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In the deep south of Louisiana USA, is the Jazz capital of the world, New Orleans, that is not only famous for its Jazz and Blues music but for its cuisine. It’s such a colourful vibrant city with the historic French Quarter with scores of Jazz & Blues Clubs and a variety of street musicians, artists, fortune-tellers and mimes. This is why I would refer to New Orleans: Jazz & Jambalaya.
Geographically it is located on the Mississippi River, near the Gulf of Mexico and the Port of New Orleans which is the fifth largest port in the United States. The city is named after the Duke of Orleans, who reigned as Regent for Louis XV from 1715 to 1723, as it was established by French colonists and strongly influenced by their European culture. Hence the French architecture in the historic French Quarter of the city.
Like Darwin, in the Northern Territory of Australia, it has survived being almost completely destroyed by several natural disasters. In 1965, flooding from Hurricane Betsy killed dozens of residents, although the majority of the city remained dry. Then in 2005 more than 1,500 people were recorded as having died during Hurricane Katrina, when the Federal Levee System failed to protect the city.
Hurricanes pose a severe threat to the area, and the city is particularly at risk because of its low elevation, and because it is surrounded by water from the north, east, and south, and Louisiana’s sinking coast. This is evidenced during the flight into the city where all you can see is wetlands and the huge expanse of the Lower Mississippi River.
The Mississippi ranks as the fourth longest and tenth largest river in the world. The river either borders or passes through the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The Mississippi Valley is one of the most fertile agricultural regions of the country, which resulted in the river’s storied steamboat era. The steamboats are still in existence today and are a major tourist attraction to the area.
Our three days in New Orleans was a whirlwind affair of taking in the sights of this upbeat vivacious city. We had timed it perfectly as the French Quarter Jazz Festival was in full swing and the city was alive with entertainment. This is the largest free music festival in the South with a special focus on New Orleans’ music and food. The festival offers 20 performance stages and more than 90 food and beverage booths set among one of the countries most historic neighbourhoods. It was like a non-stop street party that started in the morning and continued late into the night.
But just as interesting was strolling through the cobbled streets of the original settlement of New Orleans, called Vieux Carré, French Quarter or simply The Quarter. This is the oldest neighbourhood in the city and was established by the French in 1718, as New Orleans was a valuable site for trade due to its strategic position along the Mississippi River.
The French and Spanish inspired architecture of the buildings was amazing in The Quarter. Balconies are adorned with intricate ironwork, courtyards filled with lush greenery and beautiful fountains. Life in the Quarter centres around New Orleans’ most famous landmark, Jackson Square. Originally known as the Place d’Armes, the square was renamed to honour Andrew Jackson, the hero of the Battle of New Orleans. Overshadowing the Square is St Louis Cathedral.
Bourbon Street is the nightlife precinct of The Quarter and is bursting with bars, restaurants and nightclubs. You can order an alcoholic drink to go as it’s legal to drink on the streets in New Orleans, put on your beads, (a tradition on Bourbon Street for women to bare their breasts to the crowd for beads!), and take a stroll down New Orleans’ most famous party street. There are many clubs that have different attractions like: riding a mechanical bull, taking in a sexy burlesque performance or jamming to the sounds of traditional jazz.
Now if the architecture of the French Quarter isn’t enough to impress you, then a streetcar ride away is the Garden District, with its well-preserved collection of antebellum mansions, pristine gardens and southern charm. You can stroll around this district for hours taking in the tradition, opulence and beauty.
Also while you are there you must see the Lafayette Cemetery, the oldest of the seven cemeteries in New Orleans, where the deceased are interred above ground, a situation forced on the area because of the city’s high water table and below sea-level elevation.
On first sight it is a little macabre seeing these family-built tombs capable of interring as many as a dozen deceased, jutting above ground like small marble or granite houses. We took a guided tour through the cemetery and learnt a lot about the interment process and the famous people that were interred here.
We took a cruise aboard Steamboat Natchez, the last authentic steamboat on the Mississippi River, and coasted down the river with live narration which gave us an interesting overview and history of the city, the port and the river. There are several cruises to choose from: an evening jazz cruise with dinner, harbour jazz cruise or the Sunday brunch cruise.
It was a great way to see the city of New Orleans from another angle and also learn about the history of the steamboats and how they were paramount to the practical large-scale transport of passengers and freight both up and down river.
Whilst you are in New Orleans you must try some of their local cuisine. Try dishes such as Gumbo (a spicy meat, chicken or seafood stew with okra), Crawfish Etoufee (a Cajun seasoned Crawfish stew), Jambalaya (a spicy chicken, sausage or seafood stew), Red Beans & Rice, Muffalettas (a massive sandwich) and Beignets (doughnuts). We also tried some of the locally caught seafood from the Mississippi, Redfish and Shrimps (Prawns).
Our three days in New Orleans really wasn’t enough to do all there is to do and see in this wonderful city. Other points of interest are:
With a city that prides itself on Southern hospitality and with a motto of “laisser les bon temps rouler,” or “let the good times roll”, it is little wonder that New Orleans was both captivating and exciting. We could not have asked for a better entree to our cruise holiday!
N.B: I promise I did not flash my breasts for beads whilst I was walking down Bourbon Street. (I think New Orleans have had enough natural disasters, without adding to the tally!)
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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JohannaMay 29, 2015
What a fantastic time you had Kathy. You had me at Mississippi River boat – I would love to go on one. Then again the Jazz, The French Quarter, New Orleans … oh dear my rucksack seems to be packing itself already in the cupboard! Loved your pics too.
KathyMay 29, 2015
Thanks Jo. It was a long post but there was just so much to do and see in New Orleans that is was hard to be brief. The Mississippi River has always intrigued me too. It must have been reading the book ‘Huckleberry Finn’ when I was a kid.:)
Michelle Weaver (@pinkypoinker)May 29, 2015
I went to New Orleans in 1988 way before Katrina. I remember walking down Bourbon street and being amazed people were allowed to wander around drinking alcohol. I had a few huge strawberry daiquiri things which made me sick. Ah, those were the days.
KathyMay 30, 2015
It’s certainly a vibrant and colourful city. I hope you didn’t flash your boobs for beads Pinky!! Lol.
jennyandstephenmilanMay 30, 2015
Kathy it sounds as though you had a fantastic time in New Orleans. What a recovery it has made after the devastation of the hurricane. It sounds like a lively destination.
KathyMay 30, 2015
We did have a blast in New Orleans. It has recovered very well from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina but apparently its population has diminished.
Linda johnsonMay 31, 2015
Great description of the many sites of New Orleans. We have gone there twice now and still need to visit again!
KathyMay 31, 2015
Hi Linda. Thank you for checking out my New Orleans article. It was a great city to visit with plenty of action. That is what I love about your country – there are so many contrasts. :)
Red Nomad OZJune 2, 2015
I can’t believe you spent only 3 days there – you sure packed a lot in to it!! While I LOVE jazz, I’d make a beeline for the beignets :D
KathyJune 2, 2015
We did pack a lot into 3 days, but it is a fairly easy city to get around. The streetcars were a great way to get around and also the Steamboat. Believe it or not, I didn’t even have a beignet. Silly of me I know!
seizetheday20October 21, 2015
Wow – you sure got around in New Orleans. I’ve always been fascinated by this vibrant city – it’s such a mix of different cultures, music and history. Great photos again :-)
KathyOctober 21, 2015
New Orleans is a vibrant upbeat city with lots of interesting things to do and see. Our three days here was absolutely huge! Thanks Lyndall :)
My Brown Paper PackagesOctober 22, 2015
I think I’d just have to plan it around the jazz festival – too good to miss out on. And still giggling at you not flashing your boobs, I can just imagine it!
Thanks for joining in #wednesdaywanderlust this week
My Brown Paper PackagesOctober 22, 2015
I also noticed the linky image isn’t working on your site, shoot me an email if you would like me to email you the jpeg.
KathyOctober 23, 2015
Thanks Malinda. I will try it again.
KathyOctober 23, 2015
The Jazz Festival was amazing. We timed out visit perfectly without even realising. There would be no amount of alcohol that would entice me to flash my boobs!! :)
RobRob @TravelLatte(.net)October 25, 2015
I love New Orleans myself, and always enjoy reading how others find the city. A couple of other items of note in the Crescent City are the annual Mardi Gras celebrations – much like Carnivale in other areas – and Mardi Gras World where, even if you miss the parades and parties, you can visit working warehouses where the parade floats are made. So much to do in New Orleans – it was great reading about your experience.
KathyOctober 25, 2015
Oh I would love to be there for the Mardi Gras. I can imagine the streets would be even more alive than they were during the Jazz Festival. Like you say, there is so much to do in New Orleans. :)
Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & BeyondMay 4, 2017
My friends have visited New Orleans Kathy and it looks like so much fun. It is definitely on our list the next time we visit the US. I think Mardi Gras would be a fabulous experience.
KathyMay 10, 2017
I had always heard that New Orleans was very different to other parts of the US. The Jazz Festival that transformed the city into a non-stop party was certainly eye-opening. I truly enjoyed the vibe and energy of the place. I also enjoyed the Misssissipi River boat cruise.:)
budget janMay 26, 2017
Ha ha to the Beads for Boobs show. I enjoyed reading this post and looking at the photos. It was great that the jazz festival was on during your stay. I’ve always had an urge to visit the Mississippi River! Must be my inner childhood hero Tom Sayer coming out!
KathyMay 28, 2017
Yes I think we both must have grown up with Tom Sawyer and The Mississippi. You would love New Orleans Jan. Such and upbeat and vibrant city. It was a bonus to have the Jazz Festival corresponding with our visit. :)