I've always dreamt of visiting New Orleans. In my 20's I envisioned being a part of Mardi Gras celebrations and partying with people from around the globe. Seeing New Orleans in my 30's, sober, and as one of many roadtrip stops, I'd say it was a completely different experience than expected.
We decided to try as many unique New Orleans dishes as possible and basically ate our way through the city.
We stayed at Pelican RV Park in what appeared to be a rough area of town, next to train tracks and below a couple of overpasses. But the manager was quite possibly the nicest guy in the whole city.
We wasted no time hitting the town on our first night and went to Frenchman Street to see some live jazz at Maison. This was my favorite part of our trip to Nola. The New Orleans Jazz Vipers were so smooth, there were live tap dancers, and the vibe was warm and welcoming.
The next day, our only full day in the city, we spent on foot exploring the French Quarter like any good tourist would do. We ate Beignets and Po'Boys. We visited the VooDoo museum and the VooDoo Authentica shop.
I can't help but say that the tourist appeal to VooDoo in New Orleans is weird and overhyped. The museum was small, overcrowded, and unorganized. But because VooDoo is a critical part of New Orleans history and the fact that the museum is cheap ($5) and somewhat educational I still say it's a must-do for tourists. We both agree that the shop wasn't worth making any special arrangements to visit though.
Nick and I (and MIA dog) did some serious walking around. We toured through Jefferson Square and saw the towering statue of Andrew Jackson, our 7th president. He is memorialized here for being the Major General in the last big battle of the war of 1812 that fended off the British from seizing New Orleans and the land gained in the Louisiana Purchase just a decade prior. I guess this historical monument held a little more weight with us after having recently visited his hermitage in Tennessee.
At least 4 times during the day, as well as once the previous night, we passed by an entire brass band playing loudly for a crowd on the street. Like little pop-up jazz concerts, these guys would be rocking out and drawing huge crowds! And sometimes the music also brought out the local crackheads for the ultimate experience in people watching.
Have I ever mentioned that people watching is our third favorite hobby? Well, New Orleans is right up there with Venice Beach, California.
And then we walked down Bourbon Street.
Hello Southern Vegas. How's it goin Vegas on the Bayou. What's up Alcohol Slushy Shit Show.
I'm glad we were there in the daytime on a random weekday, because I can only imagine the senseless debauchery that goes down there on big party weekends like New Years Eve. Every other business was a bar playing louder and louder music. There were alcohol slushy shops selling yards of guaranteed hang-overs every block. Bouncers were hustling the passerby's to get more business. Beads were falling from the balconies, and it's still 3 months until Mardi Gras.
After a quick siesta at the trailer we returned to Bourbon Street that evening to get fresh crawfish at Sinner and Saints, Channing Tatums restaurant. Sadly we got there too late and I didn't even get to see Magic Mike in person. Lame.
In our search for an alternate restaurant we passed by the row of Bourbon Street strip clubs only to find people grinding in the street in an X-rated fashion. It wasn't quite 8:30pm yet.
The next morning, December 30th, turned out to be our last morning in Nola. We wanted to stay for Dick Clarks New Years Rockin' Eve and see Panic at the Disco play in Jefferson Square but the weather forecast was calling for 100% chance of rain over New Years Eve. Neither of us wanted to be there for the festivities bad enough to risk being miserably cold and wet.
So we headed to the cutest neighborhood ever, the Garden District, for the greatest donut of my life . I'm not exaggerating.
We heard that no trip to New Orleans would be complete without visiting a cemetery. They are all built upward due to the fact the city is built on a swamp and coffins would flood causing them to surface during heavy rains. The ones near French Quarter threatened to be particularly crowded because of the famous dead people housed there, so we opted for Lafayette Cemetery in the Garden District.
Grey, stormy skies added to the creepiness of trying to find the oldest dead person on our stroll through the city of the dead. Several were buried here in the early 1850's. And many graves were completely trashed.
Sad that we didn't get to try crawfish before leaving N'awlins to head west toward California, we took a recommendation to stop for dinner in Lafayette at Crawfish Town USA.
Not only did I try crawfish etouffee, I learned how to pronounce it!
I realize we missed a lot on our quick visit to New Orleans, but am leaving feeling complete. We had an amazing time exploring and getting a glimmer of what this city has to offer. But it's time to move on.
California or bust! But first: TEXAS!