We approached New Orleans via interstate 10 and I became immediately aware as to why Louisiana was an ideal filming location for the first season of True Detective.
The creepy trees and marshlands reminded me of something from a scooby-do episode. I was fully prepared for a swamp monster to jump out at us any second.
I knew little to nothing about New Orleans so was unsure as what to expect from our time there.
But a man in Austin, Texas, gave me an idea of what was to come.
We met him whilst checking in to our motel in Austin. His travel companion was casually leaning on the reception desk whilst he stood outside smoking a cigarette near his pick-up truck. He was swaying and stumbling around but looked like a friendly enough fella.
He came in to the reception area and immediately came over to us. We had a huge back-pack, cowboy hats and were quite clearly from out of town.
‘Where ya’ll headed?’ he asked, slurring his words. We told him of our trip across the states and mentioned New Orleans as our next destination.
‘Oh! I’m so jealous. New Orleans was my second home before Katrina hit,’
He went on to list the places we ‘MUST GO!” Bourbon Street was mentioned more than once. ‘Don’t let the smooth taste fool ya!’ He said with a huge grin on his face; wagging his finger. My reaction was typically English.
I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. But the guy was drunk and I was trying to be polite.
We approached New Orleans and the french quarter was where we were headed. It was the area that Bourbon Street was located and our new friend looked like the type of guy who liked a good time. We took his recommendation seriously.
The city as a whole, was a stunner. It was completely different to the other cities we had visited so far on the trip. It had a distinct style and couldn’t be mistaken for anything other than, well.. New Orleanian!
We found a quaint guesthouse, in a great location, dumped our bags and headed straight out in to the scorching sun.
We had arrived at a weekend which meant there was a market on down by the Mississippi river. It was a great place for us to start our discovery of the real New Orleans. There were voodoo souvenir stalls, hot sauce stands; We were in our element!
We came across a shop that sold unusual voodoo ornaments, so picked a couple up as presents for back home and approached the counter. A friendly gentleman served us. ‘How’s your day going?’ he asked. We responded bubbling with excitement, ‘Great!’
‘Where’s your accent from? Alabama?’ …
I was always lead to believe that Americans don’t get sarcasm. But don’t be fooled by this common misconception.
‘No we’re from England..’ I cringe as I think back to this.
He burst out laughing. ‘No shit! I was kidding.’
Swiftly moving on, which we were stupendously grateful for, he asked if we needed any advice on places to go. We told him our friend in Austin had mentioned Bourbon Street.
‘No, no, no, Bourbon Street is for spring breakers. Its full of strippers and trannys. You want to go to Frenchman Street.’
We thanked him for his politically correct advice and headed on our way. Still a little mortified at our sense of humour failure.
That evening, we headed out for a night on the town and decided to go to Bourbon Street first. Even if it was a bit hectic, we still wanted to see for ourselves.
The guy from the store wasn’t far off. The street was jam packed with people drinking beer out of plastic cups and shouting over balconies. Although, it didn’t have an intimidating atmosphere like I’d expected. The people were friendly, we were being invited in to bars and the music was blaring. It looked like a fantastic night out. And I could definitely see why it would be a popular spring break destination.
We decided to take a stroll to Frenchman Street to see what all the fuss was about.
We heard the live music before we had even arrived. The jazz and blues travelled down the street so smoothly, I was half expecting a parade of cats playing instruments to walk past.
We entered the first bar called ‘The Spotted Cat,’ and that is where we fell in love with New Orleans. The atmosphere was euphoric. People were dancing and whooping and the band was in full flow. It felt like we had stepped back in time to the 1940s. The band consisted of an accordion, a french horn, a trumpet, guitar and drums.
For a quick 15 second clip, click on my instagram page: Instagram
We moved towards the bar and decided to try the infamous ‘Hurricane’ cocktail. Every drinks menu we had seen throughout the day had offered this particular cocktail. We had to give it a try!
It was without doubt, the greatest cocktail I had ever tasted. And for those of you that don’t know me, trust that I have ample experience to provide an accurate review.
We were on our third hurricane and the room began to spin. I suddenly had a flashback to Austin. Our friends grinning face flooding my brain ‘Don’t let the smooth taste fool ya!’ echoed through my mind.
‘Oh..’ I thought. ‘Now I get it.’