Liberated souls, jazz hands

This was my first time in New Orleans, lovingly called as NoLa, and pretty much in the southern part of America. I have visited a few Texan cities but this was nothing like them. It seemed like a very free-spirited city – free to do what you like, wear what you like, drink / smoke what you like (and where you like) and be who you want. And to top that there was always some good music playing in the background to make it enjoyable. The city was full of life, color and graffiti. IMG_7166 Being the first stop in our travels we excitedly filled our rental car with our belongings for the next month and set towards the house we booked through airbnb. As we approached the house, we started doubting our choice as the area looked a little shady, the houses and cars were a bit run down, house doors open and music blaring out of them. The three of us laughing at what could be the first bad decision of our travels, hesitantly went up the porch and knocked on the door. The door was open and we peeked inside. After a few minutes, just as we were going back to the car, the hostess came out.  The house looked like its owner, very hippie! It was draped in curtains separating the rooms and garlands of Mardi Gras beads, a cute porch with jasmine plants and a line of clothes hanging out to dry. Our inhibitions dropped and we knew we were in for the true experience of living in New Orleans. We used their home-made washing detergent to wash our running clothes and hung them up in the garden to dry (Yes, I went for one run with Ollie and Katie and no we did not have to hand-wash our clothes!) Check out Ollie’s running experiences here. First things first, we went up to the famous Bourbon street. It was lined with bars featuring live music and cheap drinks and small shops with Mardi Gras costumes and gothic antiques. After the consumption of our first lethal drink, the ‘hand grenade’, our travel-tired bones perked up and we spent the evening taking in the sights and sounds of the street. Surprisingly, we were able to find a muffuletta (Sicilian sesame bread with an olive salad filling),  a NoLa speciality, made vegetarian and the best veg hot dog we have ever tasted. IMG_5687 The city was bustling, preparing for the upcoming jazz festival and the artists it brings along with huge crowds. We caught a few jazz gigs including one that popped up at a random street corner and soon attracted a big crowd. We loved experiencing this as it truly brought out what the city is all about. IMG_6027IMG_5708IMG_5726 We also experienced the dark side of NoLa – went to a voodoo lounge and a ghost tour, where a tour guide wearing a fedora hat walked us around the French quarters telling us ghastly, ghostly and mostly inhumane stories from the past. IMG_7165 Abita Springs was a small town outside on NoLa where we toured the Abita brewery known for its strawberry beer (Katie was in heaven!) and Purple Haze. We sampled or let’s say more than sampled free beer for the afternoon. We also visited a small quirky mystery house filled with random stuff. IMG_5747 IMG_5764 We went through the Lower Ninth Ward, where hurricane Katrina caused the most damage to human life and property in 2005. It broke our hearts to see more than half of the land empty with broken foundation pillars and just front door steps to where once houses stood. The properties that were rebuilt were still shiny from fresh paint but looked sturdy, ready for anything to come their way. We made our way out of the city through the swamps that surround in a futile attempt of alligator-spotting. Days on the road: 2.5 Places visited: New Orleans, Abita Springs Recommended vegetarian eats: Cafe Maspero – Muffaletta (sandwich) Dat Dog – Amazing hot dogs

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