Day 10 of our US Road Trip and driving on the highway was becoming tedious, each hour dragged into the next and, unlike Texas, Louisiana seemingly did not have rest stops for us to stretch our legs and run around.
After hours and hours of endless chain restaurants and straight roads eventually we came across Lake Charles. Sitting in the sunshine and having, yay, another Whole Foods picnic we both could not wait for this journey to be done.
Soon the landscape changed from bland highway to roads that ran straight through swamps with water and trees all around us which made the last stretch a little easier. Finally after 11 hours we made it to The Ace Hotel, which was the perfect sanctuary after another long day on the road.
As I expected The Ace Hotel was super hipster, the door staff wore camo style shirts and the receptionists were practically models but all were absolutely delightful. The decor payed homage to the old speakeasy days, with dark wood and moody lighting. Like the Ace in London every inch of the building has been thought about and the interiors were stunning yet someone managed to create a relaxed feel making it a destination and not just a place to rest for the night.
Dropping off our bags we hit the gym then enjoyed the rest of the evening listening to live jazz in the lobby bar. I was having a great evening but suddenly that unsettled feeling I had all day rose to the surface and I surprised myself by getting teary. I am not a crier normally, especially not in a public place, but I had never been away from my family at Christmas and I was doubting my decision.
Despite all I’ve travelled, being homesick is not something I have ever suffered with but at a time of year that is about family I got my first feeling of longing for home. Wiping away my tears and numbing my emotions with another delicious cocktail we called it a night early.
Like every other tourist, we headed along to the French Quarter. Though many of the bars and restaurants were closed people still managed to find places to get their boozy kick from. Like Vegas, people walked around with huge cups of various coloured alcoholic liquids at any time of the day. To me Vegas is built for debauchery and is unashamedly brash whereas in New Orleans this lewd behaviour just didn’t seem to fit with the stunningly detailed wrought iron covered buildings and soulful jazz music.
Putting my uneasy feeling down to being hungry we joined the long queued at The Corner, after an almost two hour wait for food mine arrived without Pablo’s which wasn’t exactly ideal. The Corner were one of the few places open on Christmas Day and were completely overwhelmed by the amount of hungry punters but it was still disappointing. After eating I felt way more human and we found some great street musicians and took a stroll along the river before heading back to get ready for dinner.
Knowing that New Orleans was not exactly known for it’s vegetarian fare I had emailed the hotel in advance for suggestions and they had kindly booked us a table at Shaya for Christmas Dinner. Grabbing a Lyft along we drove by stunning large houses that looked like they were from the movies, and it was an obvious we had entered an affluent area. Waiting to be seated I was appalled at the way some of the customers spoke to the hostess and waiting staff; middle age, rich, white men with their tiny wives adored in designer gear who thought their needs were more important than anyone else’s – it was white privilege at its very worst. The staff did not seem bothered by awful behaviour and were complete professionals, seating us swiftly and talking us through their recommendations with expert knowledge. The modern take on Israeli food was delicious and though not at all festive was a lovely date restaurant (despite their disgustingly rude clientele).
Heading back into central New Orleans we yet again decided to finish our night in the hotel, treating ourselves to cocktails and bottle of wine in the bath (see video) before calling Christmas a night. New Orleans was a really odd setting for Christmas day, and I could not wait to experience the Voodoo, jazz, and culture that the Big Easy is famed for.