The Beauty and the Beasts

Trip Start Mar 10, 2011
Trip End May 05, 2011

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Where I stayed
Joe & Flo's Candlelight Hostel New Orleans
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of United States  , Louisiana
Monday, April 11, 2011

During my flight here, the TSA had inconsiderately cut my supposedly approved lock and rifled through my belongings without so much as a note.  This left me paranoid that I was the victim of an elaborate drug smuggling ring and I was destined for the gates of Guantanamo.  So after several careful searches and a long wait for a transport I arrived the the city of New Orleans slightly disgruntled.
So perhaps my initial judgement of the city has been clouded by other unpleasantries but it was certainly not the romantic notion I expected.  Instead of the melting pot of cultures ambling the streets I found a heavy contingent of middle aged Americans holding too much alcohol and showing an indecent amount of leathery hide. Instead of hearty jazz performers on the streets and in the bars there were a riff raff of street performers from living statues to transvestites and psychics.  Even the smell of Bourbon Street had nothing of the sweet liquor it was named after, just cheap cigars, vomit and urine.  This was too much to digest and I retreated via a Crawfish outlet.  It seems that a few steps in New Orleans goes a long way.  For the "wrong side" of the highway contains a strong contingent of wandering homeless and loitering youths.  I clutched my prize and hurried home.
Dejected but not defeated by my first night, I endeavoured to explore the city by day to rectify my past experience.  It was certainly a different beast.  Gone were the rowdy revellers, replaced by pleasant elderly couple and grassroots bands.  The buildings too seemed to have a stately European charm to them that was hidden by the neon glows.  Sadly Bourbon street smelt no different.  I strolled leisurely through the city along some of the more well known buildings and managed to wander into a cook book store where the friendly owner had some advice for tourists - "Always take a taxi when in doubt".  Sound advice.  Lunch was simply a few beignets along the banks of the magnificent Mississippi River.
Earlier in the morning I had booked a swamp tour that promised fast boats and alligators, so when I was taken to a bank amongst a child and three southern ladies I was a little disappointed.  This only lasted until the first whirl of the the giant fanblades.  With the deafening buzz, the humid marsh air rushing by and the vast river in front the ride was as thrilling as any.  Especially as there were no other boats or people to dilute the humbling experience.  There was however plenty of gators.  These gentle reptiles are far less intimidating than the salt water crocodiles of Australia. So tamed by the constant tourism that they had even developed a taste for marshmallows.  We even had the pleasure of holding on of the smaller beasts that had been raised by our friendly guide.
By nightfall the same rabble had begun returning to the French Quarter.  I quickly made for Coops for my first taste of Jambalaya and was stunned.  A smoky, rich stew of crawfish, shrimp, rabbit and sausage with mild cajun spices ticked all right boxes in my hungry body.  This was soul food.  Satisfied, I retired with an improved view of NOLA. 
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My Review Of The Place I Stayed

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