New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA)

Where do I even start?! As with Nashville, New Orleans was always on my bucket list and for good reason – it’s unlike anywhere else. It has a very French/fairytale/jazz infused feel it’s impossible not to love. There’s a big interest in the supernatural; graveyards, ghosts (you can even have dinner with one at Muriel’s in Jackson Square) and clairvoyants and it’s had a reputation as a “refuge for lost souls” for many many years. If you’ve ever read A Streetcar Named Desire it’ll feel like you’re in that book as you walk round, theres an actual ‘Desire Street’ and you can go to ‘Elysian Fields Avenue’, just a casual literature reference.

When we first arrived it was the hottest it had been for a few days, hitting the early 30’s as we wandered a Lafayette graveyard filled with beautiful historic above ground tombs which was interesting to see if not a little haunting. From there we obviously headed to a bar, where we had drinks in the sunshine and threw coins into a fountain as we made wishes. After a unanimous decision, we headed to a thrift store where we picked outfits for our first night in N’Awlins. We headed to the hotel to freshen up and get ready and we were blown away by the luxury that awaited us. After many nights in hostels and motels (all of which were really good) we were in a proper hotel with walk in showers and luxurious double beds. Heaven. There was also an incredible rooftop bar with live jazz music and a view of the city which was stunning at sunset. The link to the hotel is here if you’re in need of a recommendation.

So, let the first night begin. Apart from Nashville, this was the first city that we were really able to party in and let me tell you, we were ready for it. We met at the rooftop bar with sequins, fake moustaches, pleather caps, snake hats, Mardi Gras beads and moustache suits in tow. The crazy thing? We didn’t look out of place.

We wandered the French quarter and got hurricanes on the way to dinner. A hurricane for anyone that’s wondering is a strooooong cocktail made with various rums and we got them by the litre, literally. Jazz music filled the streets as we waited for a table at the best restaurant for gumbo and other Louisiana favourites. We were waiting a while, well, long enough for the hurricanes to take effect and for a group of us to pop to the bar next door to get some more rather strong but expertly and individuality made cocktails. Delish. The alcohol laws in New Orleans are such that you can walk from bar to bar with your drinks and it’s legal. Amazing.

After dinner we wandered, dipping in and out of bars to listen to jazz performers which were amazing. Street music, dancing, spoon playing and cartwheels were happening left right and centre – and that was just from our group. I’ll insert some videos below – even they may not give the whole atmosphere but they sure make me smile thinking back to them. The rest of the night was filled with dancing and drinks and laughter and it was one of my favourite nights on the trip.

On the left is Jess cartwheeling, the top right video is me and Jack – pretty sure I blacked out for the whole thing, I had no idea what I was doing (clearly!) it was like a crazy trust exercise, “just run!”, and bottom right is Jess and Jack playing the spoons. What can I say, we’re a talented bunch…

Feeling surprisingly fresh the following morning, we headed out in the blistering heat to get breakfast. We walked a fair way and I think it nearly killed a few of us off but we made it. I ordered the bananas foster which is bananas, cinnamon, sugar, cream and ice cream and it’s way too heavy for breakfast after a night out but it’s a New Orleans classic so I couldn’t miss it. And of course we had mimosas which kind of goes without saying.

Later in the day, Ana and I went to Mardi Gras World where we learnt why and how all the floats are made as well as getting to walk round the warehouse where they’re all made. Instead of a ticket to enter the ‘museum’ you get Mardi Gras beads which both Ana and I thought was such a novelty. Before looking round the actual floats and learning about the process they go through when they’re made you get to watch a video about the history of Mardi Gras. We also got to eat cake – if your piece had a tiny plastic baby in it then you were king/queen for the day. It was called King Cake. I know, New Orleans right?

I think we went out the second night as well but in all honesty I can’t remember much about it, I think it was more chilled than the first night but no doubt drinks and jazz still featured highly. Before we left we had to stop by the market and grab some beignets, deep fried choux pastry covered with powdered sugar, which were incredible.

“Laissez le bon temps rouler” translated as “let the good times roll”, the unofficial catchphrase of New Orleans. Add it to your bucket lists now.


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