We were greeted with outstanding weather in Nola on our first proper day in the home of jazz, beignets and drinking in the street – so we put on our walking shoes and headed out to explore.
We stayed at the historic Andrew Jackson Hotel – named after the 7th President. The hotel was previously the first district courthouse of Louisiana where the Major General was fined $1000 as he refused to relinquish martial law after winning the Battle of New Orleans against the British (with good reason … he had no confirmation of peace!) It is a prime location in the heart of the French Quarter, nearby to the (in)famous Bourbon Street – party central.
We headed down Royal Street, enjoying the architecture and history in America’s most European city. We wandered to the Mississippi River, spied an old paddle steamer and found a beignet dealer for our first fix!
Continuing our stroll, we took a few snaps of some of the sights, including Jackson Square, and some asses (with very pretty coloured hooves!)
We started to get a bit peckish and were recommended a place on Royal Street by a friendly local (with dog!), where Sara dined on an alligator po’boy (delish!) and I had oyster “tacos” with southern style cold slaw, also pretty good. Sorry, we forgot to take pictures. But we did enjoy a lovely local drop, and the waitress recommended we check out a local sports bar, home to 50 beers on tap and a (nightly) happy “hour” from 4-7. So you know what we did that night!
After sinking some “pints” each, we were hungry again, and were keen on something simple, but I was desperate to try some local crawfish (whatever that is), so found a takeaway on Bourbon Street that catered to my whim – crawfish po’boy ahoy!
WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT PO-BOYS
- From a restaurant: single-serve
- From a takeaway: enough for two
SO MUCH FOOD, especially Sara’s pulled pork po’boy which seemed to contain around one-half of a whole pig! We definitely didn’t ‘need’ the tater tots, but what we ate was delicious!
Quick DIY gin and tonic later, I crashed to sleep around 9 (grandpa-level = extreme), only to wake up at 1:30, completely wide awake, and was unable to get back to sleep until at least 4.
Why, you ask? Good question … the hotel is one of the most haunted in the world, home to poltergeists (including “Thomas”, “Nick” and the General himself), who are known for playing mischievous tricks on guests. Room 208 is the most active, and our room was right next door.
It wasn’t until the next morning, when collecting our things for the day, that we discovered we must have been *visited* during the night! A couple of things had “magically” relocated from the dresser, into the depths of my suitcase, causing one or two moments of anxiety…..!
Certainly my first experience with the paranormal!
Later on, we went off to the Louis Armstrong park, celebrating his amazing music and what New Orleans is all about – jazz.
That afternoon, we took a drive down to the swamp, and enjoyed an airboat tour with Louisiana Swamp Tours – an excellent experience where we even got to hold a baby alligator! I’m tempted to make a Jurassic Park logo with this one:
In the evening we took in some cocktails at a great bar near Louis Armstrong Park called Tonique, and had a chat with a political science lecturer from LSU, who happily commutes an hour and a half each way to live in New Orleans instead of Batton Rouge. We passed through Batton Rouge, and could appreciate his point of view!
He recommended we check out Coop’s Place for dinner, which saw us have some real Southern fried chicken, jambalaya, creole shrimp and gumbo!
After that we headed to a courtyard bar on Bourbon St for some jazz and an absolute downpour – thankfully the courtyard was covered! The band took requests, and afterwards we had a great chat about New Zealand – turns out ol’ Steamboat Willie has played a heap of places in the North Island and Queenstown – not Christchurch though as no one would book him!
After the rain eased, we braved the walk home (via the local beignet shop), and started to prepare for the next stop on our roadie!
Here is a picture of the cat that kept hanging around us and wanting to come into our room. He was a friendly cat – however wasn’t a fan of crawfish … weird.