It really shouldn't have taken me this long to write this blog post. The days have gotten away from me, but I keep having flashbacks about my first girl's trip.
Last November, I got a text message from my friend Lisa asking if I wanted to go to New Orleans, Louisiana for the 25th Essence Festival in July. I was ready for this trip before she even asked me. So, without hesitation, my response was yes. After watching Girl’s Trip with Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Regina Hall, and Tiffany Haddish, I wanted to see what NOLA and the essence festival was all about.
I began counting down the days until it was time for me to get on that plane departing from Virginia to somewhere else where I didn't have to work, cook, or study. I needed this long-awaited girls trip. I felt no guilt about leaving my husband and children because this trip was way overdue. As a wife, mom, student, business owner, with a full-time job, I was in desperate need of this trip. My children are older now and my husband is a great dad. So, I knew I had nothing to worry about and that he would hold it down while I was away.
When it came time to pack for this trip, I realized that I needed clothes. Working from home for the past 6 1/2 years has had its perks, but my wardrobe has suffered. I only had jeans, t-shirts and lounge clothes. Needed to go on a mini shopping spree because I knew I would need two outfits per day that were comfortable and light.
The night before my flight was a sleepless night. I was so excited about the trip and nervous that I forgot to pack something that I would need. When I checked in at the airport and made it through security, I was ready for what awaited me in NOLA. It would be six days and five nights away from home.
On the first night, we stayed at Hotel Mazarin on Bienville Street, right around the corner from Bourbon and Royals Streets. Amazing view! Felt like I was in the movie Girl's Trip. It was nice to experience the french quarters for one night. If you love the nonstop nightlife I would recommend it.
Dinner at the Gumbo Shop was spicy and and delicious. There was a courtyard area to dine but we opted for indoors. We were walking around the french quarters in all that humidity so we were going to soak up as much a/c we could.
Crab cakes smothered with shrimp and a strawberry daiquiri.
After dinner we spotted a group of guys playing street music.
Next, it was time for dessert at Cafe' Du Monde. A legendary French Quarter coffee shop. Make sure you bring cash. No credit cards accepted here.
Beignets!! Square pieces of dough, fried and buried under powdered sugar. You will need some water to wash this dessert down.
The next day we checked into Stay Alfred at Factors Row on Perdido Street. It was a convenient walk to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and Mercedes-Benz Superdome. This would be our humble abode for the remainder of our trip. An apartment-style hotel with 2 bedrooms, 2bathrooms, full kitchen, and washer and dryer. After relaxing for a little while, us ladies took a walk to the grocery store and picked up some breakfast items, snacks and most importantly...wine and alcohol.
During the day we enjoyed free events at the convention center. There were different stages with speakers, giveaways, and performances. It was a huge crowd which made for long lines. I was a little disappointed that I wasn't able to get into the Beauty Carnival. The line was too long and my patience wouldn't cooperate. There were also vendors selling everything from hair products, t-shirts, clothing, artwork, lapel pins, and jewelry. Oh and they had NOLA's best black-owned restaurants serving it up so we could explore the flavors of New Orleans.
As an aspiring writer, it was nice to see the table read for the show Grown-ish.
Now, let's talk about the concerts. Each night there were performances on the MainStage of the Superdome and in standing room only SuperLounges. We had some pretty good seats so I was okay with watching the performers on the main stage. The first night, LED screens above the stage displayed Prince's 2014 Essence performance. It felt like he was there the way his guitar cranked through the speakers. Pattie LaBelle unexpectedly graced the stage and was honored with a trophy. She was caught off guard by request for her to sing but blessed us with a few lines from her song "Love, Need, and Want You".
RBRM (Ronnie DeVoe, Bobby Brown, Ricky Bell and Michael Bivins) sang New Edition hits. Bobby Brown and BBD performed as well. Bobby Brown got a little emotional after singing "Roni". He mentioned the necklace he wears around his neck is in remembrance of his daughter, Bobbi Kristina who passed away a couple of years ago. Telling the crowd how she holds a special place in his heart. Missy Elliot did not come to play and wanted everyone on their feet for her performance. Timberland and Pharrell rocked it with their mega hits they produced. I didn't realize there were so many.
The highlight of Saturday night was watching and listening to our forever first lady Michelle Obama. She talked about her book, leaving the White House, raising daughters, meeting Barack Obama, and marriage.
It was interesting listening to her talk about how as a mother we are so used to putting everyone before ourselves. One day she thought about how Barak would do the things he wanted and go to the gym. So she asked him how does he find the time. His response was " I make time". That was reassurance for me that I need to make time for myself. As Wendy Williams would say "she's a friend in my head".
Let me not forget about Doug E. Fresh. He rocked it....as always! He said he almost didn't make it onto the stage because the people backstage didn't know who he was. How do you not know who Doug E. Fresh is, the original human beatbox?
So many other performers rocked the stage and I enjoyed every minute of it. I had the time of my life. What made this experience extra special for me was being surrounded by like-minded woman, sharing stories, great conversation, and laughter.
Now, I can check girls trip off of my 2019 dream board. This trip was a great escape from day-to-day life. Lot’s of laughter, good food, dessert, and drinks. This will definitely be an annual thing.
Looking forward to our 2020 girl’s trip!