The second leg of the trip was spent exploring the culture New Orleans has to offer; starting with a little bit of Voodoo...
I am totally weird in that, I have a fascination with cemeteries. It's been something I have been mildly obsessed with, ever since I was a kid. Naturally, I had to check out one of their famous "above ground" cemeteries.
We headed for a tour of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. The cemeteries in New Orleans are very different than those we have at home... First of all, you're unable to access the cemetery, unless you are on a guided tour. Now, I don't know if this is just some tourism scam, or if it is due to the fact that New Orleans is a pretty dangerous place. Perhaps both. Secondly, all of the burial plots are above ground. Due to Nola being below sea level (approx 6 feet), bodies are buried in above ground tombs. You can bury many people in one single tomb... A body rests inside a tomb for 1 year and 1 day until it is basically "cooked inside the tomb" and the ashes are swept to the back and collect in a chamber below. Pretty neat! Way to optimize on some burial real estate!
On our tour we learned about the famous Marie Laveau - better known as the Queen of Voodoo, who first brought the religion to New Oreleans. Marie Laveau had 2 daughters whom she also named (both) Marie Laveau! Bet that would have been confusing around the house! There is a famous story where if you draw 3 xxx on the tomb of Marie Laveau she will grant you a wish. To this day they still aren't 100% sure which of the 3 tombs belongs to the real Marie Laveau.
Later on, we did some exploring ourselves. We weaved our way in and around the French Quarter until we stopped at Kingfish to try some gator (3 ways). Well I can say that it probably wasn't the best thing I had to eat down south, however, it wasn't terrible either. Between the gator and frogs legs we ate, we both found them to be rather chewy, but similar in taste to chicken. We snacked on a platter of: gator ham, gator chorizo, gator bologna, head cheese, cracklings, a rabbit terrine & deep fried frogs legs. Interesting stuff, but I'm not sure I would have it all again...
We carried on exploring with our full bellies in tow, until we we stopped by a large crowd and more colours than I knew the human eye could read! The parade had commenced! Southern Decadence was in full swing! There were "colourful" characters of all kinds, dressed to impress or at the very least to "suggest" their self-confidence. It was fun to see all of the costumes and feel the energy of the crowd. It didn't hurt to have a giant camera either. People must have thought I was someone important as I kept getting a lot of posers. Following that of the parade of Decadence, those unfortunately narrow minded individuals, with their distasteful signs, felt it was imperative to impose themselves again by trying to kill the spirit, but to no avail. I was able to capture a little love against their hate, once again. Jennica - 2 VS Haters - 0
After the hype of the parade we continued our exploration, making our way to the next dinner destination Paladar 511 - my goodness... this place had some AMAZING food. I wish we could have tried this place twice! We had a lovely white pizza with roasted corn, egg, pancetta and truffle, as well as an incredible ravioli dish. Stuffed with ricotta & lemon zest, finished with brown butter, hazelnuts, parmesan and chantrelle & shiitake mushrooms. To die for!!
Rolling ourselves out of Palladar, we waddled over to Café Du Monde - famous for their beignets. These were totally wasted on us. We had indulged ourselves too much at dinner, to enjoy the fried goodness of the beignets. However, we sucked it up and we each had a bite to ensure every last inch of our stomach had been filled.
The last day of our adventure we spent wandering the city outside of the French Quarter... We had amazing baked oysters in chili butter, pork cheek dumplings, mac & cheese, grits with sautéed mushrooms & a poached egg. Holy rich! I noticed my pants were a bit tighter than when we had first arrived to this crazy place... Our last stop would be a the famous Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone. You literally sit at a bar that once was a carousel and it slowly turns around. I wonder how many bartenders there, have mixed up their drink orders?
The morning we were set head home, we did one last walk through the French Quarter. The now vacant streets were eerily quiet, after the wild weekend had passed. I had remembered seeing these incredible doors (I might have gone a little overkill on the door pics), upon one of our many strolls through the French Quarter, but couldn't recall exactly where they were. After 2 hours of searching, we finally found them... Located at Preservation Hall, these doors were my absolute favourite image from the trip. You'll notice them at the end of the post, due to the array of colour. Too cool to miss, I snapped a few shots, then we headed to the airport to catch our flight home.
Thank you Nola for the amazing experiences, food, laughs, culture, music and of course, those wild fruity drinks.
Post Track: Gene Austin - New Orleans