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New Orleans

29°57' 4" N 90°4' 18" W New Orleans

Dec 10, 2014  –  by Maeva

We finally made it to New Orleans, one of our most anticipated stops! We arrived in the evening and went straight to the famous Cafe du Monde to finally taste their world famous beignets. Sipping on some cafe au lait and hot chocolate while devouring these delicacies was the best reward after the long drive of the day. You can’t escape covering yourself from top to bottom with their powdered sugar but it’s more than worth it! We then walked around very quickly to take peak at the famous Bourbon Street, but it was absolutely freezing that evening. Like most people, we thought we’d find warm weather in Louisiana but it turned out to be one of the coldest places! We then spent the night at the BMC (Balcony Music Club), definitely THE place to be for an evening in New Orleans. As soon as we entered, we were grateful for PG’s advice to go there. The band was Eudora Evans & Deep Soul and they were simply incredible. Beautiful jazz music through trumpets, saxophone, guitar and drums coupled with Eudora’s breathtaking voice and presence: welcome to New Orleans. This is where you realize the true musical and lively vibe of the city. Steph tried the local whiskey cocktail Sazerac and I stuck to pineapple juice, being on driving duty for the evening. After the incredible show of the first band, a second one came on, The Abney Effect – never had we seen that many musicians on one stage! We listened to their energetic jazz symphony for a little while before finally calling it a night. We spent the night on a pretty sketchy Walmart parking lot which was everything but reassuring. Waking up to a sunny and warmer day sure was a good reward.

Steph and the beignets
Steph and the beignets
Maeva blowing the sugar on beignets
Maeva blowing the sugar on beignets
Maeva after eating beignets
Maeva after eating beignets
Eudora Evans and Deep Soul at the BMC
Eudora Evans and Deep Soul at the BMC
Eudora Evans at the BMC
Eudora Evans at the BMC

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The Abney Effect at the BMC
The Abney Effect at the BMC
Trumpet player at the BMC
Trumpet player at the BMC
The Abney Effect singers
The Abney Effect singers

We then spent the entire day walking around the city, getting to discover the French quarter and street vibe of beautiful New Orleans. It started with a warm coffee in one of the oldest bars in the U.S. In there, everything is wooden and seems crooked. There was even a man practising the piano for later, which was ideal as we were slowly waking up. Just like in Austin, this bar showcased pictures of all the celebrities that had been there – Tarantino sure knows his way around cool American bars! As we continued our walk, we stopped a few times to listen to the talented street musicians playing their own jazz songs and bringing the city to life. One of them even had a tap dancer! We also checked out lots of cool voodoo and skull shops as well as colourful and vintage decoration shops. Out of nowhere, we spotted an incredibly colourful store which turned out to be a hot sauce store. We got to taste all kinds of flavour and did not leave empty handed! Although the French quarter is amazing, the city is still recovering from the consequences of the terrible hurricane Katrina. Lots and lots of homeless people are unfortunately wandering around as they have lost everything.

Maeva in the old bar of New Orleans
Maeva in the old bar of New Orleans
Old bar of New Orleans
Old bar of New Orleans
Man statue walking dog
Man statue walking dog
Jazz band in the street in New Orleans
Jazz band in the street in New Orleans
Hot sauce bar
Hot sauce bar
Cool mural in the hot sauce bar
Cool mural in the hot sauce bar
Jazz performers in New Orleans
Jazz performers in New Orleans

New Orleans is famous for two things: music, of course, and food! You already got a pretty good introduction with the beignets – but we figured it was necessary to try a lunch specialty as well. So without hesitation we stepped in Acme, the Oyster house. Sitting at the bar, I tasted their renowned oysters – both the fresh ones and the charbroiled ones. The latter is their specialty, and consists in oysters with cheese, garlic and different herbs grilled on a barbecue. Delicious! Steph went for their seafood gumbo, but did fight his dislike for oysters to try these. Not so bad! We continued our stroll to try to find CD’s of the band we’d heard the night before, without luck, but did find some old school carriages and mansions on our way.

Seafood gumbo in New Orleans
Seafood gumbo in New Orleans
Fresh oysters in New Orleans
Fresh oysters in New Orleans
Charbroiled oysters in New Orleans
Charbroiled oysters in New Orleans
Street performers in New Orleans
Street performers in New Orleans
Balcony Music Club in New Orleans
Balcony Music Club in New Orleans
New Orleans colours in the street
New Orleans colours in the street
Old school house and carriage in New Orleans
Old school house and carriage in New Orleans

As our day around New Orleans was coming to an end, we knew that one day we’d have to come back for Mardi Gras – where it seems the costumes, the atmosphere and the music are absolutely incredibly unique. We’ll be back.

 

Houston

29°45' 38" N 95°22' 11" W Houston

Dec 3, 2014  –  by Maeva

The Texan way of life continued as we reached the city to meet with PG, a friend from France who is currently living and working there. He had warned us: “You know in Houston, it’s mostly business, there’s not much to do, mostly partying.” Well that’s no problem! We reached the city in the gloomiest weather before it started pouring and we were really grateful that PG kindly let us crash in his living room! After a few Coronas at his place, we headed to a bar catching the most epic Uber ride. The driver was completely hyper, couldn’t stop laughing, and was all like “Oh you know where the bar is! You’ve been going there a lot huh! They know you there now hey! Hey, your buddy’s got a girl where is yours?” All between giant bursts of laugh, it was hilarious. We enjoyed some of the million (almost) beers on tap the bar features, chatted and played darts.  We decided to play 110 as it’s supposed to be the easiest way. Steph went first, threw his very first dart of the game and hit the perfect middle: bullseye. PG was like: “Are you serious right now?!” Lesson of the day: don’t play aiming games with Steph. In the end PG won the first two rounds, Steph the last three and I zero – no comment. We then decided to move on to another bar to meet some of friends, but the drinks were a little strong so we called in a night soon after! We slept on a thin leather sofa that was both cold and uncomfortable – ha, we had been warned by PG and his roommate but we thought we could endure anything at this point. However, it sure felt amazing to be in a warm apartment while it was freezing and pouring rain outside.

The next day, the weather hadn’t improved much so we lazily enjoyed some breakfast muffins and chilled around. We were also thrilled to have finally received the package from our friends Les Crapules. Luckily there were three T-shirts, all beautifully designed by Crapules artist Ambroise. So we put them on right away for the cheesiest photo you’ve ever seen. Admire below:

the three Crapules
the three Crapules

What do Texan people do on a rainy Sunday afternoon with their families? Why of course, they go to the shooting range! We jumped in the car with PG and his roommate and drove there eagerly. I had never shot a gun before and Steph had only shot with a rifle in Oregon (to shoot discs) as in that state you can’t use a gun if you don’t have a gun and a licence. It seems more reasonable, but apparently in Texas you can do whatever the hell you want. So we just entered the shooting range, looked around the shop full of guns and saw a promotion on hand grenades (wtf?!). Then we just gave our passports, picked our guns, snapped some goggles on and went to the booths. Just – like – that.  PG and Mika had already been here, so they taught us the basics – thank god. It is a little freaky to think that in that room, everyone has a killing machine in their hands and most people actually bring their own weapon. As French people, we still couldn’t wrap our heads around the fact that people own guns in their homes. This feeling grew even bigger when we got to shoot for the first time! The strength of the bullet as you pull the trigger is insane. It was quite surreal to play badass with our guns and our Crapules t-shirts, that’s for sure! But again, very much a culture shock, especially as we would see kids enter with their parents…

Steph and PG at the shooting range
Steph and PG at the shooting range
PG at the shooting range
PG at the shooting range
Maeva thinks she's Lara Croft
Maeva thinks she’s Lara Croft
Steph totally badass with two guns
Steph totally badass with two guns
Steph shooting a gun
Steph shooting a gun
Maeva shooting a gun
Maeva shooting a gun

We then had a well deserved break back at the apartment and as the weather wasn’t getting any better, we thought it was ideal for a sunday night movie. After an unfair vote (2 boys vs 1 girl), we ended up watching Nightcrawler. Before the movie started, the boys couldn’t resist playing games to win prizes. PG tried to catch a minion and then Steph tried to win an iPad. Didn’t work out too well, but it sure was a good laugh! The movie was insanely good, mainly thanks to the crazy performance of Jake Gyllenhaal. No spoilers, only one word of a advice: go see it!

The next day was a bit of a fail, as we emerged late and then spent the whole day driving around to find a hard drive for Steph. Who would have thought it would be so complicated? Only after two Walmarts and two Best Buy’s were we able to finally find one. Apparently, people buy lots in Texas… Luckily, we made up for the shitty day with a very very cool evening: a Methodman and Redman concert. Yes, that’s right. Okay, I’ll be totally honest with you I didn’t who they were but the boys sure did as they spent their teenage hood listening to their songs! We first had some beers and food at the bar, with the most annoying waitress in the entire world. You know the one who doesn’t let you enjoy your drink or conversation for more than 5mn and then gives you the wrong price for a beer and tells you it’s actually $3 more expensive – once you’re already halfway done drinking it. Anyhow, we finally made it to the “Smokers Club Tour” concert. They’re a bunch of rappers touring together and well, promoting the stoned way of life! In the concert room, one person out of two was smoking weed, which really surprised us because it’s illegal in Texas and you actually risk prison for it! Oh well, it didn’t seem to bother the crowd or the rappers themselves at all! The concert got really fun and B-Real (singer of Cypress Hill) stepped on stage and rocked it. Steph and PG didn’t know he was going to be there so it was a pretty awesome surprise! And then, the final act was Redman and Methodman, who totally killed it. They are definitely showmen, making the crowd participate in every song and dancing like crazy! It was by far the best way to finish our epic american experience in Houston with PG!

The next day it was time for goodbyes as we had to take the road to New Orleans. But not without stopping at a Texan barbecue on our way, of course! PG, a million thanks once again, we had a blast and you were a perfect host. Looking forward to returning the favour!

Texan barbecue
Texan barbecue