New Orleans As Seen Through the Eyes of Marina Villatoro
A mother of two and the CEO of The Travel Experta, Marina already had her hands full. But a trip to New Orleans- the land of Jazz, Mardi Gras and Voodoo was hard to postpone.
So she prepped her kids and packed her bags to head straight to the Big Easy. A look at fellow travellers who were travelling with their kids was a relief- a warm welcome for a splendid experience. Having visited the vibrant city of exuberant nightlife twice before, this time was a first with her gorgeous children.
New Orleans is one of the most child-friendly places on the planet quotes Marina, surprised by the places in the city where the children could run around safely. The city however, did not give her enough time to ponder on that thought - what with all the street artists enough to provide an entertainment of a lifetime!
So the trio headed to the famous Jackson Square- a rare mlange of artists consisting of musicians, painters, psychics, tarot-card readers and other creative brains like the Transformer Man- every childs dream come true. When Brandon and Keanu, Marinas 10 and 4 year old sons, were drawing swords from a magicians mouth or looking awe-struck at another magician performing cool hand tricks, Marina knew this place would create magical moments!
How else do you define life?
The nearby French Market with its open-door shops was a treat for the trio- flooded with jewelry, clothes and the curiously named eatery stall- gator on a stick. A must if you visit the city and are in the mood for buying trinkets!
A serene walk along the riverfront of the Mississippi River or the Old Man River, led the trio to Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium. The Bug Buffet at the Insectarium, even though sets many kids into a constant No word-loop, was a delight for the children! Mommy, can I try some exclaimed Keanu when he saw his elder brother enjoying their signature insect recipes. The eggnog with wax-worms and chocolate with roasted crickets were a popular favorite.
The Swamp- a place where you can see the croc and tortoise version of the children (Keanu and Brandon wearing the crocodile skeleton and tortoise shell) added to the learning experience. The swamp also gave the trio a hands-on experience with almost 2 feet long alligators! Holding them with their bare hands was a proud memory indeed!
If you are travelling with kids you have to plan your sightseeing places according to their interests. However, the next stop -Mardi Gras World, was a no brainer for everyone!
This is a must do. No matter what the age. No matter how limited you are on time. This place is incredible. Not only do you get to see all the cool floats and how its being done right in front of you, you get to learn all about the Mardi Gras festival and cultural importance of New Orleans. is Marinas advice on the one place you should see in New Orleans with your kids.
The next stop- Storyland, located on the lush greens of the city park, consists of thrilling rides for children. The kids rode a century old Carousel that still functions, all the while posing for the camera!
The mysterious Voodoo culture is a synonym with New Orleans. Even though most kids would be scared of the word itself, Brandon and Keanu were game for it. I couldnt resist this tour. Voodoo is such a huge component of the New Orleans culture and history. is Marinas reply. Visiting the tomb of the famous Marie Laveau, was definitely a huge tick on Marinas Bucket list! The Cemetary tour ended with everyone making their own voodoo doll (a fun time for the kids) which were blessed by the tour guide Mary.
New Orleans is known for its kid-friendly food joints with a fascinating history. The food is lip-smacking good and complete value for money. The trio tried a number of food hotspots around the city.
The Caf Du Monde- the Beignets and Caf au lait Mecca, couldnt help but charm Marina, Brandon and Keanu! The children loved the sugary goodness at the caf and wiped that plate right away with only a few bits left for Marina to finish off.
Another favorite of the trio was Dat Dog- a vibrant place offering a modern twist on the traditional Hot Dog! While Brandon devoured the classic alligator hotdog, Marina and Keanu enjoyed the mouthwatering French Fries varieties.
The next food-favorite was Johnnys Po Boys- a classic New Orleanss Spin on the Subway. A Po Boy here was enough to recharge the boys while the proud mama could unwind and take in the beauty and the characteristic vibe of the city.
New Orleans is truly a melting pot of rich cultures, good old Jazz music, scrumptious food, splendid sightseeing, interesting people and spell-binding entertainment! On a concluding note Marina adds What was truly surprising was the amount of great things to do with the kids. None of which involve drinking and partying
A true example of how a traveler always remains a free spirit, Marina is an inspiration in herself. An intervention to all Mothers out there who have hidden their dream itineraries- get that empty suitcase out and embrace the world with your kids by your side!