using my inside voice

Day 39 - New Orleans, Miami and Savannah Sorted

North American Travel | July 9, 2009

Fireworks for July 4th on South Beach

So, it's been a bit slow on the old bloggy front, but I have written some articles to tide the hungry crowds over. Our time in New Orleans was interesting, it was not really what I expected in the sense of the city itself, but once we'd found a few bars and some live music I was starting to get the gist. New Orleans is really all about food, drink and music, and I've fairly well summed up what we did for the 6 nights we were there in this article.

One thing that was intensely difficult for me in New Orleans was the weather. I grew up in a country that certainly has it's fair share of heat, but 36 degrees, 80% humidity, and no real breeze to speak of is something I had not bargained for. It is completely stifling, sapping your energy, and making you crave air-conditioning, which is something I generally shun. Our hostel, reviewed here, while moderately disgusting, was also an oasis because our shoddy little cell of a room did have an air-conditioner. So, we spent uncountable hours during the day holed up in its multi-coloured, cramped interior, venturing out closer to sunset to see music, eat food and drink the intoxicatingly strong drinks served up at most bars in NOLA (which stands for New Orleans Louisiana - something I'd never heard before).

One of the highlights was the hours we spent at d.b.a., a jazz bar on Frenchman Street, nursing a few pints of cider and listening to a six-piece bluegrass band (sadly I wrote down the wrong band name upon leaving, so I can't tell you what they were called). The thing that amazed me most were the young people (maybe 25 - 40 year olds) partner dancing to the music. I was almost compelled to get up and try myself, as they mesmerised me with their speedy, neat steps, but alas, my partner dancing skills are not what they should be.

Onto Miami, South Beach, centre for all things ostentatious, over the top, and artificial. The number of fake breasts, tans and hair colours roaming the shores was innumerable. People there seemed to spend all their money on creating an illusion of wealth, prosperity, 'beauty' and the ultimate in a relaxed beach lifestyle, when in actuality they were all bussing tables, serving fries and working at the hostel's front desk. Yes, this is a generality, but South Beach was very far removed from any real lifestyle I can imagine myself having, especially coming from 3 years in Vancouver where Lululemon makes its way into the best restaurants, and goretex is not just tolerated, but embraced.

We were supposed to stay at a hostel that was only 1 block from the beach, but were 'upgraded' to an apartment... 5 blocks further away, with no wifi, no kitchen equipment to speak of, and only two double beds and a table with which to make ourselves at home. Two hours back and forth with the hostel later and we at least had basic kitchen necessities, so we poured ourselves a tumbler of wine and let it be.

Having said all that, the beach was delightful, with crystal clear water, small fish swimming by and some nice white(ish) sand on which to lie our towels. Every day was spent lazing on the beach for a few hours, reading books for a few hours, napping for a few hours, then drinking wine for a few hours. Not much to complain about right? We were also in the heart of the art deco district of South Beach, surrounded by beautiful 1920s - 1940s buildings, painted shades of pastel, white and blue.

Luke and I also had the unique experience of witnessing first-hand a July 4th celebration in America. The crowds at the beach that day were purely ridiculous, drinking booze, swimming, running amok and generally having a blast. In the evening there was a fireworks show on the beach, and this was definitely the highlight of our stay. We arrived at the beach around 8pm with some beers and wine, sat on the sand in the sea breeze and chilled out. It was absolute bliss, I really can't imagine anything better, the beach and wine have to be two of my most favourite things in the entire world, and combining them is the ultimate double-whammy. When the fireworks started I was totally blown away, not because it was the best fireworks display I have ever seen, but because we were so close the impact and the noise enhanced the show incredibly.

After the real fireworks ended, all the revellers started setting off their own small (and actually some not-so-small) poppers. It was insane, things were going off all around us, and not all of them straight up in the air. I can now see why Australia bans the sale of fireworks, it was nuts, we saw people running for their lives from ill-placed crackers. For us it was hilarious and entertaining, seeing fireworks blasting off in all directions. But, I suppose it's not so funny when you're the victim of an erroneously planted skyrocket.

July 5 saw us on an overnight bus to Savannah, Georgia. We were fortunate to be able to check into our Pensione at 10.30am, so we got ourselves some lunch, ate, then promptly fell asleep for the entire afternoon.

Savannah is a beautiful city; imagine oak trees dripping with Spanish Moss, lush parks and squares at every turn and wonderful colonial mansions to ogle. However, Savannah is also incredibly small. So, after about 2 hours of wandering on our first day we had seen most of what the city had to offer. Luke and I aren't big into tours, and other than tours and museums, there isn't all that much to do in Savannah.

We, of course, found a coffee shop in which to while away a few hours, and on our second day a Scottish Pub and a pint (or two) of cider. We also took many photos of all the wonderful houses and squares (apparently there are 24 in the historic district, which is a mighty small area).

We were staying in the carriage house, out the back of the main building of the Pensione, sharing with two girls from New York State. We'd spent a few hours each day chatting with them, and on our last night, as we were planning to make a salad and stay home, we got to chatting again. Over a few glasses of wine we decided to go out with them for the evening and ended up having an amazingly fun night.

First stop was Vincent Van Go Go's for a New York slice. Then, onto a few divey bars around town. The second bar we went to, Club One, is featured in the movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. And, with free pool, $4.75 scotch and dry doubles, and a karaoke night happening, we were pretty much set until the call of bed found us at 2.30am. I won my first game of pool EVER, sinking two balls and the eight ball in the space of about 30 seconds. From there on in it was all downhill, but that initial win sure felt good.

As a bonus, we also made two new friends, who have asked us to come and visit them in New Paltz, New York, for a few nights after we finish up in NYC. YAY for spontaneous adventures!

At the moment we are spending a few hours at a coffee shop in Savannah before another overnight bus that will take us to Washington DC for two nights. The bus leaves at 4.40pm and arrives in DC at 5.05am, with a transfer at 2.30am in the morning - good times! We have 1.5 whole baguettes lathered with mayo, chicken, cheese and lettuce to tide us over for lunch, dinner and breakfast, then hopefully we can check in a bit early and wash an entire backpack full of dirty clothes. Ah, the romantic life of a traveler!

As a side note, part of the fun of all this blogging and article writing is hearing what people think about my adventures, opinions, ramblings etc. So, if anyone wants to comment at the bottom of the article, I would love to hear from you! Especially since I'm on the whole other side of the world from many of you :)

More soon...


1. MikalaT on July 9, 2009

We misses you guys. Savannah actually sounds kewl. Good to mix the little towns with the big ones. Florida, I've always thought, is a sh*tehole. Haven't been to Miami though - only Orlando and points beyond. Glad you're having fun though! Be safe! xxx

2. Dan on July 9, 2009

Hey, you two - it sounds like you are having a riot. Was NOLA anything like True Blood? And how is it since the flood?

4th of July sounds like a riot. Not as good as Canada Day though. Well alright then, a bit better. :P

3. Tessa on July 10, 2009

I just love reading your blogs! Brings back so many memories and makes a Saturday at work pass much more quickly. Give my love to Monty too xx

4. Sabella Fuss on July 11, 2009

Aah,'ve confirmed all my romantic notions, except for one - no mention of the glorious accents?? Did anyone give you an "Ah do declare"? Needless to say we're envious of your NOLA jazz experiences.

5. Mick on July 11, 2009

Many photos of wonderful houses????

I guess you're making us wait for the album.

6. Elizabeth on July 14, 2009

Just keep 'em coming, Bay. Sounds like you are having a blast. Pun intended.

Any Comments?

About Bay Oliver

Bay's career has been many and varied due to a penchant for traveling the world. After completing a double degree in Business Management and Journalism at the University of Queensland in 2002 she was lucky enough to land herself a job at Brisbane's Quest Community Newspapers. A year of roving reporting brought the epiphany that journalism and Bay didn't jive.
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Hobbies & Interests

How to be creative...

Creating an economically viable entity where lack of original thought is handsomely rewarded creates a rich, fertile environment for parasites to breed. And thatʼs exactly whatʼs been happening. So now we have millions upon millions of human tapeworms thriving in the Western World, making love to their Powerpoint presentations, feasting on the creativity of others.

Blog Roll

Categories of Published Work

Day 53 - New Paltz Adventures

Published: July 30, 2009

Four nights in New Paltz, and all of a sudden I think I'm Michael Jackson. Why-oh-why do I let things go this far?

Day 62 - Back in Canada: Toronto & Monteal

Published: August 2, 2009

The last two stops on the North American leg of our 8-month adventure are back in Canada, our home for the last three years, and bring back lots of memories.