“On the 29th August 2005 Hurricane Katrina caused severe destruction as it hit New Orleans. Five years on, although many areas are still devastated by the storm, things are finally beginning to look up for ‘The city that care forgot’. I therefore wanted to bring back to the forefront of our minds why this vibrant, colourful hotspot (115 degrees Fahrenheit at most) is still without a doubt a gem of the Deep South.
The cosmopolitan French Quarter is a neighbourhood situated in the heart of New Orleans. Each building is beautifully designed with the French and Spanish influenced architecture common in downtown Orleans. The area grips you with its warm colours and the sounds of soothing Jazz music played on every street corner. As the Mississippi river winds south of the city it releases a small breeze that gives a soothing rest bite to those of us more acclimatized to torrential downpours than the swelling heat of the Deep South. Jackson Square, the bustling centre of the French Quarter gathers pace with street artists, performers and brass bands, all with the great ease that only New Orleans can pull off as a horse drawn carriage gently meanders past.
Travelers old and young frequent New Orleans to forget their own woes, to let loose, and music is certainly what brings this vibrant city to life. All visitors are welcomed to join in the year long festivities including Jazz Fest, Voodoo fest and the ever popular Mardi Gras. During carnival season ‘The Big Easy’ shines with the traditional Mardi Gras colours of Purple- Justice, Gold- Power and Green-Faith. Multi-coloured beads are thrown from extravagantly decorated floats, each one individually crafted to a theme from Zulu to Bakaas (the dog parade no less.) Each parade dances to the wonderful sound of the infamous Second Line band marching in between every float. There is no such thing as a stranger here, only family, friends and visiting friends. The ‘Nawlins’ people certainly make this city what it is today.
During my stay the New Orleans Saints won the Super bowl (Our equivalent of England winning the World Cup) with the support of not only a state but an entire nation. America duly noticed that this was not merely a sporting comeback but a personal comeback for the people of New Orleans. The depth and courage of each player was echoed on the faces of their supporters. During Hurricane Katrina tens of thousands of residents made their way to the superdome for shelter from the storm and now, five years on the same dome was lit up in the Saints colours of black and gold. The streets were buzzing with the chants of ‘Who Dat!’ to celebrate their first ever win of the 44th annual Super bowl. They were back!
This unique city certainly has to be experienced to be believed, and I sincerely hope that many others will follow in my footsteps and visit one of America’s (and my) favourite cities.