LUKE MARSDEN: Chilling out in the Big Easy

“Watch yourself when you get down there and stay in well lit areas.”
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That’s the advice Americans shared with me ahead of my three-day visit to New Orleans, Louisiana.

I’ve always wanted to head there and see the tail end of the mighty Mississippi but, having read about the high crime rate and homelessness problems, I was anxious.

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En route to the airport, an Uber driver explained the city is unlike any other place in America, treading its own path, doing its own thing and not toeing the progressive party lines.

Columnist Luke outside LaLaurie MansionColumnist Luke outside LaLaurie Mansion
Columnist Luke outside LaLaurie Mansion

On landing in the Deep South I instantly understood what he meant: you can’t walk anywhere without being in earshot of the sweet sound of jazz music.

New Orleans (Nola as it’s known down there) is a stunning place, full of culture and steeped in a dark and complex past.

It’s that fascinating that walking down a street in the infamous French Quarter, our path was blocked for Emmanuel Macron’s motorcade. If it’s good enough for the French President, it’s good enough for a Wiganer.

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Bourbon Street is like a longer, drunken version of King Street (yes, that’s possible). I didn’t meet a single sober person as I walked down it and joined in a rendition of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing with some worse-for-wear Americans.

I was even recognised as “Luke from Big Brother” by some Mancunians in a bar although one thought I was from Love Island. I didn’t correct her.

By far the highlight was the Witches Brews and Voodoo tour, including killer Madame LaLaurie’s mansion: said to be one of the world’s most haunted places and once owned by Nicolas Cage. I think that added to the horror.

Tour guide Robert explained about the voodoo of the city and the impact it can have on a person. Given the state of the UK at present I just hope I’ve left the bad voodoo in Nola!