Other than a trip into the Big Easy (which I will get onto shortly), a great excursion in Louisiana if you are nearby is a Swamp Tour (don’t worry it’s a lot better than it may sound). A large boat takes you out into the swamp and your host gives you all the facts on the flora and fauna and also the wildlife. Besides the huts along the banks you do feel like you’re sailing through a jungle. The most common thing you will see out in the swamp is of course the alligators; it was only on this trip I learnt that their alligators’ diets consisted of hot dogs and marshmallows which the guide would hang over the edge on a large stick and just wait for them to pounce. They were flipping hungry!
The only downside I experienced during this outing was when we were on the way back to the dock and a passing boat didn’t slow down in time so sent a massive tidal wave over our boat. Even though there was a roof, I was sat at the end so got drenched head to toe in dirty swamp water. This was one of the very few occasions that I was thankful for the insane humidity as I managed to dry off pretty quickly.
Some of you may know NOLA as The Big Easy; this originally came from the name of a dance hall in New Orleans in the 1900’s and became the nickname of the city in the early 1970’s thanks to a newspaper writer who saw the city’s easy going way of life. It’s a great name if you ask me, there’s actually some logic behind it!
Good old New Orleans in known for many things, one of which is the seafood. There is a crazy amount of seafood restaurants, you’d be lucky to find an eatery that didn’t have some sort of fish on the menu, so, of course, we had to give it a go and we were far from disappointed! This was the first time I’d ever tried crab cakes and in all honesty I have ever managed to fins any half as good as these ones!
Heading out onto Bourbon Street is a must, it’s always alive. No matter what day of the week it is, as soon as the sun goes down the lights come on and the party begins. Walking down that street you’ll see everything, and I mean everything. From the typical drunk hooligan to dogs in fancy dress, from people dancing on balconies throwing beads down on you for a flash to old grannies on mobility scooters with an inflatable hat and a cocktail in hand, I promise it won’t disappoint and will be the best night out you have in a long time! The ordinary does not exist here!
Being under the legal drinking age of 21 I thought it could get a bit boring but now looking back that was the least of my problems as I spent the majority of my time there far from sober. The bouncers on the doors to all the clubs/bars (well you can’t really call them that, more like entertainers), were too busy dancing and pleasing the people on the street to worry about the ages of the people actually going in so yes we had an awesome time. Although by the end I’d actually forgotten the names of half the cocktails I’d drunk I did make it back to the hotel where I mistakenly made a phone call back home to my parents in a drunken state trying to make them jealous of all the waffles I was planning to have for breakfast. I must say they were highly amused. Unfortunately I didn’t get the waffles but a group of us went to an uptown restaurant for a champagne breakfast where the alcohol intake continued. But when you’re in Nola, why not?
Another thing New Orleans is famous for is Voodoo and the dead. I know, spooky. We spent the day exploring wacky museums learning about voodoo, curses and seeing fortune tellers. It can be a very educational place if you take yourself to the right area. There was also a graveyard walking tour which I personally didn’t fancy but was told it is rather good especially if you are stuck for something to do and fancy a casual guided stroll through a cemetery. Not everyone’s taste.
The French Quarter is such a beautiful part of the city, it has old fashioned houses with balconies full of flowers where you can feel right at home. Don’t feel the need to walk everywhere, horse and carriage is a much more glamorous and easier way to get around especially when nursing a hangover. If you have a sweet tooth and are craving some good fried food, the French Quarter has bakeries selling the best beignets that side of the Atlantic so don’t give it a miss!
After the second night of partying, strolling around with a cocktail in one hand and sugary treats in the other, joining in with all the happenings of wild animals trying to be caught, fish and beads being thrown and watching bouncers act more like break dancers compete back- flipping down the street, I came away with many good memories, a headache and some damn good doughnuts! As they say, Once you go, you’ll know…