So recently (and actually when I write this, due to the fact I’m wanting to write something as it’s fresh in my head) I went to New Orleans for a visit. I’ve always want to go to The Big Easy after a friend of mine waxed lyrical on how brilliant it was, and hearing great things about the place I’ve always wanted to go. With Wrestlemania in Dallas, I decided to head out a few days earlier to go to New Lorleans for a much-deserved break.
I arrived at the beautiful Hyatt Regency Hotel after arriving on an Uber. The driver, Nicky was wonderful, but unfortunately it seems like Uber is crippled in New Orleans due to minimum fares from the airport that is twice as much as normal fares. So try to avoid using Uber from the airport, and arrive carrying cash so you can get at a taxi. The hotel was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, a huge behemoth of a building spread over 30 floors, with an element of luxury, I was reminded that the main tower seemed almost Citadel-from-Mass-Effect-ish.
After a quick change, I headed out to the famous street in New Orleans, Bourbon Street. I wasn’t sure what to expect as generally speaking the United States isn’t known for it’s drinking culture, this was a lot different, and absolutely crazy because of it. Bourbon Street is a hive of jazz music, debauchery and cocktails in rude shaped glasses.
There is so much here it’s an assault on the senses, so after some food (a fairly substandard Chicken Jambalaya), and checking out a few bars I found a great little bar for a bit – Ticklers Piano Bar. This bar featured some dueling pianos which was a great form of entertainment.
Bourbon Street was fascinating to see, but I think I was just a little too old for it. So heading home I found Hobnobber’s Variety Bar and Restaurant that became a home from home in New Orleans. It had a range of craft beers that were brilliant, my personal favourite was the 7th Street Wheat Lemon & Basil Beer. I’m not a fan of wheat beers nor flavoured beers, but this was absolutely delicious and eventually became my craft beer of choice. Plus it was $3 cheaper than the artificial shite on Bourbon Street. Thanks to the staff there, I was pointed in the correct places to go during my stay in New Orleans, and invited to their Easter celebrations.
After a fairly good sleep, I woke with the sad news that today was going to rain. Nevertheless, I headed out and had a pretty decent breakfast in Daisy Dukes (a Veggie Omelette, if you must know), before – joy of wonderous joys – the heavens opened. This kinda put me back an hour or two, as I missed one of the three Easter Parades that were happening that day on Bourbon Street. So after a while of standing under some shelter in borderline monsoon conditions, I dived into a shop for some souvenir shopping.
After a while, the rain stopped, so I set off to explore the French quarter a little bit more. It was Easter Sunday, so at the cathedral there was mass. After a leisurely stroll along the Mississippi, I checked out the Chris Owens parade, the second parade of that day.
The parade was superb! Lots of colourful floats and the participants were throwing beads and other keepsakes from all the floats, all with live music. Thankfully the rain had stopped so a lot of the expensive dresses and suits weren’t ruined.
I rested for a bit and then returned to Hobnobber for an evening of (free) food and (paid for) drinks. As everybody was bringing something I did bring some crisps, and it was here where I had a mish mash of Southern Easter Cuisine of BBQ Shrimp, Ham & Sweet Potato Casserole (which was delicious and I’m definitely cooking that at home!) and Apple Pie. After an enjoyable evening putting the world to rights, I said goodbye to my new found friends at Hobnobbers, and left.
The final day was spent walking through the Garden District. I had a gorgeous lunch at Joey K’s. It was a simple Shrimp Poboy, with a side of french fries. Simple, delicious, and very filling.
The evening was spent at the Smoothie King Centre which was beside the hotel to watch New Orleans Pelicans vs. New York Knicks. Now I had seen NBA Basketball before (though I was introduced to the sport – like most Brits who grew up in the 1990s – in the game NBA Jam), and I cannot say I enjoyed it that much. It was a preseason game and I ended up paying £50 for a ticket that they were giving away for free the day before the event. Although it was seen as something important for Manchester, I couldn’t help feel most people didn’t want to be there, including the players (Oklahoma City vs. Philadelphia).
Thankfully, this game was much better. I am not sure why, maybe it was there seemed to be a lot more to do before and during the game, maybe it was because I was surrounded by people who were invested in the game, maybe it was simply that the tickets were cheaper. In short, it was a good fun evening, and as I wanted to avoid drinking, it was a good way to do something fun and stay sober.
All in all, I think the one thing I’d take away from my time in New Orleans is the hospitality. Everybody was really friendly and to be invited to an Easter feast with a bunch of strangers was an absolute treat that made my visit there. That wasn’t unique, as from the taxi ride there to the taxi ride back everybody was so incredibly friendly, and I’d love to go back again.
- Rather disappointingly, outside of the Hotel, Hobnobbers and the Smoothie King Centre, I couldn’t find WiFi anywhere. I’m assuming chains generally do as well.
Also published on Medium.