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Jazz up Life in the Big Easy

new-orleansTake it from me, you should never consider going to New Orleans for a rest. Our trip to New Orleans wasn’t a vacation; it was a fun-filled action-packed adventure from start to finish. From Louis Armstrong Park to the Mississippi River, the French Quarter is simply packed with fine food, music, and entertainment. Much of the entertainment is not from professional entertainers; it’s found by simply watching the people, especially in the evening when the night life defines the area.

We happened to visit at a time when the Big Easy was in the midst of one of its several jazz festivals. Each day, different jazz ensembles would play in Jackson Square in front of the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral. Jackson square is really the social center of the city during the day. Mimes and living statues provide mesmerizing entertainment. Caricaturists, portrait painters, and sketch artists abound around the perimeter of the square to formalize a memory of your visit for a reasonable, often negotiable, cost. Horse drawn carriage tours start from the river side of the park, and they are well worth the cost. With about one hour invested in a carriage tour, we became imbued with a feeling for New Orleans architecture and lifestyle.

We were fortunate enough to have great weather throughout our entire visit. One entire day was spent on a Mississippi Riverboat; a magnificent rear paddle wheel boat on which we took a tour down river to the site of the great Battle of New Orleans. Walking over the still pristine battlefield where Andy Jackson fended off the British was quite an experience for a history buff like me. The paddle wheeler itself was a marvel, with its excellent restaurant. Neither my wife nor I left the boat hungry.

But, then there is never any reason to be hungry for a moment in New Orleans. Restaurants lie next to other restaurants all around and emanating out from Jackson Square. Emeril, of Food Network fame, has several fine restaurants in the area. The Café du Monde, famous for its café au lait and beignets is just a few quick minutes walk from the center of Jackson Square. Jimmy Buffet’s original Margaritaville Restaurant is nearby.

We stayed for a full week at a fine hotel on the edge of the French Quarter. The city never sleeps. Each morning my wife and I would leave the hotel at sunrise and walk toward Jackson Square, having breakfast along the way. Each day, the square would be the center from which we would launch our day’s adventure, and each day was full.

Some true vacations are a time for relaxation and recharging your batteries for a return to the routine of life. Not so with our trip to New Orleans. We slept most of the way home on the return flight. Although we returned home nearly exhausted, we will always remember our New Orleans visit as an exciting experience.

© 2010 Pat Travels the World