¿Donde Son?: My Trip to Colombia

Colombia is one of those places with a somewhat negative public perception. You all saw Narcos, innit (I’m yet to get on that). In the months leading up to my trip, there nearly wasn’t a raised eyebrow each time I mentioned that I was headed to Escobar’s Colombia. Some thought it was a joke. But I really was headed that way and I really did go and guess what, I really did have an amazing time. One of those trips that will be listed next to ‘Unforgettable’ in my dictionary.Read More

10 Things You Must Do in Barbados!

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In November, AB introduced me to SecretFlying and showed me that I could go to Barbados for a sweet deal. I thought long and hard about it for all of one minute and hit that button! When I bought the ticket, I was not sure that I would have travel companions. It didn’t matter. The price was good, the location had been on my mind for along while, and hey, it was travel!

The week before we left, I started to feel a tad guilty. I had just returned, in January, from a two-week long vacation from work. I was leaving again for a week. But wise counsel let me know that a time will come in my career and personal life when I will not be able to just up and go as I please. When that time comes, it would be nice to have these memories and satisfaction of “been there, done that, loved it”.

I went there, and loved every minute of it. Actually, I was sad to leave. Sniff. So here goes, 10 things you should totally do in Barbados when you visit 🙂

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What To Do in New Orleans!

1. Just GO!

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If y’all (yes, y’all. Because, y’all need to know that I have just returned from the South!) are like me, then you suffer from sporadic wanderlust. Always have. And like me, the only vacations that you have had in your short life have been with family – so probably nothing too adventurous. I don’t remember when NOLA got on my bucket list, but it did and it is so worth it to shell out that flight and accommodation money and go, go, go! The below lists my top experiences in the last five days. Of course there are more things than listed to do, so make Lonely Planet your travel buddy and don’t be afraid to wander the neighborhoods with little to no tourist action!

 

2. Stay in Faubourg Marigny

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This is a quiet, charming neighborhood that is close to the French Quarter and very pleasing to the senses. I went on a picture taking spree of the houses in this neighborhood. They reminded me of some houses in my village in Nigeria, sans mud walls. If these structures existed in Lagos, the inhabitants would get some serious side eyes from Lagosians. But alas, I find them absolutely gorgeous.

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3. Take a stroll on Royal Street

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Listen, save your transportation money for your airport trip and walk, walk, walk. It is a great way to burn the calories from all the eating. And trust me, if you like food, there will be a lot of eating. By walking, you get to discover hidden gems that you may not have heard of or read about in the guides. This is a great way to find something special about the city that you like for yourself. Ours was Royal street. We had no idea that there was a large art presence in this place. Music – oh yes,we were ready for tons! But the arts here is amazing! There are rows and rows of galleries on Royal street in the French Quarter and they have an open door policy. And air conditioning too.

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The gas-powered lamps were my fave

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4. Peek into Bourbon Street

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… and then run away! Lol. This place was too much for me abeg. All the doors to the bars and clubs on this street are open and blaring music into the little street that is Bourbon, pretty much all day. You can walk this street and drink at the same time, so yes, it can get stinky and disgusting. There is a bar here that has a reclined chair where one can sit and get shots thrown into your mouth by a very breastful bartender, who then shoves your head into her bosoms and motorboards your face. She spins you around and repeats. Shots, motorboard. And then when you walk a little further, you just might catch a woman flashing her boobs to some bead wielding individuals on a balcony, while they cheer and throw down beads for her. Yup, this is how you earn beads, innit. On Saturday night, you might find a couple of Christian missionaries wielding crosses, trying to chat and win souls for God.

5. Experience the phenomenon that is Windex Pete (“Google me”)

Windex Pete says I look like Angela Bassett. And then he proceeds to get comfy next to us, outside of the oldest bar in America (Lafitte’s). He claims to have met a bunch of celebrities and seems to have some proof of this. Windex Pete is something of a celebrity, if Google is anything to go by. He stands by his corner by the bar, with his washboard slung around his neck and plays “anything you want” for a fee, of course. After establishing that we were not giving him any money, he proceeded to give us an autographed photo of himself. Lol!

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6. Have a Killer Po-boy

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Oh yes, people, there is some serious seafood in this city. There are also these sandwiches called Po-boys. One evening, we went on a hunt for a place called ‘Killer Po-boys’. Literally a hole in a wall, this place is really hidden, with no sign anywhere outside. I think the hunt is part of the thrill so I will not give away the exact location. Let Google Maps guide you, and if you are lucky, you will meet a heavily bearded man outside the location where Google maps takes you and he will ask you, “what does your phone tell you?” And you will say, “my phone lies”. And he will chuckle and say, “show me your ID.”

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Jollof rice-wanna-be jambalaya

7. Catch the brass band kids on the street corner in Frenchmen

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These kids sound even better at night, when they bust out tunes like ‘Sexual Healing’ to a dancing crowd at the street corner. They know how good they are, which is why they have the balls to set up shop on a street that is filled with bars and restaurants offering sweet live music across genres. You might also find them at the end of Bourbon in the evening.

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8. View and buy local art at the artmarket on Frenchmen

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My attempt at photography at the artmarket

These guys begin to sell at 7 pm everyday of the week in this space that looks like a parking lot. There is so much art here and so much versatility. From electricians turned copper ring makers (if you know me, you know I spent all my time at this stall trying on rings), to architects turned musicians turned engineers turned painters, selling art that is a fusion of all these skills.

9. Follow a second line parade on Sunday

If you’re lucky, you’ll be in town on Super Sunday and catch the biggest second line parade with something of a “battle of the bands” going on. Otherwise, just follow the sound of New Orleans in a procession that is filled with dancing, stepping, club attires, and lots and lots of music. The history of second line is intriguing and you can read about it here.

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Caught up with him later in the day. He is a real Indian chief. He makes these costumes and believes that there is a spiritual meaning behind his costumes and the music that accompanies him.

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10. Allow your inner bourgeois to dine at GW Fins

This is one of those restaurants with a dress code and little plated portions. Apparently, men have to wear collared shirts (or polo t-shirts). If you come without a collar, they give you a polo t-shirt to wear. Lol! BUT, the seafood here is great! It’s their specialty and they do it oh so well. So if you get tired of the fried seafood that is flying everywhere in every other restaurant in the city, and your palette wants sea food with popping flavours and none of that fried crust, this place will fix you up (and drain your wallet) real nice.

11. Find Tulane University and take in the campus

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Beaded tree seen on the Tulane campus

The St. Charles streetcar can take you here from Canal street. But if there is construction, just hop on a bus. It is an absolutely beautiful campus, with grand buildings, some of which resemble castles. The residential buildings in this neighbourhood are a sight to see as well.

12. Go to Treme

Treme is the oldest African-American settlement in the United States. There is SO much history here and walking leisurely around this community, you will find hidden gems in the locals and spots that no travel guide can lead you to.

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Brass band playing at mass. St. Augustine catholic church. The first church where free people of colour could worship.

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13. Take a day trip to a plantation on River Road

Not getting to do this is my only regret from this trip. Planning ahead would have helped a lot. But these plantations look picturesque and the tours promise some sort of reenactment that I was really looking forward to.

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White Linen Night
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Supreme Court of Louisiana
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LOL! This is juju
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LOVE ME ONLY!
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St. Louis Cathedral.
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Jackson Square
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The other side of St. Louis cathedral. I saw the shadow before the statue and I thought this was an apparition!
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How cute?
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Surprising fireworks that went on for 20 minutes.
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Little Souvenirs from the Frenchmarket

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New Orleans is a city with a lot of history. We went into the jazz archives at Tulane and happened to eavesdrop on a conversation that included Captain Joseph Jones’ grandson-in-law. He had brought some historical documents from the Jones’ house (names of the boys that lived in the Colored Waif home for boys, where Louis Armstrong learnt to play) which he had carried around with him for years. He said it has been difficult to get anyone interested in doing much about this piece of history. It is a tourist destination for very good reason. But one need not do the stereotypical. It is really easy to make New Orleans your own and love it for yourself. So, if you have been on the fence about visiting, I suggest you take the plunge and add it to your list. And then go!

– MeeMee

  xx.