Louisiana

by tobelikeafeatherby

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Joy Theatre, built 1947

Hi Sarah,

I am going to write up our trip to Louisiana so that we can remember what we did and also as a guide for others, which will hopefully encourage them to visit this amazing place.

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India Hostel

Our trip had a dramatic start when we discovered that M’s flight was delayed and she thought she would be stranded in Texas. However, she eventually arrived and we all felt better after relaxing together, reunited, in the courtyard of the colourful India Hostel. It was a good place to stay, just a quick ride in a street car away from the action of the French Quarter, and had the hippy, no-shoes vibe of most hostels around the world.

We walked to the touristy French Quarter on our first morning and I was struck by the diverse architecture, from the futuristic Joy theatre (above), to the skyscrapers, to the brightly coloured clapboard houses in the French Quarter. Then it was brunch at Two Sisters, a great introduction to the madness of the city. Two Sisters offers all-you-can-eat but be careful with what you chose! I started by just choosing different dishes at random, I could barely tell what was in them, and I was unpleasantly surprised by the creole seasoning which is typical in Louisiana. Next I went for a safer option of pancakes with bacon and maple syrup which didn’t disappoint. Then a spot of sunbathing in the Louis Armstrong park, followed by walking through the city and coming across the trippy PoMo Piazza d’Italia. Then we had drinks on the riverfront followed by some questionable food at a seafood restaurant, including deep fried oysters and red beans and rice. We ended our night on the hedonist tourist-trap that is Bourbon Street where there are neon-coloured hurricane-flavour frozen daiquiris, test tube shots, and go go dancers aplenty.

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The next day we were sad to leave to city. After a shaky start in our rental car when we all struggled to get the TomTom working (and then struggled to navigate even when it was working) we were off across the longest bridge in the world over Louisiana’s swamp land. We arrived at McGee’s Landing and had a memorable meal of swamp crawfish and creole corn. We enjoyed an evening sitting on the jetty overlooking the Atchafalaya Basin, taking in the locals partying on their boats, the sunset and the strange landscape. Our log cabin was cosy and comfortable.

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Our cabin at McGee’s Landing

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An effigy of Christ on the Atchafalaya basin

We did a swamp tour of the Atchafalaya basin, the landscape is wonderfully eerie with trees covered in an ethereal grey moss growing out of the water. I had some yummy gumbo (seafood soup) at Pat’s restaurant for supper, however M’s crab came deep-fried to her disappointment.

The next day we visited Breaux bridge, famous for its antique shops and also New Iberia, where we did a tour of the old sugar plantation house; Shadows on the Teche. More gumbo and some delish sweet potato beignets (powdered sugar donuts) for lunch at the Cafe des Amis. We had a quick tour of the Tabasco factory before checking in to the Blue Moon hostel in Lafayette.

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On the porch at Blue Moon

In Lafayette we visited the University of Louisiana, which happens to have a swamp in the middle of its campus. We went to Taco Sisters for lunch, which is much recommended for its fresh smoked tuna tacos. The Blue Moon hostel comes alive at night, we danced to the Cajun Jam band and tried to resist the requests to dance from old men.

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Cajun jam

Mastering the two-step

Mastering the two-step

The next day we drove back over the longest bridge in the world singing along to Home. A fried lobster PoBoy from Chickie Wah Wah was much appreciated when we got back to New Orleans. The Bestoff Sculpture Garden was pleasant to walk around in the sunshine, featuring a diverse range of works. In the evening we walked through the Garden district which has many beautiful houses. Then we had dinner at Le Petit Grocery, which was cheeseburgers and toasted coconut ice cream.

A house in the garden district

A house in the garden district

Walking around the French Quarter we discovered the beautiful Faulkner bookshop, which is in the owner’s home and has a great handpicked selection. We walked around the trendy Marigny district and had pulled pork PoBoys. We saw the house that A Street Car Named Desire was set in and watched jazz on Frenchman Street. Then we had dinner at Bacchanal where you choose a selection of cheeses from the fridge and then they are brought out to you on a platter with olives and bread, whilst you listen to jazz in the fairy-light covered garden. Then it was on to the Spotted Cat on Frenchman for more jazz.

On our final day in New Orleans we stumbled upon the Gallery for Fine Photography which is well worth a visit for its selection from top photographers, from Ansel Adams to Annie Leibovitz. I was happy to see portraits of Frida Kahlo, Josephine Baker and Billie Holiday. Sarah, I still think we should move to New Orleans and you should work at Faulkner’s bookshop and maybe I could get a job at the photography gallery…

On our last night we decided to go back to Bacchanal for more wine, cheese and jazz, as well as some memorable scallops. Then we saw a fantastic singer on Frenchman called Meschiya Lake and watched in awe as locals danced in a 1950s fashion. Finally we snuck into the cocktail bar French 75 to see the museum of old Mardi Gras dresses kept upstairs.

Where to next??

Ellie

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