After four days of nothing but driving, walking, and eating, I woke up on Day 5 wanting to go for a run. It was 8am and it was already a blistering 88 degrees with 100% humidity; needless to say the run was tough. My initial idea of running 4 miles got crushed when I hit an endless wall of heat and running through sludge at mile 1.5, so I decided to head back home. We went out for brunch shortly after at a local restaurant before catching an Uber into the city. The interesting thing was that the restaurant we ate at had a “Katrina Line” painted around the building. It was 6 feet high, and that’s how high was water was when the levy’s broke in 2006. That was the first sign for us that we were someplace where tragedies like this happen, and we were only getting deeper.
Our first stop was the Louis Armstrong Park, which was fairly abandoned and run down by our park standards. After seeing some of the larger statues, we found the local bus stop where we were able to scope out some maps and get ideas of things that we would want to do. Like most Disney kids, I’d see the Princess and the Frog, a Disney movie that’s set in NOLA, and the main takeaway from that movie was the fact that voodoo plays a major role in the culture of NOLA and the development of the city. You could see this in all of the gift sho
ps as they had endless voodoo related options. Another interesting thing was the fact all of the graveyards and tombstones were above ground. This was in stark contrast to
what we had seen at the Arlington Cemetery just a few days before. We looked it up, and the reason behind this was because that’s how the Spanish did it back in the day, they buried their dead above ground. It also helps with the decomposing of the bodies (somehow) and due to the fact that NOLA is below sea level, it ensures that the bodies don’t come popping out of the ground every time there’s a flood.
We decided to walk down the French Quarter, and as we were walking stumbled upon Bourbon street. It definitely wasn’t that crazy during that day, but we still saw a lot of people who looked like they were having almost a bit too much fun if that’s possible. I had heard about the Garden District, which was a ways away from the French Quarter, and wanted to go and check it out. It’s the area of NOLA where all of the beautiful southern mansions are, basically that type of house I would want to live in. Walking down those streets, all of the houses were absolutely gorgeous; they had large windows that went from floor to ceiling, beautiful porches with swings, and huge trees that have survived countless storms. Some of the houses were historic and had plaques in front of them, while others looked like they were being newly renovated. A common theme throughout the road trip was that Mike and I could constantly find different places and houses where we would want to live if we had unlimited funds.
Walking to the Garden District from Frenchman street was no easy task, as it was a solid 2 miles away. Our original plan was to take the streetcar (queue Streetcar Names Desire jokes; they were never ending), but we quickly realized that they filled up quickly and were super unreliable. One streetcar driver turned us away because the car was too full. That’s the point where we decided that we would walk along the same route as the streetcar, since it would bring us to the same spot. Low and behold, we made it to where we would have gotten off before the next streetcar even arrived. Ever streetcar from that point on was named “Desire”, and we didn’t get to ride one until we got to Seattle, but that’s a story for a later time. After a quick stop in some of the local stores, and a Starbucks to refuel, we were ready to head back into town to continue our exploring.
We made it down to the Mississippi River, where a steamboat was about to take off for a cruise up the winding stream. Nothing was more NOLA than that sight. It was called the Natchez, but we dubbed it the “Nacho Steamboat” for the rest of the night. After a day of baking in the sun, we needed to get something to eat. We picked a restaurant that had outdoor seating, and eyed the menu for any local delicacies, And that’s when we saw the Alligator nuggets. Without hesitation we went for it; I’ll be honest, it tasted like chicken but it was definitely more chewy. We were right outside of the St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square, which is the oldest Catholic Cathedral in the USA. Seeing the sun set behind it was quite a site and it made for some beautiful pictures, I wish we had been able to get there earlier so we could’ve seen the interior and the architecture, but this just gives me an excuse to one day go back!
Our final stop of the night was an ice cream shop, where we rewarded ourselves with some delicious gelato after an extremely warm and humid day. It’s definitely tough to walk around when it’s that hot out with that many people.
Oh, and finally Bourbon Street. At night it is a completely different scene than it is during the day. There are people everywhere, and it definitely has a very red light district type of feel. We also walked down another street that was highly recommended called Frenchman Street. It was definitely more our scene; a bit chiller and there was music and jazz at every bar, but it didn’t have the same excited feel that Nashville had. We decided to call it a night, probably a little bit earlier than we could’ve, and went home and fell into bed.
As we went to sleep, we realized that we were done driving south: from here on out, it was all about heading west.