When my roommate told me that he was leaving Boston and moving to San Diego, I jumped at the chance to drive with him through the southern states – a part of the country that I have always longed to explore. There are not many times in your life when you are able to dedicate an entire month to traveling.
Our first stop on the trip was to New Orleans. There's an old saying about Bourbon Street by Lee Hazelwood: "You won't find it on any map, but take a step in any direction and you're in trouble."
The French Quarter has been dubbed "The Amsterdam of America" and after witnessing its electric vibe, nocturnal revelry, spicy and succulent seafood-infused cuisine, I can confidently say that you have to run Red Bull intravenously to fully absorb the constant stimuli of the city.
We started our party antics at Tropical Isle, a soulful beach bar known for its world famous Hand Grenade – a melon-flavored, liqueur-heavy drink with enough secret potent ingredients to tranquilize a small goat.
After checking out all the celebrity pictures on the wall and hearing Jimmy Buffet songs from the jukebox, we stumbled over to Pat O’Brien’s where we tried the city-defining beverage known as The Hurricane. Although it has a sweet and inviting taste, The Hurricane is mixed with four different rums. It’s a secretly strong cocktail that sneaks up on you and has you dreaming of supermodels before you can brush your teeth and say your prayers. After downing three of them, I honestly thought I saw Whitey Bulger tossing beads off of the balcony of The Cat's Meow.
With our stomachs in dire need of some padding, we headed over to the first annual New Orleans Seafood Festival, located across from the Mississippi River inside the stately wrought iron gates of the Old U.S. Mint.
As we listened to an array of local jazz musicians on the main music stage, we pleased our palates by snacking on a diversity of Cajun cooking: crab balls, oysters, shrimp 'po boy submarine sandwiches, jambalaya, and seafood gumbo.
We ate like we were taking a Marlon Brando speed-eating course, drank like the prohibition was going to make a comeback, socialized like ambitious democratic candidates, and danced like John Travolta's weird scientology test-tube babies.
In an effort to get our heads straight and help us digest, we took a walk around Jackson Square, the most photographed section of the city. Then we stopped by the people-watching paradise known as Café Du Monde, where we shared one of their legendary fluffy beignets – a tasty dessert similar to, and as fattening as, a donut