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Sunday, December 25, 2016

TRAVEL SPECIAL..... NEW ORLEANS: THE BIG EASY FOR ALL BUDGETS

NEW ORLEANS: THE BIG EASY FOR ALL BUDGETS
A melting pot of culture, cuisine and curious sights, this soulful southern city is a treat for all the senses

1 Hotels
Blow-out: Occupying a pleasantly quiet corner of the French Quarter, the W New Orleans pays tribute to the city’s jazz heritage in its room design, while the cabana-lined swimming pool brings a touch of the French Riviera with its wrought iron gates and overgrown foliage. Plump for a Fantastic Suite for a private balcony and a separate living room area.
Budget: American author Charles Bukowski long ago stayed above local watering hole the R Bar at the 
Royal Street Inn (pictured) – there was once even a suite named after him. These days the inn provides bohemian digs, still at fair prices.

2 Restaurants
Blow-out: In the wilds of Bourbon Street, Restaurant R’evolution hosts an exclusive wine room, plus a luxurious suite of dining rooms serving a Creole fusion of foods from the many nations that have contributed to New Orleans’ history, from rotisserie pheasant with rice dressing and pea-shoot succotash ($33) to panĂ©ed veal chop topped with warm crab-meat salad and truffle aioli ($68).
Budget: For 70 years, low-key 
Felix’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar has served the French Quarter’s freshest raw bivalves and other Gulf South treats. Lacking any gimmick, Felix’s instead focuses on taste and freshness with its boiled, grilled and fried seafood – extra points for friendly southern banter with experienced oyster shuckers.

3 Nightlife
Blow-out: Every night is different at Eiffel Society  an iconic Lower Garden District venue built from pieces of a restaurant that was once perched atop the actual Eiffel Tower. The restaurant complements the St Charles Avenue streetcar line outside its windows with an ever-rotating display of art as fancy as Eiffel’s original drinks and savoury tapas plates.
Budget: 
Saturn Bar seems barely held together by the yellowed photos taped to its walls. Original paintings and murals by various neighbourhood legends call out behind video poker machines and fine examples of small-game taxidermy. The bar regularly hosts local and touring rock bands, and DJ nights that guarantee to get everyone on the dancefloor.

4 Shopping
Blow-out: Royal Street is known for its fine antique shops, which sell rare items once owned by royalty, so be prepared to spend. M. S. Rau Antiques  has specialised in jewellery, vases and chandeliers for more than 100 years, and for five generations James H. Cohen and Sons has offered a dizzying array of collectable guns, coins, swords and ancient maps.
Budget: You’ll struggle to find chain stores in New Orleans, especially on the vintage boutique haven that is Magazine Street. Seek out 
Miss Claudia’s Vintage Clothing & CostumesTrashy Diva and Funky Monkey, all providing wigs and costumes along with cutting-edge retro clothing and accessories.

5 Music
Blow-out: On happening Frenchmen Street, tickets for Snug Harbor’s top-notch modern jazz shows, featuring the likes of trumpeter Nicholas Payton or any of the many talented Marsalis family members, usually sell for around $25. Need feeding? Snug’s kitchen offers crab cakes and shrimp remoulade, with lovingly made New Orleans cocktails at the bar.
Budget: For 30 years, the gold-and-glass 
Sweet Lorraine’s Jazz Club has booked some of the city’s biggest jazz artistes for the smallest of cover charges, with a huge, reasonably priced menu of homemade jambalaya, catfish platters and other South Louisiana staples on the line-up too.

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