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It’s really hot here. Like, really really hot. And humid. A 33 degree day with 80% + humidity means you melt as you exit anywhere with Air Conditioning. It makes getting outside and staying outside a bit of a struggle and zaps energy. Town is considered very quiet at this time of year because of the heat, which works pretty well for me, but I can understand why.
So yesterday it was time to venture over to a new neighbourhood, Bywater, which I’d read quite a bit about and there were a few places I wanted to check out. Bywater is South East of where I’m staying and is bordered by the Mississippi and the canal, next to Marigny, so it’s not too far from me – about a ten minute ride.
I see a lot of talk locally about this area and how its being gentrified. It felt very much like Williamsburg when I arrived, with it’s railway lines, warehouses and sense of barren industrial chic. But there are loads of beautiful houses too, that are very quaint, well looked after and pretty. However I really think the gentrification calls are overblown. There’s about half a dozen bars, a couple of cafes, a couple of galleries, and a few vintage shops, and that’s about it, spread over quite a large area. It’s not wall to wall Apple Stores and chain coffee shops, and whilst I get that an influx of middle classes and Air BnB’s will raise rental prices, it also lifts the presentation of the area – the houses are beautifully maintained and it feels safe and welcoming.
The main draw for this area, besides a couple of vintage shops, is a tucked away little local secret, a place I’d heard about called the Country Club. It’s not a Country Club at all, and more a beautiful old house, turned into a restaurant and private pool. It’s very LBQT friendly, has Drag brunch on weekends, and until recently clothing was optional around the pool.
But the great thing is that you can pay $15 for pool access for the day, and out the back, it’s heaven. A big beautiful pool. Tons of loungers under shady trees. Three bars, A hot pool. And cheap drinks. You just show up, hire a towel, open a tab and you’re set.
And that’s just what I did all afternoon.
The place was busy, but not crazily so, and mostly it was people under 40, who worked in hospitality.
Apparently Beyoncé, Jay Z and Solange have even hired the place out for private parties in the past, which you know, means Beyoncé and I are now as one!
It was a really great, secret, spot and a perfect way to spend a sweltering day.
Whilst in the area, I checked out a couple of other places for a post pool dinner & drink. For dinner I went to a New York style pizza place called Pizza Delicious. It was packed, and had a great buzz. The pizza was incredible and available by the slice which is great for the solo diner (I can recommend the Brussel sprout one, as weird as it sounds) and the beer cheap.
One final stop before I called it a night, at another local bar called Bud Rip. I had no idea what to expect but fell in love with the place instantly. A very traditional style dive bar – long narrow room, a huge, oak bar, that stretches forever. Dimmed lighting. Great music. Divey but not intimidating. No one really talking, just all sitting at the bar, nursing a drink and whatever thoughts are going on in their heads. I really loved everything about it.
That’s the beauty of spending longer than a few days in a place. The pressure to tick things off if lifted and you can just have days like this, where you’re still exploring and experiencing amazing things, but at a much slower, low key pace and style.
It was glorious.