Since I landed in New York – I was told by all of my American friends as being an incredible place to visit, and an amazing place to see! New Orleans certainly lived up to the hype – it was incredible, met some amazing people, saw some very cool things and had an unbelievable time!
Although to be perfectly fair, I was actually quite fortunate to make my flight from Miami – that was another unparalleled experience – there is something about waking up and thinking – damn I am supposed to be at the airport an hour ago, still c’est la vie – no regrets!
After landing and taking a quick nap I was ready to discover what this very cool town had to offer! I met some super cool folk in my room – polite, cool, amazing! I started with a pretty chilled night, spent the evening getting to know my fellow hostel guests and enjoying a few drinks – 1 gentleman in particular – David gets a special mention we had a lot of fun together realising how different our parts of the world are, and how different the ‘drink driving tests’ are here (good news is I would pass – better news is I would never drive to start with after that many beers)! Also got an insight into how to stay safe in dangerous cities American style (the answer was conceal carry :s)
The next morning I woke up and discovered that one of my roommates – Helen was heading out on a tour around New Orleans, I love walking tour and thought that this was a great way to get a good feel for the city! The walking tour was quite interesting – we had an incredible look at the French quarter of the city – influenced by the Europeans over 200 years ago it was an absolute jewel in the South of the US.
The walking tour also raised some interesting points about the darker history of the USA – in particular the slavery aspect was quite confronting, and shocking – to think that there are people who could treat other people like that. New Orleans was the slave trade capital of the USA. Not a great accolade to hold onto!
Fortunately, after the tour concluded we were able to enjoy things at a less confronting speed – namely the famous Mufaileitas (big sandwiches) that are legendary in these parts! Well worth it – a must try for any NOLA visitors!
After ‘lunch’ my buddy was heading to do a cemetery tour (a little morbid, yes) which turned out to be quite interesting. New Orleans was built on swamp land, as such burying the dead over 6 feet in the ground is just not a possibility so they are buried in tombs that are quite unlike anything else that I have seen! Essentially the coffins are put into the tombs for a year and a day, then at that time the bones are put below into the crypt, coffins burned and the tomb becomes available for the next family member!
Our cemetery tour also covered some of the interesting history that concerns haunted properties in and around the city. In particular, one story that perked my interest was that of the Lalaurie House. The home of the Madame Lalaurie, a wealthy French woman, who brutally mistreated her slaves by subjecting them to medical experiments, a truly despicable exercise and is one of Americas most haunted houses at the moment! (If you believe in that!
Later that night – I headed out with the hostel team for a few casual drinks, although unfortunately my daytime travel buddy and I got a little lost and stumbled into a jazz bar which turned out to be really cool – a great night, listening to jazz, trading stories and having a lot of fun. What a wonderful way to spend the evening – topped off by possible the drunk food that hasn’t caught on back home – wings – staple of the south!
The next day was a rough wake up to pitch to a new client in Dubai, but work aside – headed to the popular Café du Monde for the little diabetes dish on a plate that is an icon of NOLA! They are like a deep fried pastry donut – doused in icing sugar, America style! After that – caught up with some pals, Michael and Helen from the hostel to do a steamboat trip – a great way to see the city and get a feel for some more history!
A very relaxed afternoon steam-boating along the Mississippi River, enjoying a few cold beers on a beautiful Louisianan afternoon. After our boat trip we found our way onto a beautiful balcony overlooking the statue of Andrew Jackson. A great relaxing, and hopefully productive day – we will see what they say!
For dinner we met up with a buddy from Miami – Sam and headed to some traditional Louisiana BBQ at ‘The Joint’ – New Orleans’ best BBQ place. The food was delicious, the company brilliant, and was exactly what we needed to saite our hunger!
We spent the evening out with some of the guests from the hostel, having a few drinks and having a little more fun than we should have spreading tall stories amongst the American locals. Although early flights (and busses) for some of us meant it was not as raucous as the night prior. (The sting of Miami was still fresh!)
By the end of it – what a city, it certainly lived up to the hype, had a great time, met awesome people and I am definitely planning on heading back! New Orleans was a town I will never forget!