this meal and beignets the whole time. It’s worth it. Best and most fresh seafood we’ve ever had. Reservations only. Do it.

Mojo Coffee (+2)

Low key coffee shop that is spacious, has good bathrooms, and good coffee. We had to sit outside in the cold, but that was a small price to pay for the laid back atmosphere and break from the hustle and bustle of the city. Bonus points for reading a book for just a couple of minutes. It’s always worth it.

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Summary:

New Orleans is known for being a crazy party city, but with the right stops throughout the day and a little bit of research in picking out a cozy, yet lively jazz bar for the night, it’s totally doable. I didn’t feel drained at all throughout this trip and my husband Josh and I were quite proud of our ability to stay out #alldaylong. Feel free to leave questions in the comments below! Happy vacationing!

 

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H is for Help

Sometimes you can ask for help, and it’s actually beneficial. But, sometimes you can’t ask for help and you’ve just got to figure things out on your own.

When Josh and I went to Chicago with our friends Grace and Elizabeth, we learned this lesson the hard way. We decided to go on a tower tour, but granted that everyone else and their children wanted to go their too at precisely the same time, there was obviously a line. There wasn’t much we could do about it, so we just stayed in line and hoped that our rental car wouldn’t get towed if the parking meter ran out before we could get back to it.

The tower was super cool and totally worth it. But, when we finally got through with it, we realized there were about 10 minutes left on the parking meter and we were a whiles away. We walked at our fastest walking pace, until we realized that that wasn’t going to do us any good. We straight up started jogging through the streets because…why not?

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As we got closer, we started saying “Okay, good. We’re close. We’re close.” Except…where exactly was the car? I think it was the intersection of this street and that one. But, it wasn’t not here. What.

After turning down 2 streets, we decided to split up. Two of us running like lost puppies one way and two the other. Panting like a dog, Elizabeth and I finally found the car as we raced up to it and hugged it gently.

Now, I’m sure we definitely looked like we needed help. Lost tourists running around the streets with seemingly no end in sight. Yet, stopping to ask for help would not have helped at all. Nobody knew where we parked the car, not even us.

I find myself in this dilemma a lot. There are probably a lot of things that I could ask for help on. Things that I don’t understand or that I’m not sure about. I’m sure that I could take other people’s opinions for what they’re worth and form my own based on the information that they can provide. But, that takes a lot of time, and when you’re searching for something that only you know the location of, it’s kind of a waste of time to stop and ask other people where the car is.

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I began writing about this idea of help thinking that my story was all about the benefits of asking for help. But, I think there is something to be said for independent thinking and self-trust. I see this a lot in my students, where they will insist on getting help with something before they’ve taken several steps to figure it out on their own.

In the end, I think it’s a balance.

I think it is both. I think that knowing when to ask for help versus when to take things on your own is a skill that is important to develop. It’s not okay to not ask for help if your in an abusive situation. It’s not okay to not ask for help if you are struggling with a mental illness and there’s literally no physical way to change the chemical state of your brain. There’s a host of other situations where it’s not okay to not ask for help, I’m sure.

Yet, at the same time, it’s okay to trust yourself and be confident in what you know. It’s okay for me to recognize the unique experiences and skill sets that I have, and trust my own intuition and act independently.

For me, it’s easier to not ask for help. It’s easier to avoid difficult situations or find a different way if I reach a struggle that I need help with. Yet, I continue to learn this balance of judgment. Both in times where I’m forced to ask other people for help, and when I’m forced to find my own dang car and not ask anybody for help.

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