A few days in New Orleans

by Sylvia

new orleans travel report

Our main holiday this year is in the US. We love travelling this vast country and after earlier trips to New York & Canada, California, Florida and the North West we are heading for the South this time. After a quick stop at Atlanta we headed straight for New Orleans.

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New Orleans is the city of jazz music of course and creole culture. If you have no idea what creole means, it basicially stands for all the people that used to live here before Louisiana (the state in which New Orleans resides) before the Louisiana land purchase. Napoleon sold the whole of the south with New Orleans as the main draw card for a bargain price to the US. This was despite the fact that the small US at that time didn’t actually have the cash to pay for it, so they borrowed it from the UK. Of course Napoleon used the money from the land sale to fight the English. We all know that the english won in the end, so no harm done and I’m sure they made quite a bit of money in the process!

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The buildings you see above are all from the French quarter. Luckily all of these houses have been preserved after they were almost demolished in the 1920s. Today it’s a thriving, and in some areas very touristy, district full of art galleries, cafes, shops and bars.

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There is plenty of music but for the best jazz it’s now best to head on over to Frenchmen street where the jazz is still authentic. Traditional Bourbon street is best to be avoided.

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New Orleans is still referred to as the Big Easy and people certainly are very relaxed here. According to numerous people I spoke it’s all about the food and drink here.

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There are plenty of horse carriages in the city that take tourists around the French quarter. They quite suit the area. Although I personally did not take a ride in them, they may not be such a bad option as the guides talk a lot about the quarter and its history.

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Dressing in the streets is extremely casual, often to the point where I hoped people would make a bit more effort. Although there is nothing wrong with casual, it’s still important to make it appealing. This couple got it right.

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There are quite a few interesting graveyards in New Orleans. The Spanish introduced the principle of burying people above the ground which has resulted in many fabulous tombs.

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A visit to New Orleans is not complete without visiting the swamps. Appearantly there is more than 70,000 acres of swamp area around New Orleans and they are inested with alligators. They are beautiful to navigate with boats.

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There are even a few houses there.

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Of course many of them got destroyed by hurricane Katrina.

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Another interesting area of New Orleans is the Treme neighborhood, which many of you may know from the HBO series of the same name. At the base of Treme is the Louis Armstrong Park. Below is a statue of the African-American tradition of dressing up or Mardi Gras in suits influenced by Native American ceremonial apparel.

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Of course there is a statue of jazz hero Louis Armstrong too.

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The Treme neighborhood is colourful and appealing.

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It’s rather devastating to see that after 8 years there are still many deserted houses that have not been restored and are are deserted. Only 70% of residents have returned to the city and the effects of Katrina are still very clearly visible in the poorer areas of the city.

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Every now and then we we don’t mind doing the touristy things, like taking a boat trip on the Mississipi accompanied by a live jazz band.

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The flavor this night was dixieland jazz. I especially loved the trombone player who was a great inspiration for my son, who plays the trombone as well.

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It was interesting to be on a traditional steamboat where the wheels were still 100% driven by steam.

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Here is a view of New Orleans from the boat.

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2 more tips to enjoy your stay in New Orleans:

  1. I really enjoyed the Country Inn & Suites Hotel in central New Orleans. One of the most unique hotels I’ve been to and very affordable too. I’ve never experienced a staff this nice and helpful and the free homemade cookies were great too!
  2. We took the City and Hurricane Katrina tour with the Greyline bus which was fantastic and a great introduction into the city. This was largely due to the 60+ African American guide who talked non-stop and with so much enthusiasm about life in New Orleans, it was infectious and brought a big smile on my face for the whole day.

New Orleans is a vibrant and beautiful city where people take it easy and enjoy life. I loved the quaint neighborhoods, dynamic jazz scene and the friendly people. The devastation of Katrina is still clear in some areas and I do hope that in time the city will fully recover. New Orleans spirit is still there though and you should definitely pay the the city a visit.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rebecca

Great photos Sylvia! I visited New Orleans a few years before Katrina and your wonderful photos brought back many memories of this terrific city. I agree with you about avoiding Bourbon Street – it was the one area I didn’t like at all.
It sounds like you are having a great vacation; thanks for taking us long!

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2 Tangobabe

I am so jealous, Sylvia! New Orleans is on my bucket list of must-see cities, even more after watching season 1 and 2 of Treme. What a fantastic series that is!
Wonderful pictures you took! Can’t wait to hear your stories in person;-).

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3 The Style Crone

Enjoyed your tour of New Orleans, one of my favorite cities. You really know how to do a vacation!

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4 Heidi/Frantic But Fabulous

I went to school in New Orleans and it’s an amazing city–there’s nothing like it in the U.S.

Be sure to eat a beignet at Cafe du Monde and ride the streetcar before you leave! 🙂

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5 Greetje

Fabulous post, fabulous photos. Thank you.

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6 une femme d'un certain âge

You are a wonderful tour guide! I’ve never visited New Orleans, but hope to someday as I’m a big fan of jazz.

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7 33

chicory coffee and beignet at Cafe du Monde (sigh)

Another blast from the past (after Berlin). I first visted NO with an ex BF (a significant ex BF) therefore that city was highly memorable in my mind.

It is about time to get new memory (with a new man) to replace the old so I won’t feel a bit sad seeing NO photos.

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8 Ofelia

Thank you for the traveling adventure, your photos are amazing and I love the bits of history and some of the troubles that this amazing city has to deal with.

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9 ODYSSEY

Sylvia, it is touching for me to read your post and see your photos, especially after our meet-up in which you shared a bit about your New Orleans trip. I’m saddened to know that things are still not “back to normal” in some areas, post-Katrina. I didn’t go into detail but, suffice it to say, my family’s devastating experience with Katrina is the reason I have not wanted to return to visit the Crescent City area; I needed to remember it as it was when I lived there, before the hurricane.
Anyway, your scenes of the gorgeous old architecture warm my heart and bring back happy memories! I can almost smell the cafe’ au lait! (As as I told you, I’m ready to return for a visit.)

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10 MARLA ROBINSON

wonderful photos!

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11 GeeGee

Thank you for posting this short New orleans guide. Tis is a place that has tempted me for a while. You make me really feel that I should make efforts and visit quite soon.

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12 Lisa

Welcome to America. I hope you enjoy your trip through the South. I was only in New Orleans once for a day, but was intrigued enough to want to return.

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13 Heather Fonseca

Your trip sounds amazing! My husband and I visited New Orleans many years ago. I loved it. Such a beautiful city. We took a “ghost tour” that was fascinating. I’d love to go back and do more. The vampire tour looked fab too.

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14 Annette

What a beautiful scenery! I have never been to that area of the States.

Annette | Lady of Style

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15 Petra

You have made New Orleans sound very interesting. Love the photos – such a contrast between the pretty, wealthy areas and the poor, deserted areas (from Katrina). Don’t know that I would be brave to take a boat road with the alligators!!! :-0

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16 Sylvia

Yes, there was a high contrast. The richer areas have recovered while the poorer have not. It’s sad to see. But no need to be scared of the aligators. You are very safe in the boat (just don’t go swimming….)

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17 Karen

Thanks for visiting Louisiana Sylvia. Appreciate your sharing the city’s continuing struggle to come back. There are wealthy neighborhoods also still struggling. The above ground graves are necessary in a city below sea level, you don’t have to dig long to get to water. The buildings in your third picture and picture with the horse drawn carriages are the Pontalba buildings, the oldest continuously rented apartments in the US. Best of all built in the 1840’s by an accomplished businesswoman, Baroness Pontalba. Come back and visit more of our state. Here in Baton Rouge I would love to have you on my radio show Saturday Style.

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18 Sylvia

Thanks for your additional information Karen. I would love to come someday but the US is quite far far me, so it will be a while. Pity as I would have loved to be in your show!

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