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Deep South Day 4: New Orleans

July 6, 2014

Just when I thought I’d fallen in love with Memphis, along comes that sultry, spicy, and jazzy bitch named New Orleans to take my heart back again.

New Orleans is my favourite American city to visit. The architecture, the food, the people, the weather (aside from the ocasional hurricane), the easy-going vibe: New Orleans has everything going for it. It’s the type of place where you’ll never cease to discover new things:

  • Where you enter the hostel at 11am and find everyone’s still dead asleep due to hard partying the night before. Half the people actually awake haven’t gone to bed yet. We spent the night at Auberge New Orleans. The facilities were average (not great beds, few bathrooms, no big central social area), but the social atmosphere was good.
  • Where the way-past-retirement age waitresses at Cafe du Monde, who should be ecstatic to work in such a high-volume cafe but by their dour demeanour are anything but, like to take the down moment to pull out their wads of tip money and organize them at an unoccupied table.
Cafe du Monde ballin
Cafe du Monde waitress stacking that paper while a dollar of mine awaits joining the fray.
  • Where high school brass bands set up on a street corner, their teacher leading the way with a tambourine, and end up putting on a traffic-stopping and huge-crowd-forming musical spectacle.
  • Where you wander down magazine street window shopping by their funky stores (thankful that you’re not with girlfriends that would spend hours inside them), see a sign for happy hour at a local bar, go in, get a super stiff cocktail for five bucks, then find out to your great delight the place offers a buffet of free Indian food (and it’s not half bad!).
  • Where on Tinder I swiped right on twelve out of the two hundred girls I went through. While that 6% result is certainly a poor performance, at least it’s better than the dismal 3% Memphis put up.
  • Where you get sucked into a street party with live DJ on an open area right downtown on Canal street, enjoy the atmosphere, music, and someone choreographed dancing for a while, turn around, discover that you’re right in front of a casino, go in, and thanks to the friendly advice from the lady sitting next to you at the blackjack table, win $85 in 15 mins.
  • Where there’s no Hooters downtown. This is New Orleans. New Orleans = Beans. New Orleans = Boobies. How can this be?! Our southern Hooters tour streak is abruptly ended at just two restaurants (Nashville then Memphis).
  • Where people like me who hate the practice of tipping have a place to go: Mother’s. The food didn’t blow us away, but it’s a neat experience and very affordable. Knowing the price on the menu is the price you pay, like in Europe, makes this a can’t miss destination. We must support tip-free restaurants! Send me a sticker, and I’ll put it proudly on my bike, bumper, or computer. The line-up outside can seem daunting, but it moves quickly.
  • Where the cops on the street, when asked what the law is for open containers on the street (outside of Bourbon), say that, “As long as yall are havin fun and ain’t botherin nobody else, y’all can walk around drinking whatever y’all want, even a big ol’ bottle of vodka.”
  • Where you have too much fun to bother or remember to take pictures.

 Tips:

  • If you’re planning on heading to one of New Orlean’s celibrated hole-in-the-wall po’boy or Cajun food restaurants, be sure to check the opening hours before making the treck. For the second time in two trips to New Orleans, I went on an extended multiple hour long wander with a far-off po’boy joint as the final destination, only to arrive there and find out it is closed.
  • For those with smartphones, get the TripAdvisor City Guide app (free) and download the New Orleans guide. It gives you offline access to all TripAdvisor information, and some Wikipedia info as well, on all locations in the city. The app allows you to see every location of interst – restaurants, hotels, bars, attractions, free walking tours, along with your own current location – on a map of the city, and you can click any one to see a quick blurb on it, its ranking within the city, and all past reviews of the place. It is very helpful for picking out a place to eat or drink when wandering aimlessly around the city.

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