New Orleans | Essence Festival 2016

New Orleans | Essence Festival 2016
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As most of you may already know from watching my previous vlogs, I have been to New Orleans twice already since my birthday in December. Let's face it, I'm a sucker for a trip to NOLA! But this trip was different. Why? Because I've NEVER been to New Orleans during Essence Festival weekend. 

What I love most about New Orleans is the culture and the people; it's like one big family reunion. You don't need to book a "Tour of the City" or stop by to get the tourist shop for a map. The best "tour" is from the UBER driver or the couple sitting next to you in the restaurant. Everyone is just feels like a distant cousin; its unexplainable. Well, this trip I brought both of my cameras so I was able to get video AND photos! Yay!

DAY 1: 

This time I decided to fly to NOLA because driving just sucks. Driving to NOLA from Dallas takes about 8 hours versus flying to NOLA only takes about an hour and thirty minutes. Uh, I'll take the flight for $200 please!

Arriving, we decided to catch a cab to our hotel and in route we met our first cab driver, who moved to New Orleans 3 years ago from Russia. He kindly shared with us a few of his favorite restaurants to try while we were in the Big Easy, after we got settled into our hotel. We had the pleasure of vibing to Russian rap music! Which I can say, it definitely wasn't anything like Biggie or Chance the Rapper. 

Hotel of choice: Marriott Metairie at Lakeway. This hotel was absolutely stunning when you first walk into the lobby. The white marble flooring, gold accent pieces, STARBUCKS! Oh yea! Pink Drink on deck. But let me not fail to mention the amazing customer service! We were given the full itinerary for the Essence Fest and a physical list of restaurants that we should try. Clearly, you must eat everything while you're in New Orleans. Unless you don't like Seafood then.. just catch a cab back to the airport because you're in the wrong place.

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Marriot Metairie at lakeway hotel

The cab driver's suggestions and the list we were given at the hotel were pretty similar but one restaurant stood out in particular: Deanie's Seafood. Every time this place was suggested to us, their face would light up so we knew this was the place we had to go to first.

Heading to Deanie's we met our final cab driver (because we soon realized that UBER was much cheaper), Sarath. Sarath was from Sri Lanka but, he bled New Orleans and he didn't take any shit when came to his city. He shared with us some stories of being a cab driver in the drunken city and how he played no games about his city. He even told a guy that he would take him back to where he picked him up at.

Give me shit, I’ll give it right back to you with interest. 50% Interest. This is my city, don’t fuck with me or I will take your ass back.
— Sarath, The Cool Ass Cab Driver

Sarath was super cool though! He told us that it was a MUST that we visit his homeland, Sri Lanka because it was such a beautiful place. Oh yea, he whipped out his phone and googled some pictures for us to back it up. Of course, Sarath didn't allow us to leave without also suggesting what we should order once we entered the highly praised restaurant, Deanies.

The hype was legit! That food was the freaking bomb. The Barbecue Shrimp was soooo good and the shrimp was huge. I've never had shrimp that still had the head on it so to me it looked like an extremely large crawfish. Ha! Everyone we spoke with told us to get the Platter which came with fried shrimp, catfish, oysters, crabcake and fries. But, the really nice couple near us told us to try the Charbroiled Oysters. So, we got it all. Yes all of it! And we ate it ALL too. It was sooo good!

Romper from NayaVista | Camera: Sony A5100

Romper from NayaVista | Camera: Sony A5100

Day 2:

Before heading to Essence, I met up with The Notorious Kia to capture photos of her Meet-Up at Sally Beauty with Silk Elements. As you know I am a photographer so I love that I can go on vacation but do what I love which is network and take photos. So I'm glad that I was able to capture these beautiful moments for Sally Beauty.

Click here to view full gallery of Silk Elements Pop-Up

Time for Essence! Omg! I don't even know how to explain how much fun it was to be in such a powerful environment. I was able to meet some of the cast of Empire (not Taraji. *sad face*) along with Lee Daniels himself. *screams* That was awesome! He was so nice and so appreciative of us as his supporters.

It was so many things going on at once, I don't even know where to start so I'll just show you better than I can tell you.

Not only did I have the pleasure of hanging out with awesome influencers and phenomenal celebrities, there were also some amazing hairstyles in the building. So you know I had to capture! Here are a few of my favorite #FROtos from the Essence Festival. (S/o to Vashti for the new nickname - Frotos. Haha!)

CLICK HERE TO VIEW FULL GALLERY OF Essence festival

Day 3:

To wrap up such an amazing weekend I spent my final day in New Orleans at the New Orleans Natural Hair Expo Brunch kicking it with my boos! The brunch was awesome and it's always nice to hang out with my boos from Instagram. I feel like I know them because I talk to them so much online so when I see them in person it's like I'm catching up with long lost friends. The guest influencers for this year's #NONHE Brunch was Romance (@HeyCurlie), Yolanda Renee (@EtcBlogMag) and Jessica Pettway.

On the way out, I couldn't leave New Orleans without stopping by Cafe Du Monde! If you've never been to NOLA, you MUST get a Beignet from Cafe Du Monde on Frenchmen St. Its very similar to a funnel cake but way more sugar and fluffy like cloud. But as always New Orleans showed me a good time! Stay tuned for the vlog from this awesome trip! Are you subscribed to my channel? Subscribe here now!!

Watch: New Orleans Essence Fest Vlog