“Take Me to the River” *

This morning I’m going on the Mississippi River on a river trip on the Steamboat Natchez as hopefully it’ll be a good way to get another view of the city. I’ve always thought seeing a place from the river gives you a new perspective on it, and this one is no different. Tip – if you take the trip, don’t bother with the lunch: it’s extra cash, so I didn’t bother and when I wandered down to see what was being served I’m glad I didn’t. It didn’t look too bad, I just thought it was expensive.

On the Mississippi RiverSteamer Natchez life ringThe Crescent City Connection, formerly the Greater New Orleans BridgeThe cathedral from the riverThe original engine still powers the steamerJazz on board the steamerView of New Orleans from on the river

Back on dry land I find a micro-brewery, Crescent City Brewhouse, for lunch: beer and food are good. I’d decided to go back and look at the photos I saw in the market yesterday so I walk down Decatur Street, browsing in the shops on either side of the road. I buy a couple of souvenirs on the way before arriving back at the French Market. I decide to buy the photos of Bourbon Street, they’re a bit pricey but well shot and framed so hopefully will look good on the wall back home. Before leaving I go and sit in the Market Cafe again – there’s a three piece band playing today – and they are very good, lots of blues-y numbers and some good musicianship.

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar

After a refresh back at the hotel, it’s back down to Bourbon Street. Same quiet walk then turn right and the madness beckons in the distance… tonight seems much busier again. And it is. You can’t move for people. There are musicians playing in the street tonight and I find the Musical Legends Park where a band are on stage. The place is full but I manage to get a table when someone leaves; the table service for food and drink is very slow so I end up going ‘self-service’ at the counter. Cheap and cheerful food but it’s good. It’s jazzy-type music and whilst not a big jazz fan, it’s good. Fed and watered, the band then finish up and I decide to leave and see if there’s anything else on tonight. No, is the answer. Despite the Street being packed out, and constantly dodging folks in the crush – the Street really is full tonight and it’s only Wednesday – there’s still no decent music anywhere.

I’d read about Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, “reputed to be the oldest structure used as a bar in the United States”, so a bit of a legendary place. It’s on Bourbon Street but a few blocks up so I say goodbye to the ‘Bourbon madness’ and walk up the street in peace and quiet until I find the bar.  You could almost walk past the place as it’s not very well lit at all, and quite unassuming in fact. Inside it’s sedate, quiet and great. Make sure to pay it a visit. I sit at the bar, the barman is busy but he’s friendly and chats when he can and, after a nightcap or two, it’s back to the hotel for bed. Tomorrow, it’s time to hit the road and leave New Orleans behind!

* Take Me To The River by Al Green

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar on Bourbon Street, New OrleansBourbon Street at nightA band on Bourbon StreetThe famous sign on Bourbon Street, still there...Musical Legends Park entrance on Bourbon StreetThe band playing at Musical Legends Park that nightStatue of Satchmo
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