New Orleans is often called the northernmost city in the Caribbean. It is located on the banks of the Mississippi River and close to the Gulf of Mexico. Part of the city is below sea level, which means that the city has huge embankments and powerful pumps to protect it against vast amounts of water. However, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was too strong and big for the barriers and the flooding and rampage through New Orleans resulted in reducing the population by almost half.
The main attraction in New Orleans is "The French Quarter". It is the oldest part of New Orleans; the houses are typical of a long distant era and tell so many tales. The French Quarter is famous for its many myths and ghost stories. The houses are known for their fantastic architecture with beautiful balconies that are often decorated following the seasons or festivities.
The busiest and most exciting time in New Orleans is around Mardi Gras in February or March. Visitors flock to Bourbon Street, the main street, where people try to catch the famous pearl necklaces thrown by the "balcony girls". The party goes on day and night and the festival climaxes with parades all over New Orleans and the state of Louisiana.
The French Quarter is great for all types of shopping, there are many small specialist boutiques, and you can find everything from art and activity shops to clothing and souvenirs.
There are lots of city tours available in New Orleans; an unusual choice would be to try one of the haunted tours. It's an historic tour through the French Quarter, a guide will tell colourful stories about the famous buildings in the area, the tours are held after dark, which of course adds to the thrill…….If you like alligators then another tour is in a swamp tour, and if you are looking for the good old river atmosphere there are boat trips on the Mississippi River - try one of the old steam boats. Then there is also the Voodoo tours, this is not for the faint hearted!
Food for the soul, the kitchen of New Orleans is either Creole or Cajun. For really authentic cuisine try the Gumbo or Jambalaya, and after something sweet try a beignet, a French Quarter doughnut with a cup of coffee, or for a snack try a Muffuletta, which is a speciality sandwich from Louisiana. There is something for everyone, and the French Quarter is packed with all sorts of restaurants and cafés serving every type of food.
New Orleans is also known for its Hurricane - and we are not talking about the severe storms hitting the Gulf of Mexico now and then. A Hurricane is a well-known cocktail that was created in New Orleans The creation of this passion fruit-coloured drink is credited to New Orleans tavern-owner Pat O'Brien. In the 1940s, he needed to get rid of all of the rum that local distributors forced him to buy before he could eventually get a few cases of other spirits. He poured the concoction into hurricane-lamp-shaped glasses and gave it away to sailors. The drink caught on, and it has been a classic in the French Quarter ever since. You can still order a Hurricane at Pat O'Brian's... this is a must when you visit New Orleans! Something else that you cannot miss in New Orleans is the music, regardless what day of the week it is or where you are, there is always a club or bar with live music. Jazz is the main source of music and Louis Armstrong one of the greatest jazz legends comes from New Orleans, and you will find a number of clubs playing just his music.
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