“There are only 3 American cities. New York, San Francisco and New Orleans. The rest is Cleveland.” Tennessee Williams.
We both already loved NYC and San Fran and within a few hours we were in agreement with Tennessee Williams.
NOLA, as New Orleans is called by locals may be a city skipped by general tourists traveling to the USA for the first maybe multiple times.
Here are a few reasons why New Orleans should be very high on your American bucket list to explore the true history of America and an original mix of cultures influenced by French, Spanish, African, Caribbean and American people that will only be found here.
”Creol and Cajun culture has shaped the food, music and architecture that you see in New Orleans today.”
Sadly, New Orleans was built on slavery, people brought from Africa and the Caribbean were put to work on sugar cane plantations. A huge difference to the rest of America was that this area was French Catholic which meant that even Slaves had Sundays off. This meant that they would gather in what is now named Louis Armstrong park playing and singing their traditional music and slowly introducing western instruments into the mix, the result was the founding of Jazz music. Over time the area was handed to the Spanish, back to the French and eventually bought by the USA, all off which, combined with Creol and Cajun culture has shaped the food, music and architecture that you see in New Orleans today.
WHAT TO DO IN NEW ORLEANS
All walking tours in NOLA are run by locals and provide you with the most interesting way to get to know the town’s history, town’s secret stories or even experience some famous cocktail bars.
Our recommendation is the Garden District and Cemetery tour, which leads through the American sector of the town with amazing huge mansions and one of the old cemeteries. A few of the houses are owned by celebrities such as Sandra Bullock and John Goodman whose primary residence is in New Orleans. Others were used in movies such as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Another walking tour we enjoyed was the Cocktails and scandalous New Orleans tour through the French District. The tour provides you with amazing information like how alcohol was made here during the American prohibition, shows you where Bitters was created and where to get the best Sazerac cocktail. There are also many stories about the darker past of New Orleans and even some conspiracy theories involving the assassination of JFK and many more.
”French Quarter, it is the most beautiful suburb where the colourful colonial buildings are everywhere you look. ”
Walk through the French Quarter
If the walking tour is not in your budget, just walk, walk, walk. Our ultimate advise in any city. Especially in the French Quarter, it is the most beautiful suburb where the colourful colonial buildings are everywhere you look. Again, having that original touch that could only be found in NOLA, like green tropical ferns hanging from big open balconies.
”There are actually even drive through bars.”
Party on Bourbon street
Maybe not a favourite for the locals but today’s Bourbon street party is as much a part of the French Quarter as the music and entertainment. Bars can be super cheesy with dancing old grannies, electric bulls, neon lights, frozen cocktails and all kinds of live music. The alcohol laws are amazing here and drinks are permitted freely on the street, you can even buy drinks in a ‘to go’ cup to keep yourself hydrated while walking from one bar to another.
There are actually even drive through bars, though as it’s illegal to have an open container in the car they will provide a little cap for your straw to keep it technically closed and all legal.
Listen to Jazz on Frenchmen street
For a classy night out, skip Bourbon and head out to Frenchman street where live jazz plays at every venue, you may even be lucky enough to catch some local legends like Kermit Ruffins or Trombone Shorty. We found most of the bars are free of charge, however a few have a policy to buy one drink per set and/or tip the band as that is how the musicians are paid.
‘‘Plantations are an eye opening part of American history and the amazing tour brings you back to the 1700’s when slavery was common.”
Visit sugar cane plantations
Plantations located about an hour and half from the city are definitely a must. It’s an eye opening part of American history and the amazing tour brings you back to the 1700’s when slavery was common. There are a handful of plantations such as Whitney or Laura with beautiful main mansions where the owner of the slaves and his family lived. Also, a few of them were used in different movies so these stunning mansion may be familiar to you.
Photo Credit: www.experienceneworleans.com/
Eat local food
Maybe not French cuisine or anything healthy but definitely worth trying typical Louisiana and New Orleans cuisine.
Fried chicken is one of the state’s specialties. We tried Willie Mae’s chicken shop in The Treme, which was voted the best fried chicken in the US. Don’t expect any extra special interior, three very simple rooms with tables and chairs and a speaker in the corner playing Rihanna or similar r’n’b, but the simplicity kind of adds to the experience. Line up for an hour, eat ya chicken and go.
Po-Boys – Well, a person not from Nola would probably describe it as a sandwich with whatever in it. Kind of a true but in N’Awleens it was originally a very cheap meal and referred to as a ‘poor boy’ and the name kind of stuck. It’s a French crispy baguette typically with fried prawns or meat, cheese, tomato and loads of mayo.
There are several places where you can buy Po-Boys in town, and french Quarter definitely chargers touristy prices up to $15. Go locally and try one from a petrol station (no joke) where there is also a deli. We had one in Treme for $4 and was definitely better than the highly recommended Verdi Marte.
A few places serve Po-Boys for breakfast where eggs and bacon are added to the crispy baguette.
Gumbo – Thick stew made of meat or seafood is another New Orleans specialty. Served usually in a cup or bread bowl and can be found almost everywhere.
‘‘The Priest was actually happy, funny, talked about basketball and the music was incredible.”
Experience Gospel at Sunday mass
Neither of us are religious but to experience gospel like from the movies was always a dream. And to be honest, if every mass back home was like this, I would have never stopped going. No bored faces, or angry looks from the priest. He was actually happy, funny, talked about basketball and the music was incredible. We held hands with people around us, we sang and danced. It was a really fun morning. And the paster offered us Coffee and donuts after the session. The one we attended was a Catholic Church of St. Augustine in Treme.
For more amazing and colourful photos from New Orleans click to our blog here.
Photo Credit: holiday.neworleansonline.com