That Shit Cray(fish) – 3 Days in New Orleans

So recently (and actually when I write this, due to the fact I’m wanting to write something as it’s fresh in my head) I went to New Orleans for a visit. I’ve always want to go to The Big Easy after a friend of mine waxed lyrical on how brilliant it was, and hearing great things about the place I’ve always wanted to go. With Wrestlemania in Dallas, I decided to head out a few days earlier to go to New Lorleans for a much-deserved break.

I arrived at the beautiful Hyatt Regency Hotel after arriving on an Uber. The driver, Nicky was wonderful, but unfortunately it seems like Uber is crippled in New Orleans due to minimum fares from the airport that is twice as much as normal fares. So try to avoid using Uber from the airport, and arrive carrying cash so you can get at a taxi. The hotel was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, a huge behemoth of a building spread over 30 floors, with an element of luxury, I was reminded that the main tower seemed almost Citadel-from-Mass-Effect-ish.

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After a quick change, I headed out to the famous street in New Orleans, Bourbon Street. I wasn’t sure what to expect as generally speaking the United States isn’t known for it’s drinking culture, this was a lot different, and absolutely crazy because of it. Bourbon Street is a hive of jazz music, debauchery and cocktails in rude shaped glasses.

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There is so much here it’s an assault on the senses, so after some food (a fairly substandard Chicken Jambalaya), and checking out a few bars I found a great little bar for a bit – Ticklers Piano Bar. This bar featured some dueling pianos which was a great form of entertainment.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEQ_h-t39Hs

Bourbon Street was fascinating to see, but I think I was just a little too old for it. So heading home I found Hobnobber’s Variety Bar and Restaurant that became a home from home in New Orleans. It had a range of craft beers that were brilliant, my personal favourite was the 7th Street Wheat Lemon & Basil Beer. I’m not a fan of wheat beers nor flavoured beers, but this was absolutely delicious and eventually became my craft beer of choice. Plus it was $3 cheaper than the artificial shite on Bourbon Street. Thanks to the staff there, I was pointed in the correct places to go during my stay in New Orleans, and invited to their Easter celebrations.

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After a fairly good sleep, I woke with the sad news that today was going to rain. Nevertheless, I headed out and had a pretty decent breakfast in Daisy Dukes (a Veggie Omelette, if you must know), before – joy of wonderous joys – the heavens opened. This kinda put me back an hour or two, as I missed one of the three Easter Parades that were happening that day on Bourbon Street. So after a while of standing under some shelter in borderline monsoon conditions, I dived into a shop for some souvenir shopping.

After a while, the rain stopped, so I set off to explore the French quarter a little bit more. It was Easter Sunday, so at the cathedral there was mass. After a leisurely stroll along the Mississippi, I checked out the Chris Owens parade, the second parade of that day.

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The parade was superb! Lots of colourful floats and the participants were throwing beads and other keepsakes from all the floats, all with live music. Thankfully the rain had stopped so a lot of the expensive dresses and suits weren’t ruined.

I rested for a bit and then returned to Hobnobber for an evening of (free) food and (paid for) drinks. As everybody was bringing something I did bring some crisps, and it was here where I had a mish mash of Southern Easter Cuisine of BBQ Shrimp, Ham & Sweet Potato Casserole (which was delicious and I’m definitely cooking that at home!) and Apple Pie. After an enjoyable evening putting the world to rights, I said goodbye to my new found friends at Hobnobbers, and left.

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The final day was spent walking through the Garden District. I had a gorgeous lunch at Joey K’sIt was a simple Shrimp Poboy, with a side of french fries. Simple, delicious, and very filling.

The evening was spent at the Smoothie King Centre which was beside the hotel to watch New Orleans Pelicans vs. New York Knicks. Now I had seen NBA Basketball before (though I was introduced to the sport – like most Brits who grew up in the 1990s – in the game NBA Jam), and I cannot say I enjoyed it that much. It was a preseason game and I ended up paying £50 for a ticket that they were giving away for free the day before the event. Although it was seen as something important for Manchester, I couldn’t help feel most people didn’t want to be there, including the players (Oklahoma City vs. Philadelphia).

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Thankfully, this game was much better. I am not sure why, maybe it was there seemed to be a lot more to do before and during the game, maybe it was because I was surrounded by people who were invested in the game, maybe it was simply that the tickets were cheaper. In short, it was a good fun evening, and as I wanted to avoid drinking, it was a good way to do something fun and stay sober.

All in all, I think the one thing I’d take away from my time in New Orleans is the hospitality. Everybody was really friendly and to be invited to an Easter feast with a bunch of strangers was an absolute treat that made my visit there. That wasn’t unique, as from the taxi ride there to the taxi ride back everybody was so incredibly friendly, and I’d love to go back again.

Other Thoughts

  • Rather disappointingly, outside of the Hotel, Hobnobbers and the Smoothie King Centre, I couldn’t find WiFi anywhere. I’m assuming chains generally do as well.

WordCamp Europe 2014 Unofficial Walking Tour – Tickets Now Available

With WordCamp Europe 2014 just under 2 weeks away I’m delighted to announce that the tickets for the walking tour are now available for general release!

The tour is a private tour full of all the major sights and buildings in Sofia, Bulgaria, you will be guided on a 2 hour tour of the city, with interesting facts & the history of the city all discussed. I sat writing this on holiday in Barcelona, and yesterday did a similar tour, they are very good and was introduced to various things I would’ve missed otherwise. This is also a private tour for attendees to WordCamp, so you will be with individuals you can talk to and network with about WordPress, should you wish.

It takes place the day before WordCamp – on the 26th September at 9:30am. There is a small charge of €5.88 to cover the cost of the tour.

Anyway, hope to see you there!

Any questions, please let me know!

Commonwealth Games 2014 – Glasgow

Over the past weekend I attended the Rugby Sevens event at the Commonwealth Games.

For those unaware, the Commonwealth Games are an Olympics style event which features countries who are in the Commonwealth. It’s one of the few events that the nations of Great Britain compete separately from each other, and there are slightly different events from the Olympics.

One of the different events was Rugby Sevens, which is because a lot of Commonwealth Nations are rugby playing nations. The games were played over the course of 2 days at Ibrox, and we attended the first session.

It was brilliant! Even for non rugby fans like my mum who attended, as soon as we arrived we felt the warmth of Glasgow (or rather the Glaswegian people), and got into it. Bless her, she’s still chanting for Uganda (the fans favourite underdogs) more than 24 hours after the events.

Anyway, here are some pictures of my trip. Hope you like them!

Have you been in Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games? Let me know how your experience was.

Le Tour In Yorkshire – Day 2 (York/Huddersfield/Sheffield)

So a small thing that I’m not exactly proud of – I cannot ride a bike.

I mean, I probably can. However I’ve never really been on one. I preferred scooters and video games growing up. However, one thing I really enjoy is Le Tour De France.

I think it is because when I was growing up Le Tour was always background TV on holidays. We’d be in a caravan, after a long day being out and about, and it’d be the last programme we watched before going to bed. So when they announced that Le Tour in Yorkshire was happening (La Grande Depart was taking part in Yorkshire), I made sure that I was going.

At least that was the plan. Unfortunately, the plans I originally had did fall through, and a night at the excellent Chorlton Beer Festival meant that I wasn’t sure if I would make it, but instead miss it. But the next day, hungover, I decided to suck it up and head to Huddersfield to watch the tour. To be spotted, I made sure I dressed suitably.

I was quite surprised how easy it was to get there. A lot was said on preparing early and getting there early. However I was surprised at how empty the trains and trams were. I wasn’t convinced it was actually happening. However, when arrived in Huddersfield, it was obvious there was something huge going on.

I headed to watch the tour and found a space next to a barrier at the bottom of a hill on the outskirts of Huddersfield. And then I played the waiting game. I was 3 hours early, and the carnival was due to arrive in 2 hours. So I chatted to a few people. And waited. It wasn’t a waste as about half 2 the first for the riders flew past.

That was followed 3 minutes later by the main field, which whizzed so fast past us it was borderline scary. But wonderful. (NSFW language in the video, but in all honesty if you work at a company that doesn’t allow you to view a video which includes the word “Shit” in it, then change jobs).

So all in all, it was a great day out. It was long, and there’s a bit of waiting, but it was something worth seeing. The crowds were amazing all weekend, so they did themselves credit. Same time next year boys and girls? 🙂

Did you go? What did you make of it? I thought it was superb!

WordCamp Europe – Walking Tour

So I half expected this post to be about WordCamp Manchester, my thoughts and why it was so great (it was, well done to Jenny, Mike, Phil & the hardworking team for making a fantastic conference), as well as what an honour it was to speak there (which it was – you can see my slides here), but a conversation on Twitter today meant I had to change my post for today.

WordCamp Europe is happening at the end of September, and I am provisionally (yes, it’s not booked yet) looking to be there from the Thursday to the Tuesday. One of the suggestions for what to do was the Free Sofia Walking tour. After provisionally getting a few people interested, and after a discussion with Jenny, AndreyTaco & Peter, we thought we’d try and get a Unofficial WordCamp Walking Tour sorted.

Provisionally, we’re looking to go on the walk at some point (probably 11am) on the Friday before the conference. I have emailed them for an idea on how many they can reasonably take on the tour, as well as if they can accommodate us.

If you are interested, please leave a comment below. I will collate the numbers and speak with the tour company, see if we can do it.

I’ve been on a few of these tours before and they are pretty good. They work on donations (usually around €10/$20 a tour) so not completely free, but certainly a lot cheapear than a lot of organised tours.

Please note: This is not affiliated or endorsed by WordCamp Europe, and is  something completely separate. I’m just looking to set something up.