New Orleans, the inspiring city on the river

The twin bridges that cross the Mississippi River to New Orleans, Louisiana.

Sarah Sander

The twin bridges that cross the Mississippi River to New Orleans, Louisiana.

Looking out my car window, the view of the Mississippi River below sparkled in the morning sunrise taking on a pink and orange hue. I was on my way to one of the most beautiful historical riverfront towns in eastern America. Driving down the crowded streets provided me with a scenic route of all the colonial architecture, each street marked with a rusting sign stating the older names of the streets. Some of the buildings had been graced with an array of graffiti, patches of color exploding over the stucco exteriors. Getting out of the car and breathing my first breath of the town, I began my self-guided tour. Suddenly I was hit with color and the sounds of a jazz song filled my ears; I had found myself wandering down a street littered with artists with styles of every kind. Realism here, caricatures there, and just a splash of pop art, it was all down the street. I remember watching in adept fascination as an elderly woman wove and braided flower crowns for her kiosk. Being an artist myself seeing all the people creating and selling art inspired me and opened my eyes to art forms I hadn’t yet tried.

Wandering farther and deeper into the city, I was getting closer to the French Market, a center where different vendors come together on a daily basis to sell food and souvenirs. The streets were overflowing with people of every kind, others selling their goods from the small stalls, an array of new foods to try just waiting to be purchased by willing tourists. Nestled right across the street from the hectic market was a café, Café Du Monde, where the best beignets in town were sold. Patrons can sit in the outdoor seating sipping a cup of hot chocolate with a plate of the delicious pastry. My dad ended up buying a few boxes of the beignet mix from them.

When lunch time rolled around, the smells of all the different street food had my stomach grumbling. I soon found myself digging into a shrimp po-boy and a side of red beans and rice in one of the cozy café restaurants that sat right next to a busy street. I decided it was time to take one of the back walkways next to the river, just to the side of the hustle and bustle of the city. The light breezes carried a cooling river scent to passers-by, a drastic difference to the humidity of the crowds that flood New Orleans. In the distant haze I could just make out the fuzzy outline of the Crescent City Connection, the twin bridges that run across the Mississippi River, the same one I had crossed earlier that morning on my way to the city.

Walking towards a cluster of more secluded buildings,  I learned that they were entirely dedicated to groups of artists where they came together to display and sell their art. Right outside the building stood a group of collaborating musicians playing amazing street jazz- they looked high school age and I couldn’t help but think that if they joined a school band they would win all sorts of competitions. Spending the day wandering around had filled me with a warm and jubilant feeling

New Orleans is a fantastic city filled with new art, music, food, and amazing culture. Seeing all the art and hearing all the music, it dawned on me that these people were masters of their trade, making a living off of the very profession I wish to pursue. Seeing that they can make it in the world with art showed me that I can too. This trip that I took inspired me to continue chasing my dreams and goals for my future.