where to begin.
New Orleans is one of those places that you have to experience to understand.
Firstly arriving to see Zoe's pretty face after 3 months was a treat and just as i imagined it felt like time did not pass.
We met a lovely older couple that we heading into the city and we decided that sharing a cab would be the best option and then zo and I could walk to the hostel with our luggage and while that might not be so bad for me and my lack of possessions, zo had a 20 kg pack and it was a substantial walk.
The hostel was a dump.
the guests were mostly tenants- old, pervy hillbillies that had no jobs except for 'helping' around the hostel aka drinking, smoking weed and stealing the food we brought even though we put it in the 'non- community' fridge in a bag that was tied up with my name on it.
in saying that the beds were comfy and the showers gave us hot water.
I would not give them a second chance and i will be giving a very harsh review.
The public have to know.
back to business..
Think of the notebook and the house Noah builds for Allie and it's her dream home.
The garden district, where we stayed- just on the cusp of Ghetto, every house is like that.. slightly different in their own way but amazing, swinging chairs on the porch, blue shutters, fences and chandeliers. we did not get sick of these houses, we tried a different street every time we went walking just to try and find our dream house and even wanted to ask one of the home owners to check out one inside.
We couldn't even take a photo to do them justice as you couldn't fit them in the frame, they were majestic and screamed ' someone really rich lives inside of me'.
on our first night i think we both made the decision to move here.
This was the ' show us what you got' portion.
After getting a coffee on Magazine street- a lovely long street filled with vintage shops and bars, we walked into town and found a info centre.. sussed out a few plantation tours and a ghost tours and left to discover the French quarter.
Walked down to the Mississippi and got a snow- cone which i might add could provide Willy Wonkers Factory with his sugar supply for the next year and then basked in the sun.
All hyped up we walked to the french market and this is where the magic happened.
Cruising down Decatur Street we walk past 3 people and as soon as they pass i hit Zoe, we just walked past 3 members of Arcade Fire.
i was like a little girl, Zo didn't know what they looked like so she couldn't confirm but we turned around and started to follow them and sure enough some guys that passed them also confirmed it.
So after i chickened out Zo approached Win Butler and we got a photo.
you couldn't get that smile off my face if you tried.
After our little moment we walk to the French Market and wind up sitting in a small park while a band plays covers of all the good old songs, one i remember right now is 'Sitting on the Dock of the Bay'… its our second day and to sit there on this beautiful day, the temperature was good, the skies were clear and the people were happy and i know the feeling we had will never be conveyed in words but it was easy, light and peaceful. it was such a nice feeling and i'm sure it won't come around much so to be able to still think back and feel it makes me want to go back and hopefully i will.
The rest of the day was a daze.. however we did try out this Irish pub called Tracey's.
not hard to guess why..
New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Music festival.
fiddled around in the morning and eventually make our way to the fair grounds.. and unlike Australian Festivals this one ends really early, like 7:00pm and we got there at 4:30 so we didn't have a huge amount of time.
We check out the Gospel tent for 10 minutes or so before heading on, it fun and energetic however still not what i thought it would be, no robes or songs from Sister Act.. silly assumption.
The fest is majority older generation, diggin on the jazz, man. They all had they chairs set up at the stages that liked most, all set for the day, rugs and 'icebox's' ready to go, which was very different from what we experience back home.. it was cool though, young and old, not too crowded and the only attitudes were good ones. Sydney siders could take a few notes here.
Head to the daiquiri stand and get some frozen alcoholic goodness and continue to the Congo Stage and watch Big Sammys blah blah and get on down to the sound, as one would assume we hadn't heard of him prior but its funny how a good atmosphere and act will set the mood.
5:35 and Arcade Fire is about the start.
The Second daiquiri sets in and the mood is high… or maybe i still was from the fact we got to hug Win Butler the day before .. either way things were good.
They played a mixture from all 3 albums and interacted really well with the crowd, they did an encore and brought Cyndi Lauper on stage to sing 'Girls just wanna have fun' and then she played keys on another song. Grammy or no Grammy they were just as i remember them from Big Day Out a few years back when Neon Bible was kicking around and i count it as my highlight of NO.
we muck around today a bit and stumble on Ann Rices' house, we didn't know it till we got here but she was an author that lived in NO just a few blocks from where we were staying and she wrote the book Interview with a Vampire and some of the scenes from the the movie with Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and Kirsten Dunst were shot in Lafayette Cemetery and the Oak Alley Plantation, so that was a cool find.
The festival today was a lot busier, it's the weekend and its super hot.. for some reason down south the weather gets hotter in the late afternoon than in the mid day.. so well we finally got there is was hot, humid and crowded.
My stomach has been not so good since Mexico even though i was so so careful not to eat anything bad or take in the water but pretty much every day i said to myself that i would only eat bland food and thats super hard in NO, there are a few things NO is known for and food is one of them but sure enough later that day i tell my stomach to fuck itself and eat what i want and my stomach will gets its revenge sooner or later but in the mean time i head to the food stalls and look at this mans plate and immediately ask what it is.. 5 minutes later i have asked for the seafood combo.. a Crab Sack, Oyster Patties and Shrimp thing and in that moment in time before i get a fuck you back from my stomach that food tastes so good and i instantly wish mexico was after NO.
After my treat we head to see The Strokes, they come on late and don't play an encore.
Most of the songs are from the new album and yeah i understand they have to plug it but they had sound problems through the whole set and i am not so keen on the new stuff BUT they play my favourites, You only live once, Last Night, NYC cops, What ever happened, Juicebox, Is this it?, Take it or Leave it and maybe a few more.. it didn't live up to my expectations but i still enjoyed it..i guess you shouldn't live on expectations especially when one of the band members doesn't like the album or the way it was recorded..
anyway thats done and we head out afterwards to a bar called Bulldogs, a nice little place with fairy lights and good music where Zo and i chatted and drank till our walk back.
despite being on the cusp of Ghetto i don't feel unsafe at any point in NO even in the middle of the night.. unsafe by humans anyway, Zo would like to talk about Vampires and Ghosts on the way home and that may sound silly to you but a lot of death has happened in NO and it is the most haunted stated in the US.. a fact zo thrives on… see day 5
Today we were going to do a history tour but thought better of it and head out on our own.
We go to the french quarter again and check out the most haunted mansion in the city, The Lalaurie mansion.
Back in her day this bitch of a woman would torture and kill her black slaves. She and her doctor husband moved from france and we extremely wealthily, always throwing parties and dinners and we only heard a few stories but they were not good.
Once a young girl slave was brushing her hair and she brushed to hard and she chased her up to the top of the building with a whip and the girl fell or got whipped over the balcony and died. She was charged $300 and that was it.
There were shackles and secret rooms where she use to torture them and one night her house caught on fire from one of the slaves and she got out of the house and the neighbours all came over to help get her things out, when the fire brigade came they discovered all the slaves she had been torturing and then everyone turned against her and destroyed all the furniture they helped bring out, they fled back to Europe to never return. Nicholas Cage brought the house back in 2007 but sold it, another family lived there but claimed they could see a Ghost of her chasing people with whips up stairs, the mansion recently just sold at a private auction and some rumours are going around that Johnny Depp brought it but no details have been released yet but to me is sounds a bit too dark to want to buy into.
about 10 houses down to the French market was Brad and Angelina 's house and honestly i thought they could do better. The French Quarter is very touristy and somewhere like the garden district is where i thought they would be situated but i am sure it is lovely.
We make a detour to get lunch and then head over to this pretty rad part of town where i check out the recommended Tattoo parlour, i check prices and times and we head home only to come back in a few hours later very very rushed as i want to get the Tattoo done and then we have to be at the Ghost Tour at 7:45pm and we get off the Street Car at 7 and it is 14 blocks away- that aint a short walk.
We get there and figure that i will just ask what time they close as i have 20 mins (thats including the time we need to get back to the meeting point) and we can get it done after the tour but they close at 8pm, they say they can do it in that time and before you know it i am out the door newly inked and running late.. we hightail it to St Louis st as fast as we can.
The Ghost tour isn't as scary but it was truthful and very informative, we learnt a lot about the city and all of its Ghosts even though we may not have seen any. This town has so much history i don't know how they remember it all.
2 Fires that burnt the city to the ground, Hurricanes, Yellow Fever plus all the music and the food.
We end the night by going through Bourbon Street -the Kings cross of NO. we did not like it, just tourists and neon lights.
Day 6- the last day.
We booked a tour out to one of the Sugar Plantations, Oak Alley- the most famous one as you will see in the photos, the reason it is so famous apart from scenes from Easy Rider and Interview with a vampire is the 28 trees that line the 'front yard' .
The Trees are 300 years old and were planted before the house was even thought of.
They are magnificent and gorgeous, the house is now only used for tours and the last owners sisters grandson now takes care of it with a whole crew because as you can imagine it is very large but we left a little disappointed as we didn't get much other history about the house, the slaves or anything like that.. just the owners.
after coming home we chill for a bit as my stomach did not appreciate the homemade vanilla ice-cream i gave it earlier and we wait till dinner time.
Before i left home i asked my old boss at MUMU his tips on NO, he was there for 5 weeks and he raved about it. He told me a few things but left me with the name Jacque-imo's and as that was a while back i was glad i wrote it down so when i quizzed the tourist place they showed us in the right direction and said that it was the best place to eat in NO.. Zo and i didn't eat out for the entire time we were there so we could save ourselves for this meal.
We got the Street car out there and wished we had been this side earlier.. the houses were grander and when we got to Oak street i really wished we had come earlier, vintage stores and cafes lining the street, a very Newtown feel without the hippies and much more calmer.. there were cool kids with out being "the cool kids" , tourists and locals combined and at that point of the night we all had one thing in common.
the line is long, 40 mins long but if there is a line there is a reason. This place was fantastic. Busy, energetic and fun, there was even a ute outside that had a table on the back that people sat in .. we were hoping for this one but we missed out.
We got called and sat at our table, the place was dark and atmospheric, hand painted walls, coloured fairy lights and fuck load of people.
we finally decide on
Shrimp and Alligator Cheesecake with a side salad of Baby Spinach and Fried Oyster
Scallops with Blue cheese, Pecans and Caramelised pears and New Orleans BBQ Shrimp with side of mashed Sweet Potato and Country greens.
It was good and i really wish they would start a chain so we could get it back home.. i will definitely be on the hunt for NO food wherever i go.
and that concludes our trip.
it was nothing short of amazing and i really hope i get back and for a longer period of time.
it was possibly the best was to start my tour of the USA.