I don’t seem to write much about my travels in the US of A. It’s been an awful long time since I was there – 2004. It’s a place that certainly warrants a return at some point, but I’m just so interested in so many different places to visit in the world, and most of them are closer than the States. Especially the Eastern side of the States.
New Orleans isn’t quite on the east coast, in fact it’s on what you might call the ‘south coast’, but more commonly on the Gulf of Mexico I guess. It seemed like a place with a lot of individuality, and a lot of different reasons to visit. It’s colonial past is on display to the visitor, with many old buildigs you can visit. And then there’s its links to voodoo (just see the James Bond film ‘Live and Let Die’, and it’s not far from swampland where you can see the odd alligator or three.
But I soon discovered when on Continental flying in from Houston that the reason most Americans head to New Orleans is to party. And I think I went there on the weekend, and the flight, like all my flights in North America, was simply packed. Not a spare seat to find anywhere! And I met a bunch of guys who were going to New Orleans to party for the whole weekend, forget sleep, and then I guess back on Sunday night and work on Monday morning. Just writing it makes me feel tired, but hey I am 15 years older now.
What was the reality? Well, night and day are like, well, night and day I guess in New Orleans. I feel like there was a different group out and about depending on the time of day. Walking around the city, I took in the architecture, saw the mighty Mississippi River and visited an historical house and the Voodoo Museum too.
It was pretty interesting and no doubt I missed a whole bunch of stuff. Remember, this was 2004 which was before Hurricane Katrina which devastated the city. So I can only imagine it is quite different today. The weather was absolutely as hot and sticky I could have imagined it was. I stayed in a hostel – the building was an all wooden affair, and you could feel the mould on the walls. Condensation dripped everywhere.
Anyhoo, the Swamp Tour was next on my mind to cover. I remember it being really good. When you take any sort of tour in the US, you can expect that the guides will be super-chirpy and enthusiastic, and this was no exception. It can grate a bit I guess, but one thing is for sure – it beats the hell out of the opposite. Dull, inexpressive, monotone. Anyways, on a boat on the swamp, and we did see a number of ‘gators (didn’t have a great camera back then, certainly not one with any sort of zoom) and we got to hold a baby alligator, which basically fitted into your hand.
In New Orleans during the day – well, it was, to be honest, an older crowd. In New Orleans for tourism. On the swamp tour it was a mix, families, older peoples, and maybe a few 20 – 35 year olds. They were the ones there to P-A-R-T-Y. And the third element of my 2004 (that’s right!) visit to New Orleans was heading out for the nightlife.
Let me tell you, the place rocked all night. I don’t think it stopped at any point. I was out until I don’t know, probably 4am, and most places, of which there were lots, showed no signs of stopping. I was at this huge karaoke joint, and everyone was so packed in there was no room to move. I walked back past other bars, all equally full.
I liked to sample nightlife back in the day, I even went clubbing in NYC in 1999. But I’m not a night after night person. And in 2019 I barely even consider partying. A nice restaurant? Sure? Or a show? Why not… I must really try something on my upcoming trip.
But looking back at New Orleans, I have to say I think I did it in a good way. I’m sure I could have stayed longer and seen more, but I saw some of the history, go out for a tour to the swamp and third sampled the nightlife – which for a place like New Orleans is one of the reasons to go. And I would do it again if I went back. What do you think? Have you been there before and how did you approach it?
Please do comment – and May the Journey Never End!