As a Brit who had never been to New Orleans before, I could never have imagined anything like it. We really don’t have anything like it in the UK. I had thought it was just Jazz, Alcohol and striptease – but it was so much more!

So having got over all but a residual cough from the flu, Frankie and I went to New Orleans for the weekend of my birthday, for what was to be an amazing blow-out of a weekend. I am describing the place as a first-time visitor from a little island nation the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and as such it was just mind-blowing!

Frankie had booked us into a fabulous hotel about 50 yards from Bourbon Street – which is where the 24/7 partying goes on. First night there we went to a club on the corner where they had live music sets, punctuated with DJ sets. There were waitresses going round selling shots from test tubes and huge mock hyperdermics! I had one, but unfortunately ended up wearing more than I drank. If ever you are visiting for the first time, you have to have a cocktail called a ‘Hurricane’. Be warned though – it tastes sweet, fruity and innocent… And then you stand up and it hits you like the Louisiana humidity! One striking thing about this club was how much fun the staff seem to have there.

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What was the best part of New Orleans? The night life? The cajun cusine? The Music? The sightseeing? I couldn’t choose – I would have to say all of the above. I will insert some foodie photos at the end of this post.

The second day, we went sightseeing. Frankie grew up six years of her life in New Orleans, so she knew a lot of the best sights. She was pretty clever though when we went into Jackson square. We came into it from Royal Street and she said “Don’t turn around until I tell you to.” At first I was a bit suspicious (we spend a lot of time joking around with each other like playful young lovers trapped in the body and a half of old farts). But when I finally did turn around, the sight that hit my eyes just blew me away:

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I knew nothing about St Louis’ Cathedral, so when I saw it the sound of my jaw hitting the ground was almost as loud as the spectacular sound of the bells of St Louis ringing on the hour. It is a gorgeous building – inside and out. Here are some more shots:

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The following day – the Sunday before my actual birthday – we took a ride on the ‘Natchez’ – a genuine working paddle steamer. We had an informative narrative on the first half, until the boat doubled back, and then we had jazz playing. I requested they played ‘I can’t give you anything but love’ for Frankie, which they were very happy to play. Funny thing is that we have heard that song in different arrangements about four time since. I think it may be telling us it’s ‘our song’ – what do you think?

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All too soon, it was our last day in New Orleans – but it was also my birthday! What a fabulous evening we had! It started with an amazing meal and ended with more jazz and cocktails. It was certainly the most memorable birthday of my adult life!

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So to the foodie shots. I had so many new (to me) tastes in NoLa – from fried oysters, to jambalaya, seafood platters, muffaletta, beignets and of course Hurricane cocktails and Mint Juleps.

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And so the end of a long weekend in New Orleans furnished me with a completely fresh palette of experiences and memories. I never thought – never in my life – that I would celebrate my 57th birthday in such an amazing way.

Next step of the trip was Disneyworld, and Frankie’s Brother’s wedding. But that’s another post!

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