New Orleans, Louisiana and a Week in St Kitts
I’ve spent the last month in Louisiana, mainly in New Orleans, with a little break for a week in St Kitts too. It’s been awesome. New Orleans is somewhere I’ve wanted to go for ages and it didn’t disappoint.
Despite spending three weeks there I found that there was always something new to see and do. And don’t get me started on the food. Seriously, I probably put on half a stone.
Eating my way round New Orleans
From breakfast beignets (doughy, sugary squares of deliciousness) to a dozen oysters for as little as $3, gumbo (meat or fish and rice), po’boys (sandwiches) and onto crawfish (crayfish) – just a small dent made in the huge range of possibilities of foods to try in New Orleans. Although my favourite was the Muffelatta sandwich, kind of like a Cuban with its meats and cheese but also dowsed in an olive mix to give it that salty spice. Muffelatta sandwiches are absolutely delicious, and huge too!
New Orleans is such a walkable place. The French Quarter is visually the most recognisable, with all its colourful houses, pretty balconies and cobbled streets. I spent days flip flopping around the shops here and wandering the avenues. I need to go back when I have an empty case, there was so much stuff I wanted to buy!
The endless street performers there provided the soundtrack to my perusing, from jazz to African drumming. I’d definitely recommend visiting New Orleans if you can.
As well as exploring New Orleans I met a friend and we hired a car to explore what the rest of Louisiana was like. We went from New Orleans to Lafayette to Houma to Baton Rouge, staying in some awesome places as we went. We chose to stay at a little guesthouse that wasn’t listed on any of the hotel sites, which was a great idea. The couple who ran it were real characters, super proud of their French Cajun roots. I mean, it helped that on arrival the guy said to me ‘I looked up your website from your email address, you’re cool!’, in his French creole accent.
Travelling around Louisiana was really interesting, it just seemed like a different world to that in New Orleans a maximum of around three hours up the road. This was real countryside, or swampland in some places. The roads stretched over the swamps, and at one point we even saw alligator road kill on the side of the road.
We went down to Grand Isle, a peninsula that sticks out from the bottom of the USA. Here the main trade for many is the sea. I had the freshest and most delicious shrimp tacos I’ve ever tried. I also had a ‘small’ ice cream that was bigger than my head. Actually goes someway to explaining why my jeans are getting that bit tighter.
We went to a Cajun jam, which seemed to involve anyone who had an instrument bringing it along to play together while anyone who didn’t have one stood round to watch, with a local beer. I don’t think it mattered what the instrument was, as long as it made a noise. At one point a lady brought out what appeared to be a ridged metal vest and started playing the spoons on it. Absolutely brilliant.
New Orleans Jazz Festival
Unfortunately my final few days there, the time for the long awaited New Orleans Jazz Festival was an absolute washout. We’d been warned to expect heavy and severe storms, and they were right. They cancelled the Saturday from 5pm and so instead of dancing away to Stevie Wonder and then Snoop Dogg in the sunshine with a beer in my hands, as I’d expected, I was wading through knee-deep water (that’s no exaggeration) in my flip flops to try and get out of the festival grounds.
I was absolutely drenched through, worried about my camera and gutted the acts I’d gone for weren’t playing. I didn’t go back the next day, thankfully, as the same thing happened to the grounds, although they didn’t cancel the Sunday, the sturdiest few battled on in the lashing rain.
A week in St Kitts
And then there was St Kitts – a beautiful volcanic island in the middle of the Caribbean. To me St Kitts is the perfect Caribbean getaway. There’s a lot more to it than just the stunning beaches you’d associate with the Caribbean, there are also plenty of watersports (I jet skied), the mountains to climb, rainforests to trek through and horses to ride. And I did all of the above. I also took a scenic railway train along the coast – to be rewarded with stunning vistas out to sea and some great photos of the bridges, which were apparently made in Sheffield, where I went to university, so that was fun to learn!
Of course as well as all the action, adventure and fun there were rum cocktails on the beaches too. It wouldn’t be a Caribbean getaway without some time for lyming on the itinerary!