New Orleans had been on the top of my bucket list for so long that I almost did not believe my ears when my husband suggested visiting New Orleans for his Birthday in May 2015. We stayed at a hotel which was walking distance to the French quarters.
The first thing we wanted to do after the long flight was to stop at French Quarter and grab a drink. But the moment we stepped out of our hotel room it started to rain. Although I was hesitant to step out in the rain at first, I must admit it was the most amazing rain I have experienced in a long time. It made the muggy weather a tad cooler, but the rain felt warm and inviting to the touch. And when it stopped raining we dried up almost instantly.
I fell in love with the old style architecture; the cobbled roads and the old-fashioned houses with ironwork balconies painstakingly decorated. For a while, I felt like I was on the set of Midnight in Paris, where a nostalgic Owen Wilson (a screenwriter) finds himself going back to the 1920’s every night. Most of the French quarter’s architecture was built in the 18th century. There is so much going on here in terms of restaurants, shops, dive bars, concerts and more.
You really do not need to rent a car here. You can walk the entire area by foot. A lot of people chose to ride Rickshaws or horse pulled carriages. There are several musicians and artists performing as well as painters and artists selling their artistic works on the street side.
Jackson square is a famous landmark situated in the front of the French Quarter and throbbing with visitors, artists and musicians. On the opposite side of the square from the River are three 18th‑century historic buildings; St Louis Cathedral, The Cabildo (museum), The Presbytere (museum).
The Katrina exhibit at the Presbytere is an absolute must see. They have done an excellent job of making an honest and a heart-breaking exhibit of what happened during Katrina. They had snippets of personal stories both inspiring and shattering throughout the museum. I absolutely loved their video and the interactive map with a minute by minute demonstrations of which levees broke when and where.
New Orleans is famous for its Voodoo culture. You can see the French Quarter is full of Voodoo shops, tarot card readers, and palmists. Needless to say, Voodoo is different from palmistry and tarot, but I love everything occult. If you are into the occult as well, you will find plenty opportunities to try your hand here (pun intended)! I did visit the famous Marie Louveau’s place. I had absolutely no expectations but some of the stuff the palmist told me about was surprisingly true and there is no way he could have known it by simply meeting me. So thumbs up!
We took a bus tour around the city and showed us some of the worst hit areas during Katrina as well as some of old and archaic cemeteries. Here are some pictures from the 9th Ward and the neighboring wards. The 9th ward is closest to the Mississippi River and worst hit during Katrina. You can still see a faint yellow line on the light posts demarcating the levels that the water had reached during the outpour.
My favorite experience in New Orleans would have to be the Jazz performance at the Preservation Hall. The hall is a tiny place that seats no more than 70 people roughly. Be sure to stand in line an hour before show time. This place is always full! But I promise the wait is well worth the time. Preservation Hall is open for nightly concerts from 8 pm to 11 pm, seven nights a week, with the exception of certain holidays and special events.
New Orleans is nothing without its Art and music. And music literally pumps life into its arteries. You will find more talented street-side musicians and artists here than anywhere else! And you do not have to be an aficionado to enjoy it. New Orleans will somehow engulf you in its unique style. New Orleans is a dream destination; a muse for the artist in you or anybody who loves History, music, art, wine, food, festival and loads of fun.