New Orleans Journals

Good Times in New Orleans

An October 2002 trip to New Orleans by C_Wheel

Quote: New Orleans is very different than other American cities. The French Quarter is the main tourist area and it has a European feel. As well as its unique culture, New Orleans is also known as a party town. It's a great place to visit and enjoy.

Good Times in New Orleans

Overview

Quote:
I was here over Halloween and the entire French Quarter turned into a giant street party. Definitely the highlight of my visit.

Quick Tips:

My tip for New Orleans? Do not underestimate the power of a hang grenade or hurricane!

Best Way To Get Around:

If you're staying anywhere in the French Quarter, everything is within walking distance. I travelled in by bus, which were straightforward and frequent.

India House

Hotel

Quote:
Whether you enjoy your stay at India House depends on what you look for in a hostel. As far as facilities go, the rooms in the main house are spacious--it's an old house with very high ceilings. There are two bathrooms; the one upstairs leaks, and the one downstairs doesn't have a lock on the door. The kitchen is fairly large; some mornings, breakfast is available, if you're lucky--I waited an hour for mine, reminded the cook twice, and by the time he remembered, he'd run out of ingredients. There are a couple of common rooms, including a huge TV and video. Outdoors in the courtyard, there are several picnic tables, another set of toilets and showers for the bunks in the cabins, and a swimming ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 3, 2003

India House
124 S Lopez St
New Orleans, Louisiana 70119
(504) 821-1904

Cafe Du Monde

Restaurant

Quote:
Cafe Du Monde is one of the French Quarter's traditions and well worth a visit. It sits on a corner midway along Decatur Street, and here you can have a New Orleans specialty--cafe au lait (milky coffee with chicory) and a plate piled with warm beignets (fresh fried donuts covered in powdered sugar). It only costs a few dollars, and you can sit outside in the covered courtyard and listen to the buskers playing jazz.

NB: The beignets are very tasty, but tend to explode powdered suger when you bite into them.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 3, 2003

Cafe Du Monde
800 Decatur Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70116
(504) 525-4544

Gumbo Shop

Restaurant

Quote:
Gumbo is another of New Orleans's traditional foods--it's like a spicy stew with rice. The Gumbo Shop, which is actually a restaurant, seemed an obvious place to try it.

The service was prompt--possibly a little too much so, as you got the feeling they were trying to whisk as many customers through the doors as possible. I had the chicken gumbo which was tasty but a little watery. I think the Gumbo Shop is possibly oriented towards pulling tourists in, but the food was still tasty and not too expensive.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on January 3, 2003

Gumbo Shop
630 St. Peter St
New Orleans, Louisiana 70116
+1 504 525 1486; +1

Preservation Hall

Attraction

Quote:
As anyone will tell you, New Orleans is a jazz town and Preservation Hall is a great place to hear the old standards. It's literally just a hall--there is no bar, toilets, chairs, or even a stage. Get in early if you can, and sit down on the floor in front of the musicians, but avoid sitting in front of the trombonist and/or saxophonist unless you like saliva dripping on you. Several bands play during the evening and your ticket is good for the whole night, so you can nip out to get a drink between sets. Still, you won't be allowed back in once the next band starts playing--you'll have to wait until the next interval. All the bands I saw were fabulous and played all the old ja...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 3, 2003

Preservation Hall
726 St. Peter Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70116
(504) 522-2841

Presbytere

Attraction | "Presbytere - Mardi Gras Musuem"

Quote:
The Mardi Gras museum is housed in the Presbytere next to Jackson Square, details the history and practice of Mardi Gras, and includes everything from posters of the first Mardi Gras to recent parade costumes. It explains the various practices involved--like how the krewes put together the floats--and illustrates it all with music, videos, and colourful memorabilia. The place is a bit of a maze and you may turn a corner and discover a 10-foot figurehead leering at you or find a dress made of diamonds--it's all quite fantastic and you'll end up wanting to experience Mardi Gras for yourself. At the end of the exhibits you get to experience some of the fun by trying on costumes and having your pho...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 5, 2003

Presbytere
751 Chartress St
New Orleans, Louisiana 70116
+1 504 568 6968

The Jazz Musuem

Attraction

Quote:
The Jazz Museum is housed in the old Royal Mint building down near the French Market. The museum isn't very big and does its best to trace the history of New Orleans jazz from its beginnings through its contemporary output. It has lots of photos and memorabilia, but if you don't know the music already, you probably won't be able to fully appreciate all of it.

When I visited, the museum also had a Matisse exhibition on in a side wing. I'm not quite sure of the connection to jazz, but the exhibit illustrated Matisse's later work with cutouts.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on January 5, 2003

The Jazz Musuem

New Orleans, Louisiana

French Quarter

Attraction | "Halloween"

Quote:
Halloween is one of the big celebrations in America and especially in New Orleans, the city that like to dress up and party. There are numerous Halloween parties--Anne Rice's Monsters Ball among them. The French Quarter itself turns into a huge street party. The roads are packed with people overflowing from the bars dressed in all manner of weird and wonderful costumes, or in some cases nothing much at all. Anyone in normal dress is definitely in the minority. The streets are filled with people; at times it's difficult to walk, and if your group gets split up, don't expect to find them again. We saw a music parade march through the crowd and joined the people dancing behind them; for...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 5, 2003

French Quarter

New Orleans, Louisiana

Natchez Steamboat

Attraction | "Mississippi Cruise on the Natchez"

Quote:
The Natchez is one of the paddleboats that offer cruises along the Mississippi River. If you go to the river wharf by the back of Decatur Street, you can buy the tickets and board the ship. The cruise takes you along the flat bends of the Mississippi River.

It's a very tranquil few hours on a warm, sunny day. If you like, you can go down to the dining room, have a drink, and listen to the live jazz band. It's all very pleasant and a nice chill-out option--not particularly exciting, though, as the landscape is flat and rather dull.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 5, 2003

Natchez Steamboat
2 Canal St
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
504) 586-8777

French Market

Attraction

Quote:
The French Market is at the end of Decatur Street. It's a large covered market and a good place to get cheap souvenirs, especially on Saturday when there are even more stalls.

It has all the usual souvenir stuff--T-shirts, voodoo dolls, stuffed alligator heads, beads--but at cheaper prices than the souvenir shops. It also has some surprisingly good and original craft stalls that don't just sell the usual tat, but also silver jewelry at bargain prices.

There's a food market nearby where you can get all the usual New Orleans hot sauces and spices at cheaper prices than in the shops. Theres are also fresh fruit and vegetable stalls.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 5, 2003

French Market
1008 North Peters Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
(504) 522-2621

Lafayette Cemetery

Attraction | "Walking amongst the Dead - Lafayette Cemetary"

Quote:
There are two main cemeteries visited by tourists in New Orleans; this is one of them. I visited Lafayette Cemetery with a few friends and it was actually closed, but we squeezed through a gap in the railings (to the consternation of a tour group who just stood and watched us). We wandered on around the avenue of white tombs by ourselves--it is a spooky experience. The tombs are set out in rows and are mostly taller than you. You wander down one row alone, and you don't know who else is around. Although there are still recent burials in Lafayette, a lot of the tombs are run-down and neglected, adding to the atmosphere. To make it even more perfect, we came across a black cat, sunning itself on ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 5, 2003

Lafayette Cemetery
1400 block of Washington Ave
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
(504) 525-3377

New Orlean Tours Swamp Tour

Attraction | "Swamp Tour"

Quote:
This tour was arranged through the hostel and was one of the cheapest tours around at $35. We were picked up and then drove for about an hour to get to the swamp, which gave us a chance to see a bit more of the countryside around New Orleans. The boat seated about 20 people, so was small enough for everyone to get a good view, and we chugged around the swamp for about an hour and a half. Our guide was pretty informative, telling us about the swamp and its inhabitants, and pointing out film locations as well. He laid on the N'awlins Cajun persona fairly thick, but it was part of the fun. And as he just narrowly saved us from crashing into another boat, I'm not going to criticize him too much. Th...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 3, 2003

New Orlean Tours Swamp Tour
233 N. Peters
New Orleans, Louisiana

Cabildo

Attraction | "Cabildo - Louisiana State Musuem"

Quote:
The Louisiana State Museum is housed in the Cabildo next to Jackson Square, and I found it surprisingly fascinating. The buidling itself has played its part in the history of New Orleans, making the exhibits themselves especially evocative, since some of the events they depict actually took place here. The museum begins with the original inhabitants of the area and what life was like for the first settlers, using everyday objects to bring it to life. The exhibits follows the history of New Orleans as it became a city and the changes it experienced under Spanish, French, and English rule. Most interesting are the cultural-history displays detailing old New Orleans society, from duelin...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 3, 2003

Cabildo
701 Chartres St
New Orleans, Louisiana 70116
(504) 568-6968

New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum

Attraction | "Voodoo Museums"

Quote:
There are actually two voodoo musuems in the French Quarter, and entrance to one gives you free entry to the other. We went to the voodoo museum on Dumaine Street first. It's not very big at all--only a couple of rooms and a corridor and jam-packed with dolls' pictures, altars, and offerings of the voodoo religion, including Blanche, a huge white python used in the ceremonies. There are a few information boards around that detail aspects of voodoo, but no coherent explanation. In a way, this makes the displays of strange jumbles of religious symbols and gaudy trinkets even more compelling. The voodoo museum off Decatur Street is more modern. In the airy room downstairs, there's a vid...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 5, 2003

New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum
724 Dumaine St
New Orleans, Louisiana 70116
+1 504 523 7685

Cemetery Voodoo Tour

Attraction | "Voodoo Tour"

Quote:
We met the tour group at the Royal Coffee Shop at about 10 o'clock and had time for a coffee (I reccomend the bagels and cheese here) before our group set off. Sporting our tour-group stickers, our guide led us along to St. Louis Cemetery, pointing out historic buildings, etc., along the way. At the cemetery, we were one of several groups around--so it felt like you were hearing the information in stereo, as we caught echoes of the the other tour guides speaking. We were led around the cemetery, the guide pointing out various tombs to illustrate her narrative, including the (alleged) tomb of Marie Laveau with its attendant offerings. The guide was informative and interesting, and I appreciated ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 7, 2003

Cemetery Voodoo Tour
New Orleans, LA
New Orleans, Louisiana

Quote:
New Orleans is the city for partying, and Bourbon Street is where everyone goes--to start off. It's full of cheap booze, cheesy clubs and bars, strip joints, drunks vomiting in the gutter, and any number of men and women flashing for beads. Cats Meow is a popular bar and has live music, sometimes good (it also has a webcam if you want to wave home to Mum). Look out for happy hour in bars like Utopia, where it's usual to get three drinks for the price of one. But there are other places to go in the French Quarter. Pat O's is a large bar/restaurant near Preservation Hall. It serves good, reasonably priced Hurricanes (New Orleans cocktail) and has a special-effect fire fountain. Hand grenades are ...Read More
Quote:
The French Quarter has a range of shops, from little individual one-off stores to the usual big department names. The shops in the main streets vary from tourist tack to art galleries, mostly depending on location. Royal Street has mainly upmarket shops--expensive (but lovely) dress stores, carefully crafted masks, beautiful jewelry stores, Civil War armaments. At the other end of the scale is Decatur Street, with the usual souvenir shops of beads, T-shirts, and voodoo dolls. There's also a small shopping mall with a Virgin Megastore attached. (The food court upstairs isn't that great, but you can eat your snack on the outside balcony by the Mississippi River.) Walk on down Decatur S...Read More