Following a fairly short-ish ride (circa 3 hours) filled with warning about impending hurricanes, we finally arrived at New Orleans – the home of jazz, distinctly tasty food, Mardi Gras and jazz! This was definitely one of the most-anticipated stops on our road trip however, we arrived truly tired after a very busy day, late at night and with just enough energy to get showered, caffeinated and head out to explore what New Orleans has to offer. Bit of a heads up though – all the photos on this post are off my iPhone so the quality is as of expected from a phone’s camera. 🙂
One you’ve been through quite a lot of American cities, you do start to notice a lot of similarities these cities have with each other – shiny glass and steel towers, clean(ish) cookie cutter streets and frequent spotting of familiar shopping brands. New Orleans is one of those few cities in the US that truly has it’s own identity which makes it stand in your memory long after you’ve been to visit – other cities that spring to mind are places like San Francisco (which has all the charm of a city several times its size packed in a relatively small space), New York City (for it’s sheer energy and diversity) and Seattle (for it’s artisic cookiness and laidback charm). I felt like it’s so much more than the sum of it’s parts and we have a really great time visiting New Orleans. Will do a bigger post later on but here’s how we spent the first hours upon arrival in New Orleans. 🙂
First off, we went looking for food! Mother’s Restaurant is one of the most famous restaurants in New Orleans with queues round the block for the “World’s best baked ham“. The wall is lined with autographed photos from it’s famous patrons and contains an impressive list of people! See if you can spot anyone you recognise! 🙂
I decided to go for a Po Boy (which is like a submarine sandwich) and of course opted for the ham. Gotta admit, tasty as it was, (and trust me, it was very tasty! …hence the look on Lloyd’s face when he thought I was about to nick him) I’m not as keen on the Po Boys but only because I don’t really like bread-based meals (except maybe clam chowder in a sour dough bread) – I think I’ve eaten waaaaay too many sandwiches in the past so I find it really hard to get excited by sandwiches. In the same vein, I’m not so keen on crusty breads nor stale bread (and by stale I mean out of oven for longer than 12 hours) but I digress. 🙂
As you can tell, coming from the UK, the portion sizes still take some getting used to but all in all, this restaurant was definitely worth a visit to and the next time we went, I had something else entirely different!
Next up we headed out to Preservation Hall to see some live jazz. This place has existed for quite several decades now and was set up to preserve jazz. Louis Armstrong once said “Preservation Hall. Now that’s where you’ll find all of the greats.” – I think that sums it all. FYI, you’re not allowed to take photos or record videos while the performance is going on but if you’re quick, you can get a photo of the band as soon as they allow everyone to get photos.
We then headed off to Pat O’Briens which is an Irish Bar near Preservation Hall. Irish Bars abroad are not really my thing (it’s like travelling to Vietnam and asking for fish and chips – I’d rather try the local cuisine instead, thanks) however Pat O’Briens was only an Irish bar in name alone. It was such a fun outdoors venue with some seriously strong drinks and a really nice vibe. We accidentally ordered the signature cocktails (which is listed on quite a few places as one of the main drinks to have in New Orleans) and only realised this later. Now we understand why the American group next to us were cheering us on when the cocktails arrived.
After the cocktails, we figured we might as well start to make our way to hotel via Bourbon street. There is so much to be said about Bourbon street and I honestly have to save this for another time. Needless to say, it was something of a shock to the system – initially in any case until we got indoctrinated into it’s ways and became fluent in Bourbon-street-party-speak! But like I said before, more of that another time.
Finally, we dragged our tired selves back to the hotel but not before a stop at W.I.N.O. (that name alone is sheer genius as it also starts for Wine Institute Of New Orleans), I excited hurried everyone in where I promptly put my card behind the ‘bar’ and we promptly started to fill our glasses with different wines from around the world. Not fully sure who’s idea W.I.N.O. was but what an amazing concept!!! We need something like this in London esta pronto! (And if there already is a place like this in London, someone needs to tell me where A.S.A.P.!) The idea is that for varying prices, you got small-ish quantities of wines and could sample the flavours that interest you and go back for seconds, thirds, fourths, fifths… and so on if you found one that you really liked. Lloyd did just that and noted the ones he like. The rest of us did not.
And with the wine tasting done, we finally made our way back to the hotel with no distractions to stop us this time – in large part because most places were closed which was pretty good as we are a very distracted bunch – especially so after an extended session of ‘wine-tasting’.