Everyone plan a trip. Now.
I fell in love with this city before I even stepped foot in it. I didn’t care that I had no clothes with me. That the weather was set to drop 20 degrees. That I could barely walk from my back playing up. None of that mattered.
It was a last minute trip, booked because we had to wait five days for the missing rucksack to appear. $200 later, we were both nestled in a hotel next to Bourbon Street. We ate a disgusting breakfast in some diner with even more disgusting coffee but it just didn’t matter. We were here, in New Orleans, desperate to discover every bar and street. Desperate to listen to every piece of jazz we could find.
Then the snow came in and it became -6 degrees. Prepped with our Miami clothes, we huddled together through the streets and found ridiculously expensive steak restaurants and mistakenly bought a $150 bottle of wine. We gave the rest of our food to the homeless girl in the street with the cute dog. It wasn’t just cold. It was unusually bitter and biting.
But rather than escape it, we found refuge in new places, specifically ones containing alcohol. Luckily we stopped in a brewery on the outskirts of town, where they make all their own IPAs in brewery below. You could see the process through the glass floor. And of course, we tasted them all in the one and a half sized pint glasses. We spoke to strangers about the bizarre cold weather, we bonded with people from all over the States. One man saying “I am from New York, I couldn’t have come any further south…. this damn snow.”
And then we met this wonderful human being. He pulled up a stool and told us his stories of his wild weekend with his buddies. How one had had to hire a car but got stuck in Texas because of the weather. How the airport was now closed and he was at a loose end. We spent the afternoon with him drinking beer after beer, eating ribs, feeding a homeless man, smoking cigarettes in the freezing cold. Not a single care in the world. He is now, undoubtedly, a friend for life. And all because he happened to cross the road to escape being hassled by someone on the street.
Every bar plays the same songs “Shots, shots, shots, shots, shots”. We ended up in tattoo parlours getting piercings, dancing to live bands whilst drinking gin and juice. I made friends with random faces, all there enjoying themselves. It was like a hub of endless happiness.
And then we woke up to cold hangovers and achy heads. We walked to eat beignets and buy t-shirts with Tabasco bottles and gumbo on them. I found a stranger who wrote us a poem on his typewriter. I still walk with it everywhere.
We joined a wedding party walking through the streets. We stood in the squares with the sun on our faces wishing we didn’t have to make the return journey. New Orleans, I am coming back in this lifetime. I am not quite done with you yet.