New Orleans had been another destination I was looking forward to on my trip. It is a hot, humid climate right on the Mississippi River close to the Gulf of Mexico which meant I could put away all my warm clothes and finally enjoy some proper heat. It is famous for its 24/7 party nightlife and its local food both of which I was more than happy to make the most of.
Much like the rest of the trip I only booked a flight and accommodation a couple of days before getting here. It has been a good way to go about it as I have been able to be more flexible on what I want to do and where I want to go, often based on local’s recommendations. Talking to people has been the best way to discover the hidden gems, the kind of places you will not find in tourism brochures. I wanted to stay as close as I could to the action of the French Quarter and Bourbon Street but didn’t realise how expensive it is, especially over a weekend. Without much choice other than staying far out of town I coughed up the $1200AUD for 4 nights in a hotel and don’t regret it after being walking distance from everything and without having to run into any trouble in the outer neighbourhoods.
It is like a whole different world down here, one with more fun and less ridiculous laws. Or at least less enforced. You can drink anywhere on the street, carry your drink out of a bar and into the next one, and many places stay open all night. The Australian responsible service of alcohol would have a heart attack. Yet funnily enough despite all the drunkenness I saw no arguments and no fights, go figure.
Bourbon street was the heart of the nightlife with live music in pretty much every venue, every place full of people both downstairs and throwing beads down from the overhanging balconies up top and cheap, strong drinks wherever you looked. I lost count of the amount of times in many different bars I asked for a beer and was given 3. When I questioned it I was told its 3 for the price of 1…
MyBar @ 635 always had a crowd as it featured duelling pianos with the very talented guys singing and playing only requests for tips from all sorts of genres, and playing them very well. Every few metres along the streets there were also street musicians busking day and night.
The french quarter was more than just nightlife and I spent my days, well afternoons…, walking the unique and skinny streets exploring. The history and architecture was very different to anywhere else I had been before with colourful buildings lining the streets, almost all with iron balconies and gardens. Horse drawn carts carrying passengers travelled up and down the streets amongst the cars. As mentioned, New Orleans or even Louisiana, is also famous for food and it was in these streets where you could find some interesting and amazing meals. I walked up and down Decatur St, Royal St and every cross street inbetween exploring and searching for some good spots. I never had a bad meal and tried alligator poppers, spicy boiled crawfish, shrimp po boys, blackened catfish, beignets, and plenty of creole dishes such as jambalaya, gumbo and etouffee.
On my last day I came across a jazz festival in the park, grabbed some food and sat and watched in the sun with many of the locals. Checking out of my hotel this morning the guy in reception couldn’t understand how I never made it to the free breakfast each morning which ran until 11:30am. I guess when I got home between 5am-7am every morning for four days straight getting up for breakfast was the least of my concerns.
Next I’m driving to the state of Florida to amongst other things join the college kids on spring break.