Having Fun in The Big Easy

New Orleans. The Big Easy. N’awlins. NOLA. Whatever you would like to call it, New Orleans is high on the bucket for just about every American I know. When I found out that the NCTM conference was going to be held in New Orleans this year, a co-worker friend and I immediately knew that we needed to attend, and go down south to experience all of what New Orleans has to offer.
This flag flew above the USS Bayfield, and survived both the D-Day invasion in Normandy and a few months later during Iwo Jima. 
On our first day in New Orleans, we went to the National World War II Museum, which was unbelievable. Throughout the four building exhibit, they had so much memorabilia from the Second World War, and it was exhilarating to say the least. After going through the World War II Museum, we had lunch at Cochon (which I would highly recommend!) and then headed back to the hotel to get ready for the conference. Afterwards, we took a quick trip down Bourbon Street, had some delectable Hand Grenades, and had a splendid dinner at The Court of Two Sisters.
Had to get some authentic Louisiana food when in NOLA!

On our second and third day, we had the conference for the greater part of the day, which was extremely informational and interesting. I was also able to meet two of my “math-educator” idols, Dan Meyer and JoBoaler. For dinner on Thursday, we went to Arnaud’s, a famous French restaurant located in the heart of the French Quarter. To top off a delicious dinner, they had a small jazz band come to our table and play “when the saints come marching home.” Talk about having a genuine New Orleans experience!

The Jazz Band playing “When the Saints come Marching Home”
 Saturday was the last day of the conference, and, after attending the Pelicans game the night before, we were all really excited to check out the French Quarter Festival. To say we ‘killed’ the festival would be an understatement. We ate fried alligator, crawfish bread, beignets, and pork chop lollipops, just to name a few. In between all of the amazing food, we listened to some great jazz music, including a samba band from Brazil!
During our last full day, we got up early to have some world-famous beignets at Café Du Monde. Afterwards, we went to mass at the St.Louis Cathedral, which was beautiful. Interestingly, the cathedral has a flag for every country New Orleans has ever been apart of. We also had the opportunity to take a city tour, which included stops at City Park and a cemetery. Now, one may be wondering, why would you want to go see a cemetery when in New Orleans? You see, in New Orleans, everyone is “buried” in a mausoleum-esque above ground vault. It was really interesting to see how much different cemeteries are than the ones I am accustomed to up north. That evening, we had a chance to check out the world-famous “Commander’s Palace” Restaurant, which is where Emeril started his career. If you were looking to go to a place with authentic southern hospitality and food, I would definitely check this place out! Perhaps most notably, Commander’s subscribes to the ‘open kitchen’ philosophy, meaning that guests are allowed to freely roam throughout the kitchen at their own leisure.

 

The Commander’s Palace

 

Inside the Kitchen at Commander’s

 

At the end of the trip, it was clear that New Orleans lived up to the hype, and I already cannot wait to get back. Between all of the food, music, conferences and great people we met, it will most definitely be a trip I will never forget. As the French like to say, “Laissez les bons temps rouler.”

 

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