As my United Airlines flight touched down at Louis Armstrong Airport in New Orleans, I felt a sense of excitement wash over me. Excitement for the Deep South and it’s world famous food, culture, Bourbon Street, the friendly people and with that the amazing “Southern Hospitality!”
Located on the Mississippi River, New Orleans is the capital of the state of Louisiana and the greater area of “NOLA” is home to around 1.2 million people. Considered by many to be the birthplace of Jazz, you will see reminders of this throughout the city, namely the Louis Armstrong Statue across the river at Algiers Point or the Musical Legends Park on Bourbon Street where you can see a statue of Fats Domino among others. Every night there are local bands that play in the park, for free, but it is good form to tip if you take in a gig.
New Orleans was ruled by both the French and the Spanish but it is the French influence that is evident. Everywhere you look is a hark back to the old days with the architecture still remaining as well as the French names for streets. Jackson Square is a great place to visit to see even more evidence of this. It is also a must when you are here to visit Cafe du Monde and try their Beignets (French style donuts) which come in a serve of 3 and are covered in icing sugar. Amazing!
It is possible to get a boat along the Mississippi River, which is enormous. It flows through 10 states for just under 2400 miles and finishes in the Gulf of Mexico, of which is around 100 miles downriver from the city. New Orleans is also famous for it’s festivals and the Mardi Gras is the biggest one of all. Visiting for Mardi Gras requires booking well in advance as hotels fill up and transport gets expensive.
Another must try activity here is the Gumbo dish. It is local to Louisiana and it is a soup type dish served with rice and comes with shrimp, chicken, ocra, tomato, onions and is absolutely delicious. The Gumbo Shop in the French Quarter make a good one but you can get it just about anywhere in the city. The other delicacy that’s unique here is the Po-Boy (Poor boy) sandwich which is a subway type sandwich except way better. The Parkway Drive Bakery in Mid city makes some of the best Po-Boys in all of New Orleans. I went for a Cracklin’ Cat which came with fish, bacon, cheddar cheese and salad. Needless to say I didn’t require any dessert!
If you like a flutter there is also a Harrah’s Casino downtown. I stayed in Mid city at the India House Backpackers’ around 3 miles from downtown, from here you can take one of the Streetcars into town and a day pass costs around $5 – very cost effective.
As time rolled by on a Sunday evening in New Orleans, it was time to prepare my things for an early morning start to my next destination – Mexico – but not before realising an important lesson and observation from this grand city. The locals treated me like an old friend, with respect and I hope to pass that on in my day to day movements. Thanks NOLA!
– Roaming Kangaroo