Rainbows and Alligators – 3 days in New Orleans

New Orleans. The Deep South. A Gay Pride Festival. That was the end of my American adventure. Before coming to the US, I’d never really thought about visiting this amazing city – but I am so glad I did. We only spent 3 days here, but it was definitely the highlight of my trip.

When we arrived in New Orleans at the end of August, it was right in the middle of Decadence; their huge gay pride festival that runs over several days. This meant the streets were filled with rainbow flag and fabulousness from dawn till, well, dawn. In New Orleans, you’re allowed to drink on the streets, so this made the nights there crazier and more social than anywhere else I’d been.

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When we arrived, it was already dark, so we showered, changed, and headed out. The drink of choice amongst NOLA party-goers was a green concoction called ‘Grenade’. It’s served in a tall, green, plastic cup with a grenade bottom, and a mini grenade floating on the top. The mini grenade was more than just idle decoration though, in every bar that served this drink there were baskets hanging from the ceiling into which you had to throw your grenade. No prizes or penalties other than the chance to impress your friends. The drink itself was pretty lethal, so trust me when I say that 2 Grenades is more than enough! Walking around the French Quarter at night also means that beads are flying everywhere. I’m sure you know the tradition at Mardi Gras – show your boobs, get some beads – the same goes all year round in NOLA. At one point, a bunch of beads hit me in the side of the head as I walking down, so I commandeered them for myself! That first night, we were out until 6am, and we weren’t even the last ones out. Decadence is definitely one for the partiers!

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Aside from the drinking, there’s lots to fill your time in this magical city. The day after our 6am stay out was mostly spent in bed, but we soon snapped out of that and found lots of things to do. We decided to go on a swamp tour – we were in Louisiana after all! The boat we went on had a great tour guide, he even pointed out Jesus’ grave to us…. No joke. Then, he passed around a baby alligator that he was taking care of, as it had been injured and abandoned in the wild. It’s mouth had a small piece of tape around it to keep it calm, and it was actually super cute! Then he found some big, adult alligators swimming around and started feeding them. He had buckets of meat and would throw them into the water. At one point, he was even holding the meet up above the waterline so the alligators would jump up and out of the water to grab it. I also wrestled a totally real, and not at all made of plastic alligator on the way back…

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That night, we also took part in a walking ghost tour around the French Quarter. The tour took us around loads of the old buildings in the area, and was filled with stories about ghosts, witches, vampires and zombies. Usually, I’m the biggest skeptic going, but I really enjoyed the stories. A lot of them were actually fairly believable, rather than fantasy, so you really felt the eeriness of the place all around you.

It may not be on the top of the list for all of you thinking of a trip to America, but it should be! There’s great gumbo to be had, drinks to drunk, and ghosts to encounter – go!

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