I’ve been meaning to write about this trip for a LOOOONG TIME. New orleans is by far one of the best places I’ve ever been to. So here we go.
My mom dropped me off at O’hare. I got through security quickly, and make a beeline to the charging stations. Then my phone charger, which admittedly had some wires peaking through at this point in it’s long life (bad sign I know), decides to stop working. FANTASTIC.
So I board and two hours later I am in NOLA. I find an overpriced charger at the airport (but it’s pink so I guess it’s fine …Ha!) I take one of the airport cabs to my hostel, Auberge NOLA. As we got closer to Auberge, I panicked a little internally because we were passing through some sketchy areas. Literally the hostel was next door to an abandoned house (probably due to Katrina) which was taken over by stray cats. Fortunately, the hostel itself ended up being nice. It’s directly parallel to St. Charles street which is where you can catch the streetcar to either go towards city center or go in the opposite direction to explore the beautiful mansions and/or Tulane University.
I got settled in and took a cab to my first tour , “Dr. Gumbo’s Food & Cocktail Tour.” I am the first to arrive. As more people start to show up I realize that they are ALL couples. I am comforted by the fact that soon we will all have cocktails which should make being a 7th wheel less awkward 🙂 .
The first stop on our tour was a really fancy restaurant called Soubou. We had prawn with aioli sauce and chimichurri, sweet potato beignet filled with sausage and duck, followed by an assortment of very classic cocktails which are all basically bourbon and whiskey.
Our guide talked about the origins of New Orleans Cuisine and I learned that it is a mix of French, West African, German, and Spanish Culture. I learned that by definition, a cocktail is a combination of bitters, spirits, and sugar. I learned that NOLA is called “The Big Easy” because when the FBI was trying to infiltrate speak easys during the prohibition era, NOLA’s was the easisiest to crack. J. Edgar Hoover was offered alchohol almost the moment he got off the train, and he proclaimed that New Orleans was ” just a big speak easy.”
From there we got to sample some bacon praline pecan pralines and took a tour of Antoine’s. We learned about Mardis Gras Krewes Rex, Bacos, Orpheus, Zulu, Muses, and the old social clubs of the south.
We then headed over to a little hole in the wall for po’ boy sandwiches and then a muffelata shop. I got a purple cocktail that I just cannot pronounce and then a grasshopper which is like very boozy melted mint chocolate ice cream. While enjoying my grasshopper I chatted with an Australian couple on the tour. They told me that I was brave for travelling alone which made me feel pretty good about myself :).
We ended the tour at another fancy restauraunt with bacon-wrapped oysters and a champaign cocktail called “French-75.” By the end of the tour we were all full, very tipsy, and basically best friends.
I caught a cap back to the hostel and found people sitting in the kitchen drinking rum, and I joined them! There was a very edgey looking Parisian girl, a guy from Toronto, a guy from Poland, a girl from Tenessee, and a guy who worked at the hostel from Manchester, England. We talked about traveling, then the conversation took a turn to politics, race, and religion. You know… all of the forbidden subjects. Refreshingly, there were no arguments, debates, or hurt feelings.
They then asked me if I wanted to go out later. Sure! I said. Let me just go take a “nap”. It’s 9 pm at this point mind you. Needless to say. I did not awake until the next morning.