I have to point out that at the age of about 15 I had made a “pact” with my best friend Sarah that we would travel to New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA) together once we were done with school. Our “plan” was to go to NOLA, live there for a few months before University and (because we “knew” we would love it) we’d return after University. Teenagers have such imaginations and no concept of money! It turned out that we finished school Sarah ended up going to the United Kingdom for University and I headed to Switzerland but took off a few months to live in France then did an internship before starting University. In short I never made it to NOLA. Sarah did though after Uni and she kept telling me I really needed to go. When I knew I would be making the trip the USA I knew that it would be impossible for me go without visiting the place. Even though I couldn’t have known for certain that I would really love it as a teenager, it is like I was meant to be there and my gut wasn’t wrong!
So, that is the little introduction: please be warned I spent a week in Louisiana so there’s a lot to share.
31st November – I flew out from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and as always arrived early so I wouldn’t be stressed out while travelling alone. It was supposed to be a 5 hour flight (total) with 1 transit and I was over the moon excited, I mean really, really excited. When I finally got on my first plane I was seated next to larger than life gentleman who, very pleased with himself announced that our flight would be delayed due to bad weather. I didn’t do a good job in hiding the fact that I was unable to share in his delight and prayed he would be wrong, he wasn’t. The pilot announced that we would be a little delayed until we got the all clear to fly into Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Mr. larger than life at was also very “thirsty” (vodka tonics) and had roughly 5 drinks in the 45 minutes that we were grounded. He kept asking me questions, was intrigued that I was travelling by my self and planned to visit NOLA on my own.
Because I had a connecting flight I got a little nervous if I would make it at all with the 45 minute delay. When we landed I legged it across the airport, politely asked people to move and found out that I had to not only run across airport but had to jump on one of those connecting trains to get to the other end. In the end I made it. I was one of the last people to board the plane, out of breath, sweating and annoyed but I made it! The delay and short connection time meant that…*drum roll please*….my luggage didn’t make it with me! Yup, my bag were still in Atlanta when I arrived and I was told that if possible they would try get it on one of the other flights coming arriving that night, but in all likelihood it would only arrive the following day. So I jumped in a taxi and headed to my hotel, sans bags. After a smooth check-in I got to my room, ordered some food, inhaled everything and then went to sleep.
The following morning I got my first taste of delicious Louisiana biscuits (I became obsessed with this over the next 6 days). I kept checking with the airline about the status of my bags because I had initially wanted to go and explore but had to be around to pick up my luggage from the lobby. I ended up losing that first day because of my bag but I was pleased it arrived in the end. Later that night I had randomly met two Germans guys that were in the hotel overnight and were fantastically friendly. We had a few drinks together at the bar before I had an early night.
My next few days were filled with taking in touristy spots, eating and drinking (more than I should have), basking in the culture and friendliness of the south! I have never come across people as friendly as I did while in Louisiana! From the bus ticket lady, the driver of the bus, the guy renovating the hotel and random people that would come up and talk to me. Funny story: while on the Greyhound Bus (destination French Quarter) I was waiting for people to disembark so I stayed seated (super smiles and all because I couldn’t wait). A guy that was seated behind me stood by my seat and said something to me which I didn’t understand (this happened several times). I sheepishly said “Sorry” and he repeated whatever it was he was trying to tell me, again nope didn’t get it, “sorry I didn’t get you”. He proceeded to point at my face smiling and said “You have a pretty face” over emphasizing each word loudly so I could understand him. I wanted to disappear because it seemed like I was trying to get him to repeat it on purpose and make everyone else on the bus hear LOL. Poor guy just smiled after I again sheepishly said “Ohhh Thank You!”
So the French Quarter was of course visited and a ton of photos were taken. I apparently wasn’t supposed to take photos of things inside the stores (I am sneaky and managed to do so anyways). Souvenirs were bought for everyone back home including a T-shirt I bought for myself (I LOVE it)! Music was listened to and gumbo was consumed. I can not stress enough how much I loved my time in NOLA. As I said before I had this “instinct” prior to even having stepped foot in in the State that I would love the art, culture, food, people, atmosphere, everything and I was not disappointed.
During my stay I met a completely insane girl at the hotel that was still drunk when she came for breakfast and accidentally sat at my table while I was getting my plate. She wore bright bright bright pink tracksuits every morning, not that she needed any extra attention with her crazy ways and her antics had me in stitches, we quickly got along. She actually announced to anyone wanting to buy us drinks that we would take the drinks but they shouldn’t get any funny ideas, “we aren’t here to get picked up by you” was the line she would use time and again LOL!
One evening after my new friend had checked out I was at the hotel bar with my book and phone, chatting to a couple that had been staying in the hotel since August (after the storm) when a guy decided to park himself right beside me. He too was apparently a local and decided to check himself into a hotel to “take a break from everything”. He was polite enough and small talk was made, After about an hour or so I had stepped out of the bar and upon my return found out he had paid for the last drink. I wasn’t too keen on this since I like buying/paying for my own drinks in general, especially If I don’t know you AND I am on my own. Regardless, it was done so I thanked him. Now here is the kicker ladies, he informed me that he was headed back to his room so I put my hand out to shake his and say goodbye. He used the opportunity to pull me into a hug and then whispers “Walk me to my room”. NOW in all my life, I have NEVER EVER had a guy ask me to walk him anywhere LOL. Correct me if I am wrong, it usually is the other way around, and I have no clue what made him think even that would have happen. I polity said I was perfectly happy sitting in my chair and quickly made a beeline to my room when two other guys walked in the bar and yelled” Hey ma’am, how are you, I am thirsty today”.
On my second to last day I did a bit of shopping (of course) in yet again another HUGE shopping mall. I went a little overboard with shopping during my entire trip (this became obvious when my bags exceeded the limit on the day I was leaving). Anyways so shopping was done while in Louisiana as well.
I also met a friend that is a Baton Rouge local. Drinks and a movie were had as part of my last night in Louisiana before I made the 24 trip back home.
Now, having explained how I had this “feeling” I would enjoy a trip to NOLA I have a feeling that a repeat is on the way soon. I have a tourist visa and the possibility to take a trip again for a little while. I didn’t feel like I got to see enough, do enough, experience enough so a longer stay is planned. My parents actually asked me if I planned to move there since they too knew NOLA was a “I will live there one day” spot. Who knows, anything is possible if you have the desire and opportunity right?
That brings my “travel log” to an end and all I can say is I had an overall fantastic time in the US. I had a feeling I would like it but had no idea how much I would enjoy myself. My friends and the people I got to meet made all the difference. I have had this “I need something new” feeling for a little while and when I got back home it seems like that feeling has only gotten stronger. Like I said, who knows, a move might be in the works…