Today we’re visiting New Orleans.
I’ve only got two stops left in my American tales and I have been dragging it out because I don’t want to stop telling my stories! It will be truly over once I finish the last post.
New Orleans was not really on my list of “definitely want to visit” places in America. Before going, I would have easily swapped it for San Francisco or Los Angeles or Boston. However, Mr W’s brother, who gave us the excuse to travel to America, was studying at Tulane University in New Orleans on exchange so we had to go and visit. Also a positive was that we stayed with him in his house for free, so no accommodation costs!
We flew into New Orleans from Washington. Except, we didn’t. There are no direct flights between Washington and New Orleans, or at least none when we were travelling. So we had to fly to Atlanta and then onto New Orleans. It seemed like a complete waste to me, given the actual flying time was about 3.5 hours, but the travelling took all day because of airport transfers!
We arrived in New Orleans mid to late afternoon. We were pretty tired by this stage and I was looking forward to having some home cooked meals and relaxing a little bit. Mr W’s brother was eager to show us the neighbour, so he took us to this diner called the Camellia Grill a few blocks from his house for a very late lunch. It didn’t look very glamorous and after my experience with American food, I was sceptical. You sit at the counter and they take your order, while the chef cooks at the griller in front of you. They remember all the orders off the top of their head! I had a steak, chips and coffee milkshake and I swear it was the best milkshake I have ever had in my life! It was amazing.
We had a little walk around his neighbourhood after that, and I found a Walgreens (chemist) , where I stocked up on make up and laundry powder because I wanted to WASH ALL THE THINGS as we hadn’t washed since Chicago.
On the second day, we caught the street car into the French Quarter, which is kind of the main tourist area in New Orleans. We took a walk down Bourbon Street, the main party street in New Orleans. Full of bars, as is appropriate. At 10:00am in the morning, it was full of staff bleaching and hosing out the bars. The whole street smelled of bleach! Mr W’s brother said that he was a little shell-shocked to be seeing Bourbon Street sober, and it definitely was a little lacklustre without beer goggles!
Mr W’s brother insisted on us eating some of the local food, which for lunch on our first day, included what is called a Po’Boy. A sandwich, with meat (usually roast beef), served on a baguette. It is such a tradition, they even have a festival in November dedicated to the Po’Boy! I was sceptical, but I found it delicious. Also, it didn’t make me sick like 90% of the food I ate in America did.
We walked around, looked at a few galleries and admired all the beautiful buildings. As you can see above, the buildings in New Orleans have a very European/Frenchy feel to them. They areso pretty and quaint! We went to this awesome donut cafe, called Cafe Du Monde, where they serve beignets, which are essentially powdered donuts. Mr W’s brother said the lines are often out the door on weekends. The cafe was actually quite awful, dirty and crowded but, as a donuthater, they were DELICIOUS and totally worth it!
I got distracted with some shopping, bought up big in Banana Republic and got some Kate Spade sunglasses. I wanted to do some shopping in New Orleans, because Louisiana is the only state in America that refunds sales tax to foreigners. Notwithstanding all the receipts and forms I got filled in, I couldn’t find the tax refund place at the airport at 5:00am when we were leaving so I was ROBBED of my $50 or so of sales tax refunds!
Mr W’s brother then took us to the most magical place my sweet toothed mouth has ever been. Southern Candy-makers. OH EM GEE. The praeline was OUT OF THIS WORLD good. They are an award-winning sweet shop, and you can tell why. I went overboard with fudge and praeline. It makes my mouth water just thinking about it!
That night, Mr W’s brother had some sort of university function on and said he would meet Mr W and I at Bourbon Street after we had gone out to dinner. I was so pissed off, because I thought Bourbon Street was gross and for drunk, young people, something I would have enjoyed at age 19, not 26! So Mr W and I went to Oliver’s, a creole restaurant, where we ate three courses and cocktails for about $100. Another thing about New Orleans, it is dirt cheap, because it is not a major tourist mecca like NYC or Washington. The creole food was amazing too.
Anyway, we met Mr W’s brother at this bar, which was hidden on Bourbon Street. Basically, two pianists are up on a stage, and compete against each other in patron requested songs. I was soooooooo grumpy beforehand and taking it out on Mr W. Once we got to the bar, I was eating my grumpy words up because it was AMAZING. I did get a bit annoyed at one stage, as Mr W’s brother told the bar staff that we had just gotten engaged so he could get free drinks, one in particular called a “Hurricane” which seems to be a drink along the same concept of a Long Island Iced Tea. It was disgusting!
The next day we were supposed to go on a plantation tour. Long story short, our booking wasn’t received and the bus didn’t come to collect us. So we spent the afternoon walking around Tulane University and a couple of spots I wanted to see in and around the university District. New Orleans, in the nice areas, is such a beautiful city, big sprawling blocks with Grecian style columns at the front of white washed mansions. Beautiful greenery and gardens. Granted, we didn’t really go near the poorer parts of the city, but it was still beautiful.
We also had the opportunity to go to a Whole Foods store, where I purchased loads of stuff for Mr W’s brother to say thanks for having us. I spent heaps there, including picking up three Burt’s Bees lip balms for about $4 each (but I don’t really like them that much). We picked up some dinner from there, and while it was OK and great to have a home cooked meal, the quality of the meat, and fruit and vegetables, even from Whole Foods, wasn’t even a scratch on the quality of even supermarket produce in Australia.
We only spent two full days in New Orleans, but I was pleasantly surprised by it. I didn’t take many photos, which is a shame, but I was quite tired by this stage. I wish I had taken more. Such a beautiful city and lots to do. Whilst it wasn’t my favourite place we went to, I enjoyed it and would definitely go back.
Have you been to New Orleans? Did you like it?