A Visit to New Orleans

It was the summer of 2008 when I decided to head to New Orleans, USA, for a vacation. I had heard a lot about its nightlife and beautiful locales and that got me packing my bags. It was a family vacation and we knew accommodation wouldn’t be a problem, as we had relatives living there. A decent place to stay wouldn’t cost more than $ 50.

The weather in New Orleans is truly amazing. Its not too cold and not too hot in the summers, and in the winters, it is cold, but it doesn’t snow. New Orleans is a quiet little place where people are warm, friendly and always willing to help. There is a lot of greenery and parks you should check out. Lafreniere Park was were I usually went to jog and try and lose all the extra fat I put on from the amazing food I gorged on. There are a lot of Italian joints which are worth a try, and many cafes where one can just pass the time sipping on a hot cuppa, listening to a live jazz band perform. Café Du monde was my favorite.

With regard to music, New Orleans is where jazz music was born and that’s reflected with many bars playing jazz musi,c with pictures of Louis Armstrong displayed all around. The nightlife, according to me, is the best part of New Orleans.

The French Quarters, which are quiet ,peaceful and quite beautiful in the mornings, are transformed into a wild and rowdy joint by night on Bourbon Street which, I have no qualms in admitting, is where I have heard the best amateur bands perform. You have to be there to believe it. A perfect evening with friends is made possible while sipping a bottle of beer in Old Opera House with the band playing ‘Sweet child o’ mine’ and the crowd at its wildest best. At night, especially on weekends, Bourbon Street is filled with colour and fun.

In the day time, a trip to the World War II museum is a great treat. It has all the World War II memorabilia and has actual videos of the War. For a person like me, who is deeply interested in History, and especially the World Wars, an hour to look around, was just not enough. A great way of getting to the museum is by the St. Charles Streetcar (the driver gets offended if you call it a ‘tram’).

Another place you must visit is the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. It’s fascinating how well it has been maintained. I could see a shark swimming above my head! There is also an insectarium inside, where they show you a cute little video with a talking insect as part of the tour. Kids would really love it. As a matter of fact, I’m not ashamed to admit it, but I did too.

If you come to New Orleans between April and June, you are in for a treat, as that is when the great Mardi Gras festival is celebrated. It’s full of fun, colour and, if that were possible, even more partying. There are shops which sell decorative beads that are traditionally worn by people during this festival.

Don’t let the Katrina and Gustav scare you away. In case of such a situation, you will be forewarned and the evacuation is pretty calm and well organized. So all in all, I wouldn’t be wrong to compare New Orleans to Goa. If you’re the type who likes to have fun and are looking for a vacation to truly unwind, New Orleans is the place you should head to.

Smita Rajmohan

[Image source:http://www.flickr.com/photos/wallyg/2475969980/]