Thursday, 20 July 2017

Ghosts, Crocodiles and Bourbon Street in New Orleans

I don't really know where to start with New Orleans, I was there for 5 days; 4 with friends and 1 by myself. Anyone thats travelled a bit will know that 5 days is kinda a long time for a city so New Orleans ended up being a pretty slow one. It was a mid way city for me between me ending my adventures on the East Coast and flying out to the L.A to start my West Coast journey. 
It all started the way any New Orleans trip should: Bourbon Street
From Bourbon street I have one photo that i'm not even gonna try and edit and i'll just leave that here think it'll sum up the craziness that ensured after hurricane cocktails, mechanical bull riding and disgusting test tube shots.

Bourbon Street definitely lived up to its name, the atmosphere is electric and we had coincidentally arrived on a Saturday so it was rammed with every type of person you could think of, and yes people really do throw beads down off the balconies. Drinks are a little pricey but they are strong so not many are needed! There are also so many bars to choose from it's kind of impossible to pick, some have live music, some are more clubby and others have weird attractions like the mechanical bull. We stayed out pretty late and worked our way from one end of the street to the other hopping in and out of bars before heading home. 

The next day started rather late for us after the antics of the night before, our AirBnB was a little way out so after getting ready we got an Uber to the French Quarter where we started our sight seeing. We started with the French Quarter market which is full of stalls selling all types of things. We then moved onto to Jackson Square where the St Louis Cathedral stands (below), this cathedral is the oldest active Roman  Catholic Cathedral in the United States. They do have tours however we opted to just go and sit inside for a short time to look at the spectacular architecture. We also had lunch in Jackson Square at a place called Stanleys, we had great sandwiches there with friendly staff serving us and very reasonably priced to say it was so central in the French Quarter.

 Our second night was a lot quieter than our first as we had a swamp tour booked for our second day so we had to be up early. For anyone thinking of visiting New Orleans going out to the swamps is a must, we had the best time! Again we got an Uber there as it was a little way out to the companies base. We where on a boat with around 10 other people and the tour lasted 2 hours. We where driven right out into the swamps and saw crocodiles of every size! Our guide fed them marshmallows to attract them closer so we could see them up close. As he drove us through the swamp he also told us about the history of the swamp people and what living and working there was like.

We also had the opportunity to hold a baby crocodile, now the ethics of this are obviously questionable. You will notice on most boat tours that the croc you hold will have its mouth taped shut for the entire tour but as you can see from the photo below this wasn't the case for ours so I felt slightly better about how this tour ran. I was the first to volunteer to hold it, I wasn't gonna miss out on that, a few of the other passengers where a touch more reluctant but after some encouragement everyone held it.

That night we headed out to Frenchman Street to see some live Jazz music. his is a big part of new Orleans culture. We had barley arrived when a band started playing right in the street and they where amazing! If you want live music this is the street to go to, it was lined with bars all advertising live music. We went to one called the Blue Nile and we weren't disappointed the band didn't just play music they put on a real show and really helped us see that side of NOLA culture. 

The next day was our final full day and we had a few stereotypical things we wanted to do in New Orleans such as ride a ferry across the Mississippi. We couldn't afford a proper steam boat dinner tour  so we opted for the ferry that goes from one side to the other for 2 dollars each! It's pretty short and i'm sure not as exciting as a proper steam boat tour but needs must when it comes to budget. Next we walked a long long long way to see the American Horror Story Coven house from season 3. It was honestly the biggest house I have ever seen it goes on forever!

We then attempted to go to one of the famous above ground cemeteries, Lafayette No 1 but we where too late it had already closed for the day. There was another women wanting to go in to and she suggested we break in, an idea we where definitely not keen on. One because we didn't want to get arrested and two it doesn't feel morally right at all the break into a cemetery...

This all lead us to the highlight of our day - The Night Ghost Tour 
New Orleans is famous for it ghost and voodoo stories from people like Marie Leavou (voodoo queen) and Marie Le Pen (torturous slave owner) the city has a lot of history when it comes to magic. Our guide took us on a 3 hour walk across the city showing us the sites of grizzly murders, suicides, renegade butcher doctors, and much more. 

I don't have any pictures from the as it was mostly ordinary looking buildings and it was the stories that brought them to life. The interesting part of this is that it is a fact that some of the events have happened such as Marie Le Pens torture chamber which was also featured in American Horror Story season 3 so it was really interesting to hear more about it.

Unfortunately the next day was when my friends left me for the rest of their trip, after lunch we said goodbye and I headed to my hostel. India House. It was beautiful. painted bright yellow, there was even a pool which was so welcome in the 40 degree heat. The actual room in the hostel wasn't the nicest a little run down but couldn't really complain, I shared with 5 other girls. The lack of AC however killed me at night. I also made the mistake of trying to walk from the centre to the hostel to save money, I made it but it was so far and so hot. That night I went down to the pool with one of the girls in my room and chatted to some other guest at the hostel but headed up for an earlyish night.

On my last day in New Orleans I got up early to visit a cemetery as we hadn't managed to get into Lafayette No 1, it was really interesting seeing these type of above ground graves and how each family has a different style. But if you are visiting there isn't really any need to allocate a large time slot theres not really much to see in the gave yards.

I spent the rest of my day chilling by the hostel pool, I had check out my room and arranged a airport shuttle so decided it was best to stick around and relax while I had the chance before my crazy West Coat trip started. There was a few people from the night before there so after a phone call to my best friend at home I hung out with them until it was time for me to leave for L.A.

 Do you want to visit New Orleans? What do you think would be your favourite thing to see there?

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