New Orleans: Mystery, Mystique, and Masquerade

New Orleans, Louisiana. It’s an interesting place, even when you are there as a young twenty-something and you end up consuming a lot of alcohol…

There is so much more to the city, but being who I was then, I didn’t have a huge urge to explore outside of the French Quarter. Though I did party a lot there, that also wasn’t my usual MO. Maybe that is why I have such fond memories of my time there, because I lived so differently during my short visit. I had such joie de vivre!

French quarter, my main squeeze in New Orleans

Besides drinking and dancing in the French Quarter, I took part in a few tourist activities. Above all else, I wanted to do a walking ghost tour. We were told deliciously spooky stories by a deliciously spooky guide.  The story of the Lalaurie house has stuck with me and still haunts my thoughts in the middle of the night on occasion. In a  nutshell, Madame Lalaurie was a very rich and very twisted woman who conducted extremely cruel experiments/tortures on her slaves. It still makes me sick to my stomach to think about.

I loved the French Quarter. It was just my style way back then. We ate at the famous Cafe du Monde. I had so many muffulettas, embracing the new-to-me food (and I didn’t even like olives back then). We had a bar that as “our” bar during our time there. There was a house band there that let me come onstage and dance. And we shopped for souvenirs. So many souvenirs! Because New Orleans had things I hadn’t seen in my (then) 22 years of life and the prices appealed to my inner cheapskate.

Masquerade, where the world will never find you

So what was so alluring? Masquerade masks of all varieties and porcelain theatre masks 🎭. They appealed to my inner theatre geek and desire to be a famous actress. Which I still thought I desperately wanted back then. Plus, the masquerade masks in particular, were stunning.

A porcelain mask like those found in New Orleans.

A porcelain mask like the kind I bought in New Orleans. Image courtesy of

That’s a heckuva bad trip… and not the road kind

At one point, I came out of a shop and a guy was standing just outside the shop, saying that someone was getting beaten down the way. There were more shops in the direction and clearly no crowd gathering around. There also weren’t screams from that direction and it was early afternoon.  We freaked out a little and went in the other direction. We eventually realized the guy had been on one heck of a bad trip (the drug induced kind).

Part of an epic road trip

My time spent in New Orleans was part of an epic, three week road trip that included driving through Alligator Alley (route 75) on our way to Key West , Florida.  We visited Disney World (for the first time!) and Universal Studios. I was so exhausted by the time I arrived in Key West, that I just wanted to go home. It didn’t have the same kind of allure it had approximately 2 years before, when I’d previously visited. It wasn’t as glitzy as New Orleans. Even so, Key West remains of my favorite and most visited destinations. It’s also where a boat tried to kill me

New Orleans was the highlight of the trip for me. I’d suggested it to my traveling companion when I realized it was within driving distance (it’s 10 hours closer than Key West) and I was so excited while planning the trip. It felt so amazing to get to visit a place I wondered if I’d ever see and I got to while I was still pretty young. Such trips seemed out of reach and here I was taking them!

Have you been to New Orleans? Have you had a trip that changed you in ways you didn’t expect?

4 thoughts on “New Orleans: Mystery, Mystique, and Masquerade

    • Natalie says:

      The porcelain ones were fairly small, more for decoration than anything. The feathered ones were more for wearing than decoration, though they had been displayed on the walls in my old house. I want to visit again, even if only for more masks!

      Thanks for your comment!

  1. Julie at FuninFairfaxVa says:

    I’ve been to New Orleans but not during Mardi Gras, and I was a little too old for wild partying. Can’t be the food and the architecture in the French Quarter. This year we went to Lake Charles for Mardi Gras—about an hour south of New Orleans and the second largest celebration in the US. It was really fun and not crowded with tourists..

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