I went into reading this book with skepticism. After all, business travel is nothing like RV travel, vacation travel or any other types of travel we know about. It started off slow but I imagined (correctly) that it was building up a back story for the character and what he does – the character being the actual business man , R.F. Hemphill; a man who spent 10 years and 4 million airline miles developing a startup a global electric power and distribution company. Between the type of travel he was into and the company he worked for, I was already starting to loose interest early on, however, I stuck through the buildup to reach a rewarding series of stories about incredibly rural and/or fascinating places all around the world.
The book is structured in a series of letters written by R.F. Hemphill to his retired military father. A strange structure at first, and at times it seemed supplemented to included missing information, but it didn’t take long to get used to it and appreciate the lack of “he said she said”. Trying to remember as many details as the author would have had to, he’s lucky his father kept all his letters to work off of.
After the initial chapters with the background and what he does for work being explained in depth, I started to like the character the most when he spent a day at a plant getting ‘head to toe dirty’ in coal byproducts, deep in parts of a plant I never knew existed. It made him seem human and not the unapproachable “business man” I was expecting. However, as he started to travel more and talk about other cultures, I started to dislike him. He made other cultures sound “wrong” and “odd” which is not my impression from traveling, I try to stay humble and keep in mind that I’m the odd one in their country. At first his attitude about other cultures was just kind of… ethnocentric. This goes on for a while but the places he goes and people he meets help you disregard that aspect of him and as his travels as they go on, after the first 4 years or so he has started to become significantly more accepting, partly because of the amount of times he visits certain places again and again, and partly because he’s learned to avoid the things he finds strange, like, dust tea as in the title of the book, and insects for dinner.
There’s many endearing characteristics about the author, and whether you like him or not, his stories and character grow on you. I actually found myself interested in the perspective of an ethnocentric traveler. He didn’t really judge individual people, or even look down on the thousands of workers working at the plants he helped ‘sell’ and build, but he was more likely to get drinks with coworkers than locals – I suppose fitting in to my “businessman” ideas about him. It’s true as the book goes on that he changed his world view significantly, a really cool change to see shown through letters to a conservative father. I would really have liked to know what he didn’t write his father, was there a night where his coworkers picked up prostitutes and they all ended the evening with machine guns pointed at them in Manila? Was there a bout of food poisoning so bad that he had to buy all new clothes in Calcutta? The book is definitely tame in that regard, but a good and interesting read none the less. Especially since most of the places he writes about are extremely rural parts of China and India, with things I would have never learned about; Like during Watermelon season in parts of China, you’re fed so much watermelon you may never want to see it again.
I’ll save the rest for you to read if interested! I still have a little bit to go which makes me happy that there’s still some left, I would have never thought about reading a travel book from a business travel perspective before but I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit.
So yesterday, sometime in the late morning, 5 years earlier in 2009, we began our journey to nowhere and everywhere in a 1973 Dodge B300, Brougham, Class C RV.
We started out fast, beginning with my mother and her cats hitching a ride to New Mexico to her new home. We broke down in Tonopah, Nevada for a week when the alternator went out, the first of many problems the old Brougham would have, and eventually made our way to New Mexico. From there our official travels began but it still took us a few months to learn how to slow down.
We started out by going straight to Slab City for Halloween where we met up with my friend Lisa from Santa Ana, California. We tried to stay there longer, but at the time we were on AT&T and couldn’t get a decent signal so we could work. We spent some time replacing the starter then headed north, boondocking on the stinky shore of the Salton Sea at a “town” called North Shore. *If you want everything you own to smell like dead fish for a couple weeks, stay here!*
After that we took a jaunt towards Joshua Tree to find out it was freezing cold, turned around and drove straight into LA and visited Lisa one last time. We passed through Big Bear on a Saturday night and while coming down the mountain, our u-joint almost went out on us. We stopped in El Cajon to find we weren’t allowed to park anywhere in the city for the night and had to get a hotel (before 10pm – city ordinance), but we were able to take the RV in to Sears in the morning to get it worked on (on a Sunday even!). When we finally moved on, we found nowhere to stay near San Diego – we searched for one place that no longer existed, found some overpriced beach (parking lot) camping and one place that was “members only”. Fed up, we drove all night, getting the hell out of Southern California.
We found a great state park south of Alamogordo, New Mexico but after a few days we found ourselves with bald tires in a hilly, snowy campground, and running out of propane fast. As soon as the roads dried up a bit, we left for Pecos, then the Monahans Dunes, and by Christmas we were in Fredricksburg. We spent New Years in San Antonio, ambled around southern Louisiana for a few weeks and finally ended up in New Orleans.
We realized while there that we were halfway across the country – and yes it took a few months, but we had missed so much in the process of trying to get our bearings. Then we realized that summer was approaching fast and we had no air conditioning. If you’ve been to Louisiana in the Summer, you can imagine why that matters. Lastly, the big realization, we would miss the spontaneity of the Brougham, but we wanted to make traveling a full time, long term commitment. This is when we upgraded to our previous trailer, and a month or two later, bought a truck and sold the Brougham – for a guitar, amp, and a 1980 Honda Twinstar. It was probably a pretty good trade.
Ever since then we’ve been traveling much slower, maybe even too slow for some people to stay interested, but we’ve never claimed to be on vacation. This is our lifestyle. We work weekdays, we sleep nights and we see new and interesting things on the weekends.
After 5 years, it’s surprising how normal traveling starts to feel. We’re never surprised by ‘strange’ foods, hard to decipher accents, local customs, or how badly people drive, and staying a while in each place, we really get to know the areas. It’s not everyone’s style of traveling but when you think about the 5 day work week being a part of our month or so at most places, that’s still only 3 to 4 weekends (and one for travel) a month – where we also have to fit in normal stuff like grocery shopping, repairs and errands. We get just 5-7 days a month to explore an area when we stay a month. When we go out, we try and do as much nature stuff as we can and reserve some time for meals out, and checking out downtown. Now that we have the motorcycles, we’ll be doing a lot more trail riding and less hiking, which is both sad but also extremely fun – when the snow starts to fall we’ll be back to hiking – this winter, in the Smokey and Blueridge Mountains.
After our last trailer was destroyed by a tree last winter (as you may have read), we finally upgraded to what we’ve wanted for a long while, a toy hauler. We’re slowly evolving into something much different than we were when we started and it’s definitely for the best. As always, I’ll try and keep up with the blog – of course there’s at least 500 things I could have posted about but didn’t, so if I start playing “Throwback Thursday” don’t get too confused – the most up to date travel and adventure stuff is on our facebook page!
We’ve been trying to find our place in the RV world for years now and just haven’t found our niche. We’re not retired, not work-campers, not exactly ‘free spirits’, we don’t plan much, and we don’t seem to go to the kinds of places other full time RVers go or want to read about. We occasionally tent camp, seek out mud, hike to interesting places and put our lives at risk from time to time; We want to see fascinating nature and all over the US (and eventually the world); We love crazy off-road vehicles like the Unimog, and plan to be amazing, serious riders on our new Dual Sport bikes. There’s nothing wrong with typical RV life, and it can be argued that there is no “typical RV life” but I, more often than not, feel like we’re just not into the same things. I guess what makes us different from other RVers might make us interesting to some, but it may be that we’re not really RVers at all, but rather, something new?
When we found out about the Overland Expo we started to learn more about the Overland lifestyle and the types of people who define it. The overall feel of the lifestyle and what it represented hinted at a world we felt we might have some common ground on. We paid for the full event pass, the “Overland Experience”, and spent an evening reading about and registering for classes. Overland travel is basically driving a vehicle or motorcycle across a country or continent and intentionally seeking out unfinished roads and surfaces – while being prepared and skilled enough to survive the ordeal with yourself and vehicle in one piece (or check out wikipedia). Typically the trip is about the journey rather than the destination, and usually involves camping and border crossings.
The event featured such a huge variety of invaluable classes and panel discussions that it’s a little hard to explain them all. To get the full experience of the event you would really have to attend the event at least 3 times, each time being completely worth the cost and experience – once for 4wd classes, once for bike classes and one again for all the survival, gps training and travel advice (though you can sort of schedule a balanced dose of each). The short version is that there is a big focus on beginning and advanced classes and demos on Overland vehicle travel in the wild and/or foreign countries – and everything you need to know that goes with that. For 4wd vehicles there were classes on recovering your vehicle from the mud, driving through water, tipping your vehicle back up if it rolls over, and several advanced terrain courses and demos for terrain. For bikes there were motorcycle skills classes with training on how to ride in dirt, a class with tips and “hacks” for fixing your bike in the middle of nowhere and an in depth maintenance class (and many more).
When we arrived at the event on the first day, we hadn’t registered for any classes so we could walk around and check out the vendors and classroom layout. We walked at a snails pace gawking – giddy over the amazing Overland RVs, vans and popup rooftop tents, awestruck before we even reached the main hall. Not to mention the location itself is something to behold – we were greeted by two longhorns grazing in a field and miles of decades old wood fencing outlining the perfect green, rolling hills of Taylor Ranch. A private lake in the distance whose light bounces off and highlights the early morning fog in a way only a private lake can do, looked especially beautiful reflected in the windows of some of these extreme survival Overland vehicles and campers.
Earth Roamer XV-LTS
Global Expedition Vehicles
Rooftop Popup Tent
My favorite mid sized Overland Vehicle
Overland Trailer with Elevated Tent
We attended several of the motorcycle classes, although, after our nearly hour long ride in 45 degree weather and 12mph winds – early in the morning on the second day of the event, I couldn’t stop shivering (apparently still under-dressed despite my efforts). Being extremely cold combined with a picky first gear issue on my new bike made me skip the actual skills half of the “Intro to Dirt” class. The techniques are different than my own “effective but inaccurate” self taught style and I would have liked to attend but instead had to stand in front of a campfire and drink a hot coffee until I didn’t feel like I had hypothermia. Ross, however, did take the skills half of the class, which ended up being gone for hours. I took the opportunity to fit in a ‘Narrative Story Telling’ class after I warmed up and learned some valuable tips from a professional documentary film maker and published photographer/writer, JoMarie Fecci, (an all round awesome woman basically).
We walked in on several “Round Table” panel discussions in a huge pavilion on the property where experienced travelers, who had crossed continents with vehicles, answered any and all questions from people currently on or planning cross continent trips, panels on Mexico and Central America, South America and Africa and the Middle East. We sat in on a “Traveling Solo” class taught by two experienced motorcycle Overlanders and picked up ton of great advice there and I took a ‘Topographical Maps’ class while Ross took a ‘Basic Motorcycle Maintenance’ class since we wanted to take them both but they overlapped. Even though the class overlapped we were easily able to teach each other what we learned.
Whenever we could, we walked around the property and check out the vendors and vehicles, planning our own future trips and getting to know the gear and lifestyle. I think we’ve found, that even if we don’t fit into the globetrekking aspect so much just yet, we relate to the attitude about life, interest in off-roading/camping, and seriousness about skills, more than we do in the typical RVing world. So I suppose we’ve decided we’re some kind of slow paced US based Hybrid of Overlanders and RVers…maybe, OverlandeRVers? RVlanders?…or maybe we’re just wanabees…regardless, we’ve found a sort of calling and the Overland Expo was our first taste of the future we want.
This isn’t our first time in New Orleans, in fact it was pretty much the city that ushered us into the second stage of our US travels. It’s where we decided to upgrade to a much larger trailer and truck setup back in 2010 (about 6 months into our travels), it’s where we adopted our cat Susa and where we discovered how great the South can be. We spent 4 months here, saving up for the trailer and truck, getting ready for the unplanned long term traveling that we’ve been up to ever since.
Both times visiting this awesome city, we’ve explored a lot. New Orleans is different than any other city in the world, and aside from what you might already know about it (possibly things like Mardi Gras, Bourbon Street and Po’ Boys) like most places with huge international reputations, it has so much more to offer than a quick party.
We made up a guide of our new and old favorites in this awesome city, and although it’s not full of war museums, blues music and mansions (other interesting things about the city), it’s a list of our favorite places that we hope some of you will remember or get use out of down the road!
Vegetarian/Vegan New Orleans
The whole country is, overall, not very vegetarian/vegan friendly when you leave the safety of large liberal cities, but Southern towns and cities can be completely unaccommodating. In this regard, New Orleans is definitely an oasis in a desert. There isn’t much in the way of vegetarian for a few hundred miles in any direction. Rural Louisiana may have the occasional natural store and chain grocery stores have an OK selection, but as far as eating out, It’s pretty much Chili’s for a blackbean burger ( if you can keep them from putting bacon on it).
13 : This restaurant bar is in our favorite neighbourhood, Marigny, It’s a funky little area just outside of the French Quarter where we always park when going anywhere downtown, as the streets are always full and narrow. 13 doesn’t have much vegan food but it does have great BBQ Tofu Po’ Boys that are great before or after wandering the streets of the French Quarter in search of drinks and interesting people.
Sneaky Pickle: This was one of the only places that actually came up in search as “vegan” and actually had vegan options, although it is not really a vegan restaurant (although the claim it, the table next to us ordered fish). It’s basically a tiny cafeteria designed by hipsters and grandmas, but that works out pretty great. It’s a little hard to find, as it’s just on a cruddy road surrounded by tons of mechanics and boarded up shops but worth looking for. We both got a delicious and enormous Vegan Ruben sandwich that I should not have finished but was definitely worth the money! They also offer Jarritos Mexican soda, something you don’t often see east of Texas. yousneakypickle.com
Yo Mama’s: This place has been in the back of my mind since we first are there years ago. We were of course eating lots of spicy foods, as always, but I was still training for the 9 out of 10 level that I am today (hot sauce bar hotness scale at least). Yo Mama’s had a great black-bean patty that you could get put on their Bull Fighter burger that we expected to cause us some nostalgic woe. The bull fighter used to feature a pile of about 15 raw jalapeno slices so hot that I’d painfully gnaw my way all the way to the end just to prove I could, but alas, they no longer pile them on like they used to. This time we got about 4 per burger, and although they were still spicy, there was no pain and suffering and it wasn’t just because of our tolerance this time. We went 3 times anyway and loved it every time. There’s not many places in New Orleans to get a good veggie burger so we will always be repeat customers. The upstairs is the best place to sit if you can.
Good Time Sushi: This was another favorite of ours, far from the crowds and traffic in northern New Orleans (if you can call it that). They have some vegan appetizers, miso soup and a few vegan sushi rolls. We always love our meals there without feeling taken for a ride (as sushi often makes you feel). When we used to go there they would be playing crime TV shows on a TV near the middle of the dining area but unfortunately they removed it. No more laughing with the sushi chefs and eating fried tofu while rednecks get arrested for us! Still, great food, and it’s a Good Time.
Slim Goodies Diner: In every decent sized town we always look long and hard for a breakfast tofu scramble. After some menu searching we finally came up with Slim Goodies on Magazine Street. When we got there after a long drive across town, the place was super crowded and there was a bit of a wait. Eventually we managed to make it to some seats at the counter on some very diner like stools that were a bit close together but not entirely uncomfortable. While waiting, we had some time to look at other people’s meals and I noticed something with corn tortillas and tofu, which I ended us getting. The only other option on the menu was the scramble, which turned out to be more of a hash-tofu mash, but Ross seemed to enjoy it. The downside is that we did have to sit about 2 feet from the fryer where they cooked bacon almost constantly, aside from that it pretty great. We didn’t go back but that was because we rarely eat breakfast and it was 15 miles from our RV park, not because it wasn’t delicious, because it indeed was and I’d definitely recommend Slims for breakfast!
Great Art at Slim Goodies
Slim Goodies Counter Kitchen View
Slim Goodies Diner
Sucré: Sucre was a big favorite of ours the last time we were here but since we’re not eating dairy anymore, we figured our options would be almost null at Sucré this time. We were wrong! Well, at least a little wrong. They do have a few sorbet flavors and since I prefer fruity things to Chocolate or Vanilla any day, it worked out great for me. I got a scoop of Pineapple Passion, which oddly have cilantro in it (not normally a fan), but still turned out to be quite great. They have a big selection of chocolates, gelatos and macarons, and if you want to drop a bill, you can get a super fancy cake.
Mellow Mushroom: This is one of the best chain restaurants in the South (and now all over the US). When we first traveled the South it was one of the “sure bets” in some of the less compatible towns we visited. Back then, they didn’t even have Daiya vegan cheese, but now that they do, I’m always willing to go to Mellow Mushroom. They have great pizza, with a couple vegan protein options, a tempeh melt sandwich and a BBQ tofu sandwich. It’s always satisfying to get 2 meals out of one and we usually do with their pizzas and full sandwiches. They always have a great beer selection, often many local beers on tap, and their decor often features local artist’s murals, sculptures and their patented stoned looking mushroom man. They’re just about to celebrate their 40th anniversary!
Aunt Tiki’s: This place is just on the edge of the French Quarter and Marigny neighbourhoods, making it a place lots of people walk by but tourists rarely seem to enter. There’s some regulars and people like us who like the music and decor and pop in for a drink. Aunt Tiki’s is tastefully decorated with Halloween decorations, the best being a giant spider that hangs from the ceiling over a suspicious but comfortable couch. They don’t offer anything special in the way of drinks and have an average selection of beer but it’s a good place to pop in for at least one before wandering towards the teeming masses of Bourbon Street.
The Dungeon: So, Google Maps has this place marked as closed, but it certainly is not and despite my attempt to get it marked as opened, they decided it’s still closed – so ignore Google’s advice and visit it anyway (maybe they want to be listed as closed.. who knows). This bar is one of the only Rock bars in the French Quarter and lucky for everyone, it’s not directly on Bourbon Street. You find it by a fairly noticeable sign on the road that points down a long dark, narrow alley way, barely wide enough for a drunk person with their elbows out. After a curious walk down that, you are then spat out into a nice little courtyard with a suspicious looking statue of a bear-pig-cat and a large bearded man who will hold open the door for you and ask for your ID. Then, The Dungeon. Quite tiny by any definition but rife with interesting seating options, especially upstairs if it’s open. There’s always metal playing the the place is often filled with smoke. The mixed drinks are ALWAYS strong because the bartenders are awesome and the decor fits the dark, metal, doomy feel of the place. Lots of cool dragon skulls and such. I’m glad I got a shirt when I did back in 2010 because we weren’t impressed with new design but this place will always be a favorite. They don’t allow photos so.. sorry!
The Bulldog Mid-City: This place we found sort of out of necessity after an afternoon in City Park with Sherlock. Since we adopted her, we’ve been looking for places that allow dogs, and sadly finding that the South, so far, doesn’t really “do that”. The Bulldog was the only bar we found that allowed dogs in its outdoor seating area and oddly you have to go through the bar to get to it. I didn’t get to spend any time looking around the place, just ran through the bar to the outdoor seating, but the selection of beer was quite vast I hear, and I wish I’d had more time to peruse. The outside, awesomely enough, had a couple fountains for dogs to drink out of (my guess anyway), and some natural shade for her to rest under when she wasn’t sitting in my lap. There was at least one other dog out there with its owners who were attentively watching a World Cup game. After walking by the Magazine Street location at a later date and seeing a line outside, we were glad we visited this one in Mid City and had some space to ourselves.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop: Everyone has to go here, there’s really no excuse. It’s the oldest continuous bar in the country and it was owned by a pirate. If that isn’t the coolest place to have a drink in the United States, I don’t know where is (yet). Sometimes this place can get a bit busy, and even when it’s not super busy, it can get a bit shouty, and by shouty I mean “singing Piano Man at the top of your lungs” shouty, because Lafitte’s is a piano bar. Strange I know but it sort of fits when you see it – aside from the type of music being played that is. The piano player/singer is the same guy who was there in 2010, singing and playing the same songs, night after night, and keeping a good spirit about it. The bar itself really does resembled a blacksmith’s shop. Low ceilings, dark oily wood and a great bit fireplace in the middle. We’ve been here at the end of just about every night we’ve spent wandering around the French Quarter and I usually get a pretty strong, if not too strong, rum and coke here. You have to get rum at a pirate bar.. you just have to.
Pepper Palace: I don’t remember seeing Hot Sauce Bars the last time we were in New Orleans but I’m so glad we found them this time. We ran into a few but the Pepper Palace was by far the best. Boasting a much larger selection and variety than the others, and not just a majority of Louisiana hot sauces but also the painfully spicy ones we love, as well as salsas, mustard, jams and a gigantic variety of joy for anyone who loves all things hot.
French Market: Even if you don’t buy anything at the French Market it’s worth walking through. The market spans 6 blocks and features everything from hot food (even some vegetarian options) to cheap beads to live plants. We passed through it on our way to the above mentioned hot sauce bar and after passing over tables and tables of imported decor and jewelry we found a great little hot sauce bar there too! This one featured a majority of locally made sauces, though not necessarily in the “Louisiana hot sauce” style (think, Tabasco). I picked up a couple Scotch Bonnet sauces for me and a friend and we tasted about 8 of their great variety of flavors. On the way out of the market we passed a live plant stand and I grabbed two dried up resurrection plants, something I’ve been wanting for a while – a plant that won’t die!
More Fun Comics: You can’t loose with a great comic book store, and whether you’re REALLY into comic books or a casual reader like me, this place is great for nostalgia or the newest publications. The staff are funny and a bit on the “know everything” side, but nice, and it would be fun to pick their brains if I had anything to pick with. It’s the kind of place to just hang out and get lost in for hours, appreciate art and geek out.
Hong Kong Market: We always look forward to large asian grocery stores, if not only for the opportunity to see new and interesting foods and spices. They also typically have strange and interesting varieties of vegan “meats”, sometimes awkwardly shaped like the animal they’re meant to resemble in taste. They also have canned mock duck, a favorite of mine, and best of all, meatless jerky. We end up leaving with a pile of fake meats, new spices and sauces and small pile of strange snacks. Hong Kong is probably the largest we’ve been to in the country, one in Portland, Oregon running a close second. If you love asian foods (from Indian to Thai to Chinese) this is the place to go! Hong Kong Market is technically in Gretna.
Neighbourhoods and Parks:
Magazine Street: This area is great for food, offbeat shopping, coffee, antiquing, you name it. It’s a very walkable area too and every time you stroll, you notice something new and go inside. The shops are friendly and there’s a real “local” feel to it – much different than downtown in that regard. It’s nice to see cashiers talking to customers they know, smiling, happy, rather than irritated by tourists all day. We love this area for food and shopping at places like Buffalo Exchange and Funky Monkey. The antique shops are unbeatable, I stocked up on skeleton keys and vintage luggage last time we were here and I still use the luggage every day for my etsy stock. A must visit.
Marigny and Decatur Area:
This neighbourhood is the more down to earth neighbour of the French Quarter. There are some funky shops and book stores, the restaurant/bar 13 that I mentioned earlier, and several bars good for wandering into like the Dragon’s Den(where they seem to always have live music – Rock rather than Jazz). One of the other perks of this neighbourhood is that it always has parking (and for larger vehicles) unlike any other part of downtown. Sometimes you have to go into a lot and pay, and sometimes you get a meter (free in the evenings), but there has always been a spot for us, even in our giant trucks, and even when we drove the Brougham (our first RV).
Leaving Marigny is where you find Decatur Street, which is the street we take most of the way to the Bourbon Street area. Here is where our favorite Hot Sauce bar and “away from the mess” dive bars are. There’s also a few Irish pubs along this walk that are interesting to pop into and get a pint!
Musicians earning a buck
The awesome balconies
Demon on the Street
Oak Street: This is a small neighbourhood, only a couple blocks long but packed full of good things. Anywhere with a comic book store, vegan food and a coffee shop within 2 blocks of each other is awesome in my book. We went to Mellow Mushroom to get one of their delicious vegan pizzas, admired their fun decor (as always) and walked down the street to get a coffee. On the way I noticed an interesting door to an unknown place so I took a photo, on the walk back to the truck we discovered it was in fact a great comic book store! I tried not to buy anything but of course left with a graphic novel and a magazine. It’s a great little neighbourhood for a lazy afternoon before or after visiting City Park.
Jackson Square: Now this place is really touristy and we’ve never gone into the adjoining shops or cafes but it’s just someplace you have to walk through, whether to people watch or to look at the art, there’s always something going on any day of the week.
City Park: City park is one of the best parks we’ve encountered in the country. It’s well maintained and features miles of walking and biking trails, a pond with kayak and paddle boat rentals, a train ride, a dog park, a cafe, a sculpture garden and an art museum. You can easily spend an afternoon here and make of day of it with the nearby St Louis Cemetery III. We’ve visited several times but on our last visit finally saw the resident sculpture garden, formerly a botanical garden, which makes for a gorgeous place for art.
Bourbon Street and Canal Street: Bourbon Street is bearable to walk down depending on many factors, time of day, day of week and tolerance of smell. Bourbon Street stinks, sometimes more than others and sometimes it’s just so crowded you can’t bear it any more. Sometimes the street smells like a mix of horse urine, vomit and old garbage, and sometimes’s it just smells like city. We walk fast, weaving in and out of drunk people and tourists with their young kids stepping in vomit (it’s a good experience for them), but sometimes breakdancers, magicians, musicians or body painted women will hold up the entire street and you just have to stop and watch the performance. The bars go from insanely cheap to “why did I just pay $6 for a lager”, depending on what part of the bar you’re in, how much you drink (more seems cheaper) and what you prefer. If you want to drink sugary red grenade’s all night you can probably get drunk cheap, but if you just want a pint, maybe leave Bourbon Street for pretty much any other street. We usually just people watch and move on to side streets. Fighting the crowds, looking for interesting people sounds like a weird hobby but it’s quite fun. We rarely stop at any of the bars until we get to the end of the street at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. On the nights we go to the French Quarter, we walk a lot and usually end up on Canal Street at some point. This street is where the trolley can take you from the French Quarter to Magazine Street and where many of the larger hotels (and casinos) reside. The sidewalks are larger but most of the people on them late at night are drunk people heading back to their hotels so expect to dodge a drunk here and there.
There’s a lot to be said for this area but mostly I admire its feel. The debauchery, art, tourist attractions, alcohol, talented and “less than talented” performers – every night of the week. It’s extremely easy to forget what time it is while walking around the French Quarter, the party never seems to stop… just slowly tapers off, then naps a bit, and is ready again by noon the next day. The city that naps for a short, sometimes (“the city that never sleeps” was taken).
Bourbon Street Horse Cop
Bars and bars and bars
Bourbon Street Cops
Canal Street Art
Starbucks on Canal Street
A couple fun things to do downtown that don’t involve getting drunk are the VooDoo Museum and the Haunted History Tours, which highly recommend for both history and entertainment reasons.
There’s countless places to visit in New Orleans, and many we didn’t mention that we should have (mainly because this blog would be a mile long). So if ever in doubt on where to go, you will never run out of things to do in New Orleans.