Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Queen of New Orleans

If I had a day to myself in Louisiana, I would go on one of those tours to see old plantation homes along the Mississippi River. But alas, I only had a few hours after work to explore the City of New Orleans. I had to make the most of the little time that I had and I'm glad  I did.

On my third day of intermittently exploring "Nor-leans" (at least this was how I heard the locals pronounce their city :D) , I think I've seen enough to realize that the city has more history and culture to offer than most North American stops. If you're ever in those parts of the world, with limited time and budget like myself, I suggest you try these -

WARNING: What follows is a photo-heavy post!

Tree in Tulane University with Mardi Gras beads hanging on its branches. I assume random passersby just threw the beads there. Kewl-ness. Incidentally, I see myself studying in Tulane. It's a beautiful campus, with trees lined up along the streets and the weather is, well, just perfect.
Royal Street at the French Quarter

We were lucky on our visit to New Orleans for two reasons: First, we were booked at the Hotel Monteleone, which was right smack in the middle of Royal Street at the French Quarter District (more about this later). The Hotel, bought by an Italian shoemaker in 1886, has been named as one of the Historic Hotels of America. Tadan -

Second, we were in the French Quarter just in time for this year's French Quarter Festival. During this time, musicians from all over the world head on over to New Orleans to play (mostly for free!) in the numerous stages set up in the French Quarter (so named because it was founded by a French naval officer in the early 1700s). The atmosphere is not as rowdy as the more famous Mardi Gras festival, but you'll still see people partying everywhere. Woothoot.

So, the setting considered, here are Ten Things That You Can Do in New Orleans -

1) Ride the tram. I love cities with trams. They're generally friendlier to tourists because they pass by places where tourist spots are usually located and they have set routes - which means you won't get lost when you ride one!
There are several tram routes in New Orleans, but two of those will take you to St. Charles Avenue, which is where the bigger homes in the city are located (Most adopt French architecture. They're beautiful.)
And another will take you to the Cemetery. I don't know why tourists even bother to go to the sementeryo, but on the way there, you'll see samplings of "shotgun houses" like the ones above. Shotgun houses are peculiar to New Orleans. They got their name because a shotgun fired at the entrance will go straight through to the end. They're basically built as rectangles.
2) Sample authentic Creole food. Ah. This one  warrants a separate post. For now, let me just say that we tried out "K-Joe's" (above) -
 - and The Palace Cafe, where I had a USD100 per plate dinner! Huwat.

3) Drink a glass of "Hurricane" at Pat O'Briens. This is basically just berry juice mixed with rum. I paid the considerable sum of US$11 (PhP400) for this drink and I was not disappointed. By the way,  you see that cocktail glass? You can keep it! When you're done with your drink, just hand it over to the bar and they'll put it in a souvenir box for you.

4) Watch street performers, for free of course! Like I said, we were there at the height of the French Quarter Festival, which was just grand because there were talented musicians playing left and right! 
5) Eat beignets (pronounced "ben-yey") or french donuts at the Cafe Du Monde. I honestly don't understand what is so special about beignets. They taste like Bicho Bicho brothers, except medyo sosyal because they use confectioner's sugar. Ho-hum.
6) Walk around Royal Street to marvel at the architecture - 
- oggle at the vintage jewelry in its many antique shops -
- and appreciate street art, peddled by the many artists in the city.

7) Watch people dance in Jackson Square - thats the plaza at the foot of the St. Louis Cathedral. St. Louis is the oldest active Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States, that was originally built in 1794. That's the church behind me in the photo above.
8) Walk along Bourbon Street. Can you read the sign that I'm pointing to? That's a cabaret and the sign is self-explanatory. Heehee 
9) Go to Frenchmen Street to watch a local band play at The Spotted Cat. I'm kicking myself for not taking note of the name of the band that was playing while we were there. The vocalist looked like a hot 1950s pin-up girl, except she had tatoos all over. Haha
10) Spend some downtime at the pier and watch the world go by via the Mississippi River.


  1. Nice! I've never been there, hopefully I get the chance to visit.

    I love street performers. We need those here. :-)

  2. And one important question much ang sales tax sa New Orleans? Hehe.

  3. Yen - But we have street performers here. Hindi mo lang siguro nakikita kasi dun sila nagpe-perform sa overpass sa Cubao. Haha

    Mel - Oh my. I have no idea! I didn't bother with the sales tax because I didn't buy too many things in New Orleans - just some tourist-y t-shirts and magnets. Baduy.


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