|NIGHT OUT IN NEW ORLEANS
I got to New Orleans on Friday night, and after picking Jess and Brad up from the airport we headed to Bourbon St in the French Quarter.
Cheap alcohol. Strip clubs. Jazz music. Lady boys. Voodoo. Blues. Churches. Bourbon St had whatever 'activity' required! Of these various vices, we decided alcohol and live street jazz / blues music were the most appropriate for our evening, which quickly turned into a somewhat crazy drinking session. You could purchase and drink beers, daiquris, and various other strong frozen cocktails on the street, and the street bands were amazing. I'm not sure if the streets were actually closed, or just completely choked with the throngs of merry makers milling about.
Bourbon St and New Orleans generally turned out to be the most mental, fun and weird place I've been for quite some time. Never have I seen a place that revels in its own debauchery to quite the same extent as New Orleans. I guess this is what happens when the main pubbing / clubbing district also happens to be the main red light district for the city.
Someone described New Orleans as the most un-American of American cities, maybe this is why it was so good!
The main reason for going to New Orleans, and the reason why it was so busy was the annual Jazz festival, a 5 day party celebrating all types of jazz, rock, blues, gospel, hip-hop and other types of music. After a somewhat late night, with sleep disturbed by alcohol consumption and the neighbours' loud passion, we arrived at the festival sometime mid morning feeling in various states of disrepair.
Luckily there was also every type of cajun and creole food imaginable at different food stalls around the place (great for watering down the effects of the night before). Crawfish was something like NZ's crayfish although with a slightly less strong taste, Muffuletta was also good but my favourite was the Jambalaya, a kind of cajun chicken and rice combination.
Of the performances, the Roots hip hop was probably the best act we saw, although the gospel tent (hallelujah! praise the lord!) and the old school army bands were perhaps the most amusing.
Overall, a great time was had by all, although after it was over we all came down with some type of allergy, perhaps from the grass seed at the race track that was the venue. It was unusual as I don't recall ever really getting an allergy to anything, but I was so clogged up I could hardly breath. As soon as I left New Orleans it went away.
REMAINDER OF THE WEEKEND
On the Sunday, we went on a walking tour to hear about the history of the French Quarter (the architecture of which is actually Spanish) - how New Orleans was originally a French colony, passing through to Spanish rule before being 'sold' to America along with about a 1/3 of the country for about 14c / acre.
To continue with our appreciation of cajun / creole food, we also went out for blackened fish and gumbo, sampled chicory coffee (Herb that is ground, roasted and used to impart a quite unique flavour on the coffee), beignets (french inspired pastry) and many other local delicacies.
After dropping Brad and Jess back at the airport I had intended grabbing a camp site then heading back into town for a graveyard tour (all are in above ground crypts as New Orleans floods so much and is below sea level), but it took too long to find the campgrounds, and when I did they were in the most ghetto part of town. Essentially just went back to Bourbon st for a final look-see, then drove north 1.5 hours before stopping.