From the mansions of the Garden District to the vibrancy of the French Quarter or the tranquillity of the mighty Mississippi as she flows, New Orleans is a city like no other. The atmosphere is welcoming in a mystical kind of way. The residents are friendly and helpful and the overwhelming sense of pride in their city is evident. They are different, and that's how they like to be. No matter what time of year you rock up, there will be celebrations of sorts in full swing. Anything and everything from outdoor rock concerts to mardi gras, to food and jazz festivals. Anyone is welcome as long as you are willing to join in the fun. And they love their sport, in particular NFL. You will see the fleur-de-lis wherever you go. It is the logo that has been adopted by the new Orleans Saints as well as maintaining its traditional symbolism of French royalty.
Even if you are not the greatest fan of jazz, you will still find yourself whistling tunes after immersing yourself in a night out on the world famous Bourbon street. The music, much like the alcohol flows happily and freely through the streets of the French Quarter.
It's easy to get around each district as the transport systems run smoothly for the most part. Buses are readily available, as are taxis. However, if you want to get a feel of the New Orleans of old, you will find streetcars in and around Canal street. If time permits, board the Steamboat Natchez for a meal as she cruises along the Mississippi River, or hop in a cart in Decatur street where the horses and mules wait in front of the impressive architecture of the St Louis Cathedral to chauffeur you around.
The French Quarter was mostly spared from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, however some of the lower lying districts of the city had to be rebuilt from the ground up. There are tours that will take you to the most affected areas and inform you of the struggles of the residents while showing the true resilience of the New Orleans spirit. Summer is the hurricane season, however few images conjure up the essence of the Crescent City better than outdoor dining in the humid summer nights, sampling the famous deep south delights. Later in the evening the resident gypsies congregate in Jackson Square, lighting candles and laying out tarot cards. For a small fee they will tell you your future, while others will intrigue you with tales and traditions of voodoo or the more morbid stories of vampires who used to roam the city.
New Orleans is city full of mystery, and the residents are proud of their unique lifestyle. However, what makes it so beautiful and mysterious is anyone's guess. The residents know, but they'll never tell.