On Friday morning we woke up and went for a wander around the French Quarter as our hotel was only a block away and we were on a beignet hunt. We were headed for Cafe du Monde. Beignets are basically doughnuts in a square-ish shape with lots of icing sugar on top.
Sunglasses – Chanel
Dress – Marks & Spencer (similar)
Sandals – Zara (similar)
After a really quick stroll around, I decided that the French Quarter (especially Bourbon Street) was definitely not for me and I couldn’t get out of there quick enough. It’s trashy and touristy and cringy. Which is such a shame because the houses are beautiful but they’ve been filled with cheap bars and tacky gift shops.
Then we went to Parkway Tavern to look for a po’boy. Nick was disappointed as they only had oyster po’boy’s on Monday but we’d been recommended the beef po’boy so we ordered that and a shrimp one instead. They had sweet potato fries on the menu so obviously we ordered those too, because, yum.
Nick had a couple of meetings that day so I just sat in the club lounge and chilled with an endless supply of tea and cookies. (I managed to read No.1 Ladie’s Detective Agency in just over 24 hours – it’s one of the best books I’ve read in a long time – I strongly recommend it).
The next day was also gloriously hot and sunny and we spent the morning on Magazine Street and in the Garden District. It was amazing. A million times nicer than the French Quarter. Magazine Street is full of little boutiques and I bought an awesome t-shirt from Storyville which I’ll show you soon. The houses in the Garden District are all beautiful big mansions. Even the water covers are pretty.
Nick had another meeting yesterday lunchtime but after he was finished we got in the car and drove over the bridge to see the lower 9th ward, where Hurricane Katrina really hit. Unfortunately we had failed to Google Map it before we went so we kind of drove straight through it and missed the main bit of it. I’m kind of glad actually, I think it would have been a bit too sad.
Back over the bridge is the Bywater. It was described to us as being a bit like the East Village in New York, but it really wasn’t. It was so laid back and calm. If you’d have dropped me in the middle of it with my eyes shut and then told me to open them and tell you where I was, I would have guessed a town on a Caribbean island. There’s not a great deal there, but as everywhere in New Orleans, the houses are adorable. They also have 2 of the best thrift stores I’ve ever seen. I bought an awesome looking Graham Greene book.
We had originally gone there to check out Vaughan’s as Kermit Ruffins plays jazz at night after cooking up a BBQ on the street before playing. He’s a regular on the show Treme and has been playing at Vaughan’s for almost 20 years. Unfortunately he wasn’t playing that night and stopped cooking the BBQ a few years previously. We were a bit sad about this but we stopped in for a drink anyway.
Nick had another meeting last night on Magazine Street so I went for some pizza by myself at Slice and then we just went back to the hotel and chilled out. We certainly pack a lot into a day!
This morning we got up and found Nick an oyster po’boy at Johnny’s, bought a CD for the car and a Muffuletta at Central Grocery. A muffuletta is a sandwich of Sicilian origin which has salami, capicola, mortadella, pepperoni, ham, provolone cheese and olive salad.
Then we got in the car and drove 2.5 hours, through Mississippi, to Mobile, Alabama to visit The Brick Pit. We shared a plate of pulled pork, ribs, potato salad and coleslaw followed by a banana pudding. It was okay. I wasn’t very impressed. I thought the pulled pork was a bit dry and the ribs were nothing to write home about. The banana pudding was nowhere near as good as the one we got a Cozy Corner in Memphis. It tasted quite artificial, like banana Angel Delight.
There were a couple of things I’m a bit bummed we missed in New Orleans. I would have liked to have seen some live music. I feel that’s kind of essential New Orleans, but we packed so much into our day times that we were just exhausted at night, and Nick had lots of meetings to squeeze in. Also, I would have quite liked a boat tour of the Bayou to go alligator spotting. I guess we’ll just have to go back!
Footnote: Although our time in New Orleans was enjoyable, and I’m sure lots of people visit with no problem at all, it can be quite a dodgy place. One of Nick’s meetings took place under a flyover and there was a 16 year old kid brazenly walking around in broad daylight with a gun in his hand. It’s safe to say we left pretty quickly. Later that evening, at another meeting with a local, he was told that the gun crime in New Orleans is at it’s highest right now and that the people there are pretty ruthless. Apparently they don’t just hold you up with a gun, they’ll just shoot you and take your stuff.
I don’t mean to scare you off going as I’m sure thousands of people visit with no problems but I just wanted to mention it as this post makes it look all happy and shiny and I thought I should put it out there that you do need to be careful visiting places like this.