We finally made it to New Orleans, one of our most anticipated stops! We arrived in the evening and went straight to the famous Cafe du Monde to finally taste their world famous beignets. Sipping on some cafe au lait and hot chocolate while devouring these delicacies was the best reward after the long drive of the day. You can’t escape covering yourself from top to bottom with their powdered sugar but it’s more than worth it! We then walked around very quickly to take peak at the famous Bourbon Street, but it was absolutely freezing that evening. Like most people, we thought we’d find warm weather in Louisiana but it turned out to be one of the coldest places! We then spent the night at the BMC (Balcony Music Club), definitely THE place to be for an evening in New Orleans. As soon as we entered, we were grateful for PG’s advice to go there. The band was Eudora Evans & Deep Soul and they were simply incredible. Beautiful jazz music through trumpets, saxophone, guitar and drums coupled with Eudora’s breathtaking voice and presence: welcome to New Orleans. This is where you realize the true musical and lively vibe of the city. Steph tried the local whiskey cocktail Sazerac and I stuck to pineapple juice, being on driving duty for the evening. After the incredible show of the first band, a second one came on, The Abney Effect – never had we seen that many musicians on one stage! We listened to their energetic jazz symphony for a little while before finally calling it a night. We spent the night on a pretty sketchy Walmart parking lot which was everything but reassuring. Waking up to a sunny and warmer day sure was a good reward.
We then spent the entire day walking around the city, getting to discover the French quarter and street vibe of beautiful New Orleans. It started with a warm coffee in one of the oldest bars in the U.S. In there, everything is wooden and seems crooked. There was even a man practising the piano for later, which was ideal as we were slowly waking up. Just like in Austin, this bar showcased pictures of all the celebrities that had been there – Tarantino sure knows his way around cool American bars! As we continued our walk, we stopped a few times to listen to the talented street musicians playing their own jazz songs and bringing the city to life. One of them even had a tap dancer! We also checked out lots of cool voodoo and skull shops as well as colourful and vintage decoration shops. Out of nowhere, we spotted an incredibly colourful store which turned out to be a hot sauce store. We got to taste all kinds of flavour and did not leave empty handed! Although the French quarter is amazing, the city is still recovering from the consequences of the terrible hurricane Katrina. Lots and lots of homeless people are unfortunately wandering around as they have lost everything.
New Orleans is famous for two things: music, of course, and food! You already got a pretty good introduction with the beignets – but we figured it was necessary to try a lunch specialty as well. So without hesitation we stepped in Acme, the Oyster house. Sitting at the bar, I tasted their renowned oysters – both the fresh ones and the charbroiled ones. The latter is their specialty, and consists in oysters with cheese, garlic and different herbs grilled on a barbecue. Delicious! Steph went for their seafood gumbo, but did fight his dislike for oysters to try these. Not so bad! We continued our stroll to try to find CD’s of the band we’d heard the night before, without luck, but did find some old school carriages and mansions on our way.
As our day around New Orleans was coming to an end, we knew that one day we’d have to come back for Mardi Gras – where it seems the costumes, the atmosphere and the music are absolutely incredibly unique. We’ll be back.