New Orleans (or ‘Nawlins’ to the locals) is famous for their Mardi Gras, Hurricane Katrina, Bourbon Street, Ghosts, Voodoo and Vampires. Not so much a fan of the ghosts and vampires and I wanted OUT as soon as we found out our hotel was one of the oldest in New Orleans. But we held on and realised there were NO ghosts but that instead, New Orleans was a city full of soul: Home to some amazing street performers, Cajun food and Jazz.
Bourbon St – As soon as we arrived, we went down to Bourbon Street. Our hotel was in the French quarter, a block away from Bourbon Street and you could tell it was all happening down there. We got roped into buying three for one drinks (which doesn’t mean three drinks for the price of one, but three shots in the one drink) for $6!! There were street performers everywhere, trumpets and saxo-ma-phones playing in the background and every second bar had a mechanical bull. We couldn’t go without riding one in the Deep South and we found that tipping the lady who operated the bull went far. Jack managed 33 seconds on the bull, Gabe and I both made 12 seconds!! All in all, Bourbon St is good in small doses, a bit seedy and smells pretty awful, but it’s something you need to do. Check out Yo Mamas if you’re there – they have been the best burgers to date.
Segway Tour– The next day we booked in a two hour Segway tour to see Nawlins. The Stour took us through the French Quarter, into Frenchman street and down to the Mississippi river. It takes a while to get used to riding the Segway, but once you get into the motion, you can’t go back! Walking is never the same and you’ll want to Segway everywhere.Our tour guide Dawn told us Bourbon street wasn’t the be all and end all of Nawlins and that we had to get to Frenchman St.
Frenchman St. – That night we went into a bar called “The Spotted Cat” to listen to some Jazz and get out of the hurricane rains outside. A bit before dinner I managed to score a New Orleans Fire Department T-Shirt from one of its members, it’s amazing where a bit of banter will get you or in this case no banter at all…just a simple question. The conversation went something like this:
Me: “Excuse me sir, are you really a Fireman?”
Fireman: “Well looky ‘ere, how are you doin lil lady? Do you want my shirt?”
Me: “Oh no thanks, I was just wondering if you were really a Fireman?”
Fireman: “Do you want my shirt? Take it! Take my shirt (As he removes it..)
Me: [Blushes] “Ummm no really it’s ok…”
Fireman: “Take it! TAKE IT!!!!
Jack, Gabe and Angus: [Screaming] “TAKE IT KARLA, TAKE THE SHIRT!!!!!!”
So I took the shirt and he continued drinking shirtless…bizarre but it worked! And I have an extra gym t-shirt now
ATV Tour – What the hell is an ATV? It’s short for an All terrain vehicle. A big ass motorbike, with four wheels that I have never driven before in my life. It seemed like a fun activity on the brochure though and the gang were up for it, so we booked it in. The ATV Tour was supposed to take us to the wetlands of New Orleans to see some alligators. But this location was shut down because of the insane rains we got the night before, so we went to the “Backup location”. The Back up location was a tip, as in a rubbish tip. This concerned us a little, not likely to be many alligators at the local tip. However, behind the tip there was an abundance of dirt, mud, trees, lovely swamps, more mud, prickly trees and did I mention mud? I could probably count about 5 or 6 times where I thought I would die in mud infested waters, but my ATV magically pulled through. Almost every time you went into the swamps you’d start going, sink up to your knees, pull through, say a little prayer, sink in some mud again and pull through. Imagine doing this for 3 hours, it was exhausting, thrilling and lots of fun. Not sure if it was a tour that showed us New Orleans best, but we did see alligators and ultimately that’s what we wanted. It was an adventure that lead us straight to the Laundromat.
You can see more pictures of us on the ATV’s on their Facebook Page.
New Orleans was very different to every other part of the US that we’ve been to. There are a lot of French and Spanish influences that make it both a unique and charming city, but you need to push through the Bourbon street seediness. If you branch out and head to Frenchman and Magazine streets, you’ll encounter a whole different level of people and experiences.
- Check out the Carousel Bar – Expensive drinks, but is apparently the only revolving bar in the US south.
- Café du Monde – For some of their famous Café au Lait and Bignons (Delicious donuts)
- The House of Blues has some live performances some nights and tasty ribs.
- Magazine Street is great for shopping and restaurants.
- Avoid anyone wearing a ‘Party Parol’ shirt. Better yet, punch them in the nose