Welcome to the highly anticipated multi-cultural, multi-lingual, food centric capital of the south. LOUISIANA!!!! As has become the norm for the Gulf states we crossed bridges, rode past houses on stilts, and endless bayous en route to the famously, infamous New Orleans (NOLA). It was clear we were getting closer to NOLA as we went through 30-foot high 5-foot thick gates designed to keep the water out of the below sea-level city.
Fighting bunches of traffic through the sprawl that was the outer limits of the city, we eventually made it to our NOLA digs and the home of first time warm showers host Kevin. Kevin recommended a few spots in the neighborhood, but due to the NOLA factor (a never ending supply of food and alcohol) we had to grab some Louisiana refreshments.
Following Kevin’s suggestion we wandered over to the festively lighted Bayou St. John neighborhood for a taste of Israel and Middle Eastern cuisine at 1000 Figs.
Against all sanity we walked to the french quarter enjoying the iconic colorful houses and wrought iron balconies as we turned onto the infamous Bourbon Street. As the acrid smell of last nights partying wafted down the street, we sought shelter and satisfied the need to catch up with the NOLA-high at Cafe Beignet for some fried dough and several pounds of confectioners sugar.
Loopy on sugar we walked quite aimlessly through the streets of the French Quarter people watching, eating, and drinking our way to the Mississippi River and Jackson Square.
We succumbed to “A Streetcar Named Desire” (for oysters) and found ourselves bounding down the tracks of the famed St. Charles Ave. Back on foot we witnessed the aftermath of Mardi Gras in the form of “bead trees.” At Le Bon Temps Roulé we downed a dozen free mega sized oysters and a few good cold beers. An Uber ride later we were back toward the lake enjoying Po-Boys at the Parkway Tavern then shared a cocktail with Kevin and friends at Pal’s Lounge.
Yesterday we were pedestrians, today we would venture out on bike to explore the further reaches of the city. Again armed with Kevin’s detailed maps and directions we rode through one of NOLAs cemeteries to witness the cultural differences in funeral methods. (It’s really not because of the water table folks.)
Away from the lake and downriver we rode through the still demolished Lower Ninth Ward. Witnessing the misguided, well-intended Brad Pitt houses and the hundreds of slabs where houses once stood. We got our veg food on at the Sneaky Pickle before riding upriver to meet Kevin for beers at Avenue Pub.
Kevin took us on a tour of the rest of the city, passing Toulane & Loyola on our way towards East Carrolton and the big bend in the Mississippi. Back in Kevin’s neighborhood we parked the bikes and separated for yet another Surf & Turf PoBoy!! These really are the best sandwiches in America. (Philly Cheesesteak be damned!)
Hard as it is to say goodbye we had to continue on our way west and further into Louisiana. We said our goodbyes to our new friend and warm showers buddy, Kevin and rode onto the levy and out of the great New Orleans…