After a long 16hour flight from South Africa(SA) to the United States (US) and spending another 7hours in transit to catch a 3hour30m connecting flight from New York (NY) to New Orleans (NO), I finally arrived in the Big Easy to meet up with my family to start our two week family holiday in the US.
I was welcomed by the most friendly driver, Michael. En route to the hotel, we spoke American politics (He says they are still in shock that Trump is president), we spoke about the importance of travelling (He works hard so he can travel the world, visiting SA is on his bucket list) and he gave me some insights of New Orleans and the must-see things.
The 1st thing that I did see that you cannot miss was the Mercedes-Benz Superdome – a domed sports and exhibition venue. The venue has hosted numerous historical events. According to wikipedia, it has listed football seating capacity of 76,468 (expanded) or 73,208 (not expanded) and a maximum basketball seating capacity of 73,432.
The superdome gained international attention in 2005 when it housed thousands of people seeking shelter from Hurricane Katrina.
New Orleans is one of those cities that offer so much that if you don’t have an idea or plan on what you want to see, you will get confused.
One thing that I can tell you is that New Orleans does have round-the-clock nightlife and vibrant live-music scene. The city is also famous for its cuisine and is often referred to as the “most unique” in the United States.
With less that 48hours in the City, we were lucky to get a tour guide that was knowledgeable and knew the city well. We spent the day with John, he took via the tourist route but he added a local feel to it so we got to see and experience New Orleans from a different perspective.
- Our tour highlights – Bourbon Street (which was under construction) but known for its bars and strip clubs, the history of the street provides a rich insight into New Orleans’ past.
- Aquarium of the Americas — St Louise Cathedral —– Jacksons Square —- Café du Monte — French Market —- Lake Pontchartrain — La Fayette Cemetery — Magazine Street
- We drove around the French Quarter and went past the Cornstalk hotel (the most photographed hotel) on Royal Street and other places of interest.
- We then took a drive down Esplanade Street – a scenic and historic street. We went past the Pitot House, the only Creole colonial country house that the public can access. Sadly we missed out on the tour.
- We took a detour past some residential neighbourhoods – Lakeview, Lakeshore, Garden District and Audibon Palace. John gave us a local insights on Katrina and the devastation it caused. He took us to his neighbourhood and showed us empty lots where houses used to be.
- One of the tours that I found strange in was the cemetery tours (I know, it’s a very strange and morbid) but these tours are popular. The reason why this is a major thing to do is because the city is built on a swamp -the only city built below sea level. The deceased have to be buried above ground in elaborate stone crypts and mausoleums. These above ground cemeteries are often referred to as ‘City of the Dead’.
- Saint Louis No. 1 is the oldest and most famous, we visited the Metairaie Cemetery which has the largest collection of elaborate marble tombs and funeral statuary. The construction of these elaborate final resting places can start from $90 000 and reach $500 000 and they have a ‘Millionaire’s Row’ for all the rich and famous people. I thought we (African people) spent money on funerals.
Places I would have loved to spend some time at had we had a full day 2 were:-
- Would have liked to see tour the Pitot House, go to New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) and visit the sculpture park, visit the Mardi Gras World and eat at Commanders Place Restaurant which comes highly recommended.
Where we stayed
We stayed at the Ritz Carlton which is located on Canal Street a major thoroughfare, forming the upriver boundary of the city’s oldest neighbourhood, the French Quarter which served historically as the dividing line between the colonial-era (18th-century) city and the newer American Sector, today’s Central Business District. Great hotel that has everything you need when travelling.
Decent size rooms which include a fully-stocked minibar and an iPod docking station. Cable TV and a spacious work desk. A private bathroom with bathrobes, slippers and toiletries. My only criticism is that shower/bath situation with a curtain, I’m not a fan. I prefer a stand-alone shower.
The hotel has 24-hour room service, a complimentary overnight shoeshine service, and overnight laundry service.
Hotel Amenities & Services
- Indoor Pool
- Meeting and Events venues
- Fitness center with cardiovascular and strength-training equipment
- A spa with 22 treatment rooms A gym and SPA
- Concierge Service
- ATM Machine on site
- M bistro serves authentic New Orleans cuisine. Is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- The Davenport Lounge offers afternoon tea and evening cocktails. Serves lunch and dinner. Live jazz is played in the Lounge on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings.
The hotel also has a kids club, I find this service extremely beneficial to parents travelling with their little ones.
Staff were friendly and service was great, we did have a minor issue, one of the rooms was not cleaned. They made the bed but did not clear dirty cutlery and serviettes from our previous dinner in the room.
I did like the welcome towel area at reception that was setup every morning. Its always the little that guests appreciate and remember with hotels.
The experience and being in New Orleans was incredible. I was lucky to capture one of the thee most beautiful sunsets. #GoldenHour
With all the problems that they have, the people that we met were happy and truly grateful for having survived and lived through Katrina.
As I’m writing this blog post, today (29 August) marks the 12 year anniversary of Katrina. Today New Orleans is bracing themselves for heavy rains from Hurricane Harvey. I do hope they survive the weather.
Till next blog, happy Travel Tuesday.