Tuesday, 23 January 2018

New Orleans - The Big Easy - USA travel

It’s been three months since we left New Orleans, and its essence and energy continues to play on my mind and make me want to return. When we first decided on our two week-three destination trip to America, New Orleans wasn’t on the list. 

In fact, it was Houston that was going to be our second location of choice. Deciding that the Houston Texans weren’t enough of a draw for three days, I chose New Orleans as another Southern spot to visit. Although I still very much would like to drop in on Houston, I’m really glad we picked NOLA as our second choice.

When we first arrived in New Orleans after our late flight, we were a bit overwhelmed - this party Mecca certainly lived up to its reputation. As soon as we saw the city in the daylight, our worries disappeared as we discovered as much as there is a party atmosphere, there is also a laid back chilled side to the city.

We spent our days exploring by foot, going up and down the French Quarter’s streets, taking in all of the fantastic colourful houses. We walked Bourbon Street and picked up some alcoholic drinks to walk with (its totally allowed here and felt extremely weird), saw St. Louis Cathedral taking pride of place in Jackson Square and experienced some authentic jazz on Frenchman Street.

New Orleans is such a fun and vibrant place to visit, that I believe we just scratched the surface in what we managed to do. There were definitely some best bits of this part of our trip which include food, excursions and nightlife.

You can’t come to New Orleans without trying a beignet, I mean are you insane? These are small parcels of pastry deep-fried like doughnuts. They’re then COVERED in icing sugar. They’re definitely one to try when you’re in NOLA, but I have to admit, they weren’t my favourite. P.S our guide told us that these are the same all over town, so you don’t have to squeeze into the seating at CafĂ© Du Monde unless you want to.

This was a restaurant recommended to us by our tour guide, Bob, for our last night in New Orleans. It was seriously the Bees Knees and we wished we could have told Bob how much we loved it. We visited the restaurant in the French Market which was colourful, quirky and full of delicious Mexican food. As New Orleans is known for its seafood we decided to share a portion of fish tacos and also get a portion of brisket tacos accompanied by nachos and tableside guacamole. It was all amazing and we couldn’t get enough. I washed mine down with various margaritas and it was the most delicious meal.

This is one that I’d seen on Helen Anderson’s vlog and that we decided would be a good brunch spot. It is very busy at Ruby Slipper but they are super-efficient with their table system. They sign you up at the door and offer you the drinks menu whilst you wait. Our table took no more than ten minutes and we were soon seated perusing the menu. They have a great variety of choices and our meals were really good.

New Orleans is famous for being on the Mississippi River, so we couldn't visit and not take a trip. We chose to go on New Orlean's only steamboat, Steamboat Natchez, for an evening excursion and a fancy meal. A Jazz band was already playing by the time we boarded, so we picked up a drink and had a wander around the decks. It is such a cool boat with various decks offering a restaurant, bar, shop and the opportunity to see the engine room. The dinner was served in a buffet format with lots of delicious options. It was so nice to sail down the river seeing the twinkly lights of New Orleans whilst hearing the rush of water from the paddlewheel and the sweet sound of jazz.

Super City Tour
Late into our stay in New Orleans, and after wandering the streets of the French Quarter, we decided it would be a good idea to join a tour and learn some more about this fantastic city. Swayed by our hotel, who I'm sure will get a commission, we chose Grayline's Super City Tour. On this we were taken around the streets we'd already walked, learning more about the buildings and their history. We were also taken further out seeing some suburban houses and stopping at a cemetery and City Park. It was such a fascinating tour and our tour guide was a right laugh. We wished we'd gone on sooner!

This is such a quirky spot that I'm glad we spent some time in. When we reached Lafitte's we'd only had one drink, but their famous Hurricane pushed us over the edge in the high New Orleans heat. It was fantastic to sit in and enjoy the history of what is said to be one of the oldest bars in America.

Bourbon Street & Frenchman Street
When you hear about New Orleans, you are sure to hear of Bourbon Street, this is very loud, lairy and full of bars and places to dance the night away. "It's like Disneyland for drunks", is what a lot of locals would say. You definitely want to take some time to visit it as it is bucket list material. 

However if you find Bourbon is not your style and you want something more authentic and laid back, you have to go to Frenchman Street. Again this is something we only ventured out to later on in our trip and we wished we'd gone sooner. There are bars with live singers and bands blasting out all kinds of brilliant music. Not only this, when we walked down, there were performers on the street getting crowds of people dancing, stopping cars in the process. This is definitely what we imagined New Orleans to be like.

If there was any time to visit New Orleans, it would be this year. They're celebrating their 300th birthday, I know, who knew it was so young! If you're looking for a hotel, I'd recommend the Wyndham New Orleans French Quarter as it was perfectly located with huge rooms and lots of storage.

Let me know if you're planning a trip as I'd love to live vicariously through you!
© this Northerner.

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