Good ol’ New Orleans

This post will hopefully cover February and my trip to New Orleans.

The month of February basically consisted of living life. I have been diligently working on my studies and trying to sort out some sort of plan for my dissertation, which is looming rather ominously. Communication is certainly a lot more challenging when my lecturers are 1000’s of miles away!
Of course there were some highlights in February. Valentines day was a great evening, as I took Saori out to a sushi restaurant for main course, and finishing with a cheesecake in the cheesecake factory for desert. Apparently, in Japan on Valentines day, women give gifts, which are usually cocoa based. I love these little cultural differences.
In February (and also March technically), I really got into college basketball. The atmosphere of approximately 11000 people screaming on team in the final few moments is utterly priceless. What I find strange is that I see most of the players walking around campus, and they seem completely normal (apart from the height of course). Thankfully, the men’s basketball team is a lot better than the football team, so we get to taste victory.
We also had another session with Bearcelona. This time the team was mixed, so we got the chance to play with girls. This was the first time I have ever really done this, and I enjoyed it. Our campaign didn’t go entirely to plan, as we lost all our games, and I got sent off in one game!! That’s the first time I ever got carded, let alone a red card. However, our team was a lot better than our results suggested, and we had a lot of fun which is the main thing. Next session, the team is mixed again, but we get to play outside!!
There was some sadness though as Woosin and Itaru (the well dressed man as I like to call him) left. It was an absolute pleasure not only to play football with them, but to be their friends. So many great memories, especially on our road trip adventures with Woosin. We had a fitting farewell for them though, and I sincerely hope I see them again.
And now for New Orleans….. What a city!!
Saori and myself left on friday evening (March 1st), and arrived into New Orleans just before midnight. That night we stayed in a shabby motel by the airport, but it didn’t really matter as we were so tired.
On saturday, we shared a taxi and checked into our room at the Bourgoyne guest house. What a place! The room (or should I say apartment) consisted of 2 bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, a grand lounge, a sunroom and a balcony overlooking bourbon street. Apart from the television, the room seemed hardly altered from when the guest house was built in 1830. The ceilings were so high, but we had to climb out of a window to get onto the balcony. Feeling rather privileged, we sought out some brunch. We stopped in Coop’s, and I had a platter of Creole food that included a cup of Seafood Gumbo, Shrimp Creole, Cajun Fried Chicken, Red Beans & Rice with Sausage, and Rabbit & Sausage Jambalaya. Pretty spicy, but it warmed me up as it was pretty cold. In the afternoon, we went on a tram out to Audubon zoo, but decided not to go in as we got there quite late. We came back to the French quarter, grabbed a pizza, before grabbing some supplies. Drinking red wine, and eating cheese and Ice cream on the balcony in the evening is what dreams are made of!
Sunday was a more productive day. We went out to the Zoo again, and actually went in this time. It was a great little zoo. An added bonus was that there was a Soul festival on in the zoo, so we sat down and listened whilst we had some lunch. It was very rewarding for me to experience some African American culture, as I feel I haven’t really been exposed to this yet. After we left the zoo, we made our way to the districts of Faubourg Marigny and Bywater. This area was affected by Hurricane Katrina. These areas were almost spookily quiet, with empty lots and boarded up houses. However, the houses that were there were very well maintained and brightly coloured. For me the area felt like what I imagine the Caribbean to be like – brightly coloured houses, people sitting on their porches watching the world go by and very worn roads. It was funny how the guide book advised us against going to this area, but I felt it was extremely worthwhile. As dusk approached we returned to the French quarter, and had a lovely meal at an oyster restaurant. So good to have some quality seafood. After this, we were lucky enough to go to a jazz concert in the famous preservation hall. A very rewarding experience. It felt that we were having a concert in someone’s living room, as there were only about 150 people there, and the performers were very close. A great vibe. The jazz culture is everywhere in New Orleans, with practically every bar having some sort of act, as well as performers on the streets.
Monday was our last day, and we spent it exploring the French quarter and Jackson Square. Thankfully it was actually warm! The French quarter is such a nice area, but I feel that tourists confine themselves to an area of 3 blocks by 8 blocks in this area, and do not explore the rest of New Orleans, which I found so rewarding. We grabbed some lunch before heading to the airport to catch our 5pm flight. Arriving back in Denver to snow was not welcome, but it was such a great weekend that I didn’t really care.
So far, New Orleans is my favourite USA City. However, I could not see myself living there like I could in somewhere like New York or Seattle, which I am also very fond of. Let’s see how San Francisco is in a couple of weeks time.

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