New Orleans was one of the stand-out places for me from my American travels. I didn't expect to like it as much as I did, but it left an impression on me, and now I very much want to return.

I was there as part of my +G Adventures tour travelling cross-country from San Francisco to New York, and it was one of the places I was most curious about. After hearing great things from both my boyfriend and brother who had previously been, I hoped I would have the same great experience, and I did.

Before heading into the city, the tour and I stopped off at a place in Jennings, LA, where the group and I had the chance to hold baby alligators! This was an unexpected surprise that I never thought I'd end up having the chance to do - one of the perks of doing an organised tour! The baby alligators were completely safe, as they don't start eating meat as part of their diet until they're older; so while they're still babies, they're actually herbivores still so are uninterested in any sort of meat and are completely harmless!

Seeing the 'gators
As part of my tour, we organised a trip to the nearby swamps around New Orleans to see the alligators. It was very cool! We saw plenty swimming around, and were guided by a man who actually lives on the swamp too, so felt we were getting a lot out of the tour. It lasted about an hour and we went round on a boat with plenty of seats to relax on. It wasn't at all dangerous, and we saw the alligators being fed and playing with each other, which was a really cool experience.

Nightlife

The time in New Orleans was like a whirlwind. We spent a lot of time in the French Quarter - visiting music venues, bars, and enjoying the jazz music. If you're in New Orleans, you absolutely have to go see some live jazz music. It's a must-do, and one of things the city is famous for. You don't need to book anything in advance; you can simply walk into any of the venues in the French Quarter, and there are plenty of choices on offer.

If you're going out on Bourbon Street, there are MANY bars and clubs to choose from. My boyfriend told me about a drink you can only get in New Orleans called a 'grenade' - essentially a long tube with a toy grenade at the end, and you have to drink all of it to get to the toy. It's quite a sugary drink (so not for everyone) but in all honesty, not that bad, but it is STRONG. And cheap. So if you're after a night out, maybe give it a go!

Shops & Markets

The markets and shops in NOLA are really something else. There are so many quirky, individual shops full of things you wouldn't pick up anywhere else. We even came across a man who had a stand with a lot of paintings of the city - but painted onto wood recovered from Hurricane Katrina which badly affected the city in 2005. A chunk of the proceeds went towards the recovery and rebuilding of homes after the hurricane hit. I still have my one hanging in my room today and treasure it a lot.

Another thing about New Orleans is that there is a big superstitious influence on the city. What do I mean by that? I mean there are a lot of places to get your palms read, have tarot cards read, buy voodoo dolls...it's pretty cool, and something a bit different to do than in your average city!

Food

The food. Can't not mention the food. It's just amazing, and so so delicious! We stopped off at the New Orleans Legends cafe off of Bourbon Street, where they had really nice cocktails and the most delicious bean and chorizo soup/chowder (can't quite remember what it was, but it was sooooo good!). It was essentially like comfort food, which is always nice to find when you're away from home. And of course, if you do venture to this city, you absolutely have to go to Cafe du Monde. Their world famous Beignets (essentially a fried cake/doughnut covered in icing sugar) are delicious, but the icing sugar does go everywhere! You don't need many as they're quite rich - a friend and I shared 3 between us - and the cafe is open til late, meaning you can go at 2am (like we did) if you want to!


















Have you been to New Orleans? What were your favourite spots?