We arrived in New Orleans a couple weekends before Christmas. Before arriving, we decided to stay at a KOA just outside the city because we were not sure what the parking situation would be like in the city (once there we realized that stealth camping would have been easy) . We had a great time bicycling around, eating the famous food, listening to live music and making new friends in the Big Easy.
Our first morning at the KOA was bright and warm, so we decided to try biking into town. There is a bike lane on the top of the levy along the Mississippi river running the 15 miles from the campground to the city, making for a welcoming ride. While getting ready, we met our campground neighbors Helen and Ralph who were also preparing to bike on the levy on their own two Bromptons, so we set out on a four-Brompton ride. The following day Helen and Ralph had us over for coffee in their Airstream with another couple. We had a great time socializing with other travelers, and we may have a little envy for their roomy rig that is big enough to host a small party (and carry a coffee maker big enough to make coffee to share). They posted pictures of the social event on their own blog.
New Orleans is an artsy town, and some residents really know how to decorate. Houses were festive with decorations, and the French Quarter was full of tourists looking for souvenir gifts. We spent three days walking the French Quarter and surrounding area, and found the city to be very accessible – big enough and a popular enough tourist destination to be lively and fun, but small enough to not be overwhelming, and as a bonus, it is very bikable.
Throughout our trip, each time we have been in a city John has wanted to see live music, but somehow it has not worked out. Finally in New Orleans, we made it to see a band. John researched and decided that Preservation Hall is the best place to see music. The venue is a performance hall, so the focus is the music, unlike the bar atmosphere where people are there to drink and talk, not just listen. The band is called simply “Jazz Masters” and performs several times each night. The musicians are great at their craft, but the frequent performance schedule takes its toll. The musicians were visibly bored on stage, checking their watches and seeming not to even hear their colleagues’ solos. While the music was good, the lack of enjoyment on the part of the performers took away from the experience.