New Or­leans

Let's Travel - - CONTENTS - By Gary Dick­son

New Or­leans… the Paris of the South! Food, mu­sic, his­tory, cul­ture – you’ll find all of these things in New Or­leans in spades. The fact that San­dra Bul­lock has re­cently moved here should be enough to make any red blooded male want to move to New Or­leans… let alone just visit.

I hap­pened to ar­rive (co­in­ci­den­tally) on the very last day of the French Quar­ter Fes­ti­val. Not to be con­fused with New Or­leans’ an­nual Mardi Gras this fes­ti­val is con­fined to the French Quar­ter.

Af­ter I had dropped my bags off at my ho­tel, thanks to the trans­fer from New Or­leans sta­tion by Li­mou­sine Liv­ery (an ex­ec­u­tive limo com­pany), I headed to where it all hap­pens in New Or­leans… or so I had been told.

All the things you have prob­a­bly heard about Bour­bon Street are prob­a­bly true… bars, sou­venir shops, restaurants, bars, sou­venir shops, restaurants (you get the pic­ture). I found a good stretch of Bour­bon Street blocked off by any num­ber of street bands play­ing mu­sic on the street and in the bars. What a kick-back way to spend a lazy Sun­day af­ter­noon.

Ev­ery door­way I walked past had a dif­fer­ent sound, a dif­fer­ent vibe and a dif­fer­ent smell com­ing out of it. It was an at­tack on the senses, an as­sault from left, right and cen­tre field all at the same time. The best way is to just walk in, sit at the bar and watch the world go by.

As with many ma­jor cities around the world the best way to ori­en­tate yourself is to do a city tour. Gray Line has their main de­par­ture point on Toulouse Street (next to where the river­boats de­part from on the Mis­sis­sippi River). A half day tour with the in­for­ma­tive guides should be enough for you to get your bear­ings and walk. It is New Or­leans and it is flat.

Why not make a whole day of it and catch an­other of Gray Line’s tours to Oak Al­ley Plan­ta­tion (around an hour’s drive away). Movie buffs will re­call it as one of the lo­ca­tions for the 1993 film, star­ring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt… In­ter­view with a Vam­pire as well as the more re­cently re­leased Mid­night Bayou (2008).

The grandeur and seren­ity of this ma­jes­tic man­sion will have you click­ing your cam­era again and again as each cor­ner throws an­other “per­fect” hol­i­day snap op­por­tu­nity your way. To see how life “in the old South” used to be – for people from both sides of the fence - is hum­bling and in­spir­ing all at the same time.

My ac­com­mo­da­tion back in New Or­leans had me stay­ing in the French Quar­ter which, for me any­way, was a must. A place close to the ac­tion, the trans­porta­tion and the touristy things to do as well!

Mai­son Dupuy is a quaint lit­tle bou­tique style ho­tel only 2 blocks from Bour­bon Street. And, when I say ‘block’, I mean nor­mal blocks… not your aver­age half mile long Amer­i­can block. The property re­tains the am­biance of chic French, thus align­ing it­self to the area of New Or­leans it is in. Their cor­ner bar is the per­fect place to wash away the dust and dirt of an­other good days ex­plor­ing.

Food, food, food! Where do I start? With its di­verse in­flu­ences over the cen­turies New Or­leans re­ally is the prover­bial melt­ing pot for any­thing culi­nary. Two of the best places I found were within walk­ing dis­tance from my ho­tel… Palm Court Jazz Café and Ar­naud’s. Both high qual­ity, with su­perb ser­vice, and en­ter­tain­ment to knock your socks off. I can see why people fall in love with New Or­leans.

New Or­leans… it’s part of the US but at the same time it isn’t. It has all the hall­marks of the US but with a French twist and Cre­ole swing. Tourism is huge here and ac­counts for over 40% of the lo­cal econ­omy. Sure, it’s taken a while to get its feet back on the ground af­ter 2005 but back on its feet it most cer­tainly is.

Do what I did… walk the streets, sit in a lo­cal bar, chat to the lo­cals and lis­ten to their sto­ries. You’ll find yourself en­grossed in what they have to say.

I only spent a cou­ple of days here un­for­tu­nately but, at the risk of sound­ing cliché, like so many end­ings to any num­ber of travel ar­ti­cles… I will be go­ing back, of that there is no doubt.

Oak Al­ley

Bour­bon Street

Ar­naud’s Restau­rant

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