Newest Review: ... of a passing through thing on my cross America adventure than a holiday. I stayed for three days and that was more than enough, the somewha... more
The Big Sleazy!
Sights & Attractions in New Orleans (USA)
Member Name: thedevilinme
Sights & Attractions in New Orleans (USA)
Advantages: Nice bridges
Disadvantages: Dodgy city
The Big Sleazy
Whereas Orlando is the most boring city in America (and possibly the whole world), New Orleans is certainly the most overrated, a rather seedy place with a dark underbelly of crime and corruption. It's yet another dirty US metropolis not that welcoming to families, a 'city break' here more likely to be your left fibula by the mugger than a safe long weekend of fun and frolics! The fact that graveyards are the most popular tourist attraction here away from Bourbon Street is all you need know about the place.
I went there before Hurricane Katrina gave it the full wash and tumble dry and if I'm honest its exactly what the city needed, the crime rate collapsing soon after the storm as thousands of poor American males from gang ridden ghettos were dispersed around America as part of the evacuation to try and bring down the cities damaging crime wave, especially towards those tourists, at that time the Big Easy being regularly named as Americas most dangerous city. If you do chose to visit here then listen to local advice on where not to go as you can be just two blocks away from disaster, as I nearly found out. Sadly there are a lot of bad areas in the Big Sleazy and the safe zones are well spread out, a bit of the Johannesburg about it. Its also one of five big American cities to start to see a population collapse, 27% less people living there than before Katrina, now matching Detroit as a failing city.
My visit was well before Katrina and it was more of a passing through thing on my cross America adventure than a holiday. I stayed for three days and that was more than enough, the somewhat tacky Bourbon Street and the Mississippi Riverside the main tourist's areas. The French Quarter is certainly different with all its Cajun flavours, languages and voodoo shops but the whole thing feels forced and not a reflection of the cities real soul, which is rhythm and blues music.
The tourists flock to Bourbon Street (why we are all here) and wander down the street with a white plastic cup full of booze trying to look happy and entertained, grubby jazz and blues buskers everywhere to embellish that seedy feel or pull a blade on you if you drift off the strip. The big night-time venue is the 'House of Blues', where the music and ambience is much better, but the punters looking and feeling like a Vegas crowd, obese Americans in XXXL shorts bouncing around strangely dressed Germans from belly to belly, big men guzzling big beer and talking loudly with great enthusiasm. It is not like those sexy Bacardi adverts that were shot at this venue that's for sure!
Most people go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras in early spring to party and the city also holds the biggest gay parade outside of New York and San Francisco on top of that, the city appearing to be very tolerant to those alternative lifestyles. But it's a place that always makes you feel uneasy at night and one you want to get out of fast as it fails to grab you as it should. I remember arriving in the city at one in the morning and just one wrong turn on the map and it felt like we were going to meet Huggy Bear. Picture the scene of rusty old Lincoln Continentals and pimps on every corner selling God knows what. Driving a shiny hire car into a place like this was like being a chocolate cake on Russell Grants plate. We were lucky to get out of there in one piece. I think Jeremy Clarkson and the boys had similar issues when they went there on Top Gear.
The old houses with their familiar iron verandas and white wooden pillars from all those old American movies are nice to visit or glimpse from the air-conditioned car but still no real iconic building there, apart from the infamous school where the first black children mixed with whites in the Deep South back in the 1960s to start breaking down the racial barriers. An airboat ride on the bayous to see the caiman and wildlife is fun and the old trams that rattle there way around the suburbs are also worth your time but apart from that the city is just big, unfriendly and boring. I'm sure I missed some great things to do but the way it was sign-posted and sectioned for tourists I don't think it really wants people here other than the adult party goers. I remember killing time by trying to visit the Superdome, the home of the cities gridiron team, only to be told by a surely security guy that it would cost $10 for a guided tour. The New Orleans Saints, of course, would go on to win the Super Bowl not 10 months after the city was decimated by Katrina.
The most entertaining thing about New Orleans for me was the journey out, Lake Pontchartrain, a huge fresh water expanse to the north of the city offering the world's longest continuous road bridge at 24 miles if you want to leave the city that way. It's well worth the four buck toll. When you get half-way across you cant see land either direction. It's weird. Make sure you wear your seat belt though as the cops wait at that half-way to ambush tourists to handout tickets for all manner infringements not needed for driving a dead straight-line. The New Orleans Sherriff that pulled us was ready to shoot us for such a heinous crime of not wearing a belt!
It was a very American vanity engineering project and only saves you about twenty minutes on your journey from driving around the side of the lake. Some 45,000 cars a year use it at $4 a head so a real earner, its original $24 million dollar cost back in 1969 fully recouped, the only purpose of the bridge for me. It was this lake that was designed to collect flood water in case of a level 4-5 category storm threatened to flood New Orleans but, rather ironically, Katrina's eye passed right over the top of Lake Pontchartrian at its most intense and so the storms low pressure centre lifting the water level by 8ft, dumping it over the levees and flooding 80% of the city. China, the new America, have just beaten the bridge record with the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge, coming in at 26.4 miles, this a span style construction that does pass over land so not officially covering as much water as the above. In fact I'm sure the Far East will break all of America's biggest and boldest construction records by 2020.
Summary: Get drunk and laid place
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