Exploring: New Orleans – The Garden District

It’s been so cold around here lately, I thought we could head back to a time when there was bright blue skies, very warm temperatures and a need to cool down with 32 oz of frozen cocktail! Yep, we’re heading back to my birthday trip to New Orleans back in June of last year.

Exploring New Orleans

We maybe didn’t pick the best time of day to take a stroll around the Garden District of the city. If you were playing spot the Europeans heading out into the midday sun you would have hit the jackpot with us two! Yep, despite having a guide book that suggested you miss the midday sun, we strolled straight into it!

This area of the city is just beautiful and definitely a spot not to be missed. The Garden District is the area of New Orleans where wealthy newcomers built their majestic homes in the 19th century. It’s the perfect area fir architecture buffs and gardeners with some extremely grand, beautiful and pretty homes, including a lot of Greek Revival mansions.

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Exploring: New Orleans – The French Market

Exploring New Orleans
It’s another Travel Tuesday in New Orleans people – I still have so much to write about when it comes to this amazing city! Today, it’s the French Market. If you ever find yourself dumped in New Orleans for the weekend then you cannot leave without visiting this place, if you don’t go there you’ll be seriously missing out.

Perched on the edge of the Mississippi in the French Quarter of the city is the French Market, a place to get your tourist bits and bobs (if you really need them), taste some amazing local delicacies and just soak up the atmosphere of the market. We headed down here on a Sunday morning after a stroll along the banks of the river, it was so hot and we were in desperate need of some water and some shade. Our first stop was breakfast where we tucked into some spicy alligator meat (more on that in my guide to the best places to eat in New Orleans) with eggs, Cajun potatoes and bread – definitely something different but a good start to the day!

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As you head into the market you are hit by a variety of smells and surrounded by little food stalls, cafés and sno-ball outlets where you can buy and eat everything from alligator to crawfish, oysters to po-boys and everything else in between, if you’re after a little snack to help you on your exploring way then this is the place to be. There are praline stalls, hot sauce shops with hundreds of different varieties and places to get a cooling drink, oh, and it’s all underneath a canopy so you can escape the sunshine too – in the height of summer that’s a must!

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As you walk further into the market you come to the non-food stalls, we’re talking the stuff of dreams if you’re after every tourist gift under the sun at a much cheaper price than the tourist shops on and around Bourbon Street. There are mardi-gras masks and beads by the billion, t-shirts with New Orleans on the front, magnets, postcards, books, artwork – you name it, it was there. I will admit to picking up a mardi-gras mask for both myself and the German – they were so pretty and so cheap, you never know when you’re going to need a mask for a masquerade ball!

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Oh and we can’t forget the nearby beignets – this place is super close to Café Du Monde and if you read last week’s post on where to eat you’ll know exactly why you need to stop off there!

Exploring: New Orleans – The French Quarter

Exploring New Orleans
When you think of New Orleans, you instantly think of jazz music, crawfish and the French Quarter right? When we headed to NoLa last month I was excited to check out what it was all about, I’ve heard and read loads about the place and it was always on my bucket list. New Orleans is in the state of Louisiana, known as the deep south. It’s located on the Mississippi River, is surrounded by swamp land and believe me, it is VERY hot! Hotlanta has nothing on this place!

Our first stop was the French Quarter. This place is just beautiful, the French influence can be seen on just about every building in this part of the city, from the detailed, extremely pretty balconies and small, narrow streets to the intricate iron work and colours, the French colonists who founded the city certainly left their mark. I could look at those buildings again and again and would still find something new to see on them.

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Bourbon Street is at the heart of the French Quarter and it’s definitely an experience! This is where the party is at, it’s where Mardi Gras takes place, it’s where you can stroll down the street with a hand grenade (a famous type of cocktail in NoLa, not the actual weapon) in your hand, or in my case, a 32oz frozen cocktail, it’s where, if you’re there at the right time, a naked bike ride passes through (more on that one later!) and it’s where a million different smells culminate together to make some pretty disgusting ones! As the German put it, ‘there are many different smells in New Orleans, most of them are horrible!’ The heat mixes with things like stagnant water from thunderstorms, disinfectant from bars, alcohol, rubbish, half eaten food and let’s face it, probably human sick (this is the party street after all) and turns pretty nasty. There are areas where you actually have to stop breathing until the smell passes! Don’t let that put you off going though…this place is amazing! Nearly every bar has live music of some sort, there are drinks offers everywhere (including Huge Ass Beers!) and the party goes on until the wee small hours of course! You simply have to visit Bourbon Street, even if you only walk up and down it once during your stay, at least you can say you’ve been!

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Strolling around there’s music playing on just about every single corner – this was the birthplace of jazz. There’s just about every street performer you can imagine from traditional jazz and blues singers to those people statues that don’t move (I seriously have no idea how they do that, especially in the NoLa heat!) and some very inventive young children who literally crushed empty Coke cans and stuck them into their shoes with something like a drawing pin, effectively turning their trainers into tap shoes, and they were pretty darn good at the tapping too!

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You also can’t hit the French Quarter, or New Orleans in general, without taking a ride on a streetcar. These things are famous in these parts, even if you don’t need one to get to your destination, you should just take a ride on one to say you’ve done it. We took one from the French Quarter to the Garden District, they cost a couple of bucks each and are definitely worth it, even if it’s just to save your legs or get you to that next cocktail quicker!

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And, you just have to check out the Cathedral. St. Louis Cathedral is the oldest in North America and sits in Jackson Square. It’s one of those places you have to check out, it’s beautiful both inside and out. The outside isn’t anything out of this world but it fits its surroundings perfectly. The cathedral was damaged during Hurricane Katrina back in 2005, it’s organ bore the brunt of the damage after water flooded through the roof. But, it’s all been fixed now and it’s looking pretty darn lovely!

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Oh, and I can’t let you go without telling you more about THAT naked bike ride…turns out we were in the city and our Bourbon Street at just the right time! This naked bike ride thing is happening all over the world (I’ve heard of one taking place in London), people literally get on their bikes and ride them through the streets naked, simple as. It’s definitely a sight to see…

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Ok, so not everybody was naked but I couldn’t really be putting naked boobies and willies on here now could I?!