This stop on the trip was greatly anticipated by us. If you asked us both to name the top 3 places we must go to in America, New Orleans would have made it for both us.
Tim managed to score us some really cheap accommodation just on the fringes of the French quarter. Staying in The New Orleans Guest House. It is a tired old building with lots of charm and very shitty (audible) plumbing. But the location was awesome. Walking distance to everything.
The first afternoon we had a bit of a walk around the French quarter, the character of the place! European style cottages with shutters all painted a different colour scheme. We had a few ideas on where to head in the night for some live music but the receptionist at the front desk pretty much told us where to go if we wanted to see quality live music. We walked to one of his recommendations in the afternoon, being a little free music festival and we were not disappointed. Honey River Swamp Band started our New Orleans adventure off exactly as we had planned!
In the evening we ventured to another of his recommendations which was Frenchman Street and all I can say is WOW!! Every bar had live jazz or blues or rock or something in between there was a real buzz about the place. After seeing Austin’s music scene and their self proclaimed music capital of the world title we must say that we think New Orleans might have them covered. In saying that it was Saturday night here and we only saw Austin on a Monday and Tuesday night.
Every one has heard of Bourbon Street in New Orleans but we were told not to really spend too much time there as it is a place with crap music aimed at the tourists looking to party . We went for a walk there during the day today and that was enough for us. So not what we were looking for. Full of shitty bars playing way too load music, with trashy clientele and had a real cheesy atmosphere to it.
Some of the bars and restaurants we went into were pretty scummy. Not the clientele but the state of the place. Rundown and dirty. But somehow it works. At one of the bars, I went to the toilet and looked further on down the alley to see half the kitchen prep area outside right beside the dumpsters with all the chefs drinking and smoking, I did think to myself that health and safety laws must be a little less stringent here than in Australia! Needless to say we had some of the best jambalaya we had ever had and are going back for some more!
Tim and I could walk around for days and not get bored. On the next day we went for a walking tour just to hear some of the history of the place. Our tour guide was awesome and we learned of some really interesting facts….. New Orleans was part of the Louisiana purchase where America in 1803 purchased 828 square miles for 15 million U.S. $ off the French. So New Orleans was actually settled by the French and then run by the Spanish for many years before this. Which is why there is such a strong European influence here. Cajun and creole all get thrown around as terms for the locals and from what we have established – Cajun refers to the French settlers and then creole is a term used for the mix of French, Spanish, African, Caribbean and whatever else you want to throw in there.
Other interesting things we learnt were that the Spanish and French allowed their slaves to effectively buy their freedom so before the sale of Louisiana you had a lot of colored land owners both male and female. And in Louisiana if you owned land you could vote. But things changed after the purchase of the state. Which they understandably were not too happy about. Also in order for Louisiana to integrate into America, a law was passed in 1920 that only allowed English to be spoken in public. This was due to the fact that English apparently came in at the 5th most prominent language at the time after French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. It must be noted that all this came from our tour guide so we might need to do a little more research into some of the fact before we take it as gospel.
We are off to listen to some more music tonight at the Preservation Hall where apparently Louis Armstrong as a 16 year old played 7 nights a week. We have also enjoyed some sazerac cocktails this afternoon which apparently originated here. Well I lie, I choked mine down. It is whiskey based and no matter how hard I try I cannot seem to like the stuff. Tim’s granddad would be so disappointed in me. S
The action on Frenchman st. The rule here is no glass on the street, but alcohol in plastic cups or cans in certainly allowed. In fact you can walk from bar to bar and they will let you in with your drink in your hand! All day long people are walking around drinking which is quite unusual to say the least, but the atmosphere it creates is great! When in Rome…