New Orleans. It was always on the list and there is one word that can easily describe the experience. Simply awesome (ok, that might be two words, but who’s counting?).
So what have I got to say about the famous (or should we call it infamous?) New Orleans or NOLA as it can locally be referred too! Try saying NOLA in a southern accent, makes you sound like a real gangster! One of the largest live music cities in the country, only seconded to Nashville I believe, there is a little bit of something for everyone.
The legendary Bourbon Street is full of bars designed to attract the tourists. Some decent live music bars, one in particular caught my eye on night two. A live music venue with duelling piano players. Basically, you tip and request a song, they then battle it out to play and ultimately get one up on each other. Good fun, but not the best New Orleans has to offer. If you want something a bit more original, head up to Frenchman Street. Here you will find all the regulars and those that actually live and breathe original NOLA. It was a real pleasure to see some genuinely amazing musicians who do it every day of their lives. We should all be so lucky!
As much as you might think, New Orleans is not just all about the evening activities and live music (although, that is a major part of their culture). There is so much history and things to do. The famous Cafe Du Monde being just the tip of the iceberg. Serving up their legendary Beignet’s that you hear so much about when you think ‘Louisiana and New Orleans’. Arriving in a matter of minutes, they are still piping hot and covered in more sugar than you quite know what to do with. One of those bucket list things to say ‘I’ve eaten a Beignet in New Orleans, check!’ Just across the square is the rather impressive Saint Louis Cathedral towering over Jackson’s Square erected to commemorate the historic Battle of New Orleans in the early 19th Century.
So what else is there to do? Well there is a pretty kick-ass zoo to hit up as well. This one even sports a couple of white tigers, along with a once very beautiful white gorilla. Unfortunately it died almost ten years ago, but it doesn’t stop the zoo from continuing to absolutely smash it on the marketing front. I almost felt cheated! In all fairness the zoo has a bit of everything and has been very cleverly split into different parts of the world. Want to walk in the plans of Africa, check. Traditional Louisiana, check. Tropical rain forests, check. Now I always said it would be hard to beat Barcelona Zoo on my trip there last year, but this came very close. Audubon Zoo, check it out.
I think it’s only fitting to talk about the Hostel, aptly named the India House. This place is pretty much THE party hostel of America. Pool, breakfast/dinner area, 5 minutes out from the French Quarter and just generally attracts some pretty awesome people. I did think we had just been lucky and been drawn by some higher power, but then I realised I don’t believe in all that. Great timing, great people, that’s pretty much it. By this point, the group had grown to 3 after meeting two guys from Oxford while in Miami (Matt and Jake). Since then we have attached a 4th (Victor from Holland), but I’ll leave his introduction for another time.
One extended night more and we found it hard to move on from New Orleans, but I think our bodies were ready and thankful that we would be having a small rest. Thank you New Orleans, you were truly awesome. Next up, Texas. Howddyyyyyyy!