“Don’t be scared to walk alone. Don’t be scared to like it.” ~John Mayer
When less than two weeks ago I suddenly decided to go to New Orleans, the first question everybody asked when they found out was “who are you going with?”. Well, “by myself” was the only true answer I could give them. There were surprised faces, questions, consternation…
Why people travelling alone are such a surprise?
I asked myself a question once “what do I travel for?”. When you think about it, it’s a really hard question. The answers “because I want to see the world”, “because it’s cool”, “because everybody does” don’t come into play…
I’ve heard a lot of people say, they travel to find themselves. I think it’s an amazing answer. But I went further. We are all lost in this world, in our daily lives, in our routine. We want to run away, as far as we can. We want to find out who we are, where we belong and how far we can push ourselves.
And to find your borders you need to go beyond people’s limits, cross your “comfort zone”, try everything.
That’s why we travel alone.
It may be hard. It may be rough. It may be dangerous.
But it’s also a great adventure.
“You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.” ~Stephen King
I know what you may be thinking. There are places though you don’t wanna go by yourself. You won’t have as much fun as if you went with your good friends.
And New Orleans is one of them.
But. Why do you need to take your friends with you if you can make new ones?
Solo travellers aren’t “solo” because they’re antisocial, don’t like people, don’t have friends etc. They are solo because that’s the way they meet other people.
As a(n often) solo traveller I can say (and I bet everybody who ever tried will agree with me) the most important part of solo travelling is your temporary home. What’s a better place to meet people than a few person dorm in a hostel?
I found an amazing hostel in NOLA. Would say Woodstock Festival in a building. Full of amazing, fun people; great stuff; good food; good price; and the most important (everybody who’s ever been to deep south will know why)- a pool. Called India House Hostel, if you wanna give it a try next time you’ll go to Big Easy.
Big Easy, yes. I was a little confused when I started reading travel forums and bumped into titles like “what to do in Big Easy?”, “why Big Easy blah, blah, blah”. I was only like: what the hell does that mean. So I asked. And I found out. If you already know why points for you, I’m gonna write it anyway. So NOLA (another name- NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA) has very easy liquor laws. People say they have Margarita Drive Thru’s. DRIVE THRU’s! One of the rules says also, when the straw is inside a plastic cup it’s called an open container, but if the straw is outside the cup it’s already a closed container. Everybody in the car can have an open container, except the driver. HA, mothe*****ers, “just give me a sip, buddy”.
Liquor, yes. The super sweet drink that you can find on every corner in New Orleans, called Hurricane, will knock you off before you’ll even know it. The most popular place to find them though is O’Brien’s bar, called “The Pat O’s” on Bourbon Street.
Oh, Bourbon Street. One of the nastiest, dirtiest streets I’ve ever seen in the USA. Full of beggars, musicians, people passed out in the alleys. But also the heart of New Orleans. What you need to know about French Quater is, it’s probably nothing like any city centre you’ve ever seen. You cross the border of FQ and you start thinking if you didn’t get lost because that place is waaaaay to dirty to be the most expensive part of the city. The most important rule: DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT SITTING ON THE GROUND. The paddle in French Quater is usually not a rain.
The truth is New Orleans is a 21+ city. But it doesn’t mean you won’t have fun there being “underage”. Other than the capital of jazz and “hurricanes”, NOLA is also known under a different name: the most haunted city in the US.
If you’ve never heard- History Ghost Tours were voted #1 New Orleans attraction by TravelChannel. They are right. The Ghost Tour needs to be on a must-do list of every visitor. I personally was hesitating a lil bit. I am an “Au Poor”, don’t have money for food, what more I’ll be paying 25$ for two hours of walking. But I did pay and it was a great decision.
I won’t tell you any story I’ve heard there, other than our guide, Ernie (I hope I spell it right), was AWESOME; and that a tour may freak you out a tiny bit.
But if you decide to not go for a Ghost Tour and will go to Muriel’s Restaurant and will be thinking why there’s empty table and you keep standing in a freaking long line and no-one gets that table, it’s because Muriel’s has a special table for a ghost and its guests. Ha ha. Creepy.
What I did discover in New Orleans, that if you’re not one of those “tourists” who get drunk, pass out, wake up at 4 pm and go drink more, there’s actually not much to do.
But it does have couple pearls.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, which is said to be the oldest building in the USA, with a bar in it. It was built in 1732 and the legend says, the pirate Jean Lafitte was supposed to spend some time there working on his smuggling transfers.
[I am a huge pirate nerd, had to check this one out]
Other than most haunted city in the USA, NOLA is also called The Voodoo Capital of America. Mostly thanks to Marie Laveau, Voodoo Queen, who practised it in New Orleans in XIX century. Her tomb is located in St. Louis Cemetery No.1, but there are speculations she’s not really buried there. Reverend Zombie’s House of Voodoo is really worth visiting, the building perfectly fits in French Quater and the shop itself has an amazing atmosphere.
Personally, I am a tiny bit superstitious, and things like voodoo, witchcraft etc. scare me. So I ran out of the store after a minute inside. But as soon as my mum and sister found out about that store they wanted something from there. Then even my grandma wanted a voodoo doll. I guess I have witches in the family…..
There’s also Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo, which also is a cool store, but also works as a little museum with some interesting, dusty altars.
I mentioned St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. Like some of you probably know, New Orleans is built on the swamp, that’s why remains need to be buried above the ground. So all those huge, beautiful crypts and mausoleums create a very interesting tourist attraction, so-called “Cities of the Dead”. Unfortunately St. Louis was closed to the public in 2015 and you need to buy a tour with a guide to get inside. But don’t worry, you can always visit Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 in Garden District. Maybe it lacks the Marie Leveau’s tomb so you cannot give her your wish, but it has couple interesting crypts.
My visit there didn’t end up well though…
I was personally amazed by New Orleans’ architecture and Louisiana nature. Couldn’t stop myself from taking pictures of many houses, both in and outside of FQ. And if you wanna relax a little bit or take some good pics, City Park is a place to go. With its huge oaks, the place looks like taken out of some dark, gothic story.
Oh! Of course, I cannot forget about the original, world famous Cafe du Monde with their Cafe au lait and Beignets (which de facto taste like one polish dish, hah)
But what you need to know, if you’re a solo travelling female– it is a deep south, everything works differently there. You need to be ready for a lot of compliments and a lot of creeps talking to you.
Again, I know what you’re thinking- “Please, I won’t complain about getting couple more compliments”- that’s what I thought. And after hearing “You’re so beautiful, you’re like a gift from God”, I was like- “Man, I am f***ing moving here”, but after five hours of hearing it non-stop, I was done.
But on the other hand, all those hippies- homeless (or not) people are funny. One of them said I look sad and was dancing in front of me for like 5 mins, and another one asked if I like his shirt and if I want to take a picture of him. He said that picture will give me millions of dollars. I’ll share it here, maybe he was right.
I hope you enjoyed the post and maybe got couple ideas or inspirations.