So where we last left off, Mike and I did a mad dash across three states to get into New Orleans the morning after being in Savannah. We left Savannah around 9:00, and got into New Orleans by 6:30, a little before sunrise. The argument was that it would save money for a night at the hotel, and there was nothing in particular we felt like seeing in between. It also gave us another full day and most of a night in Savannah.
Needless to say, we are hoping to never repeat the experience. Beyond all of the sights we missed (I don’t know how much is missed in mid-Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, but it’s the fact that there may have been stuff to miss) the drive was absolutely exhausting. We divided the drive, each doing about five hours and change, but car naps just don’t suffice for sleep. Pulling into a parking garage and sleeping as the sun rose was sort of romantic, though. (Note to road trippers: If you don’t mind sleeping in the car, car garages are the way to go. $10.00 for twelve hours at the heart of the city, bam.)
When we finally woke up at 10:00 ish, we decided to wander the French Quarter until we could go to the hotel at 3:00 pm and sleep the travel off. The two of us were like zombies walking around (how very NoLa-esque), and it took us a little while to realize every adult of any age was either drunk or hungover walking around us on Bourbon Street. And the streets stank like beer. From what I’ve gathered, we stumbled onto Spring Break-ridden Saturday Bourbon Street, and 10:00 am is prime drinking time. It wasn’t a hugely favorable first impression, except for finding out we could drink on the streets again. (Spoiler Alert: daiquiris all morning in NoLa heat results in debilitating headaches until late afternoon, in time for happy hour.)
That first day in New Orleans included a lot of walking and getting a lay of the land, just observing. We found a cute park called (no joke) Washington Square, which had a fun jazz statue, and listened to a traveling band. That was a huge plus for New Orleans: there is music on literally every street corner. Jazz and blues, mostly, but a lot of folk and beat box as well.
We stumbled upon the New Orleans Food Festival rather conveniently as we were starving, got our cheap beer and overpriced food samples. I recommend the Gator sausage. After that, it was to the hotel until day two.
Day Two included a ghost tour with Jonathan of Haunted History Tours. Now I will be the first to admit, I hate tours of any kind, being more of an off-the-beaten-track kinda gal. However, Jonathan was lively and gave us haunted tales that you can’t just Google to find out about. Also, New Orleans has so many ghosts, it would be almost unjust not to give them some credence. The most interesting part of the tour, in my opinion, was the stories from the Great Fire of 1788. This was a whole chunk of history that I had never learned about, and the thought of the whole city burning and the lives lost was eerie. I also enjoyed the stories of Madame Dauphine Lalaurie, whose general story is given on American Horror Story: Coven, but not to the extent we learned. If anything, the show played down her atrocities. The only disappointment was finding out that her house is privately owned and not open to the public. That was a tiny letdown. (Hope this serves as a warning to any avid AHS fans such as myself, hoping to see inside of Lalaurie’s house.)
The tour also gave us a chance to go into Marie Louveau’s Voodoo Shop, which was fun and quirky, if a little mixed in its beliefs. I am all for capitalism, but felt a little wrong about having pagan, buddhist, and voodoo religions all mixed up in one shop.
The next sight we saw was the beautiful walk along the river, which showed off the bridge and huge barges. It is also a beautiful view of the Catholic church and its gardens, right over the trolley tracks.
Our last day in New Orleans was taken up by cemeteries and trolley rides. The cemeteries were absolutely spectacular, and we weren’t even in the oldest one (this one was mid 1800’s to present). If nothing else, southerners know how to honor their dead. The mausoleums were all grandiose and beautiful, even the ones that weren’t cared for. The trolley ride into the cemetery district (a disturbing concept… the city has a whole area cut out just for its cemeteries) was also fun, since Mike had never ridden a trolley. For $1.50, you can see a huge chunk of the city, which is pretty legitimate. Thank you, New Orleans, for your ghosts and your alcohol. Until next time.
Last thoughts: Love the food, love the booze, love the ghosts. Hate the racist and segregationist attitudes, the unclean feeling of the streets, and the slow pace that people seem to adopt, even in speed-needing situations (like hotel check-ins… a half hour to check five people in? Come on now.)
Next stop: San Antonio!