Character, Culture & all that Jazz
New Orleans is definitely a city with its own character made up of the beautiful Garden District, the popular French Quarter and of course all that Jazz music, and the culture made up of a mixture of French, Spanish and African American history.
I arrived in New Orleans to heavy rain which set the scene for a warm and steamy few days. I stayed in a nice little B&B called Fairchild House which is located in the Garden District. The home was built in 1841, has 12ft ceilings and retains the character of a home built in that era. New Orleans is notorious for its spooky history, but I didn’t have any ‘unexplained’ experiences while I was there. To be honest, because I was traveling alone I kept away from the Ghost & Vodoo stories.
Getting around the tourist areas of New Orleans is very easy. A $3 ticket will get you 24 hours transport on the RTC, which includes a trolley system around the Garden District, Uptown area and French Quarter.
On my first day I jumped on a trolley from St Charles Street and headed to Canal Street (in the Uptown area), from there I walked along the foreshore of the Mississippi River towards the French Quarter, where I took a Mule drawn Carriage ride/tour around the area and spent most of the day wandering around looking in shops , seeing the sights and hearing jazz music. The city is well known for its Jazz and you can hear it playing everywhere, on the streets, and in bars and cafes.
One of the must do things to do in New Orleans is to take a ride on Steamboat down the Mississippi River. The Mississippi is the 4th longest river in the world and up to 200ft deep in parts.
Following my steamboat ride I went and had coffee and beignets at Café du Monde. Beignets are like square donuts covered in icing sugar.
New Orleans is also famous for Mardi Gras and a trip to Mardi Gras World was well worthwhile. Following information on the history of Mardi Gras and how the floats and displays are built, a tour around the warehouse is provided. The company who run Mardi Gras World spend all year preparing the floats.
Other ‘must do’s’, when your in Louisiana is to visit a plantation as well as do a swamp tour and it was good to get out of town for a day to do these activities. I visited the Destrehan Plantation, which was established in 1787 and produced Indigo prior to becoming a sugar cane plantation. We had a tour of the home and were told about the history of the Destrehan family. But the thing I liked most about the plantation was the amazing Oak Trees surrounding the home.
During the swamp tour I saw lots of Aligators, although I was a bit disturbed to see the tour guide throwing mashmellows into the swamp to draw the alligators to the surface. The aligators are obviously used to being feed the marshmallows because you could see the swimming towards the boat when they heard the motor. One has to wonder what affect all that sugar will have on the Alligators.
Another interesting thing I found in New Orleans was the a statue of Bernardo de Galvez a Spanish Military Officer who was Governor of Louisiana form 1777–1783 during Spanish rule of the state. I also found Galvez street and a number of business with the name Galvez. I don’t know a lot about my Spanish family history or whether Bernardo is an ancestor, but it’s pretty impressive to think he might be.