New Orleans, a city of music
About fifteen minutes after I arrived in New Orleans, I witnessed an accident. A scooter crashed head on into a car that had just turned onto the road, and the rider was thrown a long way forward. It seemed like the city was living up to its reputation, at least the reputation I had heard of, like:
“New Orleans? Be safe, it’s a dodgy city.”
“Oh, NOLA? Doesn’t it have one of the highest crime rates?”
“Hey, be careful! Don’t walk around just anywhere.”
All these comments made me a little uneasy before I went, but I have to say, New Orleans just requires the same minimal precaution that every traveler must take being in a new, alien place. One can’t eliminate all risk, or he can’t afford to travel.
If I had to speak one word to describe New Orleans, I would say music. There’s music around every street corner, on the road, in parks, in clubs. If you handed out a dollar to every musician on the street, food would be pretty hard to come by soon. When I walked around the French Quarter in New Orleans, this being the day just after New Orleans Jazzfest (ten days of music pretty much all the time and everywhere), the city still had enough energy and enthusiasm to further continue the music. I heard from a cab driver that after Hurricane Katrina struck, Cafe Du Monde in the French Market was closed for just one day!
You feel like you’re walking in Europe when you walk in the French Quarter. There are numerous eclectic shops to just waltz in and out of, delicious food everywhere (do try all the New Orleans specialities they’re simply mind blowing and commonly available), and need I mention again, music.
As far as nightlife goes, this city simply does not stop. However, I do have one piece of advice, although Bourbon Street looks really attractive and is the most well known, the authentic New Orleans is to be found deeper inside the French Quarter. Frenchmen Street is where I went. One of the clubs I visited was called ‘The Spotted Cat’, and it was great! I felt like I was transported back in time. As I walked back, I noticed Bourbon Street played more contemporary music and was extremely commercialized.
I also visited NOMA (New Orleans Museum of Art, which has free entry for all visitors on Wednesday), but wasn’t much impressed. Other cities have bigger museums with larger variety and better quality.
In case you’re a traveler who likes hostels, India House was fantastic! I met a lot of nice people there and they have a great outdoor area with a swimming pool even. And of course, if in New Orleans, make good use of the streetcar, it’s fun to use and really convenient too. A day pass for 3 dollars and you can ride it as often as you want.
Lastly, don’t miss Superdome, Warehouse district, Swamps, Preservation Hall, Cemeteries, Treme, Central Business District, which I did because I didn’t have enough time.