At the beginning of June I headed to the USA for a few weeks with a friend and our first stop was New Orleans, somewhere I’ve been very interested in visiting for quite some time and it didn’t disappoint!
We stayed in India House Hostel which was the perfect mixture of having very low prices (in comparison to everywhere else in the city) but also very good reviews. We chose a private room (with shared bathroom facilities, as there is no ensuite option at this hostel) and it came to $197 for our 4 night stay – it almost felt too good to be true! It was basic, but very clean and the hostel itself was great; it had a pool, good social areas and a relaxed atmosphere. It is conveniently located next to a streetcar line, which is then around a 10-15 minute ride into the central area with French Quarter/Bourbon Street/Jackson Square attractions. A 24 hour ticket for the streetcar is only $3 so extremely good value and a highly recommended way of travelling around the city.
Now onto what we actually did in ‘NOLA’… For out first full day, we thought we would just sightsee and get our bearings. We accidentally stumbled upon the infamous House of Blues just in time for their Gospel Brunch – by some stroke of luck we got 2 of the last remaining tickets and I am so glad we did! It was amazing! The food was buffet style and nice enough, but of course it is all about the music – there was a visiting choir performing and it was such a fantastic experience that I can’t recommend enough. I feel so lucky to have been at the right place at the right time and it turned out to be one of my favourite moments of our trip!
Of course we had to explore the French Quarter. Photos really don’t do this area justice, the architecture is truly beautiful and it feels like being on a fake movie set as it is so pretty everywhere you look! There is such an electric atmosphere with live music playing on every street corner so it is well worth a visit.
We explored other areas such as Jackson Square the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Jackson Square was lovely and it was interesting to see all the local artists selling pieces on the outskirts of the park. We mainly visited the Superdome to try and find some shade as we were suffering in a heatwave so although I wouldn’t have gone there otherwise, the sheer size of it was really unbelievable and I’m actually glad we went to see it.
The following day we went on a swamp tour which we booked through the hostel. It was around an hour drive to the Honey Island Swamp Tour, during which our bus driver pointed out local points of interest and spoke through some New Orleans history. The swamp tour itself was fantastic, we saw lots of wildlife including alligators and raccoons! The guide was extremely knowledgable and passionate about the bayou, alligators were drawn close to our boat by a bit of sausage on the end of a pole so we managed so see them up close – scary stuff!
There are also lots of other day excursions you can do from New Orleans such as various plantation tours and the Global Wildlife Centre. In terms of other things you can do within the city, New Orleans has a fascination with all things supernatural so keep an eye out for voodoo museums, ghost walks, tarot/palm readings and vampire shops (yes, really..! Check out Boutique du Vampyre in the French Quarter).
In the evening after our swamp tour we headed out to Bourbon Street which was as lively as I hoped – oddly enough, we started the night in a heavy metal, dungeon style bar and ended it in a bar with comedy singing pianists who took requests from the crowd, very fun and varied to say the least! There are plenty of bars or clubs to choose from, you could find something for pretty much any music preference, any night of the week!
All in all I am so happy that we decided to visit New Orleans, it has everything you could ever want in a city break but even better due to the ‘Big Easy’ laid-back attitude!
That’s it for NOLA, our next stop was Las Vegas – a blog post on that coming soon…