The Nola Fun: New Orleans Travelogue

New Orleans is one of the world’s most fascinating cities – it’s home to a truly unique melting pot of culture, food and music. New Orleans is fondly called as ‘Nola’ .This is one of those rare cities in US where you can party day and night. Cajun Cuisine restaurants are open 24×7, 200 year old clubs are buzzing with latest music numbers and at the same time you see the traditional jazz bands playing melodious tunes. It is the city where every street has different character. The city is made of it’s interesting Bourbon Street, Frenchmen Street, Burgundy Street, Jackson Square and Royal Street. You can find Beads, Masks and funky dresses in every nook and corner. Last but not the least alligator is their favorite for petting as well as eating 😛

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We spent couple of nights in this crazy place and it was an absolutely amazing experience. So here is a virtual journey for you guys..street by street 🙂

We stayed in French Quarter/District.

The district is a National Historic Landmark and is bordered by popular streets, such as Canal Street, Decatur Street, Rampart Street and Esplanade Avenue. The French Quarter boasts a storied history of international influence with cultural contributions from the French, Spanish, Sicilians, Italians, Africans, Irish and others – all evident in the development of this global port settlement.

So much of what makes New Orleans unique is captured in the melting pot atmosphere of the French Quarter, from the boisterous party vibe of Bourbon Street to the bohemian elegance of Royal Street. It’s a neighborhood full of entertainment and surprises.

Bourbon Street

When the French engineer Adrien de Pauger laid out the streets of New Orleans in 1721, he chose one to carry the name of the French Royal Family ruling at the time, Rue Bourbon. Since then, Bourbon Street has become one of the most recognizable party destinations in the world.

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History tells us that over the years Bourbon Street has been home to vaudeville, burlesque, jazz joints and gentlemen’s clubs, serving as inspiration for the bawdy, party atmosphere the street is known for today. But visitors may be surprised to find that Bourbon offers more than the obvious nightlife options. In addition to venues featuring bands covering your favorite songs and exotic striptease clubs, the street is also home to traditional jazz clubs, upscale lounges and historic restaurants.

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A carnival of sights and sounds, Bourbon Street is where people from all walks of life come to let their hair down. The street becomes a pedestrian walkway during the evening hours, preventing vehicular traffic and allowing visitor neworleans, mardi grass, Louisiane, burgundy street, royal street, bourbon street, french quarter, frenchmen street, travelblog, travel photography, street photography, life style photography, cafe de monde, jackson square, banana fosters, cajun cuisine s to walk freely on the street. New Orleans’ open-container law permits pedestrians to walk the streets with a “go-cup” in hand filled with one of New Orleans’ signature cocktails, like a “Hurricane” or “Hand Grenade.

The revelry begins at the intersection of Canal Street and Bourbon, where brass bands gather almost every night and bystanders dance on the street. The party continues beneath beautiful cast-iron balconies overlooking a seemingly endless row of bars, music clubs, restaurants and gentlemen’s clubs. There is a section of Bourbon beginning at the intersection of St. Ann Street that caters to a vibrant gay community and is home to fantastic clubs and bars.

We visited the Old Absinthe House

For almost 200 years the Old Absinthe House bar has been a staple of life in the French Quarter. Located on the corner of Rue Bourbon and Rue Bienville, the cooper-topped wooden bar captivates patrons as they sip their favorite beverages and the sights and sounds of the French Quarter trickle into this comfy tavern.

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Bourbon Street is a prime destination for bachelorette and bachelor parties, birthday celebrations and an overall mecca for those looking to have a good time. During the Southern Decadence Festival, which falls around the Labor Day holiday, Bourbon hosts an array of gay-friendly festivities and parties lasting for an entire week. Carnival season in early spring draws thousands of Mardi Gras revelers to the street both night and day. However, you can always catch beads from Bourbon’s famous balconies year-round.

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Bourbon Street’s laissez faire attitude and lively atmosphere are just part of the reason why it’s so famous. Embedded in all the excitement is a taste of true American history.

For hundreds of years, the only way to get around New Orleans was by horse and carriage. You can still experience the leisurely pace our ancestors did in one of several carriage tours offered today.

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You can taste fresh crawfish on this street. It tastes better than prawns. It is boiled in cajun hot sauce and water and is ready to eat.

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Our 1st dinner was at Deja Vu. And obviously the 1st thing which we tried was the Po Boy

The history of the New Orleans Po-Boy is a rich one, dating back nearly 100 years. During the Great Depression there
was a street car strike. Some former street car workers opened a sandwich shop used cut potatoes and roast beef gravy to make this signature dish, and that was the first poor boy sandwich. Today, french fry and gravy po-boys are still found on many menus.

The bread is the most important part – crispy and flaky on the outside, and unbelievably soft on the inside. French bread is taken very seriously and for the perfect po-boy, anything other than locally made breads simply won’t do. Then you add the bulk of the sandwich – fried shrimp, oysters, catfish, soft-shell crab, or roast beef smothered in gravy. Top that off with the “fixin’s” – pickles, hot sauce, lettuce, mayo, etc., and you’ll quickly find yourself indulging in one of the best culinary creations known to man. Order like a local and request your sandwich “dressed” – which means you want all of the toppings. Po-Boys are also best paired with a cold bottle of Barq’s Rootbeer or local brews such as Abita or Dixie.

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Another unique or maybe weird dish we tried was Alligator Baltz

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Next day dinner was at Oceana Grill

Oceana Grill is THE choice for locals. All cravings are satisfied as Oceana serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night. Try the world famous crab cakes and the best char-grilled oysters in New Orleans.

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These were the most amazing oysters i ever had in my life. Charcoaled and melting in the mouth

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Hurricane

Nobody in New Orleans enjoys a Hurricane – unless it’s the bright red variety served in a tall glass and garnished with orange slices and cherries.The name of the drink came from the shape of the glass it’s served in – the iconic curved glass resembles a hurricane lamp

Crawfish Étouffée

One of the best things about visiting New Orleans is that when you come here, you get to have food that you couldn’t have anywhere else in the country. And even if you can find these dishes in your hometown, it will never taste as good as it does when prepared in New Orleans by a New Orleanian. Crawfish Étouffée is one of the best examples of this theory.

The word étouffée (pronounced eh-too-fey) comes from the French word “to smother.” The best way to describe the dish is a thicker stew, seasoned to perfection and chock full of delicious, plump crawfish (or shrimp, depending on the season). In some ways, its similar to gumbo – same types of Creole seasonings, served over rice, and made with a roux, but unlike gumbo, étouffée is made with a “blonde” roux, giving it a lighter color and a very different flavor.

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The cops in New Orleans prefer horses are their ride!

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Frenchmen Street

Removed from the glitzy neon lights and blaring cover music of Bourbon Street is a compact musical district where the locals hang out.

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Frenchmen Street is just walking distance away from Bourbon and the French Quarter. Its most popular section is a two-block stretch in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood, which is known for its wide variety of live music on any given night of the week!

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With one trip around the clubs on Frenchmen, you are likely to hear anything from jazz to Latin to blues to reggae, and just about everything in between.

Pedicabs

The pedicabs, which operate primarily along the Canal Street downtown corridor and in the French Quarter and nearby Faubourg Marigny and Garden District neighborhoods, are environmentally friendly, non-fossil-fuel-consuming vehicles that specialize in conveying passengers over relatively short distances. Drivers will often stop at passengers’ requests to allow them to take photos or stop to point out sites to their passengers without charging them for waiting time, as would be done by a metered gas-driven vehicle.

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Entrance to a jazz club on Frenchmen Street.

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In addition to the delicious late night food and incredible music, Frenchmen Street also has its own authentic art market. In the midst of some of the most famous music clubs, the Frenchmen Art Market is the place to go to experience local art and crafts that are distinctively New Orleans. Stop by this late night market and take home a small piece of Nola art to remember your visit.

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Coop’s Place

Since 1982, Coop’s Place has delighted locals and visitors alike with its cozy atmosphere and great food. Just steps from New Orleans’ famous French Market, Coop’s Place is a great place to meet some of the local French Quarter personalities in the setting of a friendly neighborhood pub

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Jambalaya, Gumbo and Fried Fish at Coop’s place

New Orleans is famous for a lot of different meals – chief among them is the traditional rice dish known as Jambalaya. While various ingredients in Jambalaya can vary from chicken, sausage, seafood, or any mixture of the three, the bold flavor and perfect spice is always present.

Gumbo has come to be one of the best examples of the multicultural melting pot that has made New Orleans what it is. It can be described as a type of stew served over rice, but locals would argue that gumbo is almost its own food group. The base seasonings – sassafras and bay leaves – were introduced to settlers by Native Americans. Another important contribution to the creation of gumbo was okra, a vegetable brought over by West African slaves, which both seasons and thickens soup stocks. Gumbo is said to have gotten its name from the West African name for okra – kimgombo. Gumbo went on to be adapted over time, and as most locals will tell you, there is no set recipe for the perfect gumbo. Everyone has his or her own way of making it from adding seafood instead of chicken or sausage instead of ham – its all a matter of personal preference and, of course, in matters of taste, there is no dispute.

Most traditional restaurants in the city offer some kind of gumbo – seafood, chicken and andouille sausage, or otherwise. In fact, many restaurants offer multiple types of gumbo, including specialty gumbos.

Almost 80 percent of food is fried in New Orleans, so no brownie points for guessing that you can have the best Fried chicken here

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The Praline Connection offers a variety of “soul food” recipes from three generations of great family chefs, including New Orleans gumbo, jambalaya, red beans & rice, smothered pork chops and famous pralines.

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My dinner was fried liver, fried okra and fried chicken 🙂 And yes Hurricane too 🙂

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Another good place to eat at Frenchmen Street is Silk Route..It is a fusion of New Orleans and Indian cuisine

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Royal Street

One block over from Bourbon Street is the French Quarter’s more refined and elegant epicenter of local art. Royal Street is an eye-pleasing mix of classy antique shops, boutiques, fine jewelry stores, colorful art galleries and world-class hotels and restaurants.

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It is no wonder tourists and locals alike flock to Royal Street when they want a real New Orleans experience. Some of the most picturesque and frequently photographed buildings and iron lace balconies – many of which date back to the 18th and 19th centuries – are along the 13-block stretch of Royal between Canal Street and Esplanade Avenue.

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World-class restaurants with scenic courtyards – containing bubbling sculptured fountains and colorful gardens – offer a pleasant, shady getaway from the excitement of Bourbon Street. These beautiful courtyards are an important part of the architecture that gives the French Quarter its iconic charm and they can be found at every turn on Royal Street.

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For me the best part of Royal street was the street bands playing amazing music

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Royal House

This Seafood and Oyster Bar has delectable delights in a casual yet romantic atmosphere.Enjoy the smell of fresh steamed seafood, delicious chef creations, and ice cold raw oysters at one of the city’s largest oyster bars.

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You should not miss visiting a local spice shop to get your favorite cajun spices and hot sauces. There are tons of varities there.

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Pralines were one of the more popular recipes adapted from the old French tradition. Almonds being in short supply, cooks began substituting the nuts of the native Louisiana pecan trees, and the forefathers of our modern pecan pralines were born. The praline became a sugary, creamy, pecan-laden candy. Praline pecans were known as individual pecans covered in the sugary coating. These new pecan pralines quickly spread throughout the New Orleans culture and became a common confection in the area. Soon, praline sales were a small but historically significant industry for the city.

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Breakfast at Cafe Beignet

New Orleans Cafe Beignet provides a grand cafe setting outside and in, and the best coffee and beignets anywhere. Also full breakfast served all day, lunch and cajun specialties.

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Dinner at Cafe Soule

It is a gourmet eatery serving a fusion of New Orleans & French fare in a rustic cafe setting.

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Shrimp cajun crepe, crawfish stuffed with crab meet and bread pudding..yum

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Burgundy Street

Burgundy Street in New Orleans, with its richly mottled old buildings, its sly, sophisticated – sometimes almost disreputable – air, and its Hispanic-Gallic traditions, has more the flavor of an old European capital than an American city.  Visitors particularly remember the decorative cast-iron balconies that cover many of these townhouses like ornamental filigree cages.

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One of the truly amazing aspects of New Orleans architecture is the sheer number of historic homes and buildings per square mile. Orleanians never seem to replace anything.

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Esplanade Avenue

One of the quietest, most scenic and historic streets in New Orleans, Esplanade Avenue is a hidden treasure running through the heart of the city. From its beginning at the foot of the Mississippi River levee to its terminus at the entrance of City Park, Esplanade is a slow pace thoroughfare with quiet ambiance and local charm.

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Jackson Square

Located on Decatur Street, between the Jax Brewery Shopping Mall and the French Market, in front of the St. Louis Cathedral, Jackson Square earns it name for one of three bronze statues of Andrew Jackson located in the center of the square.

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The area surrounding Jackson Square contains a mix of commercial and residential property. The Cabildo, the Presbytere (on the opposite side of the Cathedral), and one of the apartment townhouses of the Lower Pontalba Apartments are now state museums. The lower floors of the apartment buildings are shops and restaurants, while the second and third floors are residential apartments.

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Jackson Square is also the location of an open-air artist colony, where artists display their work on the outside of the iron fence. Visitors even have the opportunity to see the artists at work and perhaps have their portrait drawn by one of the many talents utilizing Jackson Square as their studio.

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Grab coffee and beignets from Cafe du Monde and enjoy breakfast while people watching in the Square.

Since 1862 this has been the original French Market coffee stand serving cafe au lait and beignets. A New Orleans landmark, located directly across from Jackson Square and the Pontalba apartments, Cafe du Monde offers the original beignet, the state doughnut of Louisiana. Coffee and chicory is a New Orleans favorite, served mixed half and half with hot milk as cafe au lait.

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Jackson Square has been featured in numerous movies, live television network broadcasts, and the New Year’s Eve celebration.

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Local bands playing some fun music on the street

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Tarot card reading is big time in New Orleans

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One of my beads collection from the local market

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Stanley offers an ideal setting for a casual breakfast or lunch, with wide French doors and windows opening onto Decatur Street and the historic old French Market. In keeping with the name, Stanley serves such blue collar specialties as hand-made hamburgers, fresh seafood po-boys and the best Reuben sandwich in town. The restaurant’s chef was named New Orleans Magazine’s 2006 Chef of the Year. neworleans, mardi grass, Louisiane, burgundy street, royal street, bourbon street, french quarter, frenchmen street, travelblog, travel photography, street photography, life style photography, cafe de monde, jackson square, banana fosters, cajun cuisine

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We had the delicious cajun potatoes, oysters egg benedict, Jambalaya and the famous Banana fosters

In the early 1950s New Orleans was the major port of entry for bananas shipped from Central and South America. Owen Brennan, owner of Brennan’s Restaurant, challenged his chef, Paul Blange, to include bananas in a new dessert. It was Owen’s way of promoting the imported fruit. At the same time,Holiday Magazine asked Owen to provide a new and different recipe to include in an article on the restaurant.

And so was born Bananas Foster, a decadent dessert named for Owen’s friend, Richard Foster, a local civic and business leader. Today, Bananas Foster is served at Brennan’s and other fine New Orleans restaurants. Each year,Brennan’s flames 35,000 pounds of bananas for the famous dessert

We didn’t try the Banana Foster at Brennan’s but Stanley’s banana foster was good too 🙂

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If you are in the vicinity of the Convention Center, ride Riverfront Streetcar to the Jackson Square stop. If you are located in other parts of the city, just head for the French Quarter.

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Swamp Tours

Have you ever wanted to get up close and personal with an alligator? Cruise leisurely along the mysterious, moss-draped bayous? See exotic flora and fauna found nowhere else in the country? You can by checking out one of the many swamp and wildlife tours offered by experienced boat captains in the watery regions surrounding New Orleans.

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As your boat floats lazily under the shade of age-old cypresses laden with Spanish moss, the captain lures a 10-foot gator alongside the hull so you can take pictures to show your disbelieving friends and family back home. He points out long-legged waterfowl, poised patiently, waiting to scoop up their dinner with long, pointed beaks. Deadly snakes (observed from a safe distance, of course), lumbering nutria (cousins to the more familiar American muskrats), and the occasional raccoon or swamp deer may also be observed at various times. You never know what you’ll see and each tour is a unique adventure that never happens exactly the same way twice.

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neworleans, mardi grass, Louisiane, burgundy street, royal street, bourbon street, french quarter, frenchmen street, travelblog, travel photography, street photography, life style photography, cafe de monde, jackson square, banana fosters, cajun cuisine

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The majority of the swamp tours provide transportation to and from the departure points in climate controlled vehicles. Check out the tour listings below.

We took the Cajun Pride Swamp Tours

Sources: New Orleans Online

http://www.neworleansonline.com/

 

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The Nola Fun: New Orleans Travelogue