The old city looks like museum without feeling like a mausoleum. Plan Now – Go Later
NEW ORLEANS. With his unique vocal and treatment, Louis Armstrong made “Hello Dolly” his most legendary song. And brought famed to his home city. A song recorded in 1963 and appropriate to enjoy on a journey down the Mississippi from Memphis to New Orleans. Arriving on the steamboat American Queen is end of a dream-voyage. Certainly, a moment to remember the second line of “Hello Dolly” as well – “It’s so nice to have you back where you belong”. In New Orleans – The Big Easy.
New Orleans is one of those places where you get the sense you’re just scratching the surface. There are so many things going on at any given time on any given day. For someone who is on holiday and wants to get a taste of New Orleans, you need a week, to see how the pace of the city goes. A part of the charm is that it looks like a big outdoor museum without feeling like a mausoleum.
Let´s get started
I believe the best way to get started is to simply dive in. All you have to do is go and get it, experience, and value the pace the city sets itself. The locals work and get things done, but they know weekends begin on Thursdays. They certainly know this city has so much to offer, it´s growing and widening all the time.
New Orleans is growing and changing, it´s not the same it was five or ten years ago. There is a new energy, different experiences to be explored, and so many talents.
The city was well-illustrated in “Hello Dolly”: “You’re still glowin’, you’re still crowin’ You’re still goin’ strong”.
All that Jazz
New Orleans has strong and long association with jazz music, all the way back to 1890s. The earliest form was Dixieland, also known as traditional jazz. Another music style is New Orleans jazz with a swinging, stomping beat that makes you want to dance.
Louis Armstrong sang these words: “We feel the room swayin’ – While the band’s playin”.
The traditional jazz will always be part of this city´s legacy. But musical movements have reinvented old traditions with new waves, house and dub music, and even punk music bands that are using brass in their music. At Preservation Hall you can listen to a loud rock band playing brass music or a famous musician like Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin joining a local band.
This is real Creole
Creole is an ethnic group hard to define. It can mean anything from a person born in New Orleans to important part of the culture in Louisiana. Creole in modern times is very real and continuing. You can see it, taste it, and hear it. It´s in the air and it´s very real.
Creoles, like Cajuns, have played an important part in the culture – contributed to art, music and social life. Most Cajuns are of French background and have had an enormous impact of Louisiana´s culture.
One for sure: Cajuns aren´t Creole, and a Creole isn´t Cajun.
Cajun, Creole and Soul food
“Soul food” came to life in 1960s and describe the recipes Black Americans had been cooking for generations. It´s basic down-home cooking with its roots in the rural South, such as beans, cornmeal and pork.
Must eat in New Orleans is Lobster PoBoy, Jumbalaya in the French Quarter, Fresh Oysters, Deep-Fried Soft-Shell Crab, and Turtle Soup at Commander´s Palace. The top meal in spring is crayfish, boiled in stew, spiked with cayenne pepper and served everywhere.
Creole and Cajun foods have a long history and are influenced by many cultures. The simplest differences between the two cuisines are that Creole typically uses tomatoes while Cajun food does not.
Poor Boy history
Poor Boy is one of New Orleans signature dishes – for short it´s Po´boy. This sandwich originated during the 1029 streetcar strike and is now part of the culinary culture. Po´boy is made of French sandwich loaf, like a baguette, filled with either roast beef or friend seafood, and topped with pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, and mayonnaise.
Po´boy is served all over, from restaurants to corner stall. Some po-boy shops have put their own spin on the sandwich. Po-boy unites the city.
New Orleans Festivals: Always have Costume Ready
Rooftop and Cocktails
New Orleans has plenty of hip rooftop hangout. Monkey Boards at the Troubadour Hotel is a favourite. Charming view and a DJ create the ambience.
Hot Tin Rooftop serves some classic cocktails. Rocio, 33, said: “My favourite rooftop bar with the best view of the city. Lots of cozy seating, great for girls´night”.
Cathedral from 1794
A first-time visitor should soak up the French Quarter, take a Cemetery Tour, have a drink at the famous Carousel Bar. Find time to visit Saint Louis Cathedral, the oldest Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States. The original burned in 1794 and was rebuilt.
Known as the “Big Easy”, this is the city that time forgot. Stroll through mansions of the Garden District or the quieter part of the French Quarter and you will forget what year it is. Deciding what to do in New Orleans can be a hard choice, but the atmosphere in French Quarter is why the city is loved by so many.
Every corner offers fun – from the party atmosphere of Bourbon Street to the bohemian elegance of Royal Street. ”Let the good times roll” is a common phrase around New Orleans, and you will soon understand why.
All about music
The music begins after breakfast, then the jazz brunch with fresh crab, Bloody Mary and a live band. You are likely to come across a brass band parade, or a band at Congo Square where jazz was invented. Wherever they begin, evenings inevitably finish on Frenchmen Street, where every bare look like a film set. New Orleans is mostly about music, and if you prefer an early night, it’s fair to say that you’re in the wrong town.
Fats and Satchmo
Fats Domino was another star from New Orleans with an easy-going, down home charm and twinkling piano work. “Blueberry Hill.” was his biggest hit. But New Orleans played a central role in Fats Domino´s sound, so it was inevitable that he made a great hit about the most famous culinary export. Listen to “Jambalaya” – a keen celebration of the food and his hometown.
Fifty years after his death, Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, continue to have deep impact on American music. With trumpet and a raspy voice, he created new music of the world. I´m quite sure Fats and Satchmo would appointed “What a wonderful world” the ultimate song to New Orleans. First time recorded by Louis Armstrong in 1967, and regarded as a sad song.
Armstrong intended it to be an optimistic song about love of everyday life. “Not with tears of sadness, but tears of joy”, Satchmo said.
In New Orleans this song is repeated every day, and was the last I heard before leaving: “Yes, I think to myself, what a wonderful world”.
Make it Happen!
Touch Down: A direct BA flight from London brings New Orleans closer to Europe. Meaning you can swap heavy cloud for palm trees and parties in 10 hours. A taxi ride from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport to the French Quarter costs about 40 dollar.
Stay: Luxury. Romantic. Family-friendly. Eco-conscious. If you’re visiting one of many festivals or events, ask about special packages and deals. Often, hotels set up transportation to and from events, and provide discounted tickets to concerts and other happenings.
Eat: The menu at Café Pontalba is heavy on New Orleans’ classic cuisine. From casual fried seafood to local specialties, including barbecue shrimp, blackened alligator, and sautéed catfish topped with pecans. The restaurant’s full bar serves cocktails. Address: 546 St Peter, New Orleans.
Play: The city comes alive at night, keeping a syncopated beat that is irresistible and is still going strong when the sun comes up. It´s said residents should have five good costumes ready to go at any given time. So pack that favorite dress, that amazing hat you never get to wear and even a wig or two and head to New Orleans for holiday, events, food, and music.
Mini Guide: Shop at The French Market, it is open 365 days a year. Along the Mississippi River banks, a commercial strip framed by authentic New Orleans restaurants, music venues, handmade crafts and specialty shopping.There is no better, more classic way to experience the mighty Mississippi than on a river tour aboard the Steamboat Natchez. The historic boat slowly and gracefully plies the river for brunch, lunch, or dinner cruises with live traditional jazz on board. Best time to visit: There isn’t a bad time to visit the Big Easy, but spring is just right. As the weather is balmy, and there´s a festival nearly every weekend. You are most likely to have just enough fellow revellers for company – even if some are still draped in feathers, blissfully unaware that carnival is over.