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Saturday, September 15, 2012

There is a House in New Orleans...

     Before travelling, I do a thorough research. So, when my mom and I got off the Louis Armstrong airport in New Orleans, I knew exactly that the taxi fare to French Quarter—the famous touristy place where we decided to stay—was $33. It is the most efficient way to get to French Quarter for two people, shuttle costs more and the bus, while being cheap, takes forever.
    In 20 minutes, we found ourselves in French Quarter, looking hungrily at everything, the way you absorb unknown place for the first time. We stayed at a historic hotel called St. Helene. Let this post be a little ad for their nice service. It looked all white and clean, very European (even had square pillows!).
    After we settled our stuff, we wandered around still- unfamiliar streets. We walked upon an oyster bar (sorry bar, I forgot your name) and though I am not a huge fan of any seafood, I really enjoyed Rockefeller oysters, with cheese and spinach. That was our first meal in Louisiana.
     It was also the first time we had to listen to locals. We are, after all, foreigners. Accents are tough to handle.However, our server was nice enough to repeat things to us, until we got it. He even asked if we were mother and daughter and how is that possible (my mom looks young).
     Now, we look a lot alike, except she is prettier. For three days over there, people kept stopping us and asking if we are twins, sisters, coming up to us in restaurants and complimenting how lovely we look and generally stroking our egos. It felt nice.  Not gonna lie.
     I would also like to add that people in New Orleans are very friendly (either hospitable locals or happy drunk tourists) and service is the best I’ve seen in the states.
    After snacking on oysters, we walked in French Quarter, looking at the old colonial buildings. Now, I can’t describe the beauty of cast-iron balconies, 200-year-old houses, street performers, smells, Jazz.  You have to experience it. Little streets look like a movie set for a historic film. If you ignore the skyscrapers in the background, mandatory for every downtown of every state capital, you actually forget where you are. It is America, but then it is not. It has uniqueness that is scraped off in so many other places by franchises, exactly the same suburbia, comfort over style…
     We had dinner in a historic restaurant, Antoine’s, which has been a restaurant for more than a hundred years and was a boarding house before that. The food was excellent (hence the price), but the place seemed a bit …people around us in dinner jackets and dresses… we also wore evening attire, but felt a bit uncomfortable anyway...still it feels special to dine in a restaurant with so much history.
     Afterwards, we went to listen to Jazz at a preservation hall (and this is why you have to research where you want to spend your evenings) and listened to wonderful, raw, energetic music. Certainly a must-do.
Finally, we walked and walked and walked, crossing Bourbon street and mixing with crowd, until we  decided to have a drink  in this interesting-looking cabin with candles lit inside. Later, we discovered that it was the oldest building in French Quarter, where pirates used to plan their  future activities. And the interior of the bar has been untouched since then.
    Pirates! Streets named after French kings! Jazz out of every bar! Where am I? How is this possible?
   Tired and happy we went back to our own house in New Orleans. For tomorrow we would sail on the great river of Mississippi…
P.S.the pic--this is what I mean by beautiful cast-iron balconies. They are everywhere. 

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