Hello everyone! My fiancé, Paul and I were lucky enough to have Joey and Amanda visit us in good ol’ Meridian, Mississippi. While there is definitely not as much to do here as there is in Miami, we were still super excited to show them around our neighborhood and take a little road trip with them to New Orleans (or Nola, as we insiders like to call it).
Amanda, Bentley (my first kitten), and Joey arrived to Naval Air Station Meridian at around 10 pm on Wednesday night and we rushed over to the simulator building. Wait, I feel like I should give a little background info here. My fiancé is a Student Naval Aviator and we live on the base. Right now he is training to fly a T-45 jet before he moves on to fly E2’s or C2’s. (It’s okay if this doesn’t make sense, just nod your head like I do sometimes). Before Joey and Amanda arrived I asked them if they were interested in checking out the flight simulator, after which, I am told, that Joey stepped on it and got them to Meridian even faster. So we got into Top Gun mode and rushed over before the building closed.
Joey went first since he was clearly the most excited. Paul taught him the basics on how to take off and how to roll, turn, etc. He ended up doing a couple aileron rolls!! Such a natural.
Then went Amanda….
Hahah just kidding she did pretty well actually! She did some rolls as well. Unfortunately she ended her simulator with the nose of the plane rapidly heading toward the ground, but we’ll just pretend it didn’t happen.
After the simulators we headed back to our place and got ready for our trip the next morning. Amanda and I had been so anxious to make a trip to New Orleans together for quite some time now. We’d been Googling and Pinteresting the best places to visit and drooling over what we found. Our drive zoomed by thanks to Joey’s brilliant idea of transforming the app “Heads Up” into a makeshift Catchphrase. As we drove into the city though, we were overwhelmed with excitement. I’ve always admired New Orleans and its residents for their absolute resilience and vibrant spirit. It is a city with so much history and culture and they deserve to be unwaveringly proud of it. Despite some of its painful history, and the history of the south collectively, New Orleans has managed to produce beautiful art, music, and celebration that draws millions to the city time and time again.
We decided our first stop would be the historic Garden District. We wandered and wove through the streets in awe at the beautiful homes with their iron lace balconies and pillars. One of the coolest parts was looking up at the trees and high points of the homes and seeing Mardi Gras beads still hanging. I thought it was beautiful that the residents (clearly capable of getting them down or asking the city to) chose to leave the remnants of celebration as badges of honor.
There was also the historical Newcomb house. Josephine Louis Newcomb was a philanthropist who founded and opened the first women’s college within a University in the United States. She opened the school in 1886 in New Orleans, LA shortly after her daughter died and dedicated the school to her daughter’s memory.
For Amanda, though, I think the coolest part was when she discovered that Peyton and Eli Manning’s childhood home was somewhere in the district (she is a major fan). We did some light stalking, found the address, and bolted to it. I’ve never seen her so excited for something that didn’t involve Johnny Depp or Pirates of the Caribbean. She posed for pictures in front of the home in a classic football throw stance (can you tell I’m super familiar with football lingo?).
Next, we made our way to the French Quarter. Through soccer and our various travels, Amanda and I have seen our fair share of cities, but this New Orleans and its French Quarter takes the cake. We started off on Decatur Street and rummaged through the gift shops, stopped to admire the works of art displayed by street artists (some of which Paul and I now own), and absolutely lost our minds when we came upon the original Café du Monde. Since I moved to the south (first Texas, now Mississippi) I had seen coffee shops and grocery stores sell beignets, but I vowed to save myself for a Café du Monde beignet. If you have never heard of one, I highly suggest you try one.
The store was so adorable, with its green and white striped interior and vanity globe bulbs lining the mirrors along the walls. We each ordered beignets, the boys ordered hot chocolate, and Amanda and I split a Frozen Café au Lait. Little did I know, Amanda had already had a cup of coffee in the morning, so she was a little wired for the next few hours. Which was perfect because we had so much more to see.
As we kept walking, we came upon a row of carriages drawn by what we thought were horses at first, then we briefly thought they were giant donkeys, turns out they were mules. I feel like this is one of those “you had to be there moments” but seeing basically a giant donkey pulling a carriage was one of the funnier things of the day. It may be because I think Donkey from Shrek is one of the funniest characters of all time, though.
Anyway, once we got past the giant donkeys mules, we saw the most stunning chapel sitting behind a beautiful courtyard and garden. Jackson Square is a historic park in the French Quarter, famous for being the site where the 1803 Louisiana Purchase was made, officially making Louisiana territory of the United States. The square is huge and breathtakingly beautiful. Behind the statue of Andrew Jackson (Battle of New Orleans hero and U.S. President), stands St. Louis Cathedral. The Cathedral is the oldest Cathedral in Northern America. The church was built in 1727 and dedicated to Louis IX, King of France.
We finally decided it was time to find our way to Bourbon Street. To be honest, I had not heard great things about it when I mentioned to neighbors and friends that I was going to New Orleans. But, I thought we’d check it out ourselves. It looked like a more crowded, condensed version of the other streets in the quarter, and was definitely the most crowded, but it was just as lively and beautiful. I will say their was a slight odor of puke on Bourbon Street, so we made it just a couple of blocks before heading back to our first love, Decatur Street.
After we got our fill of the French Quarter, we headed over to City Park where we’d heard there were picturesque bridges, ponds, and sculptures. The park was enormous, when we looked at the map I think there was something like three or four running tracks, we saw several playing fields, and there were even amusement parks to visit. As we parked we saw a sign for “Storyland” which looked like a page out of Alice in Wonderland. There were sculptures and landscapes out of different fairytales and nursery rhymes displayed amongst a lush garden atmosphere. Unfortunately, they were closed until the start of the holiday season, but we found our own little slice of fairytale with our Prince Charming’s elsewhere in City Park. We found a romantic path with a stone bridge and a group of huge trees ornamented with giant light up candy canes and stars.
As much as we’d like them to, beignets don’t quite qualify as a balanced meal so we started researching the best food in town. Of course in a tourist destination like New Orleans, every restaurant will boast the “Best ________ in town” in hopes of getting more people to stop in. Amanda found a place called St. Roch’s Market that sounded incredible on Yelp so we stopped in for dinner. St. Roch’s was such a cool place. If you’ve ever been to the Grand Central Market in Los Angeles or anything of the sort, this was kinda the gist of St. Roch’s but on a much smaller scale. There were bar top tables and stools lined down the middle of the room with different types of food/chefs lined up along the walls.
There was Barbeque, Cajun food, Mexican, Vietnamese, anything a hungry tourist could want. Luckily there was a bar in the back so Amanda and I could finally put the finishing touch on our trip and have ourselves a Mint Julep, like true Southern Belles. For some reason it never even occurred to us to look up the ingredients of the drink, but man was it strong. I think the both of us were tipsy like halfway through. Leaving Paul and Joey to deal with our hilarious antics (they love us).
Sadly, our night was coming to an end but to make it last just a little longer, we went back to the French Quarter for one more round of beignets and ate them in front of the giant Christmas tree. It sat up high giving us a perfect view of Decatur and Jackson Square across the road. There were garlands and Christmas lights wrapped around the pillars and gates, giving the night a soft glow. It was the most perfect ending to a perfect day.
Our trip back was weirdly much longer than the drive in, but we made it back home safe and sound and immediately passed out. The next morning we had breakfast at a restaurant on base next to the golf course and ponds and visited the airfield. We watched planes take off and land and took pictures next to the decommissioned planes displayed throughout. Paul gave us a brief lesson on the planes and glimpse of what its like to fly.
Too soon though, it was time for Amanda and Joey to hit the road and for Paul and I to head to the airport so I could fly back to California for the holidays and to finish planning our wedding. It was especially bittersweet to leave Amanda because I hadn’t seen her in so long but I knew we’d both be back in Los Angeles soon enough.
I hope you guys enjoyed reading this post and Amanda’s other posts as well. She’s an amazing woman the greatest friend I could ever ask for.
~~Amanda here! Isn’t Cynthia just the best!? I’m going to try and get her to guest blog a lot more! We didn’t stay in New Orleans but if our post about it has you dying to visit (it has me dying to go again for sure!) You can follow this link to see some of NoLa’s best hotels and steal some deals!