New Orleans was everything we’d expected it to be and more. Although we were disappointed that we weren’t able to see a lot of the usual Mardi Gras events, because of the Superbowl, we still got a great flavour for the city and had a lot of fun.
For our first night in the area, we stayed at the Fontainebleau State Park across Lake Pontchartrain. It was a 30 mile trek across the causeway, but it meant we didn’t have to spend 200 dollars on a campsite, and that we’d have somewhere to leave the trailer for a day. We woke up on Wednesday morning to pouring rain outside, and weren’t sure if we were going to drive in or not. Luckily, we decided it was worth it, and it stopped raining altogether when we arrived in New Orleans! One thing we noticed right away was that the roads in New Orleans are absolutely terrible. Those driving new SUV’s may not notice… but in the Series 2 you can really notice the bumps and pot holes, even with the softer parabolic springs! Another thing we noticed was all the damage that still existed from Hurricane Katrina. A lot of the homes around us were in disrepair, and it really opened our eyes to the result of a major hurricane, since we don’t really get them at home that often.
Our first stop was Rovers Down South (RDS), to meet up with George, get a few small things for the truck, and talk about Land Rovers of course. The guy has quite the inventory down there and seems to know just about everything anyone could possibly know about Land Rovers. He toured us around his facility while we searched for some things and had a grand ole time. Even Danielle was involved in some of the Rover talk! George also gave us some tips about the city and gave us permission to park the trailer there if we wanted to ditch it while we explored the city.
Once we arrived in the French Quarter, we stopped at a place that George had recommended to us: the ACME Seafood Restaurant on Iberville Road. Drew got a delicious bowl of shrimp and crab gumbo (and the bowl was made of bread so everything was edible!). Danielle tried a Po-Boy, with a homemade veggie patty made from rice and mushrooms. We were not let down, and the food was incredible. After dinner, we walked around the French Quarter and just explored the sights and sounds. We grabbed a drink at a bar with a live band inside, and sat in the courtyard near the museum, while listening to a man play a very strange, but beautiful, instrument. Sitting in that courtyard just observing was one of the most interesting experiences we had. The local folks just seemed to gather there all at once as the sun went down, and they carried on like good friends. Some carried brown paper bags around and shared the wealth willingly. This may sound sketchy but it really wasn’t… it was almost enchanting thanks to the ominous sounds coming from the nearby musician.
We even made an appearance on national television! Since the Superbowl would be happening that weekend, ESPN had their stage set-up in the downtown area, and we happened to walk behind the guys talking football. We waved to our football friends back home, and hoped that someone would see us.
After spending half a day in the city, and travelling back over the causeway to our campsite, we decided that we absolutely had to spend a night in New Orleans. The only problem was that with the Superbowl happening that weekend, every room or campsite available was booked, or the prices were up by at least 50%. But we decided to try our luck, and we ended up finding a private room at a hostel, The India House Hostel, right downtown for a very good price on hostelworld.com. This way we’d be able to explore, meet some people, and enjoy the city without having to worry about the trailer or travelling back and forth.
We left the trailer at RDS, and had a parking spot for the truck at the hostel. The India House is a really awesome place, and we were having so much fun there that we forgot to take any pictures! We’ll give you the link instead so you can check it out for yourselves: www.indiahousehostel.com. We took the streetcar down to the French Quarter, and spent more time wandering around. We got to try beignets at Cafe Beignet, we watched some buskers play amazing music on the streets, and walked around taking more pictures. We enjoyed some delicious Creole pasta back at the hostel, and then we grabbed some bottles of wine, and looked for some people at the hostel to hang out with.
We ended up meeting a group of five Australians who are also road-tripping the USA. In fact, they are doing a very similar route as us in the opposite direction. We got to drinking and talking and eventually others staying at the Hostel began to join us as well. A group from Toronto came along, bringing with them a bottle of 190 proof rum. Drew had a smash and recalls it tasted like rubbing alcohol. There was also a German journalist there to document the Superbowl for a German football magazine. He showed us some photos that he’d taken at a press conference earlier that day of Beyonce and Danielle was very jealous (“Are there many American Football fans in Germany?”… “No not really”). We also met a Doctor from Switzerland who is doing her residency in Mexico and came up across the border for a visit in New Orleans. The Torontonians also brought with them the tradition of Flip Cup, which we are familiar with of course. “My mom keeps saying to me that 29 years is too old for drinking games! HA!” says one. So we began the game of Flip Cup, North America vs. Australia, Danielle being Australian for a night! The games began, and to be honest we can’t really remember a definitive end to them… but what we do know is that by the end we had recruited and trained most of the guests staying in the Hostel. At some point we found ourselves in a cab going to a bar with the Aussies. The rest of the night was a great and to sum it all up we have two timeless quotes: “Drew! Drew! I love Drew mate! I love Drew!” and “Common, gimme a real kiss! Your boyfriend won’t mind”.
We love you New Orleans.