Published: January 11th 2010December 23rd 2009
So we are finally in New Orleans, our biggest attraction during the first week of the trip. Its the largest city in Louisiana and got its name from the Duke of Orleans, Regent of France.
So many things to do over here, so little time! The city is well known for its multicultural and multilingual heritage (ruled first by the French, then Spanish, then the French again, and finally Americans), cuisine, architecture, music (particularly as the birthplace of jazz), and its annual celebrations and festivals, particularly Mardi Gras. The city is often referred to as the 'most unique city in US' and consistently ranks amongst the top cities for live music, cocktail hours, flea markets, antique shopping, nightlife, "wild weekends", "girlfriend getaways" and cheap food. We wanted to see as much of it as we could.
Sight-Seeing: We stayed right in the center of the French Quarter on Bourbon Street, so getting to most places on foot was easy. Our Chrysler buddy had a couple of days of rest after 2000 miles of hard work. The French Quarter has all kinds of things to do, from classy to sleazy, from bars to bistros, from shopping
to sightseeing. We spent the next couple of days just ducking into most shops, studios, restaurants and bars hidden in different corners of this district.
The streets in the French Quarter have a life of their own. Every street, every corner had something interesting to offer. At one corner, there was a street band playing great music for free which I would otherwise have been happy to pay $20 to hear, at another corner there were a couple of people earning tips by staying frozen as statues in various modes, and at yet another juntion there were artists selling some pretty good paintwork. Each street is a colorful treat here, we could have roamed them for hours without getting bored.
Architecture: New Orleans is quite famous for its unique architectural styles which reflect the city's historical roots and multicultural heritage. Many styles of housing exist in the city, including Creole cottages with intricate iron balconies, American townhouses, double-gallery houses, and raised center-hall cottages.
We decided to hop onto the St. Charles streetcar in the afternoon to take a ride into the suburbs of New Orleans to view the famously beautiful homes in this part
of the world. St. Charles Avenue is known for its large mansions in various styles, such as Greek Revival, American Colonial and the Victorian styles. I think the green roads, pretty houses and quiet neighborhoods convinced most of us to apply for tenure at one of the local universities and relocate to New Orleans. We got our $1 tickets, rode the streetcar to the end of its 45 minute, 6.5 mile journey, waited for the driver to flip the shiny wooden seats in the opposite direction and headed back into the city again on the same trolley. Best dollar I spent on the entire trip!
Arts and Music: One of the to-dos on our list was seeing a live jazz performance. New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz and boasts of some of the finest jazz musicians. One thing we learnt there was that New Orleans also has 'jazz funerals' - traditional funerals that feature sad music on the way to the cemetery and happier music on the way back.
Dhiraj found a great jazz place near our hotel, and we ended up at Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse on our last evening in New Orleans. No
cover charge, excellent music, great experience! We still have a long way to go before we can fully appreciate jazz, but that was a good start.
Before coming to New Orleans we had discovered a list of top-10 things to do in New Orleans. Heres where we stood at the end of our 3 days in New Orleans
1. Visit the French Quarter - Done
2. Sleep in the French Quarter - Done
3. Ride the St. Charles Streetcar - Done
4. Visit the Faulkner House Books - Next time
5. Visit Julia Street - Next time
6. Visit Garden District - Done
7. View the Mighty Mississippi - Done
8. Have a Friday Lunch - Done
9. Experience Jazz - Done
10. Eat! -Done, Done Done!
Time to head out. Next pit stop- Dallas?
There are more photos below