“Now see that top window”. Our guide points across the street to a beautiful 17th century convent. “That top window there was blown out in Hurricane Katrina. Now there have been rumors for years about this Catholic convent, that it was a vampire prison, that the top floor was totally sealed off. Insane right? But following the storm the convent didn’t allow anyone up to that floor; no one was allowed to repair it until a special request had been put in with the Vatican. That request was for one single specially trained priest to come from Italy, all the way to New Orleans, to repair one, single, window. Take a moment and think on that”.

And with that our guide wraps up the evening’s ghost tour, leaving us standing in the late evening light of the French Quarter, shrouded in Louisiana’s heat and humidity, with just a taste of the wild, deep, and dark history of one of the most interesting and beautiful cities on the continent.

Louisiana and New Orleans have long captivated the imagination. The deep dark of the southern swamps, the debauchery of Bourbon Street, and the lazy nights by the Mississippi have painted an image often at odds with reality. With all that in mind, I’m in this fabled town to see for myself.

New Orleans by Jamie MacDonald

New Orleans Scenes

Rolling into the city from Louis Armstrong International airport, you rise and fall across the city like waves on the river. Over and under bridges, overpasses, and thoroughfares as the evening traffic navigates the highways that surround the city. The lights of the downtown and the giant Mercedes-Benz Superdome whiz by as we make for the South Bank of the Mississippi, the neighbourhood of Algiers Point and our fantastically named Airbnb, the Old Captains House.

New Orleans Skyline from Algiers Point by Jamie MacDonald

New Orleans Sunset - Jamie MacDonald

Enough cannot be said about the merits of Algiers Point. It is an oasis of calm and chill, in a city full and energy and life. Tucked directly across the river from the downtown core and the French Quarter. It feels like stepping into a small, hip, coastal town, with the thrum of downtown New Orleans a short ferry ride away. The old school facades of the houses and the long shotgun homes lining quiet blocks make for a quintessential Louisiana feel. One that is also particularly popular with Hollywood. During our stay there were two different television and movie shoots taking place on the point.

New Orleans Ferry

New Orleans Sunset - Jamie MacDonald

Down along the river Algiers Point is lined with a couple local bar gems. Spots you feel just a little out of place as a visitor. Along the water levees line the shore, with the Marine Corps training track lining the top. It makes for a great sunset run or walk, as the sun dips blow the weeping willows and the Mississippi.

Willow - New Orleans by Jamie MacDonald

Bourbon Street music - Jamie MacDonald

New Orleans People

To get into the city walk towards the river and it is near impossible to miss the ferry. For $1.50 you get dropped off directly into the heart of downtown New Orleans, with the French Quarter, Bourbon Street, and the riverside attractions all within a 10-15 minute walk. Once there you are spoiled for choice. It is near impossible to run through all the options you have. But above all, walk. Yes it is hot, but it is oh so worth it. You will see more and come across all the little nooks and crannies the old city has to offer. From the over-the-top souvenir shops, to the beautiful and eclectic antique stores, to the fascinating Voodoo and magic emporiums; all of it is worth stopping and taking a look.

New Orleans souvenirs - Jamie MacDonald

Aligator - New Orleans by Jamie MacDonald

Above all though, there is the food. Food everywhere and food that is oh so good. Southern cooking is famous for a reason. From the fresh fish and seafood, to the giant and beautiful Po-Boy sandwiches, to ice cream, and high-end French cuisine, New Orleans is a foodies dream. Again, I could keep you here for pages with food recommendations, but I will leave you with three.

New Orleans - Harbor Seafood and Oyster Bar by James MacDonald

New Orleans - Harbor Seafood and Oyster Bar - Jamie MacDonald

First, for seafood in the city go check out Harbor Seafood & Oyster Bar. It is on the corner of Williams Boulevard and 32nd Street out near the airport. Much more of a working class place, and nothing fancy, but it doesn’t need to be, its food speaks for itself. Second, St. Roch Market on St. Roch Ave. and St. Claude Ave. Some of the hippest, exotic, and tastiest food I found in New Orleans, a great selection of local food producers, farmers, and restaurants. And last but not least, on the way south out of the city towards the Gulf, directly across from the New Orleans Naval Air Station is La23 BBQ. To put it simply, get there early, as in 10am early. And prepare to wait in line behind a whole slew of pilots (and be ready for some very interesting conversation). It is hands down the best BBQ I have ever had. Words fail me when trying to describe this food, just simply go and try it yourself.


New Orleans by Jamie MacDonald

Finally, in a city with more of the undead below than the living above, ghosts, Voodoo, and history are impossible to overlook. Situated so close to Caribbean and being a port of entry and transfer for hundreds of years, New Orleans has some of the richest and deepest history in North America, from expelled Acadians from eastern Canada, to the dark history of southern slavery, to the Haitian and African religions and Voodoo influence, and finally the lingering scars from Hurricane Katrina. It is a city that is equally vibrant and alive as it is rife with scars and stories and history. It is that depth, that contrast of light and dark, of a city living its history day to day, that makes New Orleans a must see.

Shotgun Houses