New Orleans Jazz and Food was everything I expected to be and more.
I had visited the city in my teens which, of course, provides a completely different perspective. I remember the cemeteries with the mausoleum above ground. It was the first time I’d seen that way and it always struck me as fascinating. The other thing I remember is the vibrancy as we walked around the streets of the French Quarter.
What was new to me was the music. I knew New Orleans was renowned for jazz, but I couldn’t believe how fantastic it was. On almost every street corner there would be someone or a small group jamming it up. Live music blared from most venues. As you might imagine, the French Quarter is extremely noisy at night. Even though we were staying on the edge, occasionally, you could hear a band coming up the street or the train, whistling and warning others it was coming through.
The fact that our hotel at paper-thin walls didn’t help. We were there for a very off-season and quiet time so I can’t imagine what it must be like in two weeks when Mardi Gras officially starts. Mardi Gras unofficially starts shortly after New Year’s, so there were still quite a few activities going on and parades the weekend.
We arrived in New Orleans on Sunday by train and left on Saturday morning, so other than Friday night it was relatively calm. I do say relatively since there is something always happening. While there, the crowds seemed to be a little bit older, but by Friday, a younger crowd was arriving.
The weather was not good for our stay, so we felt a little bit limited, and what we could do. That said, we managed to do a majority of the typical tourist things.
New Orleanians pride themselves on the fact that they have the loosest alcohol laws in the country. You can buy alcohol anywhere and many places are open 24/7. Although, technically, there are laws that you can’t drink in the streets, they are not enforced, but they cannot be in glass or metal containers.
We chose not pay for a cemetery tour. Rather ,we took the truck up to Louis Cemetery #3, which is opposite the park and botanical gardens. Yes, I know we love botanical gardens, but we didn’t go this time. The weather wasn’t good as I’ve mentioned before and the time of year we suspected that it might be a disappointment.
We did, however, go to the zoo which I have mixed feelings about. I know that some zoos are excellent and are their protecting species that may no longer be in the wild. Edition, the open house, injured animals can no longer be returned to the wild. I’m sure New Orleans is excellent but what we went. It was opening late due to how cold it was and we were one of less than two dozen people in the park that day. All the animals have been climatized to warmer weather, so even they were indoors. All we got to see was the Avery And reptile house.
You might wonder why we went to the New Orleans Zoo. In January, they offer a special Mardi Gras special, which includes all three venues, the zoo, the aquarium, and the insectarium. The price of the three as a senior ended up being $10 more than just one.
Insectarium is excellent if you have kids but less interest as a senior. Louise wanted to see the butterfly house in the insectarium. It was very lovely but the butterflies were pretty quiet because there too it was only 18°C so they were not flying around like crazy. The aquarium was excellent and I highly recommend it.
We did take two tours. One was the steamboat with the paddle wheel, which comes highly recommended. I didn’t find it all that exciting. There’s not much to see really on the Mississippi. The commentary, by Carles Chesnutt, particularly about Hurricane Katrina was excellent. I recommend checking him and his podcasts out: https://www.storiedhistory.com/
The other tour we took was the bayou. There’s a 40-minute drive out and then a boat through the tributaries. The alligators, of course, were hibernating, so there wasn’t much to see: Except for the raccoons. The vegetation was very interesting and the birdlife was pretty good from my point of view. We didn’t expect to see that much so we found it interesting and worthwhile. it rained most of the time, but we were covered in the boat.
On our last day, we walked up and down all the streets in the French Quarter while listening to an audio tour. That was very informative.
Bourbon Street reminds me a little of Las Vegas. Once you walked up and down the street a couple of times it seems a little depressing. It’s loud and busy and exciting, but also full of drunks and homeless.
We’re not ones to go out in the evening much, but we did attend a variety of live jazz performances early in the evening. It doesn’t matter where you go. The music is excellent. Depends on your style preferences if you like the jazz of the early 20th century, the Dixieland sound, or the more modern beat of the 50s. It’s all fantastic.