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Zebra and Wildebeest Tours


I Took My Love to New Orleans

Kelly Peckham is a freelance television producer based in Toronto, Canada. When she's not travelling with her work, she's goes in search of adventure around the world. To Kelly, New Orleans was the most exotic place she could think of visiting in the United States. She writes...

In May, I took my boyfriend to New Orleans as a treat for his birthday. Spicy seafood. Icy drinks. Hot jazz. Sizzling temperatures. Just perfect for what I wanted! It was our first trip away so we both packed some sexy new lingerie and headed to Louisiana.

Our tryst began on Bourbon Street...

He and I began our tryst on the infamous Bourbon Street. Even in the daylight hours, this French Quarter phenomenon has an energy fueled in part by the frosted margaritas everyone mistakenly inhales to combat the hot, hot, hot temperatures. The first afternoon there we needed no prompting to retire for an afternoon siesta. We absolutely needed the air conditioning and a chance to sleep off the first round of Pat O'Brien's legendary Hurricanes -- a drink that has become synonymous with good times in the French Quarter. These drinks pack quite a punch. We didn't do "that" again!

We cook Cajun...

Each day we wandered for miles through the city always seeking out the ideal adventure for couples. At the top of our list was sharing a lesson at the Cookin' Cajun Cooking School. Our instructor, Chef Bang, was talented, local, and hilarious. We laughed our way through some excellent instruction on the secrets of the great food we'd been eating. This was demonstration cooking, but we looked forward to getting home and experimenting with the recipes ourselves. To further our education, we dropped in to Bookstar (411 N. Peters Street) to pick up some locally written, regional cookbooks. (Tel:1-800 -786-0941)

Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Princess...

Tours are also big in New Orleans, and the Historic New Orleans Walking Tours company (Tel: 947-2120) offers some of the best. On the cemetery/voodoo tour, you learn about slave history, the birth of jazz and the area's signature burial style (absolutely fascinating!) You also visit a Voodoo temple as well as the tomb of the legendary Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Princess. P.S. I'd been advised to stick with organized tours of the cemeteries. They have become the favorite place for local thugs to mug tourists wandering unescorted.

And of course, the Garden District with its beautiful streets and plantation-style houses is an essential experience. This is truly the south. It evokes images of Anne Rice's novels, even as you walk past the author's own home. Our guide was a former police officer, and found it necessary to embellish his tour with every gross murder scene he'd ever investigated in the area. But we figured it was just extra bang for the buck, so to speak.

We eat and flirt...

Every evening we started with dinner at one of the dozens of exceptional restaurants in the French Quarter. Here's a rundown of our culinary tour; places we loved and one that we won't recommend.

Alex Patout's: is a wonderful newer restaurant off the beaten track. They emphasize traditional New Orleans cooking and it's a great place to try your first shrimp etouffée or their incredible seafood pasta. It had an intimate atmosphere and the waiters were absent until required, giving us an opportunity to flirt and talk and talk and talk about matters of the heart.

Arnaud's: A New Orleans tradition, but more expensive and less impressive. We found signature dishes such as the Shrimp Arnaud underwhelming, and went out to a cafe afterward because the portions were so small our stomachs were rumbling an hour later.

The Gumbo Shop: This laid-back place is hopping! And it's easy to see why. Traditional dishes are generous, delicious, reasonably priced, and you don't have to get dressed up to eat before a night on the town. Because it's that good, be prepared for lineups ladies. (630 St. Peter Street).

Our other must-do food experience was breakfast at Brennan's. It's one of the best treats you could give yourself in New Orleans. Breakfast is $35 per person for the Prix Fixe menu, but worth every decadent bite. Starters like the Southern Baked Apple with Double Cream only perk up your taste buds to experience savory entrees like Shrimp Sardou or Eggs Shannon, poached eggs with trout on a bed of creamed spinach. Top it off with the restaurant's signature Bananas Foster, a dessert they created which is now served in the best restaurants around the world (sliced bananas doused in rum and banana liqueur -- add brown sugar and flambé). It's mind blowing. (417 Royal St).

We move to the music...

In the evenings, we wandered through the main streets and were touched by music at every corner. In this town visitors can enjoy real top quality street performances -- just keep your pocket full of dollar bills to show your appreciation. Have a chilled drink at outside cafes where musicians fill the air with Dixieland jazz played for tips. Or hit Bourbon Street with the crowds. The bars each break their sets at about the same time. This means the audience can pick up its' drinks (there are no laws against open liquor on the street) and move to the next bar between breaks, taking in 4 or 5 kinds of music in a single evening. You'll want to washboard with the zydeco bands, sway to rhythm and blues, and hear incredibly good jazz played the way it was meant to be played.

P.S. Here's an extra little tidbit. Music fans will really appreciate the website called where you'll find everything you ever wanted to know about Louisiana music.

Our wonderful New Orleans discovery...




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