New Orleans is one of the destinations we visited while doing one of our state-hopping travels. We came with little knowledge of the city and spent just under 3 days here across July 4th, but definitely realised more time was needed to do everything.
~ July 3rd ~
Arriving in New Orleans sent me back to a Year 10 geography lesson learning about Hurricane Katrina. It is quite clear that parts of the city have been devastated. Our first impressions of NOLA were made during our airport transfer. It took us through a variety of neighbourhoods as it dropped each passenger off at their hotel, which really showed how only some parts of the city had recovered.
The other passengers also explained to us about ‘flashing for beads’. Apparently, people (not just women) would flash in exchange for the brightly coloured beads during Mardi Gras, though only usually typical amongst tourists.
First Explorations (…and food)
We stayed at the Wyndham, conveniently placed just off Bourbon Street, and within walking distance to the French Quarter. So, after checking in, we headed to the infamous Bourbon Street for a po-boy at Olde Nola Cookery… and to see these coloured beads in tourist shops. The whole street is filled with live music and performance acts for tourists to crowd around and watch. This does make the street difficult to navigate as you have to weave in and out of crowds. Make sure you hold your purse/bag tight, we even opted for a bum bag/fanny pack to keep our phones and money in which could be tucked under our t-shirts.
After dinner, we needed dessert and headed off to the French Quarter so mum could get a beignet at Café Du Monde. I’m not overly keen on the texture (though I did eat some of the sugar off of mum’s) so searched for dessert elsewhere. This may have been the worst decision I’ve ever made as I now have a slight fudge addiction. We stumbled upon Kilwins, which sells mouth-watering fudge and praline. After being allowed to try so many different flavours, we bought some to take back to the room to eat. Of course, our slight food obsession meant that we were already in search of a place for breakfast before we’d even finished our fudge.
~ July 4th ~
N’awlins’ Funkiest Lil’ Café
We had decided on breakfast! Around the corner from our hotel was Jimmy J’s, described as N’awlins’ Funkiest Lil’ Cafe… It was a small, colourful café where everything is made from scratch, and was clearly popular amongst locals and tourists alike. After a short queue outside, we were sat down and ordered the crab cake benedict to share. There were definitely other items on the menu I was eyeing up and might have to go back to try!
Waterfront and Steamboat Natchez
We were aware that it was 4th of July and so some things might be closed, so we didn’t have much planned for the day besides exploring what we could find. After breakfast, we walked down to the waterfront through Woldenberg Park to look at the Holocaust Memorial. The park features an interpretative sculpture made up of nine panels that depict different designs depending on your viewpoint.
Mum was desperate to go on a steamboat, so we bought our tickets for Steamboat NATCHEZ for later on that day. In the meantime, we walked around the French Quarter and headed to a nearby mall when it started to rain.
When it was time for our boat tour, we queued to board. The boat takes you along the Mississippi River.
~ July 5th ~
We decided to spend our final day doing a bus tour as there is so much more to see than Bourbon Street and the French Quarter. We usually board the Hop-On, Hop-Off buses as we find these are both reliable and accessible while taking us to destinations we would never have known of.
We headed to Magazine Street in the Garden District. This is one long street filled with boutiques selling arts, jewellery, and vintage clothing. But this is not the street to be shopping on if you have a budget. As we walked into boutiques, we were faced with high prices that had us turning back out just as quickly. We mostly ended up just going in them for the aircon as it was 32°C outside, and our English skin could not hack it.
Many of the stops were closed off because of the July 4th celebrations. One of the ones we drove past was the mansion from American Horror Story: Coven, otherwise known as the Buckner Mansion, built in 1856. Although commonly reported to have floods of tourists outside, you can see from the picture that it was very quiet. Maybe this was because of the 4th of July? Perhaps it was too hot? Either way, we weren’t convinced enough to get off the bus to see a house that you can’t get a tour of.
The bus tour also takes you to Mardi Gras World where the floats for the parade are made. Although we didn’t do this tour, the shutters were half-open, and we got a sneaky peek of some of the floats stored. Just from these quick glances, I know its definitely a place I want to go back to!
Our final stop was the French Market, where we grabbed a crab meat quesadilla to share and browsed the market.
~ Would I go back? ~
Now I know more about NOLA, there are a few other things I wish to do. I might wait until I’m 21 so that I can also experience the nightlife. I’m also desperate to spot an alligator during a swamp tour and properly experience Mardi Gras.
~ Essentials to pack for New Orleans ~
Small bum bag (fanny pack): It can be a busy place, there are lots of street performers, so a lot of crowds gathering. If it's small enough, you can place if under your jacket or top to be discreet. Only take the money you wish to spend that day.