Good times in the Big Easy...
Party lovers will be all too familiar with New Orleans, or N'Awlins as it is sometimes affectionately known. There's drinking in the streets, the bars never close, music is everywhere and the regional cuisine is called soul food for good reason.
Yet its eventful history means there's much more to New Orleans than its main tourist draws. Mostly thanks to its unique mix of nationalities in the same port town, it's full of customs and traditions that single it out from other famous destinations.
So if the parades, wonderful Creole cuisine and jazz bars aren't enough to convince you of a visit, here are the Flexicover team five aspects to hint at what's on offer in the Crescent City.
The dead are buried over ground
Early settlers tried the usual way, but the high water table meant that after floods, coffins would pop above the surface which was far from ideal. Using a Spanish tradition, they used family vaults which helpfully acted like a furnace in the New Orleans heat. As such, the dead are a visible part of the city's history, proved by their famous cemeteries. A guided tour of St Louis Cemetery No 1 shows their atypical burying habits and also takes in Nicholas Cage's future burial plot, plus the rumoured tomb of America's most famous voodoo queen Marie Laveau.
Poker was invented here
Of all the inventions New Orleans gave us - including the Hurricane cocktail, dental floss and even Venetian blinds - its most popular is the game of poker. With many riverboats stopping in New Orleans, a way to pass the time was needed so around the 1830s the first version of poker was formed. Craps, too, was invented here and its gaming history is now celebrated (along with many a win) in Harrah's, the famed casino and hotel. The only land-based casino allowed under Mississippi law, it takes a prime location at the foot of Canal Street.
It's nicknamed Hollywood South for good reason
Though the film industry's beating heart is 2,000 miles away in California, New Orleans is a blessing for movie makers depicting the Southern states. 12 Years a Slave, The Big Easy and Dallas Buyer's Club were filmed here for starters. To replicate Hollywood further, it's home to some of Hollywood's finest: Susan Sarandon, Angelina Jolie and John Goodman all have residences, many of which are pointed out in a walking tour of the tree-lined streets of the Garden District.
Louisiana has an official state doughnut
While the countries of the UK are happy with their national saints and national flowers, you may not know that the state of Louisiana goes one further and has an official state doughnut. What won't be a surprise to those who've visited New Orleans is that it's the beignet, a choux-pastry doughnut dusted in delicious powdered sugar. The largest line for these famous treats is outside Cafe du Monde, which is open 24 hours a day to cope with demand. But further in the depths of the French Quarter, Cafe Beignet is ever-popular for its namesake item, or pick one up at the Morning Call Coffee Stand in City Park. If you can't get enough, beignet mixes are sold in supermarkets, so keep space in your luggage to enjoy them at home too.
North and south have little meaning
While visitors staying in the grid-like French Quarter won't have any problem in navigating their way to the unofficial centre of Jackson Square, those venturing further afield should pay special attention to directions. Because the Mississippi River snakes up and down the city, dividing it into off-compass directions, you'll quickly find north and south aren't helpful terms. Instead, you'll hear places described as 'lakeside' (referring to either towards Lake Pontchartrain, roughly north) or 'riverside' (referring to the Mississippi...which is...downwards). Just another oddity of this very special place.
Whether you feel inspired to head to the deep south of the USA or to holiday a little closer to home this year it’s good to know that Flexicover
are committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure 24 hours a day when away.
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