Natchez is celebrating its tri-centenary this year but from what we saw you wouldn’t know it. I guess not many people visit in November!
The drive from Vicksburg took us down the Natchez Trace Parkway which connects Natchez with Nashville. It’s good to get off the highway and get reacquainted with nature. It was like being back in New England. The route cuts right through forests and grasslands, having previously been a major route for travellers back in the 1800s; now just a scenic drive for those in less of a hurry.
On the way we picked up a couple of sandwiches from the Tomato Place: a tomato farm/cafe/grocery. We’d planned this leg of our journey from Vicksburg around visiting this kooky little shack. It’s got so much character for basically being a grocery store. We loved it and I ordered the Cuban meat fest while Amy chowed down on a fried green tomato BLT. Both were delicious and well worth the trip.
On arriving in Natchez we find it’s a lot more built up than we expected, but there are streets upon streets of the ante-bellum style (post civil war) houses and buildings we were looking forward to seeing. We even saw a mansard roof through some trees (we know what you are now on about Vampire Weekend).
There are lots of historic mansions to see if you’re that way inclined. We didn’t bother – instead we chose to kick back by the magnificent Mississippi River and watch the sun sink past the horizon before heading into The Camp restaurant for some beers and food. This place is perfect. Foregoing the conventional plastic coated menu, there is a floor to ceiling, entire walled chalk board covered in the glorious beer selection. The catfish tacos were delicately flavoured and the burger of the day (Il Gusto with provolone cheese, caramelised onions, bacon, spring mix and truffle aioli), was so succulent!
Down by The Camp is the oldest bar in Natchez: the Under-The-Hill Saloon. Previously the bar of choice for river men and unsavoury characters of yesteryear; it’s a dark and dingy dive bar now with big gruff looking bartenders. It could have so easily been a biker bar if it were not for the sounds of Mariah Carey and Madonna tickling the ear bones! Take a look up and you can see hundreds of dollar bills fixed to the ceiling in a haphazard fashion. Has no one ever heard of a piggybank?
In the day there wasn’t much we wanted to do so we just meandered around the streets deciding where we were going to eat next. The Pig Out Inn came up trumps; the unmistakeable smell of that pit fire BBQ hitting you as you walked straight in. No messing we got straight on to our favourite pulled pork burgers, beans and slaw which has been our staple food of the south so far!
Natchez is right on the banks of the Mississippi River and offers spectacular views from the elevated riverside walk. It’s so strange being in a hot climate in November and even stranger still when you happen upon the beginnings of Christmas. Looks like Santa had had a rough night though!
The house we stayed in is old of course. Over 100 years so we are told. Walking down to breakfast in Bisland House makes you feel like Kevin in Home Alone with the grand staircase and vaulted ceilings. This is also the owner’s home so (as in Vicksburg) we shared one table with the other guests for breakfast: a mum and daughter from Belgium and a near enough incomprehensible couple from Jackson, Mississippi. Mr Jackson was real keen on us visiting the war museum in New Orleans, so he told us about it twice in one sitting! We’ll see if we make it.