This post is coming to you sponsored by coffee. ALL of the coffee. I'm on my third cup already and I'm still struggling. But then I suppose I could just say that's me getting into the American spirit, couldn't I?
As you may have seen me mention in Monday's Post, I was lucky enough to get over to the good ol' United States the other week for work, and it was pretty darn awesome. I was originally planning for this post to cover my whole America trip, but once I started writing about New Orleans I realised I had so much to say that we'd be here all week if I wrote about anything else.
Because New Orleans really is something special. You may or may not know this, but I'm a musician, and New Orleans is an incredible place to go if you like your music. It's like the entire city is built out of the stuff. Obviously there's a big Jazz history there, but pretty much every kind music you could dream of hearing is catered to. And pretty much every bar you walk in has a live band on, which is just so amazing when you think that most cities now have nightclubs galore but maybe only a couple of places you can go an see some real life musos do their thing.
Hanging out at the New Orleans Jazz Festival
My first day in the city happened to be the very first day of the 2016 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, so the fella and I bagged ourselves some tickets and boogied on down. It cost about £50 each for a one-day ticket, but for that you get a whole day in there with like 15 different stages or tents to pick from. Also, the music isn't restricted to only Jazz so there really is something there for everyone, from Gospel to Rock with pretty much everything else in between. Stevie Wonder was headlining another night and I'm absolutely distraught that I missed that. One day, Stevie, one day.
Anyway, the headline act when we were there was Steely Dan, who my boyfriend really wanted to see, but I was sold on it the moment I heard that Michael McDonald was on. Just in case you don't know who Michael McDonald is, he was the singer in the Doobie Brothers and has probably one of the most incredible voices I've ever heard in my life. Just sayin.
Because of the super fun times that was immigration we didn't make it to the site until lunchtime, so our first pit stop was the food stalls. I had a barbecue chicken sandwich with 'slaw', which was so ridiculously juicy I had to eat it straight out of the foil wrapper with a fork. I was going to take a picture of it but, in all honesty, it looked a bit gross so you're just going to have to take my word for it that it was bloomin' amazing. All the time there were loads of parades going past us, playing music and singing, and one of them had this dude in the middle. He looks a bit like he's a cross between a Native American Indian and Big Bird, no?
After that, and a couple of beers (hey, I was at a festival), we had a listen to some of the acts that were on and a quick nosey around the different stalls on site. They pretty much had everything - art, jewellery, crockery, t-shirts and trinkets galore. And then I realised that we were starting to get sunburned because, hello 30 degree heat, you're quite the surprise to a nice English couple aren't you? Just about managed to catch it in time, but I'm sporting some rather fetching pink shoulders in most of the pictures I've got from that day. Thank the Lord for factor 50.
There was a free photo booth on site, so here's a photo of us looking fairly ridiculous. Word to the wise, a green t-shirt doesn't go well against a green screen. I don't have a see-through boyfriend in real life.
We picked up what I can only call a bucket of daiquiri each (I had the Margarita flavour and it was soo good) and headed up to get our spot at the main stage ready for Michael McDonald and Steely Dan. Both sets were, no word of a lie, amazing. I'd never really heard any Steely Dan before, but man they were incredible, and so good live. I danced around so much that my iPhone step count for the day hit about 20,000. Also, I found that if you've got really tired, achy feet they hurt less if you NEVER STOP MOVING.
It was a bit of a crazy mix of people there, mind. I started going a bit mad when we found ourselves behind a group of people who thought it was a really great idea to go to a festival and stand in the middle of a crowd wearing stupidly tall novelty hats. Why? What possesses you to do that? Nobody can see anything now, well done. One woman next to me had a witch's hat on, but the top was bent over at an angle and kept hitting the top of my head. I honestly thought someone was stroking my hair at first, so that was a bit freaky. Then there was a man just behind us who smoked weed for pretty much the entire Steely Dan set. He was off his little face but very friendly, and full of mumbled apologies when he kept bashing into everyone. Seemed like he was enjoying himself, but I'm not sure he'd have remembered much of it the next day!
Once the last acts finished at about 7pm, after buying the obligatory festival t-shirt, we made our way off the site and queued for, I kid you not, the best part of an hour for a taxi. After that we had a quick food pit-stop, and I got a dirty burger from a chain called Mooyah, which is fun to try and pronounce. Literally no idea. But it was a sort of DIY situation so I had extra cheese, lettuce, gherkins and fried onions. I must have smelled a treat, but well worth it.
Night Out in the French Quarter
A quick wash and change later and we made our way down to the French Quarter to listen to some more music. There's a really cool bar called The Spotted Cat, and they had a trad jazz band on who played until about 2am. It was probably the most crammed bar I've ever been in in my life, but the music was great.
There were a group of people doing old fashioned swing-style dancing next to the band, and I fell a little bit in love with one of the girls. She was dressed in a quirky 40's style and had the ringlet up-do and the red lipstick… I honest to God couldn't stop staring at her. Major girl crush alert. I really wanted to take a picture of her, but I thought that might veer a little too far into stalker territory so I resisted.
In the end we cut the night a bit short because I was just absolutely exhausted and there were some really annoying drunk guys shouting right behind me, and a little bit of me thought I might punch them if we stayed much longer. And I'm a lover, not a fighter.
Quite Possibly the Best Lunch Ever
For our second day, we went off the beaten track and into the downtown area of New Orleans. It's less busy and touristy than the whole Bourbon Street area of the French Quarter, so quite a nice change when you want to chill out.
We found a restaurant called Reginelli's Pizzeria because err hello I haven't had a pizza for about 3 days, it's time for another one. But I didn't have the pizza, because when we walked in there was a girl sat at the table next to us eating the most insanely wonderful-looking meal I've ever seen. So I copied her. It was called a 'Dream State' sandwich, and it consisted of:
Herbed goats cheese, roasted red peppers, Roma tomatoes, pancetta, roasted aubergine, roasted walnuts & mixed greens dressed with balsamic citrus vinaigrette on focaccia.
Insanely good food. I also ordered us a platter of hummus with loads of different dips to *share*. Which means I ate about 90% of it and only gave up when I literally thought I was going to explode.
Last Minute Shopping
I wrote about this on Monday, but this is when I went a bit nuts and bought about a million different Sharpies because, hey, who doesn't need all the Sharpies?
Then I popped into American Apparel because I really wanted some basic black shorts to wear under my skirts and dresses, as I'm sick of constantly worrying about having a Marilyn Monroe moment. I found some, but they're pretty boring so I'm not going to show you a picture. If you can't imagine a pair of black cotton shorts I can't help you. But suffice to say, my pants haven't been on show since then so definitely hashtag winning.
I did also cave in and buy a really cute printed cami top that was on sale for about $19, and it is now probably my all-time favourite summer top. I've worn it about 4 times already.
And then, after a quick dash around Forever 21 where I bought yet another pair of black heels (they're for work so they're necessary... or that's what I tell myself) I was all out of time. I should be back in New Orleans sometime in the autumn and I already can't wait!
Hope you're all having a fab Wednesday, throw me a comment and let me know what you think and where your favourite places are to travel! Lots of love x