A french city in the USA ? That’s exactly what I asked myself when I was there in New Orleans (NOLA).
This french-founded city seems as if it’s always celebrating. The intoxicating sounds of indigenous jazz buzzing from every corner will remind you that it is indeed the hometown of Jazz.
Throughout the city you will notice the bright-colored victorian homes and business establishments. Most of the buildings have their own unique story stretching back hundreds of years. NOLA has stories of glory, pain and candid culture. And the best part is, all these are easily visible.
I started my trip from Plano(TX), so I-20 and then I-49 was my route. There’s not much to see or explore along the route and you will be travelling on mostly interstates, so no special precautions required. I managed to get a 63 mph average roundtrip with lots of stop overs.
As I merged into I-49, which is also the entry point to Louisiana, the surrounding changed drastically. Texas stretch was more yellowish while I-49 was through a green dense forest (at least it felt that way). That immediate change, just after crossing Texas border, was amazingly surprising to me.
However, let me warn you about the road bugs on I-49. May be because of the forest zone (or may be not) but the bugs seem to be enjoying this route as well. I had to take couple of breaks to clean the windshield. Car bumper and hood was protected as usual. How ? Check out my guide then.
Parking and City Tour
The city is small and congested with very narrow lanes. Parking is not easy as expected. There are many public parking spots but they are quite expensive. After much research, I found a spot which is conveniently located and reasonably priced. Here’s the google map link – Parking at New Orleans.
Evening is the best time for a city tour. I just started walking randomly on the streets, trust me you do not need a map there, every 100 ft there’s something waiting for you. Take a guided tour, if you are a history buff.
Jackson Square– The heart of New Orleans. Live music, art work on every corner and the amazing crowd glued me to this place for a while.
St. Louis Cathedral – Facing the Jackson square, the historic cathedral.
The Moonwalk Riverfront Park – When you need a break, this is the place you should be.
Bourbon St – If you are party guy, plan a good amount of time here. Just walk along the street until you find the right place. I think everyone preferred partying outside 🙂
Old Absinthe House – The historic bar serving unique absinthe cocktails. Don’t let the size of this place fool you, its pretty awesome.
NOLA experience is incomplete without haunted tours. It’s considered to be America’s most haunted city. Once the tour was over, and I was walking along the spooky streets, my weird imagination was dominating my mind. No, it’s not like the ghost tour of Universal Studios where humans dress up as ghosts. It’s the grim tales of the past which forces you to imagine it being haunted, with the ghosts inside tormenting the living.
There are several tour operators in New Orleans. However, I found “Free Tours by Foot” in TripAdvisor with decent reviews. They offer easy to use online booking and you pay to the guide at the end of the tour. The guide was knowledgeable and seems to love what she does, which is most important.
Around New Orleans
If you are in New Orleans, do not miss the drive on the world’s longest bridge, the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. I was so excited driving on this bridge that I drove both ways. It was a lifetime experience.
A short drive from New Orleans along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. A ferry will take you to a small island, Ship Island. The weather was pretty bad when I was there, so the ferry trip got cancelled. The island is isolated one with limited facilities, so be sure to check out their website for planning and necessary precautions.