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anna_moon New Orleans - A travel report by Polly
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New Orleans,  United States - flag United States -  Louisiana
4794 readers

anna_moon's travel reports

The tourists return to NOLA

  21 votes
Page: 1 2
I’d been to New Orleans once as a child, but my father had visited only a few years before Katrina struck. Ironically, he had gone to attend a flood convention.

Water - the blood and bane of the Crescent City
Water - the blood and bane of the Crescent City
He came home hoping our family would have a chance to visit the city again before it was washed away, a scenario that people working in disaster management knew our country was not prepared for. As everyone is aware, the inevitable hurricane chose 2005 to strike, and as an extremely minor consequence, it looked as though our vacation plans would have to wait.

But by June of 2006, it seemed life in the touristy section of the city had recovered. So we made plans to land in New Orleans, rent a car, and spend a few days there on our way to visit family in Texas. On our way from the airport, we drove past some of the notorious levies. Upon entering the city, we saw signs of the damage – blown-out windows, abandoned streetcar lines, the patched-up sections of the Superdome roof. In perspective, the damage was nothing to what happened to the poorer neighborhoods, of which we all got a glimpse of thanks to media coverage of the tragedy. Shirts for sale at the French Market bore logos of dissatisfaction toward practically everyone who could be blamed for the mess created in the aftermath – FEMA, the NOPD, the president, the mayor, the looters. While the French Quarter and Garden District have bounced back, there were certainly reminders of what the city has suffered.

Favourite spots:
Lafayette Cemetery
Lafayette Cemetery
The streetcar to the Garden District was still out of service when we visited, due to damage to the tracks, so we drove the short distance from our B&B in the Garden District to the French Quarter when we went sight seeing. This sleepier section of town is full of grand old houses, gnarled trees covered in Mardi Gras beads, and quirky shops and restaurants. The neighborhood is home to Ann Rice, infamous author of ‘Interview With A Vampire’. Her favorite bookstore, where you can find books with pictures of her “burial”, is located across the street from Lafayette Cemetery. The gates were locked when we visited – one of the few things we missed doing was taking a ghost or cemetery tour in the notoriously spooky city, but we did peek into a “voodoo shop” and bought a creepy voodoo doll magnet as a souvenir.

What's really great:
"Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?"
New Orleans is incredibly unique because of its culture – a mix of French Acadian, Spanish, American Indian, African, and English (though the latter seems added as more of an afterthought). Two of the best things to come out of this cultural melting pot are the food and the music. New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz, and you’ll hear the saxophone, drums, or piano on every corner in some parts of town. We stopped by the National Jazz “Park”, located in a building near the French Market, and were treated to a free jazz piano concert. We were also serenaded by a solo sax player while walking along the levy, and ended up buying his CD to take home with us.

Jackson Square
Jackson Square
While there are a number of famous sights in New Orleans, the city is better known for what you experience than what you see. One of the few exceptions is Jackson Square, where you can catch a carriage if a guided tour is what you’re after. The square makes a fine starting point for visiting the French Quarter, with St. Louis Cathedral at its head and the French Market at its feet. Within the French Quarter, you can’t miss the wrought iron balconies covered in beads, flowers, and creeping vines, but what really defines the area are the sounds, smells, and tastes.

The courtyard of The Chimes
The courtyard of The Chimes
We stayed at The Chimes B&B in the Garden District. Our hosts had interesting stories about the storm, and how they’d managed to stay in business (by renting to Reuters, among other adventures). The B&B was absolutely charming. Our room was off a little brick courtyard, with a patio table and a community fridge hidden away, perfect for leftover food and cold drinks. The exterior was painted a quirky sky blue and lime, with leafy plants and decorations that added to the atmosphere. The room was simple and old, but lovely – hardwood floors, white walls, a four-poster and sofa bed, and a beautiful old wardrobe. The bathroom was modern, and simply decorated. TV, books, and a CD player were all supplied.

Music on Bourbon Street
Music on Bourbon Street
Even when Mardi Gras is long over, New Orleans is known for its nightlife. Take a stroll down Bourbon Street during the day (sleepy, sad, and sun-bleached), and then walk it again at night. But first, go to Pat O’Brien’s, and grab a hurricane. Even if you don’t have a party large enough to justify the three-gallon version, you can order the usual size, which they’ll bring in a paper cup. This is done so that you leave as soon as you’ve grown bored of watching the multi-hued flame in the middle of the courtyard. Take your drink down Bourbon Street, and check out the bars, jazz clubs, strip joints, stumbling college kids, horse-mounted policemen, and shady characters selling beer – the latter from a distance, preferably.

The fare at Café du Monde
The fare at Café du Monde
Like barbeque in North Carolina, or clam chowder in New England, there are some things you just have to try in New Orleans. There are the Cajun and Creole specialties like gumbo, etoufee, and rice and beans. There’s the muffuleta (a delightful sub-like sandwich with chopped olive dressing) at Central Grocery. There are the beignets (fried doughnuts) and chicory-infused coffee at Café du Monde, and Aunt Sally’s pralines sold next door. There’s the fried seafood Po-Boy just about anywhere. Then you have the legendary restaurants – Arnaud’s, Antoine’s, Commander’s Palace, and Court of the Two Sisters. We ate at Arnaud’s, in part because my father’s favorite (Commander’s Palace) was not yet reopened after Katrina, but also because our hosts at the B&B had connections there.

Other recommendations:
the view from Oak Alley
the view from Oak Alley
On our way out of town, we took the River Road (Route 7), and checked out three of the plantations that line it. Our first stop was Houmas House. The guidebook didn’t list it as one of the must-sees, but it’s been redone in recent years. We walked the grounds, which are covered in beautiful gardens, and had lunch at the restaurant on the property. The food was great, and very reasonably priced. Our next stop was Oak Alley, perhaps the most famous of the plantations. The great live oaks that line the path up to the house had been slightly damaged by Katrina – before, our guide said, the old trees almost completely blocked the sun. Oak Alley has been featured in numerous movies (such as ‘Interview With a Vampire’). Our final stop was Laura, a Creole plantation where the first Brere Rabbit stories were recorded (in French). The plantation had suffered a fire, so the house wasn’t much to see, but our excellent guide and her stories about the history of the family made it worthwhile.

Published on Thursday December 14th, 2006

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Thu, Jan 24 2008 - 08:02 AM rating by adisidh

nice report.
Pic " the view from Oak alley is great"
I cant come there, but I have already been there thru your Report.

nice keep it up



Sat, Jan 13 2007 - 11:53 PM rating by mrscanada

Polly, I am very sad! I loved visiting N'Orleans. I hope that I can go back one day because, "I know what it means to miss N'Orleans."

Thu, Dec 28 2006 - 01:04 PM rating by frenchfrog

Very nice report, lots of info provided, one day I would love to go there!

Wed, Dec 20 2006 - 12:45 AM rating by eirekay

Thanks for catching us up on what is happening in New Orleans! Looks like it is slowly coming back to life:-)

Sun, Dec 17 2006 - 03:21 PM rating by davidx

Most interesting.

Fri, Dec 15 2006 - 04:46 AM rating by jorgesanchez

Very pleasant to read and to admire the beautiful pictures

Thu, Dec 14 2006 - 03:35 PM rating by horourke

This is a gripping report. I have never read a Globo report with such close attention. Very well done

Thu, Dec 14 2006 - 12:01 PM rating by marianne

Well written, informative and good information. Great photos especially the cemetry.

Thu, Dec 14 2006 - 11:25 AM rating by mistybleu

Polly, a wonderful report, full of lovely imagery; oh how I wish I could go there. It's so nice to hear about the city getting back on 'its feet, so to speak

All the best

Thu, Dec 14 2006 - 10:10 AM rating by st.vincent

Interesting to read about the City post Katrina, and how it is coping.
Thanks, Clive

Thu, Dec 14 2006 - 05:12 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

wonderful report ,great to read ,nice pic

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