The Sights and Sounds of New Orleans

Welcome to New Orleans! It’s a city rich in history and culture with its own distinct flare for music, food and a good time. I just love it!

This will be a somewhat different Alycat’s Walkabout blog post as I reflect back on my time in New Orleans as a disaster responder. I invite you to see how the city has changed since 2005 through my eyes and lens.

New Orleans and its people hold a special place in my heart. Almost 12 years ago, I was deployed on my first disaster mission for the American Red Cross to the area in response to Hurricane Katrina.  I spent several weeks working in and around New Orleans and even rode out Hurricane Rita with people I had been helping. It was a tense few days as Rita came roaring ashore, but I remember them fondly.

This was my first trip back to New Orleans since my deployment. In between work events, I stopped by a few of the places I had worked to see how things had changed.

A few of the photos I took during my time in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

A before and after of a local school.

Above: the deserted French Quarter a week after Katrina came ashore in 2005.

Below: a lively French Quarter eleven years later. The bubbles (and people) have returned!

One of the few places that stayed opened following the hurricane was the Famous Door. The owners welcomed in the military personnel, first responders, and disaster staff with open arms. When you had a day off, it was nice to visit the local places that were still open. The thought was that by visiting these places, we were also helping the community recover economically.

Below: a photo of me with a group of fellow volunteers back in 2005 enjoying a day off at the Famous Door. Above: a photo of the Famous Door on my recent visit. It was great to see it open and busy.

As I mentioned before, New Orleans has some incredible culture, and music is at the heart of it. Spend an evening walking around, you are guaranteed to stumble across some amazing local band jamming out.

You never know what you will find in New Orleans, especially in the French Quarter. A variety of street performers can be found on each corner. You may even be invited to crash a wedding parade!

I mentioned the rich history that New Orleans has. If you enjoy history, a great first place to stop is at Jackson Square.

Oh, the food! New Orleans certainly knows how to do food. Cafe Du Monde is famous for it’s coffee and desserts. The original location in the French Quarter is open 24 hours a day. Just be prepared to wait as the line is usually very long. I promise though, it is worth it!

If waiting isn’t your style, there are other Cafe Du Monde locations around the city and suburbs. While they are not open 24 hours a day, the lines are usually a lot shorter.

Antoine’s Restaurant is the oldest family owned restaurant in New Orleans. If you are looking for a nice meal, this is the place to go! While I am not a steak eater, I was told by several folks that this was the best steak they had ever had.

Looking for some good Bar B Que? Moe’s is the place for you! It was recommended to us by a local, and it certainly lived up to the expectations.

Our final meal was at Camellia Grill, which opened in 1946. This beloved local restaurant was closed after Hurricane Katrina and did not reopen again until 2007. It’s famous for its counter service and incredible food. The milkshakes… oh man. So delicious!

Of course, you can’t leave New Orleans without having a few of their famous pralines!

As someone who considers them self a huge World War II buff, I was greatly surprised to learn that the official United States WWII museum was in New Orleans. That seemed like an odd location to me until I learned about the huge role the city played in the war.

Higgins Industries, which was based in New Orleans, built many boats for the military during WWII including the Higgins land crafts that were used on D-Day. These ships played such a significant role in the war that Dwight D. Eisenhower was quoted as say that Andrew Higgins’s ship designs won the war for the Allies.

If you are a history buff or a fan of the history of WWII, I highly highly recommend building in at least half a day into your schedule to visit this museum. It is one of the best museums I have even visited. If you would like to do the movies, I recommend getting there earlier in the day as they fill up fast.

Thank you New Orleans for a wonderful visit. I cannot wait to get back!

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