TRAVEL TREASURE #7 – Cafe Du Monde NOLA

We’re back with more Travel Treasure and this week it’s one for all my fellow foodies…

Prepare to be inspired and why not share your treasure too?

Cafe du Monde NOLA

by Lara Platten

© Lara Platten

© Lara Platten

‘You must go to Cafe Du Monde’ ‘Oh I always go to Cafe Du Monde’ ‘You have to get beignets at Cafe Du Monde’

When the same place gets mentioned by seemingly every guidebook, list or person who’s been to a given city, you know you have to go. I’m covering a lot of cities on my trip across the US, but no eatery has been as consistently recommended as Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans.

On my first full day, a Saturday, the queue is down the street. Now I’ve queued for coffee before (Monmouth Coffee, Borough Market, step forward – it’s well worth it) but this is something else. The outdoor covered terrace area is huge – this is no tiny third wave coffee haunt. Instead, I opt to try the jambalaya at a restaurant opposite and come back another day. I will plan. I will be prepared. I will come early.

On Monday morning I come back, it’s barely 10am. On the walk from my accommodation in the Arts District shops are still closed, New Orleans – as you’d expect from a party town – is still waking up. But there’s a long queue at Cafe Du Monde. After a few minutes, I ask ahead and find out it’s a queue for take-out, so it’s a free-for-all to grab a table, if you can find one. There’s a few lurkers doing the rounds, grabbing tables before they’ve even been cleared, still laden with dirty cups, crumpled serviettes and the remains of beignets that couldn’t be conquered. There’s icing sugar under each and every table.

I settle for one inside and pick the corner by the window for best people watching – an activity you do a lot of, traveling alone. A chirpy waitress takes my order of small black coffee and beignets, but I switch tables and a waitress who’s clearly been here a while (and I don’t mean just her shift) brings my order. She barely even looks at the guys on the next table and gazes out the window vacantly when she takes their order.

My beignets (a type of French dougnut) and coffee arrive, laden with so much icing sugar it forms peaks and resembles a mini-mountain range. I have to tap off the excess not just in a vain attempt to save my thighs but to reduce the risk of choking by inhaling at the wrong moment.

Just warm, soft, sweet with the tiniest hint of a crisp outer, these beignet are delicious. The coffee is not bad at all either (and this comes from a wannabe coffee snob who has a habit of asking US baristas for a custom order). From my window seat I can see New Orleans life pass by, observe the hustle and bustle inside… and all for just $5.30. A great way to pass an hour in NOLA.

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TRAVEL TREASURE #6 – A Dizzy Dance with Dolphins

So here’s your weekly fix of Travel Treasure; you just gotta do, what you gotta do, to get a dolphin’s attention!

Prepare to be inspired and why not share your treasure too?

 A Dizzy Dance with Dolphins

by Emily-Ann Elliott of ‘The Grown Up Gap Year’

© Emily-Ann Elliott

© Emily-Ann Elliott

Swimming with dolphins in New Zealand.

Jumping into the icy cold, choppy, seawater took my breath away and it took me a few moments to notice that I wasn’t alone. A beady eye was looking at with me with interest and then another one appeared, and another, and another…

Before I knew it I was absolutely surrounded by dolphins, swimming beneath me and back flipping next to me.

My visit to Kaikoura came about as part of my 30b430 trip, where I ticked off 30 things around the world I’d always wanted to do before my 30th birthday. Our morning began at 5.30am and as we sat in the boat bleary eyed, the crew warned us that they couldn’t guarantee that we’d actually see anything. But just 25 minutes later we started to spot some dolphins following us. Now I’ve seen the odd dolphin before, but I’ve never experienced a whole pod and seeing around 400 together was an incredible sight.

We jumped into the water and began to make the silly squeaking sounds we’d been told would attract the dolphins’ attention. My self-consciousness instantly vanished as the dolphins curiously moved closer to check out these strange creatures.

Dusky dolphins are one of the smallest species, but they were still the same length as me and I couldn’t believe the speed at which they swam. To be so close to wild animals was such a fantastic feeling and I kept ending up with mouthfuls of seawater as I was laughing so much.

The crew told us a good way to play with the dolphins is to make eye contact with them before swimming around in a circle, which might encourage them to copy you. I decided to give it a go and caught the attention of one before madly trying to propel myself around. It looked at me quizzically, as if to say: “Okay, so we’re playing this game?”, before swimming around me so quickly that it made me dizzy.

It was one of the most amazing moments of my trip and is something I will treasure forever.

 ❤ Emily-Ann blogs at Grown Up Gap Year  ❤

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❤ TRAVEL TREASURE #5 ❤

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