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Posted by Cayla Capri
New Orleans The Frenching Quarter
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A gaudy parade of chummy strangers (catcalls have nothing on bead tossing), comfort food and zydeco music, New Orleans gets away with excess and revelry by carrying itself with a European swagger. Honeymooners on a tight budget can be thankful for their liberating monitorial restrictions. A genuine experience is best had on foot, inadvertently dancing (the city’s intoxicating that way; you’ll get used to it) through the faubourgs and the French quarter in hot pursuit of Cajun gumbo and sax-puffing buskers.
the romance
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Discovering a new city with your husband, uncovering its underground watering holes and sampling its unusual eats is just about as romantic as it gets. New Orleans cuisine is a sensualist’s dream: spicy, messy and influenced by a mélange of international grub (France, Italy, Africa and the Caribbean, to name a few).
Smells and sounds wafting out from local restaurants, often boasting live music, will tempt your senses in the French Quarter. Wander through the streets, taking in the wide variety of bars and restaurants beckoning you to indulge in delicious Creole and Cajun chow. Decatur, Iberville, and Bourbon Street are sure things if you’re looking to savor and save.
If you like to party hard, you might be tempted to stay the night. The hotels and apartments for rent are a little on the expensive side, what with their old-style charm and tourist appeal. Thankfully, there are lots of cute, cheap B&Bs located on the French Quarter’s outskirts. The suburb of Metairie’s not far, and a good bet for a good night’s sleep.
the scenery
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Strong French and Spanish influences have made New Orleans aesthetically distinct: cast iron fences, Creole cottages, imposing balconies and traditional streetlamps define this hodgepodge of old-world pretty.
Travel around on the celebrated St. Charles Streetcar, which provides round-the-clock service. The fare is a steal at 1.25$, and an all-day pass is 5$ – allowing for unlimited rides on all forms of public transportation.
Admire the bawdy city from a whole new angle, hopping on the free ferry leaving from the bottom of Canal Street, bringing you across the Mississippi to the Algiers neighborhood and back again.
the adventure
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New Orleans is renowned for its music, drinking and festivals. Pretty much wherever you go, you’re about to walk in on some sort of celebration.
Mardi Gras, known as the biggest free party on Earth, is New Orleans’ claim to fame. Every year during the two weeks leading up to the day before Ash Wednesday (which typically falls in February), locals and tourists dress up in costumes and don masks, partying and drinking in the streets for days on end.
The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is held annually throughout the last weekend in April and the first weekend of May. Single-day tickets will set you back about 40$, but will get you a full day of jazz, blues, Cajun and many other music performances, as well as access to the food and craft booths. The New Orleans Jazz Fest is the festival to check out if you’re a music fan.
the secrets
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New Orleans’ wicked history (voodoo culture and all) can be read about, but for sincerity and secrets, look to the locals. Take a (possibly free) walking tour around the city to experience all it has to offer from an insider’s point of view. For a unique experience, take a mule-drawn carriage ride through the streets, where you can visit historic sites like St. Louis Square, the Garden District, and the famous cemetery.
the attractions
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In the heart of the French Quarter, walk around Jackson Square on any given day to see a variety of street performers, musicians, magicians, jugglers, mimes, clowns and tarot-card readers. Visit the St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest Roman Catholic Church in the U.S. Afterwards, meander down to Bourbon Street, and have a bite to eat and drink to drink. No matter what time of day, the streets are always alive with people and taboo.
before you go
What to Expect
Spring: Warm and humid (20's). Mardi Gras season (February – April) is packed with people.
Summer: May – September is the rainy/hurricane season, and these months are hot and humid (30's). July and August have the best deals.
Fall: Warm and humid (20's).
Winter: Cool and humid (10's).
Anything goes! Bring a jacket in the winter and a mask during Mardi Gras.
U.S. dollar
The Lingo
English, French
A valid passport
Local Delicacies
Gumbo: A traditional Louisiana stew
Po-boys: A sandwich served on French-style bread. Ask for it “dressed”: with lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, and sometimes pickles