As we leave Memphis, the heat becomes our daily companion, as well as the moist air. Mississippi welcomes us with cotton fields as far as the eye can see, bumpy roads and our first swamps. We ride down the Blues Highway, US 61, all the way to Vicksburg. Vicksburg is the first town where we start seeing this architecture typical for the Southern states of the US: two-storey brick buildings with wrought-iron railings along the balconies. Here, the autumn colours we witnessed less than a week ago, are just distant memories.
Our next stop is Covington, Louisiana, a small artsy town on the outskirts of New Orleans. From here, we’ll take the almost 24-miles long Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, one of the longest bridges in the world, to reach New Orleans.
We made it! We’re the 30th October, one day before Halloween, making my wish to spend Halloween in New Orleans a reality.
New Orleans can’t be compared to any city we’ve previously visited in the US. With its French Quarter, its many cemeteries, old street cars and colourful mansions, it feels like a little piece of Europe has been mixed together with American and Central American cultures.
A magical and surreal world unfolds under our eyes.
Our steps lead us through the old, crooked streets of the French Quarter, along famous Bourbon Street and Saint Louis Cathedral, into further, less crowded streets. Everywhere, inhabitants have outdone themselves to celebrate oncoming Halloween. Houses, wrought-iron balconies and garden fences have been adorned with skeletons, pumpkins, spider-webs and ghosts.
This isn’t just the case in touristy French Quarter. As we head to a visit of Lafayette Cemetery No.1, the mansions of the Garden District are the evidence of a similar dedication. Here the skeletons are reading newspapers, sitting in rockers on the front porches and “Crime scene: Do not cross” yellow tape etches across the front doors. Gardens feature the occasional tombstone with RIP signs and pumpkins faces greet you with demonic smiles.
Our visit of New Orleans wouldn’t be complete without listening to one of the many jazz bands playing in the streets of the French Quarter, eating beignets at the Café du Monde and Po-Boys. Or heading out as dusk falls, and walking the streets along ghosts, princesses, unicorns, mermaids, Calavera Catrinas and various animals. We stand out in a striking way, two of the few without a costume. A magical and surreal world unfolds under our eyes, in a night where dead and living are closer to each than any other night in the year.
Part 1: Finding the right bike
Part 2: Canada and Jasper National Park
Part 3: The Icefields Parkway
Part 4: The Okanagan Valley
Part 5: Vancouver and the Sea-to-Sky Highway
Part 6: US 101, Washington and Oregon
Part 7: Idaho & Montana, the Lewis & Clark Highway to Denver
Part 8: Denver
Part 9: Kansas City
Part 10: Nashville & Memphis
Part 11: Halloween in New Orleans