And then we are heading to the States.
‘But, you’ve been there already’, I hear you say…..
Yes, it is true, The USA is back on the itinerary. I will do a post soon on why we are returning and, no, it’s NOT just because of the theme parks. 😛
It will be winter in the US. We aren’t fans of cold weather which sort of dictates where we go and where we avoid. We plan to hug the Southern states which is just fine and dandy by me.
The second place I am absolutely squeaking with excitement to be visiting is:
Image via ShutterstockRF
Where: New Orleans!!!!
Why: I cannot wait to be beguiled by this city. It is a jumble of French, Spanish and African cultures and I expect that it will feel like we are visiting a Caribbean city in the US. I know that the New Orleans colourful history, architecture and vibrance will draw me in.
The Eye Candy! Being on a tight budget means that while we are on our trip I am going to be looking to do as much free stuff as possible. So when we have a visually spectacular city like New Orleans on offer where we can devour so much up of it up with our eyes, it is an easy choice to put it on the itinerary.
The Vibe! I am anticipating a hub of music and activity, a buzz of people, a mix of cultures, exotic aromas and myself – just standing back and drinking it all in.
There are 4 main parts of New Orleans that we are going to explore.
French Quarter, nestled in against the Mississippi River, is the oldest part of New Orleans and where much of the buzz is going to be happening,.
My hopes are pinned on us being in New Orleans on a Sunday so that we can be kerbside at a second line parade. Ever since I saw the scene of the marching band from the James Bond film Live and Let Die, I have been keen to see something like it.
Apparently there are second line parades (which means less of the brass and the funereal, more of the happy dancing) every Sunday.
Image by Zack Smith
We will visit the French Market. Markets are an exciting way to get a feel for any city and the French Market is 6 blocks worth of the French Quarter.
Image by Shawn O’Brien
Image by Rachel
Inevitably, browsing the market will become a bit of a grazing tour, as I have been told that a beignet from Café Du Monde is a must….
Image by Ralph Anderson, Mark Sandlin, Eugenia Uhl
……as is a muffuletta sandwich from the place it was created at Central Grocery. Look at that sandwich, originating amongst the Italian immigrant community; a Sicilian loaf stuffed with cured meats, cheeses and olive salad. Oh mmmm, mmmm!
Image via Gold Bely
There is also a flea market within the French Market, where we can haggle down a price and grab a bargain. Keen!
Fauberg Marigny is a French Creole neighbourhood, walking distance from the French Quarter. I have seen gorgeous photos of the quaint wooden houses, painted in so many colours.
Image by Infrogmation of New Orleans
We will walk our way through the streets in the daytime and hopefully see some live music happening as we pass through Frenchmen St. in the evening.
Image by Kate
The Treme or Fauberg Treme is the oldest African American neighbourhood in the country and one of the first things we will do there is drop in to Willie Mae’s Scotch House where they serve the world’s best fried chicken. Allegedly. Going to have to taste and see for ourselves!
Image via New Orleans Online
Image by Sasha
A stroll through and explore of Louis Armstrong Park is on the agenda.
Image by Mike
Within the park is Congo Square. It is the one place that African slaves were allowed to freely congregate on Sunday, their one day off. On a Sunday, the square would become a market, a place where they would make beautiful music and dance alongside free African Americans.
Image via Atlanta Black Star
This is another area in New Orleans that I just want to eat up with my eyes. To walk down the pretty streets and look at the architecture.
Check out Sandra Bullock’s home!
Image by Paul McClure
According to my research, the most impressive building in Garden District is Commander’s Palace.
Image via Zagat.com
This restaurant has won the title Best Restaurant in New Orleans 18 years in a row. The James Beard Foundation awarded head chef Tory McPhail ‘Best Chef- South’ in 2013. I said the chef’s name out loud a couple times, because it rang a bell.
Tory McPhail. Where had I heard that name?
When I ran a Google image search, and saw the familiar face, it came back to me.
I actually met and photographed Tory McPhail here in Canberra as part of the media team at the American Embassy a couple years ago. I even got to taste his famous Gumbo!
Ok, my first ever gumbo was served in a Styrofoam cup, but it was tasty
Oh my gosh, is that beignets? Do you mean to say that I was in the presence of beignets before I even knew what they were?
This is what I wrote about Tory’s gumbo back then: ‘My first taste of gumbo. Chicken and fresh mushroom gumbo to be exact. This phone-pic does not do it any kind of justice. I probably should have asked for someone to plate me up a nice bowl of it! 🙂 What did it taste like? Peppery but not over spiced, I could taste the ‘holy trinity’ of Cajun cooking (celery, onion and capsicum) in there. The mushrooms were plump and juicy, the chicken pieces- morsels of juicy spicy goodness This taste sensation was 3 days in the making. I was so thankful to have tasted it!’
and later this: ‘After hearing Tory talk with such passion about his state, Louisiana and about slow food, I am more determined than ever to go to New Orleans.’
Awww yay! The dream is coming true!
It will be Christmas season when we are in New Orleans, and it looks like the NOLA Christmas lights are just beautiful, there is even faux snow. We will check out Miracle on Fulton St.
Image via Barden Reality
and we will walk through City Park where hundreds of thousands of lights are hung from the massive oak trees for the Celebration in the Oaks.
Image via In the NOLA
Image by Douglas Brantley
Bayous and swamps. New Orleans is surrounded by beautiful mysterious swampland. I cannot wait to glide through a bayou beneath exotic plant life, looking around to see alligators, snakes, racoons. We will make a day of it and visit a plantation as well. Combining a swamp and plantation tour into a one day outing is kind to both our budget and our timeframe.
Image by Courtney Blacher
Plantation tour. Just out of New Orleans and close to the bayous there are several plantations that are open for visitors to visit and explore and be educated about that bygone but impactful era. Laura Plantation is the one we will probably visit. Over 200 years old, Laura is an old sugar plantation of over 12,000 acres with a sweeping history. It is a Creole plantation and while it doesn’t look like a traditional plantation, it has the most preserved buildings in the area and I have read some fantastic reviews of it.
Image via prcno.org
I want the gumbo, the kind with plenty of okra,
Image by JeffreyW
the grits with Shrimp,,
Image by Katie Webster
the jambalaya, (one pot rice dish)
Image via The Best Travel Places
the Christmas King Cake, the round brioche cake, decorated with Christmas colours like a wreath.
Image via Randazzo King Cake
Image via Parkway for Poor Boys
and to be able to discern the differences between Creole and Cajun cuisine.
So that is the bare bones of the NOLA itinerary. Walking, seeing, eating. Any tips are appreciated!