July 10, 2014
It’s our final full day in the South and there was no way we weren’t going to do so back in The Crescent City a.k.a. The Big Easy a.k.a. New Orleans.
We didn’t actually get to our hostel in the city until about 2pm because we did a workout on the beach in the morning (sweltering hot, further delayed by a homeless biker who got talking to us, dispelling such wisdoms as to use nunchucks after working out for extra benefit), made the couple hour drive back, and bid a fond farewell to the Cube at Enterprise (only $88 for 3 days!). Goodbye Cube. We will miss you (and I don’t think the sight of you will ever be erased from our brains).
For accommodation we decided to try a different hostel, India House, instead of returning to Auberge New Orleans. That turned out to be a good choice. India House was less a hostel than a compound, with multiple houses and buildings being used for accommodation and even its own pool. Most importantly the cost, $20/night, was the lowest out there. Cool place.
After grabbing a delicious Surf and Turf po’ boy from Parkway Bakery and Tavern (best of the trip) we went awanderin’. Having explored the other neighborhoods of the city (French Quarter, Garden District, CBD) in our previous day in New Orleans, this time we walked from our hostel in Mid City down through Treme, Marigny, the Bywater, and a little bit into the Lower 9th Ward. Despite being a lot of walking (a couple hours and well over 10km/6miles), I never got bored. The architecture of the houses and the subtropical vegetation that enveloped them was endlessly interesting, as were the quirky corner cafes, bars, and stores that were sprinkled everywhere. And don’t forget the people, some of who offered us to come in for some spaghetti (too full from our po’ boy), others who offered us 8 balls of coke (we prefer heroin). It’s a wanderer’s paradise.
You also can’t help but come across “only in New Orleans” places like The Country Club which, not knowing at all what it was, we wandered in for some happy hour drinks. While the inside of the house was not too unusual, a big house converted into a tennis-club styled bar, what was unique was that the whole back yard had been converted into a nudist spa-type area, complete with pool, hot tub, sauna, lounge area, and outdoor bar. Being a very private place, apparently soft drugs and who-knows-what-else was also permitted back there. Alas it cost extra money to enter and the weather wasn’t great so we didn’t venture back. I’m content to keep the dreams of a slightly gayer version of the Playboy Mansion in my head.
Closing off our wander with a delicious meal at The Joint in the Bywater (our favorite meal of the trip), we then proceeded to repeat our first night in New Orleans: drinking bourbon on Frenchman Street, talking to French(wo)men on Bourbon Street, and stopping at various other establishments in between and after, enjoying the vibes, the music, and everything the New Orleans nightlife has to offer. A great way to end the trip.
- We loved the Abita’s Andygator beer. It’s strong (9%) but doesn’t taste it whatsoever. When it came to getting our buzz on, we much preferred drinking one of those to two standard beers.
- Somebody needs to write a guidebook on the Dirty South catered towards backpackers. It was disappointingly and frustratingly difficult to find the type of authentic Southern experience we were looking for. All roads seemed to lead to the nondescript highways that look the same as anywhere else in the country, full of nation-wide fast food chains and gas stations. We lost quite a bit of the short time we had with our rental car driving around places that were not particularly “Southern” at all. Either someone should make the guidebook or, if you’re planning on doing a trip, make sure you do plenty of research beforehand (we did, um… none).
- On Broad Street by the edge of the Treme neighborhood we ran into the only Whole Foods we’d seen the whole trip. We went in to get some healthy snacks and were surprised to see how few other people were there. The location and time of our visit (early afternoon) had something to do with it, but I’ve never seen a Whole Foods so quiet. More proof of the unhealthy (for the body) culture down here. This coincides with what a California-transplant bartender told us about her experience living in New Orleans. While she loves the city, she “hates all the fat people” and struggles to live healthily. When she signed up at a cross fit gym there, the managers were surprised to learn she wasn’t a professional athlete or anything, because it was so unusual for a regular Joe to work out at a place like theirs.
- Unless you want to be a fat ass glutton (nothing wrong with that), always go for the smallest option when ordering food down here. For example, we bought a full-sized po’ boy at Parkway and each had half, or we ordered the lunch-sized entrée instead of the full-sized one. We tried to do this everywhere we ate and always left satisfied, and with a little extra money in our pockets on top. Worst-case scenario, you can always spend the money you saved on getting the smaller serving to try something else and something different after.
- If you’re looking for a hostel in New Orleans, my recommendation would be India House. Auberge New Orleans was nice as well, but India House had more bathrooms, a pool, and just a generally cooler vibe. It is much bigger than Auberge, so if you’re looking for a more low-key experience you may like Auberge, but people there party hard all the same.
- Eat at The Joint in the Bywater. It was our favorite BBQ of the whole trip. Nothing more to say. Just go.