Access New Orleans 4e (Access New Orleans, 4th ed)

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9780062772756: Access New Orleans 4e (Access New Orleans, 4th ed)

The 25 detailed neighborhood maps in this guide will help you immediately locate the hotels, restaurants, shops, and sight of New Orleans.

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About the Author:

Access Press is a team of writers from across the United States that travel frequently, and know what you want and need from a guidebook and what you don't like and don't need.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

ORIENTATION

Carved from a swamp and comfortably orientation settled a good ten feet below the water level of the Mississippi, New Orleans is a gorgeous mistake, a flawed paradise of wild culture, ambrosial food, and unpunished sin. On this inland archipelago, where even a funeral is an occasion for a parade, you'll find an excess of everything but parking spaces and moral indignation.

People in "The City that Care Forgot" learned long ago to take life one day at a time, though perhaps not in the manner of the 12-step programs. The blithe cynicism and institutionalized inactivity can mystify visitors accustomed to Yankee ideals and the Protestant work ethic. You can spot the newcomers on Bourbon Street, reeling and howling, relaxing as hard as they can. Natives take their pleasures more calmly, without a lot of fuss. Overindulgence is their birthright, along with Catholic absolution and a French-Spanish heritage that lets backsliders shrug it off and try again manana. Civilized pagans, genteel paupers, and amiable misanthropes who visit the city will fit right in. You'll also find ample evidence that God watches over fools and drunks-and looks the other way on Mardi Gras. Rules are made to be loosely interpreted, and everything your mother told you is wrong. Take candy from strangers. Don't sit up straight. Enough is not enough.

New Orleans has been called everything from the Paris of the Americas to the northernmost banana republic. To early French settlers, it was le flottant (the floating land), and Napoleon Bonaparte called it Ile d'Orleans. Dominated by water, the city is bordered on one side by the nation's grandest river and on the other by 610 square miles of Lake Pontchartrain. On average, residents live five feet below sea level and resign themselves to an annual rainfall greater than Seattle's. Historic neighborhoods that sprang up on isolated ridges of high ground remain connected by a system of bridges and ferries, and city streets follow the crazy bends of the Mississippi instead of a logical grid pattern.

Over the past 300 years, New Orleans has been battered by hurricanes, floods, and generations of laissez le bon temps rouler (let the good times roll) government. Between 1682 and 1803, the Louisiana Territory was transferred from France to Spain, then back to France, before being sold (20 days later) to the United States. It was one of history's most spectacular land flips, but the Louisiana Purchase could not buy blind allegiance from the insular Creoles, a distinctly Mediterranean society that took root long before les Americains hit town in 1803.

To this day, the multicultural Creole spirit resists Americanization, a fact most readily apparent in the complex flavors of the city's cuisine. The New Orleans pot has been stirred by French, Spanish, African, and Caribbean settlers, and spiced by the Irish, Italian, German, and Asian inunigrants who followed. Here fast food still means a sack of boiled crawfish or a crusty muffuletta, stacked with Italian meats and cheeses and dripping with chopped olive salad. Sophisticated Creole fare is sauteed in butter, simmered in rich bisques, or etouffeed into dark and garlicky stews. Jambalaya is a revved-up version of paella, and piquant redfish court bouillon is smothered in a Spanish-style melange of tormatoes, peppers, and onions. From Africa come yams, okra, and file gumbo, spiced with ground sassafras leaves. Even ham and cheese sandwiches are served on fresh French bread, unless you're crazy enough to specify "sliced."

Rollicking ethnic festivals fill New Orleans's calendar as well, led by Mardi Gras, which crowns a monthlong season of parades and masked balls. Then for two full-tilt weeks in April and May, the annual jazz and Heritage Festival crams the New Orleans Fair Grounds and clubs throughout town with a roundup of jazz, blues, R&B, rock, and gospel music. Meanwhile, smaller fests are scheduled nearly every weekend throughout Louisiana, and die-hard party I animals can bark around the clock on frenetic Bourbon Street in the French Quarter.

The other narrow streets of the French Quarter are dense with steep-roofed Creole cottages and majestic town houses laced with ironwork. But this 90-square-block living museum is above all a busy neighborhood where more than 7,000 permanent residents sleep, eat, work, and carouse. Many claim they seldom cross over into the real world, finding just about everything they need to sustain life-or shorten it-within walking distance. The Quarter's downtown boundaries are Faubourg Marigny (a 19th-century "suburb" with a 21st-century bohemian bent) and Treme (former site of the scandalous red-light district of Storyville, now home turf for a tight community of world-famous jazz musicians). Along the uptown border, the relatively recent Riverfront development has created a festive zone of steamboat docks, promenades, shopping centers, and tourist attractions (including the popular Aquarium of the Americas), extending through the French Quarter and Central Business District (CBD) to the modem arts colony of the Warehouse District. From here the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar rumbles past the architectural gems of the Garden District and the Uptown/University area to Audubon Park's first-class zoo. Roads less traveled lead to the historic racetrack and neighborhood bars ofMid City, the nautical calm of the Lakefront, and the funky eccentricity of the Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish.

Or if all that sounds like,it would take just too much energy, snag a sidewalk table at Cafe du Monde and watch the world pass by. After all, demain is another day.

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