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20/05/2014: Romantic Times Convention 2014, New Orleans - Part 2

In between RT sessions, we all went out to explore the wonderful French Quarter of New Orleans, obviously an absolute must-see for anyone visiting the town.

For someone who loves history and old houses, it was a complete gold-mine! Street after street with old-fashioned houses, covered in wrought iron balconies, window shutters and hanging baskets. Ornate doorways and hidden courtyards, old paving stones worn smooth by thousands of feet, mimosa and acacia trees, intricate verandahs and porches… I couldn't stop taking pictures and here is a small selection - believe me, I have lots more!

Music - mostly in the form of various types of jazz - is of course very much a part of the New Orleans ambience. Not just in the bars and cafes, but on every street there were musicians and buskers and wherever you went, your feet were tapping. On one street corner a group of kids were doing proper tap-dancing (the youngest surely no older than three and such a sweetie!). A group of Christians sang out their messages on another, and late on Saturday night we came across a wedding party dancing their way down a street in the wake of a marching band - fascinating!

The local food had to be sampled and I did my best to try all the specialities - gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, crawfish cakes and even alligator. And the absolute favourite - beignets. I left the cocktails to others, but loved the names like 'Hurricane' and 'Blue Bayou' 🙂

Magic and voodoo featured hugely in all the shops, so a visit to one of the cemeteries became another must. We saw the grave of the supposed 'voodoo queen' and knocked on it three times (to gain her attention) before leaving an offering. The cemetery was a very evocative place, with some of the graves and monuments crumbling, while others were brand new. A lot of French names added a distinctly Southern flavour.

So many impressions crowd my mind - the heat and humidity, the Southern drawl sprinkled with "y'all" in every other sentence, the friendliness of everyone, the vibrant colours and insistent beat of the famous Bourbon Street at night, the beautiful street cars (trams), sparrows stealing crumbs at café tables, the paddle steamboat, crudely made voodoo dolls and Mardi Gras bead necklaces, Café du Monde… I think I might just have to go back in order to absorb it some more!

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