Ahh, New Orleans! Home of Mardi Gras, the birthplace of Jazz (not me, the music!). The Big Easy has been on my bucket list for many years, second only to Las Vegas, which we have seen several times now. I remember watching a Mardi Gras celebrations on TV when I was a kid and being fascinated by the costumes and the music…and the BEADS!
We had a few options for accommodations and we chose Pontchartrain Landing RV Park and Marina, mainly because of their shuttle service to the French Quarter. At first glance, the area around Pontchartrain Landing looks a bit sketchy. However, don’t let what you see fool you. Pontchartrain Landing is a hidden gem! The campground is situated on the corner of the Intercoastal Navigational Canal and Lake Pontchartrain and is very well cared for. We were a bit worried about leaving Lady T unattended for too long but the campground is gated and there was a New Orleans police cruiser patrolling the grounds. The worst part about the place is the road leading up to it, which is fairly rough for a motorhome.
We selected a waterfront site that overlooked the marina and got situated quickly so we could catch the last shuttle for the day. The shuttle fee was a modest $6 round trip and our driver, Bryan, was a wealth of information. Bryan is from Connecticut so we talked about home for a bit and before we knew it, we were standing on Toulouse Street!
The French Quarter is comprised of many narrow, intersecting streets. There is so much to do but I knew that there was only one place to start. We began walking backwards from where we were dropped off and I could already feel a certain energy in the air. The kind of sensation you might get if you are about to act on a dare. And then, there is was: Bourbon Street!
There were smiling people in all directions. Live horns and pianos vied for your attention (and tips). Every other business was a bar, most of which beckoned you to indulge in some strange concoction from a tall plastic container that, in most other placed, would not be drunk on a Monday night. And of course, there were beads…lots and lots of beads! In short, it was exactly how I imagined it would be.
Jay stopped to take a few pictures while I soaked in the sights and then we walked up and down Bourbon Street. There were plenty of souvenirs for us to spend our money on and we cautiously peeked into a few voodoo shops. After a little shopping, we stopped at a bar called Tropical Isle and picked up a couple of the aforementioned concoctions called a Hand Grenade.
One thing I always planned on doing if I ever made it to New Orleans was to gorge myself on Cajun and Creole delicacies. Of course, that was before I became a vegan so instead, we had a late lunch at the Hard Rock Café…our second Hard Rock in 24 hours! After a quick bite, we continued to walk around and just enjoy the mix of people and music. We stopped for a while to watch a couple of street dancers and I got my picture taken with a Minion!
Bourbon Street was even more interesting after dark. All of the store fronts lit up and there was someone on every corner trying to shine your shoes or get you to follow them somewhere for a drink. I have to admit that I was a little nervous about walking around on Bourbon Street but once we were there, we felt there was nothing to fear. There were a few police officers passively watching the festivities and everyone seemed to be having fun.
Sadly, I knew the night must come to an end so we began our walk back to Toulouse Street to wait for Bryan. On the way back to the campground, I went over the day in my mind and smiled to myself. New Orleans is not the prettiest city, nor is it the cleanest. Honestly, I’ve seen worse neighborhoods in Massachusetts which are a lot less interesting,
New Orleans has definitely been our favorite stop on the trip so far. Tomorrow, we hope to find parking somewhere and explore more of the French Quarter. Until then, “Laissez les bons temps rouler!”