Finding the soul of America in New Orleans

Jackson Square in the French Quarter

Jackson Square in the French Quarter

After trying to decide if it was safe to drive to New Orleans with all the flooding, we eventually set sail for the Southern shore. We arrived in New Orleans and immediately rode a quaint streetcar to the French Quarter, stopping for dinner at the Gumbo Shop. The Jambalaya and the Shrimp Creole were great, and super filling!

We walked through all the maze of shops, happening upon Bourbon Street, which quite frankly made me feel like I was in the middle of a mind-trip. I mean holy mackerel!  There were so many different sounds—people yelling, signs for strip joints, jazz and blues blaring out of every bar, homeless people lying on their backs in the street (the same one we talked to on the streetcar. He warned us to walk on the opposite side of the street from the cars so we could see people who might jump out at us. TY sir, point taken.); People in costumes wearing beads, street musicians, drunken frat boys, you name it! Not. my. scene. But it was fun to experience for a little bit. 

We made our way to Frenchman Street and enjoyed the best jazz/blues of New Orleans (and the country) at The Spotted Cat Music Spot. Wow, it was amazing! If you peaked, you could catch couples making out and swing dancing! It was that kind of participatory crowd—really special.

The next morning we walked to an eclectic coffee shop, explored City Park and their free Sculpture Garden, more of the French Quarter and Jackson Square, and the Garden District, finally stopping for food at the famous down-home Creole spot: Jacques-Imo.

Our Airbnb, called ‘The Okra Inn’, sat in an adorable mid-town New Orleans neighborhood, with lovely, colorful, historic houses with rustic hardwood floors and antique charm. Super affordable and sweet. 

From there, we decided to head to Austin, TX, but with the recent flooding (have you heard about this, it’s insane?!) we didn’t know if it was safe since the route went right through the problem areas of Louisiana. After making 103836174957 calls to 511 and AAA, we were finally given the thumbs up to take the highway to our destination. On the drive, we were able to see first hand some of the damage done by the floods. The highways rises above the trees so we could see overtop—and the water was literally flooded to the point of covering trees and electrical wires for miles and miles. Sending good vibes to the Louisiana folks effected by this tragedy. 😔 And all the animals, too!

Sculpture Garden in the park

Sculpture Garden in the park

We had a great time, and hope to return someday. 

What we loved:

  •  The music venues on Frenchman Street, especially The Spotted Cat Music Venue.
  • The phenomenal jazz and blues on most streets.
  • The combination of charming, quaint, gritty culture—it's a very unique place.

What we didn't love so much:

  • There are some sketchy spots—like Bourbon Street were a bit too much for my test.
  • Crime is prevalent there.

Tips for next time:

  • Go back to Okra Inn
  • Take a trip there when it's less hot.
  • If there's a natural disaster, monitor the state's 511 or transportation website closely so you know which roads are closed/open. Even the day of leaving.