If bank accounts could cry, mine would be drowning in an ocean of its own tears right now. This weekend, I visited New Orleans and let me just tell you straight away that I loved it. I think it might just be one of my favourite cities of all time. Four continents down and I’ve yet to find a place with an atmosphere even remotely similar.
Home is where the WiFi connects automatically and I no longer need to log into Greyhound WiFi. Do with that information what you will. New Orleans is less than two hours away, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I find myself back there sometime soon.
I bumped into Ana and Raquel at the bus station, so that was ace. We did a bit of touristing together Saturday afternoon, although I did leave for an hour to get a tattoo done (more about that under Idle Hands a bit further down).
Cost: $13.50 each way (booking fee included).
Being the literature lover that I am, I was psyched to have the chance to walk around the city that rooted A Streetcar Named Desire in the physical world. I knew beforehand that the Desire line doesn’t run anymore, but that didn’t stop me from being excited about the fact that the streetcars are cute and Elysian Fields Avenue exists.
Now, having walked around New Orleans for two days, I do think it’s an amazing city, but if it weren’t for the metaphorical meaning behind Elysian Fields, I would have been quite confused as to why Tennessee Williams absolutely had to send Blanche there. But that’s besides the point! The streetcars are neat.
Cost: $3 for an all-day pass.
Exploring (Day 1)
As promised, a bit of tattoo talk. I’ve wanted a tattoo for ages, but it wasn’t until recently that I settled on a design. Over the past two years, I’ve had ideas come and go, but the one I ended up going with was one of the recurring ones.
There are multiple layers of meaning, especially considering that the tattoo in question is essentially just eight straight lines. I’m going to elaborate a bit more here than I do when people ask me in person, so if you’re not interested, skip ahead.
I travel and move quite a lot, so I have what I would almost call a diluted sense of home. I thought it might be nice to commemorate my roots in an unusual and non-obvious way, hence the runic theme. Jera and Dagaz are the runic versions of J and D. I didn’t choose them for that reason, but I do like Jack Daniels and John Dorian.
Jera symbolises the effort you put into something being reflected in the result. It serves as a reminder that you should pour effort (and positivity) into everything that you do. I know that doesn’t take systemic barriers and universal obstacles into consideration, but then the rune is there to remind me to fight the system.
Dagaz means that darkness is merely the absence of light rather than an entity in itself. Scientists might disagree, but I’m more interested in the poetic than the scientific value of light. The sun is always shining, but sometimes your worldview clouds your vision. This rune is there to help me remember the light.
Cost: $70 with tips and all.
Could I have paid less elsewhere? Probably. Do I regret spending $70 to ensure proper sanitation and a pleasant first tattoo experience? Nah.
New Orleans Pharmacy Museum
I wish I’d had a bit more time to walk around this museum, which is spread over two floors, but we didn’t get there until half an hour before closing time. When you buy your ticket, the cashier hands out an information booklet, but there just wasn’t enough time to read through all of it and still see the museum.
There was so much questionable medicine and medical apparatus, I left the museum grateful for the fact that I’m a 90s kid. One thing we came across that I think might potentially be an interesting product if it were still on the mainstream market is tampons infused with opium.*
Cost: $4 for students
I don’t have much to say about Jackson Square, but it’s a cute little park. I didn’t manage to fit in a visit to St Louis Cathedral or the Presbytère, but they look nice from the outside. St Louis Cathedral looks like something straight out of a Disney movie. One of the most Disney cathedrals of all time. Except for Notre Dame Paris.
Food and Drink
Café du Monde
Beignets are life. That opinion might be influenced by the fact that I had the first beignet of my life when I was so hungover I wanted to die, but honestly, yum. The line was long, but it was worth it. I can feel the States chipping away at my life expectancy but I would be honoured to die by overconsumption of beignets.
Alligator does taste a bit like chicken. If that comment doesn’t make it obvious, I had a bit of alligator at NOLA Poboys – it was delicious. Come to think of it, I came back in a slightly more inebriated state for chips (fries if you will).
I don’t think I’ve ever had a better hot dog in my life. The one I went for had grilled chicken, bacon, lettuce, and tomato in it and it was delicious. I never realised a hot dog could contain something other than a sausage. Boy was I missing out.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop
We went for a night out on Saturday and quite literally the only reason I know I’ve been to Lafitte’s is that I have the receipts to prove it. It looks cool (and what some might describe as a tad questionable) on Google images, but that’s all I can say.
Cost: Dignity and physical health
I bought a pizza here and I think a reasonable description of what I got would be ‘heart attack in baked form.’ It was delicious. Just what the doctor ordered. I realised on the Greyhound that I’d forgotten the last slice in a styrofoam box at the Airbnb and I could feel my heart shatter into a million pieces.
Although we didn’t spend much time together during the day, there were 10 of us in New Orleans together. The Airbnb home we had rented was listed as having six sleeping spaces, but there didn’t seem to be a problem fitting all of us in.
The place was essentially a commercial space with two rooms equipped to accommodate as many people as possible. I slept on a ridiculously comfortable recliner chair for two nights. It was the ultimate student Airbnb experience.
Cost: $43 (in our specific case)
Exploring (Day 2)
Mardi Gras World
I won’t be in the States when Mardi Gras comes around (this knowledge physically pains me) so I decided to go to Mardi Gras World to get a taste of what I’ll be missing. I don’t know why I did that, it just made the pain even worse.
There’s something special about a five metre tall styrofoam version of Dolly Parton’s head. I’m not sure what that something is, but it’s bound to stick with you. It was cool to see some of the things that have been used before and will be used in the future, but I don’t think the museum gave me a proper idea of what the event itself is actually like. Dear friends in the States, please post videos on Snapchat.
$15.95 for students
The French Quarter is exactly what you expect it to be. Live jazz and blues on most streets, lots of cute buildings, and lots of people. It felt less like a tourist destination than I was expecting it to, which was amazing. You could tell it was a popular place for tourists and locals alike, but it was a comfortable level of busy.
Some of the busyness might have been caused by Southern Decadence (pride weekend, wassup) but that just added to the experience. Good vibes all around.
New Orleans Museum of Art
As a Danish person who takes great pride in the fact that Copenhagen is the home of noma aka. one of the best restaurants in the world, I was amused by the fact that New Orleans Museum of Art was shortened to NOMA. There was even a café inside called Café NOMA. Sadly, the kitchen was closed by the time I was ready to eat.
The museum itself was a lot bigger than I was expecting it to be. There was a decent variety of art on display, but I quickly came to realise that Dutch art from the Golden Age isn’t one of my favourite kinds. Of course, I haven’t seen every single work from the era, but the ones on display here didn’t rouse my attention.
The modern and indigenous art was amazing, though. The design section was pretty neat as well. Overall, it was an afternoon well spent, although I truly wish I’d been a little less hungover and that the kitchen had been open.
Cost: $8.50 for students
I fell in love with New Orleans the minute I stepped off the Greyhound. I had high hopes for the city and not a single expectation was let down.
15/10 would recommend.
*If reading about tampons had you cringing and thinking “Ew, an illusion to periods!” to yourself, you need to grow up.