Something was missing, something big. We couldn’t place it at first, but we sensed the absence of something. New Orleans is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the US, but something was out of place. Slowly it starts to dawn upon you, breaking into your consciousness as you go about your traveller chores of buying groceries and settling in for the night.
Clue Number 1: The usual suspects are missing. Burger King, McDonalds, Walmart, 7-Eleven – all AWOL. Or at least, you don’t notice the big, jarring signs because you’re so busy reading aloud the charming French names of the streets and indie shops around you. And putting on terrible French accents for each other!
Clue Number 2: It might be a party capital, but it’s not in your face. For travellers like us who are not interested in the raucous party scene (or God forbid, too old for it!), there’s plenty of more interesting ways to spend your time in the Big Easy.
There were more clues, but by then, we’d cottoned on to the fact that New Orleans has its own beautiful, unique personality, and this was going to be one fascinating place to explore. The next morning, armed with maps, water bottles, sunglasses and snacks, we set out to do just that.
The first stop, Bourbon Street, the party street that every young college kid dreams about. No, we didn’t head there first for a morning Hurricane (a New Orleans special, a sweet rum cocktail)! We chose to get there while the frat-boys and cheerleaders were nursing hangovers in their hostels, leaving us to look around in peace and get the hell out before hell broke loose. Bourbon Street was given by the French to the Spanish in the 1700s after a war, and the Spaniards rebuilt most of it, so the street is a mix of architecture and French signage.
A walk through the historical district revealed more of New Orleans history than we’d known, and despite the day being incredibly warm and humid, we enjoyed this part the most.
After that, it was too hot to do anything constructive, so we faffed around town having fun the New Orleans way! We also:
There is so much more to this Southern landmark than Mardi Gras and Katrina. With its scrumdiddlyumptious food, eclectic architecture and colourful history, New Orleans is a celebration of life, strength and joy.