The Vampire Diaries and The Originals trip… or just a regular trip to Atlanta and New Orleans? (August 20th – August 25th 2019)
Unbelievable became a reality and I am about to go to another vacation. Since I am moving to San Francisco in a few days, I have to travel around the East Coast as much as I can and this time I´ve decided to make a “theme trip” to Atlanta and New Orleans. What do these two cities have in common? I know Atlanta from the TV show Walking Dead but 40 minutes away from Atlanta was recorded the most favorite TV show of mine – The Vampire Diaries (TVD). New Orleans I know from the TV show American Horror Stories (AHS) but in this trip I want to see places of TVD spin-off – The Originals. Let´s go!
After I got finally cheap flight tickets (sometimes it is a miracle to get ones) I was focusing on the second most expensive thing about this trip – an accommodation. Talking about New Orleans, I´ve read that it really worth it to go to Hotel Royal **, a place where Marcel used to live (fans of The Originals know what I am talking about) is an amazing experience. I was very excited about it but it didn´t last long. They were asking over $100 per night. Fan-no fan, even if I wanted to pay for it I couldn´t afford it… And so once again I booked a bed in a hostel which was only 400m away from the famous Bourbon Street! And I will see the Hotel Royal from the outside at least.
Talking about Atlanta, it is another story. Just recently my friend Natalia was sadly complaining that she cannot get an accommodation during her trip in San Francisco. She said she has tried everything – booking, hostels, she was asking other au pairs, couchsurfing… But no one can accommodate her and the cheapest place in San Francisco she found was for $100. But as she mentioned couchsurfing I had to give her more questions about how does it actually work. About this awesome option of accommodation for free at locals I´ve heard so many times but I was never thinking about actually doing that. And so, few hours later, I have created an account on couchsurfing and I found a profile of Ivan from Croatia living in Atlanta which I liked and so I texted him if he can accommodate me for three nights. To be honest I didn´t think it will work out. Moreover, when I told about this to Natalia she got crazy asking me if I was insane doing this by myself. I was calming her down saying that Ivan hasn´t responded me yet but I got so happy when on the following day I got my response from him. He asked me if I can put more description about me into my profile so he can check my authenticity. Two hours later, after I filled out completely my profile and we texted a little bit I got an invitation to be accommodated at his place. I was so excited and this was exactly the moment when I have started writing this blog. So I have a place to stay. What´s next… Find out all the places where my TV shows were recording!
Let me introduce you Covington:
Mystic Falls Courthouse – do you know the clock from where Elena and Damon jumped?
Mystic Grill – by the way, all those three places are straight next to each other!
Worthington Manor – Lockwood Mansion (unfortunately you can see it only if you attend TVD tour)
The Gilbert House – the same here, I couldn´t find the address – probably because nowadays there are people living in those houses and so it is a private property…
City Cemetery on Elm Street – a cemetery where some of the TVD scenes were recorded
College Whitmore – a place where Elena, Caroline, Bonnie and Tyler used to go to the high school (and I couldn´t go there because of a luck of time I had)
In Covington you can attend The Vampire Diaries, The Originals and Legacies walking tours. If you are interested, each tour lasts about 2-3 hours and price of a one tour is $55. What is more important and what I´ve completely ignored while I was checking their website is a fact that they don´t run those tours every day (because of the people who live in those houses). So if you decide to come here, call them and check with them if they run a tour while staying in Covington. Or just open their calendar on their webpage… For example, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays they don´t do any tours. Do you know when did I come here? It was Thursday but all the tours were already over! And so I was sad… But I will talk about it later.
Now let´s see what you can find in New Orleans:
French Quarter of course!!
Bourbon Street – fan-no fan, this street is one big party all the time
Hotel Royal ** – a place where Marcel (The Originals) used to live. I will tell you later why I was disappointed by this place (and I don´t talk about money disappointment but emotional one)
Lafayette Cemetery Nr.1 – do you remember all the cemetery scenes from The Originals? So they were recorded on this cemetery… A cemetery that is located straight in the middle of one huge crossroad!
St. Louis Cathedral – a stunning building but no one would have guessed that scenes with Davina, Finn or Freya Michaelson were recorded here…
Boutique du Vampyre – one of “the vampire stores” in the world! It is just something interesting. You can also buy here a copy of the diary from TVD for $80. It looks amazing and me as a passionable collector of the diaries was hesitating for a while. It was a leather diary, made from the recycled paper and it smells so good! But I didn´t have those extra $80.
La Laurie Manson – fans of AHS should know the name Delphine LaLaurie who played Kathy Bates. Delphine LaLaurie was a serial killer famous for cruel torturing and killing her slaves. Exterior scenes of the third season Coven took place two houses away from this one – at Gallier House Museum. Most of the indoor scenes took place in Hermann-Grima House which is open for public as a museum. If you want to go to LaLaurie Manson I will disappoint you because this house is a private property and the owner forbid to use this house for any movie intensions. This house is also considered as the most cursed and haunted house in the whole New Orleans and interesting fact about it is also that an actor Nicholas Cage used to live here for a while as well.
That´s all about the highlights of my trip and let´s see how was my traveling!
August 19th: Few hours before I left Scituate
I moved out to Nikola´s. My au pair year in Scituate ends on August 27th but my HM recently asked me if I am able not to come back here after my vacation. She gave me a vacation from August 20th – August 25th and my flight to San Francisco was on August 27th. Does it make sense to you? No, right. And so on August 25th I wasn´t welcome in Scituate anymore. Even worse was the fact that HD with kids went for vacation during August 20th – 30th and C was since the morning talking about how her mom will take my phone away from me by the end of this day (it was the family´s phone that they provided me). I was laughing that she cannot do this to me because it was my only working phone I had… Few hours later, when my HM saw me coming down the stairs with my heavy suitcase, she stopped me saying: “Lucy, I need your phone.” I gave her a terrified look asking her: “Can I give it to you in the morning?” And she responded: “No, I need it now.” I said OK, deleted everything from it and left it on a kitchen table. P****d off I left to Nikola´s and then to my goodbye party to my favorite bar Roadhouse… Where they greeted me with a goodbye cake!!!
Day 1: August 20th 2019
My vacation had started great. I said goodbye to my four kids (I think I will miss them) and went to my HM to her office (since she works from home). I told her: “I´m leaving.” She looked at me and simply said: “Okay, bye.” I was shocked that after all those nine months I spent there all she says was “okay, bye” and I left to the car where my HD was waiting for me to drive me to the ferry that took me to the airport. At least he was great. My trip to Atlanta was surprisingly calm and after my arrival to Atlanta´s airport I got a map since I didn´t have a phone that´d work. Luckily I had my Slovak phone without sim card with me but it works only on wifi. Nikola had a good idea to download an offline maps but I think it doesn´t matter if I walk around with a phone in my hand or a paper map. At least my battery lasted longer and I could have made more pictures… In Atlanta´s subway I got lost of course (and to be honest I haven´t seen more clear subway system in the US so far) and when I finally arrived to the Downtown, I decided to visit the biggest aquarium on the West hemisphere – Georgia Aquarium. And it was a great idea. I came there after 6:30pm it was Wednesday and almost empty! No crowds, animals (sting rays, sea urchins, calamari, stars, sea plans…) I could have touched and pat just like I wanted to and I saw everything perfectly and made some great pictures. I asked one of the employees about the statistics – how many people come here every day. He said that if the season it´s over, it is about 3000 people a day and during the season it is about 20 000 people a day. The record was during the 4th of July (Independence Day) – 22 000 people. When I was there, there could be about 100 people. Isn´t that a perfect timing? My legs hurt me a lot but I have never seen a more beautiful aquarium, ever! I spent here about 2 hours but I can imagine that if it´s crowded, you will spend here half of day. But it really worth it.
I went on a street, took out my map and was trying to find my subway station that´d take me to the place where my host Ivan lives. It didn´t last long and after a 15 minutes of hard evening walk I came to my subway station. There was a lot of homeless people and two workers. I came to them trying to ask on direction to get to my destination. When suddenly one of them stopped me saying that they don´t work for subway and I was thinking that he was just kidding. Luckily the other guy was nicer and he stopped his friend and gave me a chance to finish my sentence… So I told them that I just need to know the direction and the mean worker was suddenly so ashamed, because he understood that I wasn´t interested in a subway schedule but I was lost. Easy, right?
I dealt with Ivan that we will meet at 11:30pm at his place. It was 9:18pm when I came there and I told myself that I am not going to wait for him for two hours in the middle of a street. I went to the closest bar hoping to connect to the wifi and text him to pick me up there. In the same time I told myself that it will be more responsible to meet a strange guy in a public place first, just in case. See, sometimes I think smart! I was so unlucky when my phone couldn´t connect to the bar´s wifi but at the same time I was so lucky that the bar´s manager was so kind and allowed me to connect to his account (after I told him and the bartender my sad story about how I lost my only working phone). I texted Ivan that I was there and surprisingly he finished at work earlier and so within 20 minutes he came there too. And he was great! After a beer we went to his place, had more beers, had a nice conversation about life on his terrace and around 1am we went to sleep. And I was finally sleeping like a baby.
Day 2: August 21st 2019
I woke up, Ivan was already awake as well and he came to a room where was my bed located, which was straight next to a kitchen. He says that he was going to make himself a breakfast and asked me if I want something to eat as well. I gave him a surprised look and I asked him if I was in a heaven. Breakfast, coffee, shower and let´s go to the city. He gave me a tip to visit Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park (MLK) where each tourist should go I think. You will learn everything about racism and discrimination of black people, who was M.L. King, Jr., about non-violence protests and sit-ins, how he succeeded and how society has changed and how he was assassinated. And all of this for free! Ivan had some things to do and so we made a deal that we will hang out in the evening once he will be back from work…
After MLK I went to the King Street because I was being told that there is a nice market place. I was imagining markets with fruit and vegetable and I couldn´t wait to buy a peach (state Georgia has a nickname The Peach State) but I got disappointed because there wasn´t any fruit or vegetable. I came to the Krog Street Market which is a building with food courts. I got a lemonade, sat behind the bar and had a nice small talk with the cashier. When I finished my American Mirinda I went to the bathroom. And as I was there, I´ve heard as somebody ran into the bathroom and started throwing up. I got so surprised but I thought that was probably some kind of bulimic girl who was having a date over there with a cute young boy. I really wanted to see this person and so I waited for her to finish and we met at the sinks. And I almost got a stroke – it was my cashier friend from the lemonade shop (and I am pretty sure she was not bulimic). I got sick as well but as we all know I was just fine but paranoid and hypochondriac. Within an hour I was back to normal and I forgot about this intense bathroom experience. I went to the Oakland Cemetery – the oldest Atlanta´s public park that turned into a cemetery. Nowadays it is a place where weddings take place, there is a gallery and public events take place here as well (for example The country´s largest cemetery run). Interesting place, isn´t it? I was walking here because my map was showing that I was really close. I don´t mind walking. What I mind was that I couldn´t find the entrance. There was a brick fence everywhere and suddenly there was one more steel fence in front of this brick one. After about 20 minutes of just wandering around the cemetery when I appeared straight next to the train and a subway station where I wanted to go after this cemetery, I started rethinking this cemetery idea. And in this very same moment when I told myself that I will run across the railroad to the subway station, I have noticed that – a hole in the fence and the gate of the cemetery behind it. I was looking at the hole telling myself that I will not have any problems to climb through. And I didn´t. And then I found out that the gate was locked. I gave a sad look to the gate and then I´ve noticed that there was a small space above the gate. And so I started hesitating – should I go in or leave? Well, yes, I climbed through the hole inside the cemetery. Finally I made it in there and I ended up only with few scratches from the steel fence. I was telling myself that I will walk out of the cemetery through the main gate but I really couldn´t find it (I can´t say that I put a lot of effort into that) and since I already knew where was my subway station where I had to go, I decided that a little bit of gymnastics will be fine for today and so I came back to my locked gate and climbed through the hole back outside of the cemetery. I looked at the railroad and I started counting how many of them were in front of me. Six. I can do that. And suddenly a train came… Okay, so I will wait, I told myself. So I waited. And waited. Let me tell you, in Sri Lanka the trains go faster than this one. And it was soooooo long. About 5 minutes later I sat down. And a while after that the train was finally gone. I don´t know how about you but I called this “a revenge of the dead ones”. I made my railroad run during which I think I was running even faster than Bolt and I had visited another touristic attraction – a studio CNN.
There is a main building of Cable News Network (CNN) in Atlanta. I bought a ticket for a walk around the studios and after this tour I told myself only one thing – Lucia, you are such an idiot that you never studied journalism… We went to the news backstage, we saw a room where the news are being created, they showed us how they record the news and it is just something you should see while you are in Atlanta. Another thing that I really wasn´t interested in but most people like to go there, is World of Coca Cola. Did you know that Coca Cola was created in 1892 in Atlanta? Well, I didn´t go there…
At the end of the day I went to the Piedmont Park where I wanted to make a nice panoramic picture of Atlanta. It had a one small problem – it took me so long to come here that it was already sunset. And my dream picture was facing to the West. And so, instead of beautiful shining picture I left with a dark picture of Atlanta. You can find it in my gallery. And if you want to know how it was supposed to look, you can find it here.
Completely tired I came to Ivan´s, laid down to my bed and it was my empty stomach that forced me to go out to get some food. Ivan told me: “mi casa es tu casa, feel just like home and you can eat everything you find here” but I wasn´t sure about it and so I walked through Atlanta´s Rodeo Drive (even the trees were singing here) to the low-cost McDonald´s. And talking about that Rodeo Drive I really mean it – this is the nickname of this neighborhood and you will find here stores like Dior, Tom Ford, Joie, Planet Blue, Hermès… and me with a chocolate milk from McDonald´s. I came home, felt into my bed and I fell asleep with the lights on when suddenly Ivan came home asking me: “Are you sleeping?” I looked at him with confuse in my face saying I don´t know and he was just laughing that yes, I was sleeping. But since I was already awake I didn´t care, we turned the music on and talked about life. Ivan is great.
Day 3: August 22nd 2019
I woke up completely sore (this is how you will end up when you stop walking but use the car all the time). I didn´t care though since this was a Day D – a day when I went on a trip to Covington to visit places where TVD was recording! Ivan has already mentioned that there should be a public transport that would go there (since Covington is almost an hour away from Atlanta). I looked it up and I really found a bus that goes there. I made a screen shots how to make it to that bus station, I took my map and excited left around 10am to my dream trip. A trip that almost never happened… But let´s start from the beginning. I came to the bus station and I was searching for my bus to Covington. Of course I didn´t see anything. And so I started asking those few people who were there if they´ve heard about such a bus. Well, they haven´t. They told me to look it up. I told them that my phone doesn´t work unless I´m not on wifi. I ended up at a subway phone talking to a subway worker who was trying to explain me that there isn´t such a bus that would go to Covington in Georgia. Sadly I moved to the Dunkin´ Donuts where I could have connected to the wifi and try to look it up again. And they had a wifi but I couldn´t connect to it! I think that all of you already know what happened next: my breakdown. I was yelling in the middle of the street, cursing in Slovak language how much I hate my HM… And then my scream turned into crying and suddenly a car pulled over straight next to me. The driver was looking at me asking me if I was all right. I told him I was. He didn´t believe me, passed me his business card and told me that he will drive me wherever I need to go. I still didn´t trust him but after a while I took his business card where it was written that he was a banker advisor and so I sat into his car. And what happened next? No, I wasn´t raped. I told my whole story to my new friend he bought me a lunch and promised me that if I can wait a bit, he will take me to Covington. And why I had to wait? Because he was having a video job interview with another banker from Chicago. And where was I during his job interview? Hidden in his office. For half of hour I was just sitting there and listening how American job interview looks like. It was pretty funny. And when I told him I was from Slovakia his reaction was following: “Are you an au pair?” I was laughing… Yes, I am. A little bit after 1pm we left Atlanta and I finally came closer to my dream. With a personal driver and photographer in one person. What else you can wish for? Vampire Stalkers Mystic Falls Tours. I looked up their webpage, checked the prices but what I wasn´t thinking about was a fact that those tours might not be running every day during the whole day. So, as you already know, there are no tours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and today´s one was already over and if I have checked their calendar on their webpage, I´d know that. By the way, you can choose from The Vampire Diaries, The Originals or Legacies tour! It sounds great, so what we did was at least a self-walking tour. Let me tell you, I was imagining Mystic Falls a little bit different. Everything is so close to each other and it is just so… small. In the evening I came back to Ivan´s, I was totally exhausted and at the late night Ivan woke me up for another great night talk.
Day 4: August 23rd 2019
Ivan promised me that he will take me for a lunch to a restaurant in hotel Westin which is on 72nd floor with a beautiful view on Atlanta. And he didn´t lie. I saw the whole Atlanta from there and all the woods that are around it. It was amazing. But today has started with one more surprise – in one Facebook group I have noticed that there was an au pair Mireia who just came to New Orleans and was looking for somebody to hang out with. Of course I texted her and few hours later we met having beer on Bourbon Street! If you ever go to New Orleans, Bourbon Street is exactly the place with the nightlife. It is full of bachelor parties, clubs, bars, parties, people selling edibles in the middle of the street and men standing on balconies with necklaces in their hands… Why? Because they want girls to show them their tits. It works following: men with those necklaces stand on the balcony and if there is a girl that looks at them they start waving those necklaces at them or they start to yell: “Show me tits!” It is up to girl if she decides to show her tits or not. If she does so, men throw necklace to her as a reward. But this doesn´t apply for boys. And let me tell you – with Mireia we ended up on one of such balconies and I have never seen more tits in my whole life than during this one evening. And I have a great experience too. As we were standing there and talking to those boys, suddenly a boy stopped under the balcony and he showed his tits. Unfortunately, you don´t get a necklace if you´re boy but he was begging for a one. And so, I looked at him and yelled: “Show me more!” I think that all of you know what happened next – he was hesitating for a bit (meanwhile I got one necklace from one of the boys on balcony and started waving at him) – he showed us his privates. Luckily none of the police officers saw it (they are everywhere) and the boy standing next to me told me that this boy could have been arrested for that. Well, I threw him my necklace and everyone was satisfied. At the end of our night we decided to visit Hotel Royal – the place where Marcel (The Originals) used to live. This hotel is located on the corner of St. Phillip and Royal Street. We left our beers on the sidewalk and we entered to the hotel asking the receptionist if we can go to see the patio. He said yes and completely excited we went to see the place where a lot of the scenes from our favorite TV show took place. And when we came there, we lost our speech and then just changed looks and said: “This is it?” Well, in the TV show it looks way bigger (good job crew). Disappointed we made few pictures and we left home… And at the end of the day I came to a conclusion that I´m too spoiled since I haven´t slept in any hostel for a while, I couldn´t fall asleep. You can imagine how I felt in the morning. Like a steam train ran over me…
Day 5: August 24th 2019
It was 7am and I desperately left my bed. As I was doing check-in in the hostel, they told me that today there was supposed to be an event – a bull race and they said it was supposed to be a whole day event. That girls on a roller-skates, dressed as a bulls with a baseball bats were skating around New Orleans´ streets trying to beat up people by that bat. After a morning coffee I decided to go and check it out. I came to that place and I couldn´t find anything. Just one girl dressed as a bull on roller-skates. I came to her and I asked her about that event. She told me that it lasted for about 15 minutes and it was already over. So I spent 30 minutes to come here for nothing – well I came for the after party – tents with food and drinks. I gave her a sad looks and then she told me: “Well, you´ve missed the event but don´t you want to have a breakfast with bulls? We are waiting in line with girls…” And let me tell you that this is how I met my new Texas´ friends! They showed me pictures from the event, we had a great talk, drank some drinks and then I had to leave for my walking tour that I was planning to do today.
Walking tour lasted for 2 hours and during this period of time the tour guide showed us and told us lot of stories from the famous French Quarter and took us to the Lafayette Cemetery Nr.1. At this cemetery I´ve seen places where The Originals were recorded and to be honest I was pretty excited about that. But I couldn´t understand how did they record it here since this cemetery is located straight in the middle of one huge crossroad. This cemetery is also well-known for the fact that the voodoo queen Marie Laveau was buried here and its future tomb has here already mentioned actor Nicholas Cage! After the walking tour my mission impossible began – I was walking from one bar to another bar across the whole Bourbon Street trying to find a one with the wifi to be able to send my location to Mireia. Luckily there was a hotel Four Points by Sheraton which was probably the only place in the whole street where I could connect to the wifi! A while after that we met and went for a lunch to the restaurant Pierre Masperos to taste traditional New Orelans´ dishes – Cajun Jambalaya, Crawfish Etouffée and Chicken & Andoille Gumbo. By the way, this house – where this restaurant is located – used to be a house for slaves auctions. Filled by tons of food we went to the St. Louis Cathedral. This time we had no expectations and that was good. This cathedral is a place where some of the scenes from The Originals were recorded too and do you want to know our impressions? Cathedral was amazing but… we wouldn´t recognize it from the TV show. And so we went for a coffee and dessert to the famous Cafe Du Monde. So, their famous dessert is basically the same as our Shrovetide´s doughnuts! Indeed. I mean I was missing a jelly but a strong thick layer of sugar fixed it. But let me tell you, I wouldn´t like to work here. Cafeteria is under a big “tent” and employees have no space to stop and relax. They walk around customers who just come, sit down, order a coffee and doughnut, pay in the same time and leave. All the time without any break. If they need a break, they just sit down somewhere on a chair where no one is sitting in that moment. If they need to go to the bathroom, they share them with the customers. For the whole cafeteria (with capacity about 400 people) there are two bathrooms. When we went to the bathroom we saw employees working in the kitchen. It was so much pressure what we´ve seen… And unfortunately while we were waiting in the line, suddenly an ambulance came because one of the employees slipped and felt in the bathroom and hit his head (probably because he was in a rush). Well, I´d call this place by modern slavery…
And what to do at the end of the day? Correct, we ended up on the Bourbon Street again but before that we went to check out another famous street – Frenchmen Street. We were being told that this is the street where all the jazz music is concentrated – and you don´t feel like being in New Orleans unless you don´t hear the jazz music everywhere! This street was way more silent than Bourbon Street, there were few jazz bars where we spent some time but that was it… Maybe it was just a bad coincidence that it wasn´t that crowded because even Bourbon Street seemed more empty today than on Friday, who knows… Anyways those few jazz bars worth it! Today I was sleeping like a baby and I was woken up by my alarm clock at 6am because I had to catch a flight back to Boston.
And what will be the conclusion of this trip? First of all, don´t have big expectations. I haven´t done that walking tour in Covington but for the money I saved I bought a nice short pants from Legacies! And I have met a new friend – the banker who I hope is in this moment buying a flight ticket to Chicago! Second, New Orleans is amazing place for party life but one weekend over there is more than enough. You can see all the sightseeing and party – mostly because of the prices over there. Alcohol in the US is very expensive in general but paying $8 for one beer is more than enough. And third, do not come here in July or August. The weather is so hot and humid (my hair in New Orleans literally stuck together and I couldn´t brush them!) and it is really painful to survive this warm weather. And during the night it is very similar…
At the end my budget:
Flight ticket Boston – Atlanta 72 EUR
Flight ticket Atlanta – New Orleans 49 EUR
Flight ticket New Orleans – Boston 63 EUR
Accommodation New Orleans 53 EUR
Food 140 EUR
Transfers 45 EUR
Entrance fees 70 EUR
Souvenirs 54 EUR
TOGETHER 546 EUR
And that´s all from my vacation!
PS: I got one necklace in New Orleans too but I didn´t have to show my tits to anyone 😛