Oh man, where do I begin!?
My time in New Orleans may just have been the best week of my life. I’ve never enjoyed a visit to a city this much. Even Berlin. And you know how much I liked Berlin…!!
Firstly, there’s the gorgeous weather. Most days pushed 25°C. I almost bought a pair of shorts (ever tried to buy shorts in December? Not that easy!) and worried about sunburn because it was so hot. The climate really reminded me of Spain in summer. Isn’t this the USA in winter!?
Then there was the food. Gumbo. Beignets. Jumbalaya. Chicken and waffle. Bubba Gump Shrimp. Pancakes. Gator sausage. There were people in the hostel who had come to New Orleans especially for the food! And I don’t blame them.
I think most people have an idea what New Orleans looks like. Well even so, I was mesmerised by the architecture in the French Quarter. Iron balconies and porches covering brightly coloured houses with wooden shutters. Voodoo stores, covered markets and art galleries, too numerous to count! Then you go to the Garden District where you have the beautiful white mansions with the columns, porticos, lawns, porches, steps, iron fences, fountains and sculptures. The next block down is the Lafayette Cemetery, where crumbling monuments and mausoleums lean on one another. Streetcars rumble along the roads between these areas, transporting you back in time. Oh and there were lots of beads (some flying towards Jill’s head).
Music. Absolutely everywhere. Brass bands, passionate guitarists, mournful saxophonists, lively trumpeters, bouncing sousaphones and singers from another time! I’ve never heard such ubiquitous, good quality live music. The city beats to so many different rhythms. I heard reggae, country, jazz, big band and indie music all over the place. Frenchman Street was a complete delight. You could hop between live sets, converse with locals and drink regional beers.
I had the best hostel experience of my life in New Orleans. Clean, great staff, great location, awesome hang out spaces and comfy beds. And it was the perfect size. There were always lots of people hanging round at breakfast or the evenings, but it never felt hectic – it reminded me of halls or something. I met so many great people here! Karina, Kristen, Carissa, David, Liz, Dylan, Rita, Bradley, Helen, Lucy, Ben, Joey, Shira, Courtney, Gina, Scott… and more… plus Jill came down from Memphis to hang out, just after Sebastian had left for Florida. I spent almost the entire time in the company of fun, friendly, talkative and all-around awesome people. Which is easily why my visit here was so special. It was sad to leave everyone! It felt like one big family.
I spent days strolling around the French Quarter, lounging in parks and cafes (already missing the monkey milkshakes from Crepe de Ville). The evenings were spent either kicking back in bars listening to live music, or slurping hand grenades down Bourbon Street listening to live music (and a Burlesque Show). Understandably I wasn’t so energetic in the day times as a result.
One day Karina, Kristen, Carissa, Jill and I did a swamp tour. It was surprisingly beautiful, and we saw a bit of wildlife. A few gators even!
One of my favourite spots in town was City Park, specifically the sculpture garden. Reclining here at sunset was so peaceful, I was impossibly content. Just musing on how much I loved this city.