We’d decided to take two nights in New Orleans, so Day 10 was the first day so far with no driving. It was a beautifully sunny morning, and we took it slowly, wandering up from the hotel to the French Quarter only to find that there was a jazz festival ‘Summer Satchmo Fest’ playing in Jackson Square. I have hazy memories of New Orleans from a brief visit ten years ago, but as much of the daytime portion of that was spent hungover I was keen to have a proper wander around.
We mooched around the beautiful streets of the French Quarter before settling in for brunch and cocktails at the very genteel Mr B’s Bistro, where I partook of some delicious fried buster crabs and a rather tasty pear cosmopolitan whilst listening to live jazz. Doesn’t really get much better…
The afternoon was absolutely boiling, so we retired for an afternoon swim in the hotel’s rooftop pool before heading back to the French Quarter for the compulsory delicious beignets and coffee at Cafe du Monde.
At 7.30pm, we’d booked onto a ghost walk with Free Tours By Foot, hoping to hear some of the famous spooky stories of the city. I’ll admit that this was one tour I didn’t particularly love, mainly because the guide spent a good portion of the tour talking about himself and how great he was, but we did learn about some of the history of New Orleans (and apparent associated hauntings: New Orleans’ ghosts supposedly include failed actresses, a priest with poor hygiene named Père Antoine, and various victims of Madame LaLaurie at the infamous LaLaurie Mansion), and the French Quarter at night is both beautiful and atmospheric.
After the tour ended, we headed for dinner at Coop’s Place, listed as one of the best spots for jambalaya and gumbo in New Orleans, and a favourite local hangout. This was a definite experience – the food is so good that they can get away with being a self-conscious and proud dive (big group tables, and a roach on the floor at one point, which was crushed with a shrug and no fuss by the waiter). The snarky waiters also have definite orders for guests, and our waiter ‘banned’ certain menu items (no non-local beer, no salads, items 1-4 only in a particular section). His instructions were worth obeying, though, because I had a great ‘taste plate’ of jambalaya, gumbo, shrimp creole, rice and red beans and fried chicken, plus a Turbodog beer. The rabbit and sausage jambalaya especially was absolutely delicious, and I could have eaten buckets. We also got chatting to a lovely couple from Texas who were sat with us, and had all-around great fun. Probably not for the overly hygiene-conscious, but the food was absolutely great!
After dinner and beer we headed off for more beer and jazz on Frenchman’s Street, where there is a variety of live music. This is much nicer than the famous Bourbon Street, which has a bit of a stag party vibe; Frenchman’s Street is much more chilled, but with great music. We went to a tiny place called The Apple Barrel, where we had a few more beers and enjoyed live music before getting a taxi back to the hotel.
Highlights: The food! Beignets, crabs, cocktails, jambalaya…mmm
Lowlights: The ghost tour guide, realising when trying to go to the hotel gym in the morning that I had left not one, but two pairs of shoes somewhere in a past motel.
Up next: Gravestones, gators and yet more storms!