Our next stop? New Orleans! For anyone who doesn’t know, New Orleans is a city in the state of Louisiana. It is the states largest city, and is a major American port. The city was originally founded by the French, and got its name from the Duke of Orleans (who reigned as Regent for King Louis XV for eight years). The city is famous for numerous reasons including being the birthplace of Jazz, its annual Mardi Gras festival (which I am determined to see at some point in my life), and, of course, Voodoo.
We arrived in New Orleans after a long, hot, tiring car ride. However, we were still determined to get out and explore the city! We made our way over to the French Quarter, also known as the ‘Vieux Carré’ (Old Square), the oldest neighbourhood in New Orleans. The city developed around this area after its founding in 1718, and the whole area has now been designated as a National Historic Landmark.
It was quite bizarre walking around this area, as it truly did feel as though you had suddenly been transported to the small side streets of Paris. The architecture was gorgeous, and I was able to have a long look at some of the buildings when we were forced to take shelter when the daily rain storm occurred! As we made our way to the main square we passed numerous cafes, clothes shops, art galleries and numerous other interesting looking shops that we wanted to explore.
Eventually we managed to drag ourselves away from these numerous distractions to reach the square! I was surprised when we reached it that there were at least a dozen small stalls with men and women offering psychic readings, tarot cards, palm readings etc. I suppose I shouldn’t have found it such a surprise considering the culture of the city, but I just hadn’t been expecting to see them in the square like that.
I did however, get distracted watching a street performer swallowing swords – a slightly worrying act to watch! It was fantastic entertainment though (even if it does baffle me as to how it’s done) and it was definitely worth the couple of dollars to watch!
Walking around the streets, I was curious as to why there were so many rainbow flags and other Pride decorations. Asking around, we found out that that weekend was the ‘Southern Decadence’ festival (also referred to as ‘Gay Mardi Gras’). We were soon to see how crazy this would be!
I must confess, before going to New Orleans I didn’t really know much about the city. I knew that it was the home of Voodoo and of Jazz, but in all honesty I think that this was probably mainly due to my love of the movie ‘The Princess and the Frog.’ However, even within a couple of hours of being in this city I was beginning to see how incredible it was, and beginning to fall in love with it. It is definitely being put high on my list of places to travel to again!
“To awaken alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” Freya Stark