A little nip from the Mississipp. . .
After three, nearly-continuous days (that’s 60 hours and 20 minutes, y’all) aboard some trains, it was like being born again to step off of that train in Louisiana! There were many moments when I felt the earth moving beneath me, but it was actually my body remembering the motion of the train. I regained my footing after a few hours though.
Instead of heading straight to our AirBnb, we decided to haul our backpacks on the trolley down to Bourbon Street for a drink.
Bourbon St is closed off to cars after a certain time of night, so people are free to roam the streets with open containers and really do as they please. So naturally, it didn’t smell too great in that neighborhood.
We found a bar that seemed reasonably empty and sat down for a few beers, and to take in the New Orleans atmosphere. There were throwback helmets of different football teams hanging from the ceiling—including the big, bad Buffalo Bills.
The bar itself was really neat. It had very high ceilings and original hardwood everything. It’s attached on one side to an Italian restaurant that we did not try. The beer was really watery and tasted a little funky, but after a few sips it was kinda not so bad!
So, we had a couple beers, got some late night food, and headed to our room.
The next day, we discovered that our AirBnb host had some cruiser bikes available for us to use! We found the closest possible breakfast place and headed out. We ordered breakfast from Buttermilk Drop, a fast-food restaurant/bakery. The food was SO tasty, but the portions were huge! I got the shrimp and rice breakfast, and Claudia got the shrimp and grits breakfast. I did my best, but I hate to admit I could not finish my breakfast plate.
Since we started planning this trip last year, I had been romanticizing the idea of getting matching tattoos to commemorate the experience. Eventually, Claudia agreed that it sounded really fun. So a few months ago, we sat down and came up with a design that we both really loved.
We tried to make reservations at a couple different parlors, but it kept falling through for one reason or another. So instead of stressing about the perfect place and price, we found an area with a few tattoo places in close proximity (the Lower Garden district) and hoped someone would have time for two walk-ins. Our new strategy paid off as we found Shaun Dubin, an extremely talented artist, at Idle Hands Tattoo Parlour NOLA who gave us an excellent deal.
I explained our whole story and Shaun was very sympathetic to our predicament. He did a quick mock-up of our rough sketch and we were under the needle before we knew it. Our new tats summed up our trip perfectly. It was exactly what we wanted!
Since we got our epidermal needle-points done early in the day, we had the rest of the evening to show them off around Jackson Square (and sample the local brews of course). On our way there, we just happened to be directed down St. Ann’s Street—which seemed to be the Gayborhood of NOLA!
The buildings and apartments were so breathtaking throughout the side streets. Fresh flowers and live palm trees adorned balconies all around us. The streets were paved with bricks and the sidewalks with colored slate tiles.
In the French Quarter, we went to Jackson Brewing Company. Here we ate a very rich dinner of leading with fried green tomatoes with a crawfish remoulade followed by fried oyster po’ boys. They were delicious!
Originally, we planned to travel to Avery Island, land of the Tabasco factory and plantation. However, it’s 2 1/2 hours away from New Orleans and we decided to forgo the trip in order to experience more of the city. Instead we visited the Tabasco Country Store. There were several varieties of Tabasco sauces to sample and more souvenirs than imaginable!
We continued to walk around the French Quarter and pick up souvenirs. The sound of the Natchez steamboat horn told us we were right by the Mississippi River. We rushed over and found a set of steps leading into the water. From there we watched the sun set to our left while the riverboats pulled in to our right. I had an amazing day in New Orleans.
The next morning we got up a little late and missed our intended bus into the French Quarter. We bought tickets to a Louisiana cooking class at the New Orleans School of Cooking. We showed up late and had to sit on opposite sides of the room. However, the class turned out to be very entertaining and delicious! It was a cooking demonstration run by a 75-year-old Louisiana grandmother. We got to eat all the food (corn and crab bisque, shrimp creole, bananas foster, and pecan pralines) and there was unlimited Abita beer. Even though it was 10:30 am, those beers went down very smooth. By the time we left, we mysteriously gained Southern accents and a love of talking to strangers.
The buzz wore off a little quickly on the trolley. What Google had predicted to be a 20 minute ride somehow turned into 35 minutes. However, we got to the train station sweating to board the City of New Orleans with 6 minutes to spare!
Now we’re off to the final stop on our long, long journey around the country. We will spend about 12 hours in Chicago and then get on our last train back to Buffalo and my kitty and turtle who I miss SO much. Here’s to some great views of the Bayou along the way!