New Orleans was so much fun I was ready to up and MOVE there. It always helps when there’s a good bunch of your friends in town, of course, but I had such an amazing time exploring this vibrant, diverse, talented, debaucherous, food-fest of a city. Next time it’s Jazz Fest – get yourself there!
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3 THINGS YOU REALLY CANNOT MISS:
PLANTATIONS | the tour driver and tour schedule were painful, but understated Laura Plantation and impressive Oak Alley Plantation are fascinating pieces of history in their own right. You’ll learn a bit about the lives of the families and slaves that lived there, and Creole culture.
HEART ATTACK FOOD | I’ve given the food its own section as there’s so many options to try, and therefore places to list. All will make your mouth water, all will totally over face you, and all will most certainly induce a food coma:
- Gumbo and Jambalaya combo at Café Morena
- Beignets at Café du Monde
- Muffulettas at both The Camellia Grill and Central Grocery
- More amazing sandwiches at Verti Marte grocery store
- Cheap as oysters at The Royal Oyster House
- fancy seafood bisque, crawfish popcorn and fried oyster taco at SoBou
- baked ham brunch at Mother’s
- fried chicken, rice and slaw with Gumbo starter at Coops
- late night burgers from Skillets food truck
BLOCK PARTIES | an amazing American institution, for me these potentially even trumped New Orleans’ Jazz Festival itself. Think dancing in the street, tables of crawfish, skipping rope crowds, pop-up bars, and an all-round awesome community atmosphere.
3 THINGS WORTH A SNOOP:
JAZZ FESTIVAL | this event had such a good vibe, held during the day over a Saturday and Sunday and ending fairly early – 9pm I think. We were lucky enough to see the legendary Fleetwood Mac and Hall and Oates, as well as New Orleans local and crowd-pleaser Trombone Shorty. Incredible.
FRENCH QUARTER | with Jackson Square as its centre this is most definitely the most touristy part, but with good reason. The buildings are fabulous and you won’t be able to put your camera away. Wander around and get eating. With the Jazz Festival being in town, we had live music at every turn, plus there’s a cute little French Market close by. Also check out: Louis Armstrong Park and St. Louis Cemetery #1.
MAGAZINE STREET | running roughly parallel to the Mississippi from the French Quarter, go on foot or by street car to explore this area of shops and bars. There’s a more authentic feel versus the slightly polished French Quarter.
3 THINGS TO STAY CLEAR:
HANGOVERS | as with the food piece, I just needed an excuse to list all the places we ‘sampled’. In New Orleans you can drink as well as still smoke pretty much anywhere you fancy. Forget inside/ outside laws. It’s all go here.
- Hurricanes at Pat O’Briens
- Yet more Bourbon at Absinthe Bar
- Frenchmen Street for a heap of great bars (Blue Moon, hipster Japanese bar, The Spotted Cat)
- Hand grenades Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop
- Tipitina’s for live music (we saw Cut Chemist and Charli 2na)
- The Sugar Mill for bigger names (Mos Def and Erykah Badu playing)
- A last call at Last Call
BOURBON STREET | you will end up here at some point, but for me famous Bourbon Street had definitely boiled over long ago in to the murky realms of stag dos and heavy vomiting. It’s not nice, it’s not cool, it’s certainly not classy. Head to Frenchmen Street instead.
REPUTATION | for the festival I was with a group, but I arrived solo and had been a little intimidated by reports of New Orleans being unsafe. It’s a city, so I’m sure it’s not sensible to wander around – especially as a female – at night. However I thought the place was brilliant and never felt any need for concern.
1 THING I WISH I’D DONE:
BATON ROUGE | is known as Plantation County, and whilst I did do a (slightly annoying and rainy) tour, I would have liked to have dedicated more time to finding out about the area’s rich historical past.
AND KNOW THIS: Louisiana is known as the birthplace of jazz; it also claims to be the birthplace of the U.S. opera with America’s first documented opera performance taking place in New Orleans in 1796.
–> –> –> Next stop The Lone Star State | Texas –> –> –> (post coming soon)