By complete coincidence, Tom scheduled us to spend Halloween in New Orleans. Voodoo was brought to Louisiana by African slaves in the 1700s. These captives brought a knowledge of herbs and poisons, and the ritual of creating charms and spells to protect themselves. This became know as the Louisiana Voodoo or New Orleans Voodoo. Nowadays this is a big tourist attraction of New Orleans, even more so during Halloween.
After a long drive from Houston and getting slightly confused on the main roads of New Orleans, we arrived at our accommodation at 6pm armed with face paint, coronas and a pizza with the aim to get ready quickly and hit the town. With the assistance of youtube, I managed to transform Tom and myself into respectable skulls. We donned our new matching black Levi's and we were ready to rock.
We didn't know quite what to expect of the French Quarter (the main tourist area of town). We had heard that Bourbon Street was crazy on a normal Friday night so would be even crazier on Halloween. Despite this, we were still surprised by the sheer number of people crammed in every corner of the street, hanging from balconies and elbowing their way into bars. Most people made an effort to get dressed up. We saw corpse brides, Pamela Anderson, fairies, a pride of lions, Bane, a few Heath Ledger-esk jokers and several Nikki Minaj impersonators aka fat bottomed girls barely wearing anything.
There is a random tradition where people on the balconies throw down strings of cheap, brightly coloured beads to the party-goers below. Everyone was going wild for them like they were Harry Styles headscarf. We originally scoffed at those jostling for the beads. Three drinks later I was on Tom's shoulders snatching at them before they reached those below. We came away with a respectable bunch of beads which we are yet to put to any good use.
New Orleans is known for live music and while many of the venues on Bourbon Street were simply playing dance music, we did stumble upon a place that had a live jazz/soul band. We had a good 'ole boogie and Tom managed to get chatted up whilst at the bar. It went a little something like this: Tom stands patiently at bar. Two girls approach Tom. Girl 1 - Hi Tom - Hi. You right? Girl 2 - Are you married? Tom - Yes. Girls turn away. Tom - Is that it? Girls ignore Tom.
I then participated in another New Orleans Halloween tradition - drinking a Hand Grenade. Apparently a "secret recipe", a Hand Grenade is fluorescent green and possibly the most disgusting things I have ever tasted. I had an immediate sugar high which was followed by a deep, dark sugar crash. Luckily it was way past our bedtime and time for us to head home. Unfortunately we wandered aimlessly through the streets for 30 mins trying to find a cab. We only managed to get one after Tom chased one 100m down the road with his borrowed black cloak flapping in the wind. It is quite an understatement to say we were pleased to crawl into bed that night.
Despite feeling a little bit sorry for ourselves, we headed into town to properly explore the French Quarter the following day. We kicked it off with a 2 hour walking tour where we learnt all sort of interesting facts about the town (80% of the town was under water after Hurricane Katrina. Thankfully the French Quarter was not affected. The town is built on sinking ground - 3 inches every 100 years. Some of the worlds best entertainers can be found busking in the streets) and took in some beautiful architecture. The city had done a surprisingly good job of cleaning up the town from the night previously and we spent the afternoon window shopping through the antique shops and boutiques on Royal Street and listening to exceptional buskers.
We took a drive through the Garden District which gave Tom and I something to aspire to for when we settle down. Unaffected by the hurricane, this is clearly where the wealthy live as it boasts huge, amazing houses. It was literally like driving through the American dream - immaculate double story weatherboard houses with white picket fences and America flags hanging above their door.
New Orleans is up there as one of our favourite cities in America. The French Quarter is vibrant, beautiful and has some fantastic shopping and restaurants... just be prepared for madness at Bourbon Street.