Please excuse the somewhat clickbait style post title, but I was at a bit of a loss how to describe our time in New Orleans, a city of Louisiana magic. The home of Jazz is heavy with music spilling from each corner, the buildings are redolent with French-style balcony railings perfect for people watching and Mardi Gras beads literally hang from the Jackson Square trees year round. Creole and cajun spices imbue meals with history, a melting pot of cultures mingle in amongst music notes that hover in the air and everyone we’ve ever known to visit talks about the city their eyes light up remembering the joie di vivre.
We wanted to love New Orleans. And we most certainly did. We adored our side trips (blatting on a boat through the Bayou to track down the coal-black eyes of alligators and a walk through the history of two quintessential Louisiana Plantations) but the city well and truly stole our wanderlusting hearts. With only 3 full days to spend in the city (2 full and 2 half to be utterly precise) we tried to fit in as much as we could, all the whilst dodging the rain drops that followed us over from Austin. After a 2-month drought.
(As a sidenote, this is city is where we watched the American presidential elections declare Trump to win, so it feels right to be posting about the magic of NOLA on such a historic weekend. There will always be hope in the amazing people of the US, no matter how his time in office goes. Look at how ‘Nawlins overcame and still is overcoming the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.)
Our favourite, absolutely must-do, have to revisit New Orleans spots were…
Taking a moment or six to fully appreciate the feeling of being on the banks of the Mississippi River (especially if you can’t spell it) before striding a very quick walk through the hilarious chaos on Bourbon Street
where tourists shot cheap, nasty liquors. (I think this might mean
we’re old and I don’t care.)
Finding ourselves aboard a sunset cruise on a real paddlesteamer, complete with jiving lounge band. Rollin, rolling on the river.
We discovered a little bar with a proper Dixieland vibe where saxes slid above double basses plucked with funk, toes tapped to the beat of washboards, trumpets danced and singers sang their hearts so blue. After a while we would then walk around another corner, and a brass quartet would smooth out the bars of a pop song before we mooched into a bar where the honky tonk beats were punctuated by lazy ceiling fans.
We luxuriated in the parade of live Jazz bars on Frenchman Street. We walked out of the pouring rain into the gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous velvet voice of Sarah McCoy a longtime regular of The Spotted Cat Music Club.
We had to try Cafe de Monde beignets heaped with powdered sugar and their Chickory laced cafe au lait (honestly, I preferred the coffee to the doughnuts but you can’t win ’em all) and then get lost outside of the French Quarter – there is so much more to this city.
(Just refrain from taking beignets into local stores though, the powdered sugar confections are clearly pesky menaces!)
Singing the Redbone’s Witch Queen of New Orleans at least 7 times.
I’m gonna tell you a story, strange as it now seems
of zombie voodoo gris gris and the witch-queen of New Orleans.
She lived in world of magic, possessed by the devils skew
from a shack near the swamp lands made of mudpie brick.
Marie stirred her witches brew…
Staying in a beautiful hotel like the luxurious and Great Gatsby-esque Whitney Hotel.
Finally visiting a Guy Fieri approved Diner’s Drive-In’s and Dives establishment such as the delectable local Old Coffee Pot, and eating Oyster Po’Boys as big as our faces.
Trying a helping of gumbo along with a healthy service of Andoullie sausage and (we did both at the Old Coffee Pot.) This lovely local spot deserves two whole visits.
Not, er, falling for the tourist-hustling antics of “hey man, I like your shoes…” and end up at least a dollar lighter.
People watching from a French Quarter balcony, iced tea in hand, as they get tourist-hustled with “hey man, I like your shoes…” and they end up at least a dollar lighter.
Instagram stalking your friend a week after she visited (totally by coincidence) – nb: absolutely optional
Popping into the Royal House Oyster Bar for a sundowner and their ridiculously good Bananas Foster Cheesecake. I still dream about this bar – and we walked in totally by accident rather than design, well the first time anyway.
Visiting one of the famous cemeteries to pay respect to a host of historical figures final resting places including Marie Laveau’s infamous tomb (we found a brilliant walking tour) including Nicolas Cage’s future white pyramid tomb and the clever, if creepy tactics used to strategically re-use the limited cemetery space of New Orleans.
Uncovering the real difference between Voodoo and Hoodoo.
Discovering the friendliness of New Orleans locals. From our sweet-as-apple-pie concierge who upgraded us and recommended us to visit his hometown on our way up to Dallas, all the way to the girl who rearranged our tours to suit the weather a little bit better.
Staying fashionable at all times*, even in the pouring rain (note how I accessorised the temporary rain mac to match the handbag tucked underneath my elbow.) #realtravel *technically not a place, but it’s my blog and I’ll write what I want 😉
Learning how allegedly the name Jazz derives from Jass, the jasmine perfume of prostitutes that frequented the rowdy African American music bars (or a Chicago Baseball team ball term depending on who you ask.)
Eating blackened ham, sunny-side up eggs and warm buttery biscuits for breakfast at Mothers Restaurant, infamous for their ham. Even when we were there, longshoremen fresh off the river in their wellies (gumboots) and plenty of
locals rub elbows in line with visitors, veterans, politicians and
Riding the antique tramlines that criss-cross the city and nibbling a bag of caramel encrusted pecan nuts.
Spotting the Mardi Gras beads. Everywhere.
Learning the fascinating historical links that Jackson Square has had over the years – including from the 1920s through the 1980s as a gathering place of painters of widely varying talents. Oh, and the association with to quote our guide, a “rather dodgy” seventh President of the US, Andrew Jackson.
Our only regret was missing a visit to Mardi Gras World – the workshop/museum which gives a close-up look at some of the flamboyant floats and costumes used during New Orleans’ famous party. To book your own hotel stay (we paid for this in full) feel free to use the booking.com affiliate link here for your own magical adventure.
(Oh, and a bonus thing not to do – don’t accidentally drive on the tramlines – it was a rather stressful beginning to our roadtrip…)