We thought we hated Tuesdays...until we stayed up for 24 hours on a Tuesday in New Orleans.
Tuesday is the pop quiz you never expect. It’s the sidewalk you’ve tripped over enough times to know better. It’s hidden fees and your local cash-only bar. It sucks, and you should see it coming — but it still gets you every time.
So when NOLA challenged us to grab some comfortable shoes and experience a New Orleans Tuesday for 24 straight hours, we immediately packed our bags. Were we ready to shake things up and break up the monotony of Tuesdays as we knew them? Absolutely.
Priya: By 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, I’ve assigned all my hopes and dreams for the week to 234 tabs and have already run out of unique ways to ask people about their weekend. Yes, New Orleans, you’re right. I do hate Tuesday. So I’m totally ready for you to show me what you got.
Jana: I think it's clear how I feel about Tuesdays:
So when NOLA challenged us to Make Tuesdays Great Again, I was skeptical. I was also cranky because I’m an anxious, 30-year-old piece of garbage. Being active for 24 hours sounded like a lot of work, especially on a Tuesday. What was I getting myself into?
Jana: Our producer, Jason, made us wake up to catch the sunrise — which in my world is way too early. I put on my best black T-shirt (the one I’d found on the floor while packing) and headed out into the day.
The four of us — Priya; Jason; our photographer, Sarah; and me — rounded the corner into Jackson Square. The sun was rising over the water. Suddenly this seemed like it might not be so bad after all. It was, in fact, beautiful? Priya looked great, I looked OK, and here we were, doing it.
Priya: There are very few times in life when I’m willing to give up an hour of sleep to see something that isn’t Beyoncé. Living in New York, soaking up the beauty of nature is something that I’ve learned to forgo. But there I was feeling spiritually awakened in the glow of the rising sun over the Mississippi River at 6 a.m. I felt like I was in a Disney movie, getting swept up in a ray of sunshine and spiraling slow-motion into the sky while shimmering and transforming into something else: a better person.
Priya: There are two types of people in this world: people who eat breakfast and people who don’t. I don’t care how much I oversleep or how early my flight is, I always make time for breakfast. I will risk being late to work and suffer the consequences. I will not pass go, I will not collect $200, but I definitely won’t skip out on breakfast.
Jana: Post-sunrise, I was feeling very...something. Very full of life, you might say, and hopped up on pink sky. In general, I try to avoid doughnuts (or, at least, that’s what I tell people), but this morning at District Donuts, I didn't even care. The doughnuts were beautiful. They were delicious — otherworldly, even. One of them tasted like a kind of brownie batter I never knew existed and now couldn’t live without. I was happy...and full.
Jana: After doughnuts, we headed straight to yoga at The Cabildo. I wasn’t so sure about this sequence of events, but I pulled my leggings over my doughnut food belly and headed for the Cabildo. As we came into our final resting pose, the street performers outside in Jackson Square started singing “I’ll Fly Away.” Sun and music poured through the windows, and I felt like I was floating.
Priya: The Louisiana Purchase was signed in this very building, and the room itself was drenched in sunlight and filled with the sound of singing from Jackson Square. Scrolling through inspiring quotes on Instagram on the subway has got nothing on this. THIS is the way to start your day off right. Maybe don’t eat doughnuts right before doing yoga, though.
"As we came into our final resting pose, the street performers outside in Jackson Square started singing 'I’ll Fly Away.' Sun and music poured through the windows, and I felt like I was floating."
Jana: Ever since childhood, I’ve feared the future and definitely had no interest in hearing about it before it happened — who needs extra anxiety when the present moment is so stressful as it is? — so you can imagine that I approached the palm readers in Jackson Square with trepidation...and a bit of an attitude.
Still, I held out my hand, gritted my teeth, and kept my damn sunglasses on. It turned out to be OK! A few takeaways: I will live to nursing-home age, I will have three kids, and either my partner or myself will own a business. All things I could live with! Especially because I’ve always planned to eventually open a knickknack shop called “Jana’s Funky Cottage” (and maybe I’ll do it right here in NOLA!).
Priya: You know when you’re walking down the street listening to your new favorite song on full volume and feeling alive? Exploring the French Quarter felt a bit like that, except you’re not just waltzing down the street lost in your own imagination, because everyone around you can hear the music too.
Priya: There are certain times when calories don’t count. Scientifically speaking, whenever you’re in an airport, during that time of the month, or if you find yourself in New Orleans. I told myself this as I ate another spoonful of warm pecan cake with dark rum reduction and butterscotch sauce with vanilla bean ice cream and spiced candied BACON. But in addition to butterscotch sauce, Brennan’s was soaked in tradition, and the walls of every room bursted with a story to tell. I made a promise to myself never to have a desk lunch again. I had tasted the good life, and nothing would ever be the same.
"You can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning." —NOLA waitstaff
Jana: We waltzed into Brennan’s hungry and were seated right away. The room was sunny and a beautiful, bright peach color, and our waiter was the most charming. We ate shrimp on spoons and the best fried oysters I have ever had or ever will have. I helped myself to the last one like a real jerk (#sorrynotsorry). I’m still dreaming about them tbh.
As we sat there eating fancy food fancily, a waiter came over and gently tapped my shoulder. “Did something fall out of your bag?” I glanced down to see the dirty sports bra that I’d worn during yoga casually hanging out under my chair. Even here in this beautiful restaurant, I was garbage. I held my head high, picked up the bra, and thanked the waiter like an adult. It was mortifying.
Jana: DAT MASK. It was only noon, and suddenly I was a person who thought she looked great in a costume mask? NOLA is a special place after all!
Priya: I bought a tin of traditional New Orleans chicory coffee after drinking multiple refills at Brennan’s. Seeing as how it was going to be a while before anyone flambéed anything for me, this was the closest I was going to get to a New Orleans breakfast back home. As an adult, relaxation is being buried under pounds of thick sweatpants and eating takeout Thai food. As a kid, though, relaxation is bikes. Hopping on a hot three-wheeler, my hair flowing-ish, I felt like a 6-year-old again.
Jana: As an adult, relaxation is being buried under pounds of thick sweatpants and eating takeout Thai food. As a kid, though, relaxation is bikes. Hopping on a hot three-wheeler, my hair flowing-ish, I felt like a 6-year-old again.
Priya: I felt gangsta AF lowriding with the wind in my hair... It felt like I was in a music video, so I made one.
Around 3 p.m. on a Tuesday, I’m usually on my third coffee and ignoring “storage is low” warnings on my inbox. Yet there I was, drifting out in the water, thinking about stuff in the sunshine, and definitely not pedaling. I was starting to realize that in NOLA, every day is approached like a Saturday afternoon.
Jana: All I’ll say is that I was really good at steering a paddleboat. Surprisingly good, given my issues with bikes and my general aversion to movement.
Priya: After stepping into Avery Perfume Gallery, I decided that I wanted to be the kind of grown woman who says words like “oud” and “notes.” When I was asked what scents I like, I panicked and reeled off words like floral, light, fruity, and, at my most eloquent, “not soapy.”
"There’s a real sense of pride and love for the city among those born and raised here, and everyone is eager to share their tale. Southern hospitality is a real thing, y'all."
Priya: OK, I’ll be honest: When I think of food at museums, I think plastic trays and bad lighting. But I was in New Orleans, and I should have known better by now. I won’t lie — happy hour at The American Sector turned into a three-course meal, and at one point, Jason asked whether it was a Saturday or Sunday. It was neither, but we all needed a moment to answer because we had completely lost track of time too.
Jana: By the time we were wrapping up, my face was flushed, and I was talking loudly about how much I wanted to leave everything behind and move to NOLA. “I HAVEN’T BEEN THIS RELAXED IN FOREVER!” I said to the table. Everyone agreed and also agreed that I’d probably had enough.
Priya: After our car ride to happy hour, I rapidly came to the conclusion that any conversation with people from New Orleans is storytime. Painfully forced polite conversations about the weather or traffic don't exist here. Every “Hi, how are you?” quickly unravels into a genuine conversation about the city’s history. There’s a real sense of pride and love for the city among those born and raised here, and everyone is eager to share their tale. Southern hospitality is a real thing, y'all.
Jana: The Columns Hotel was quintessential Southern relaxation. Night was about to be upon us, and we were ready.
Priya: In order to catch the sunset, we called ahead and placed an order at Frankie & Johnny’s. We arrived to find five pounds of crawfish hot and ready for us along with a tray and a quick lesson on how to eat crawfish correctly. Random acts of kindness aren’t random in NOLA; they’re just a way of life.
"Random acts of kindness aren’t random in NOLA; they’re just a way of life."
Jason got really into it and told us we couldn’t approach the lengthy process of eating crawfish from a New Yorker’s perspective. The time-consuming steps are what it’s all about. You’re supposed to take your time with each one, stare into their little eyes, and savor the flavor over a great conversation.
He ended up eating four of the five pounds of crawfish.
Jana: I loved The Fly. Priya and I took selfies because we ~felt like it~. It was perfect!
Jana: Quick. Change. We gave ourselves 10 minutes, and I basically swapped my sneakers for booties and my black T-shirt for…another black shirt. And off we went!
Priya: I’m still kicking myself that we didn’t get to dance the night away here. Fairy lights, jerk chicken wafting through the spring air, and a Colombian reggae band... I don’t have a boyfriend, but future fiancé (or Mum), if you’re out there reading this and want to throw me a surprise party, please do it at Paradigm Gardens and re-create everything about this evening.
Jana: “There are beers and sodas in the cooler and jerk chicken by the fire,” we were told as we entered. So was this like going to a party thrown by your closest friends who’d also hired a band? UM, YES. It was magical and a total travesty that we couldn't spend our whole night here.
Priya: We stopped by The Howlin' Wolf and tried alligator balls. Oh, no, wait, we didn’t because Jason wanted to show off that he could catch them in his mouth and ate them all.
Jana: I managed to snag a bite of the last one before it was thrown, and I’ll just say, it was…weird.
Priya: Weaving through the crowd at The Spotted Cat, I heard a fellow tourist shout out my own question over the music: “Is it always this busy?” He was met with “Yeah! It’s Tuesday night!” from the lady next to me. “Tuesday night” means something special here. This is a city where everything is slowed down and revolves around enjoying the present moment, whether it be good food, conversation, or, of course, music. Why speed through the week and live for two days on the weekend when you can enjoy all seven?
Jana: You know how sometimes after a long Tuesday, you just want to hear some good music with some good people, but there’s nowhere to go? This is not a problem people have in NOLA. I went to the bathroom and opened the door to find an old piano sitting there right next to the toilet. Are the people who decorated this place my soulmates? A bar that keeps the party going in the bathroom is a bar where I belong.
“'Tuesday night' means something special here."
Jana: While we danced around at d.b.a., I got to talking with an older couple, Chuck and Mourya. I asked if they were here a lot, and they said they came every Tuesday to hear Treme Brass Band. “We call it Treme Tuesday,” said Mourya. They moved here a few years ago from California because they wanted a more relaxed — and more fun — lifestyle. “It’s a welcoming culture as long as you meet it,” said Mourya, going on to say that she and Chuck have made amazing friends and had more fun than they ever imagined.
Mourya and I exchanged email addresses — she’s coming to NYC next fall, and I offered to show her around. Then I made them pose for a picture with me and made sure they knew that they are living examples of how I hope my fiancé and I turn out. And after we’d bonded, we danced.
Jana: This whole time, whenever I read the itinerary for our trip, I thought TACHOS was a typo and that we’d be eating tacos. Damn was I wrong in the best way. Tachos are like tacos...except on tater tots. YOU HEARD ME. It was like someone finally figured out the perfect midnight snack. I was born anew.
Also, I think I told my co-workers really personal stories, and now I’m embarrassed. To my co-workers: Sorry about those personal stories! We were all drunk, right?
Jana: I don't like to waste time in transit, and in NOLA I didn't have to. Whenever we weren't inside a bar, I kept my trusty cupful of beer and did the damn thing in the street.
"This is a city where everything is slowed down and revolves around enjoying the present moment, whether it be good food, conversation, or, of course, music. Why speed through the week and live for two days on the weekend when you can enjoy all seven?"
Priya: By 3 a.m., my old habits were kicking in, and I was losing momentum. We headed over to Buffa’s bar feeling a little defeated. The bartender told us that we looked a lot better than most people who come in, so there was that. I won’t lie: We ordered a huge flask of coffee, and Jana may or may not have taken a power nap. We left with this gem of wisdom from the bartender: “You can always help someone out, but you shouldn’t help them in.”
Priya: So, apparently, beginner’s luck is a vicious rumor because I didn’t win anything at Harrah's. I pressed a lot of buttons hoping that I was doing something right. Luckily, Jason came out a winner. It was only $17, but it was enough to fund our next stop. We felt like champions.
Jana: This was my first time in a casino, and I won 75 cents. (To be clear, I actually lost 25 cents — the game I won cost a dollar to play.) Still, I gotta say, it felt good to get those winnings. Damn good.
Priya: Beignets taste like happiness itself, but they are also impossible to eat “nicely.” Kinda like how it’s hard to eat popcorn without resorting to shoving a fistful into your mouth at once. So, yes, the moment a beignet came anywhere close to my lips, I made a huge mess. My black jeans were now white, and I had powdered sugar on my face, but it was 5 a.m., and I was trying to live my best life at Café Du Monde, so could I live?
"I wondered, briefly, if I’d ever retain information again."
Jana: In an effort to stay awake, Jason recited the New Orleans History Wikipedia page to us. Full disclosure: I retained zero percent of what he said. I wondered, briefly, if I’d ever retain information again. Then I reminded myself that I'm 30 years old and a self-proclaimed sleep addict who had managed to stay out until 6 a.m. and that I should be proud. So I took a selfie.
Priya: Remember that time we watched the sunrise in Jackson Square? That was YESTERDAY. I’m sorry to sound like a greeting card, and maybe this is due to the lack of sleep, but I feel like I’ve made a lifetime’s worth of memories in a day. And a Tuesday of all days.
As we took photos in our carnival masks among the tombstones and got all shimmery in the light of the sun, everything felt a little supernatural. I hoped I wasn’t about to transform back into my old self. I promised myself that I would make more of an effort not to drag my lunch back to my lair aka my desk every day and take a little time to enjoy the moment and maybe even talk to a stranger or two. I also secretly wished that our plane would be delayed by a few hours...or weeks.
Jana: This morning’s sunrise was different than yesterday’s. Yesterday, I was nervous and tired, completely unsure of what to expect from the day. Today, I was a new woman. Today, I had stayed up all night, made new friends, consumed unbelievable food, learned my future, stretched my body, danced, drank, and eaten tater tots covered in gravy. Today, I knew that I had to stop being so lazy and learn to drink in life. Today, I was wearing a mask in a cemetery.
We took our last selfies as the sun made its way into the sky. I felt closer to Priya and Jason and Sarah and, most importantly, closer to MAHSELF. New Orleans made me a totally new person in only 24 hours, and I can’t wait to go back.
While waiting in the lobby of the hotel with our belongings, we half-heartedly suggested it was time to grab a car. We were deliberately dragging our heels about returning to the airport and ~real~ life. Just as we mustered up the energy to do so, in strolled the man who had picked us up from the cemetery, no questions asked, at 7 a.m. He had remembered that we had a flight to catch and came by to see if we needed a ride. We were stunned by his kindness, but we shouldn't have been — because this is New Orleans, and that's a perfectly normal thing to do. Regardless, we were still overwhelmed and thanked him profusely as we walked to the car, loaded up our bags, and settled in for one last storytime.