From Savannah I drove to Mobile, Alabama which is 500 miles or about an 8+ hour drive. Originally I was going to stay in Montgomery, because it was the only city that I have heard of in Alabama and the drive was significantly shorter. Then I did some research about Alabama and discovered Mobile. Mobile is a beach town that sits at the north end of Mobile Bay along the gulf coast. It is also a two hour drive from New Orleans (which was my destination for the following day). Originally I had no expectations for Mobile at all. I was going to use it as a rest day, enjoy a beach day, catch up on my blog, and call it an early night. None of this happened.
When I first arrived at the hotel I was greeted with a pride flag. I figured, that for Alabama, that was the most progressive thing I would find. It did make me feel welcome and I was instantly grateful that I picked the hotel. Once I got to my room, the T.V. had already been turned on to the local news. I learned that beaches were closed due to dangerous waves (of course the only thing that I was looking forward to in Alabama). I also learned that there was a shooting earlier in the day and no suspect was apprehended, which made me nervous to explore downtown on my own. So, I made up my mind that I was going to find a place to eat and go back to my room early.
I headed downtown without my camera and I am truly upset that I did not take it with me. Mobile was a nice surprise. The architecture was similar to other areas in the South like Savannah and New Orleans, but it had more of a small town feel. Downtown did seem to be struggling and I am assuming it is mostly because of the economic strain that people have faced due to COVID. All of the restaurants that were open looked great. I decided to pick one at random, and had no idea what was even on the menu. I ended up picking a really fancy restaurant that was not in my budget called The Noble South. Instead of ordering a full meal, I ordered two appetizers and a drink. Pictured is the deviled eggs, which were delicious, but I also ordered the wagyu (和牛) meatballs. It was the first, and possibly last, time that I had real wagyu beef. It was absolutely amazing and even better than I had imagined.
After my meal, I headed back to my hotel down a different street and stopped to take a quick snapshot of this mural on the side of a bar. My curiosity overcame me and I stopped by to check it out. I am so glad I did because they were hosting a Bingo game. It wasn't typical Bingo either. Instead of numbers, the boards had song titles which the DJ would play, as opposed to calling out the answers. I was obviously not a local and stood out. Everyone was so kind and ended up making my night extremely enjoyable.
The hotel I stayed at is called the Malaga Inn. The front of the building is beautiful with it's intricate ironwork designs. I stayed in a room on the third floor that faced the courtyard which had a fountain and gas lighting. To wind down from the day, I relaxed on a rocking chair and enjoyed the courtyard.
While I was getting ready for bed I had a weird experience that inspired me to look up the history of the Malaga Inn. According to one of the websites that I visited, the Malaga Inn is the second most haunted hotel in the nation. So, I guess you can say that I officially got my spooky fix in for the trip.
The next morning, I woke up extra early so that I could go on a swamp tour in Louisiana. I booked my tour with Cajun Encounters. As you can imagine, the humidity on the swamp was extreme. When I first tested my camera, the humidity kept fogging up my lens and I was worried that I would not be able to use it. I was wrong! My camera finally adjusted which allowed for some really great pictures. The swamp tour was a lot of fun! I learned a lot about all things swamp and even feel less afraid of alligators. Here are some of the things I captured from my tour:
There were a lot of different wildlife in the swamp. I saw a water snake swimming and a dragonfly landed on my knee (which the tour guide said was good luck - I hope that means I am moving to Japan soon!). Here are my favorite pictures of animals that I took:
Finally, I was aware of people who lived on the swamp, but it honestly didn't seem real until I saw it for myself:
After the tour, I headed to the French Quarter in New Orleans where I enjoyed lunch at Stanley on the patio. There was a live jazz band playing across the street in Jackson Square which also added to the dining experience. I spent the early afternoon exploring the French Quarter and taking lots of pictures.
Later I checked into my room and planned on taking a quick nap before heading back out. I was hoping to find a nice jazz club to spend the evening. Instead, I accidentally napped for five hours! I woke up and it was 9:00pm. Because New Orleans is the "Las Vegas of the deep South" I knew that the city was still awake. So I decided to go out for a little bit, but I was definitely not prepared for the NOLA energy. I was overwhelmed with the amount of people... everywhere. There were very few places that had actual jazz music and there was a wait to get in to all restaurants and bars. I did find a really talented singer on the street who I listened to for quite a few songs.
The next morning I woke up early enough to see the amount of street cleaners that were needed to clean up the mess from the night before. What a hard and thankless job they have. Even early in the morning those workers have to deal with the extreme humidity on top of everything else they endure.
I walked to the famous Cafe Du Monde for breakfast. Even by the time I got there, the two lines on each side of the building were a block long. I ordered an iced coffee (because it was already terribly hot) and, of course, the beignets. I ordered my food to go and enjoyed it at a park. The beignets are so fresh and delicate and not overly sweet like I had anticipated. They come in a bag of three, which I could not finish and gave my leftovers to a houseless person nearby.
New Orleans was the first place on my trip where I felt weird about being alone. I would probably go back with friends... as long as there is a trip to Mobile, Alabama included. If you ever go to New Orleans, do yourself the favor and take that two hour drive to Mobile. You definitely won't be disappointed.