We spent our Thanksgiving weekend in New Orleans and did what people are supposed to do in New Orleans - eat jambalaya, eat beignets, travel in
trams streetcars (see Lauren’s comment below), walk on Bourbon Street, watch alligators, and just take it easy.
There were a few interesting episodes regarding our stay - especially related to our “five star” hotel, but I will write about that in a couple of days. For now, here are a few snaps to capture a part of the awesome spirit of New Orleans. It’s too bad you can’t hear the jazz music playing in the background through the photographs.
By the way, this was our second visit to the city; the first one being just a couple of months before Hurricane Katrina. In spite of all the pain and suffering that New Orleans experienced after the hurricane, it was nice to see that the city still rocks!
- Let’s start with an interesting FEMA t-shirt.
- Parking rates: Compare these to parking rates in New York City - hourly rates in NYC seem outrageous, but overnight rates are almost comparable. By the way, “valet parking” is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever seen (more about it later). In this photograph, the “overnight” rate seems to have been inflated unnecessarily to make the valet parking option appear more attractive (think in terms of tips for valets).
- Typical snack: Beignet (pronounced as “bin-ye”) and coffee make an awesome breakfast - or a general snack at any time of the day. The one place you shouldn’t miss in New Orleans is Cafe Du Monde; this particularly untidy cafe (consisting of tables, chairs, and waiting staff - all covered with powdered sugar) serves the most popular beignets in the city.
- When in New Orleans, think sea food. It’s all about sea food - even when it comes to candy.
- Pralines: This, by far, is the most expensive confectionery you can buy in New Orleans. $17.95 will get you just about 10-12 pieces - a casual eater can finish that in less than a day.
- And then there is beer. A whole lot of it, available cheap and served in a variety of mugs/glasses of various shapes and sizes. To keep this beer-drinking crowd in control, you will generally see swarms of horseback riding policemen keeping an eye on the busy streets throughout the night.
- Here is some stuff you can expect to see only on Bourbon Street. Obviously, that’s the only thing I can publish here … the rest of it is.. well, you got to see it yourself.
- If you are romantically inclined, there is this dinner and jazz cruise on the Mississippi river. It’s worth the money ($58 per person) on nice cool days - if you want to try something different than the usual stuff.
- Or you could spend time traveling around the city in tram cars. This is the most efficient and traditional way of getting around in New Orleans - after walking. A three-day unlimited travel pass in these trams costs $12 and it effectively solves all the potential parking problems. The photograph below shows trams on Canal Street.
- Or you could hide yourself behind a mask and do unmentionable things on Bourbon Street.
- One thing that I didn’t quite understand is people’s attraction towards the “French Market”. It seemed like any other market to me … selling overpriced and commonly available stuff. You could walk a few blocks away from the market and buy the same stuff for a much lower price tag - and yet you will see a lot of people buying a lot of stuff from the market. Anyways, if you miss the French Market, here is a photograph for you.
- A trip to New Orleans is incomplete without visiting some swamps. It’s fun to touch and hold alligators (small ones), and generally these alligator swamp tours are not too expensive. The way our tour guide was treating the alligators, they almost seemed “domesticated” - and he was also feeding them marshmallows, which the alligators seemed to particularly like. Below is a photograph of a relatively small alligator jumping out of the water to grab a marshmallow on a stick.
- Now, here is another FEMA t-shirt before you go.