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New Orleans, Louisiana 

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French Quarter, New Orleans

The Crescent City. The Big Easy. Whatever you call it, New Orleans has become one of the most popular cities in the South and it continues to be a must-see destination for dialysis patients. And with a dozen DaVita® dialysis centers in the surrounding area, you can take care of your health while exploring the culture, sounds and attractions that make up New Orleans.

The French Quarter and Bourbon Street

The French Quarter is a historically rich area where travelers can marvel at 270-year-old homes with wrought iron balconies and grand gardens. At the turn of the 19th century, jazz was born here from black and Creole settlers. The distinctive sound has filled the streets of New Orleans since then, and has become well known around the world.

Bourbon Street boasts some of the best bars and eateries in the city. Visit Preservation Hall (504-522-2841), a musical venue developed “to protect and honor New Orleans jazz.” All ages are welcome and it even hosts an educational program for children 9-15.

The motto at the Old Absinthe House (504-523-3181 or 504-523-0103) is, “Everyone you have known or ever will know eventually ends up at the Old Absinthe House.” This could be true: look carefully at the calling cards pinned to the walls and you may see a name you recognize. Located on the corner of Rue Bourbon and Rue Bienville, it was established in 1807 as a grocery store of sorts and has become a place where ordering old-fashioned cocktails is a thing of the present. Although those on a kidney diet must limit fluids and alcohol, pop into the Old Absinthe House to savor the history.

Deciding where to stay in the French Quarter can be tough because there are many incredible accommodations to choose from. The boutique hotel Bienville House (800-535-9603), the luxurious Royal Sonesta (504-586-0300), the Dauphine Orleans Hotel —  with its private saltwater pools (800-521-7111) — and the charming Hotel Monteleone (504-523-3341) are some of the best known spots to kick your feet up. If a bed and breakfast is more of your pace, check out the Lafitte Guest House (504-581-2678), an 1849 French-style mansion in the center of the French Quarter.

Mardi Gras 

Beads? Check. Feathered mask? Check. Appetite for fun? Check. Yep, sounds like a recipe for Mardi Gras. Purple, green and gold drape the city on Mardi Gras, French for “Fat Tuesday.” Celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday, this colorful spectacle may be the top reason that New Orleans attracts millions of visitors. Extravagant costumes, elaborate floats and a parade down almost every street set the scene. Anything goes at this massive carnival, widely considered the best free party in the world. Music, food, events — whatever your pleasure, you can find it at Mardi Gras.

Garden District and Audubon Parks

The Garden District showcases some of the best architecture in the city. A popular site for visitors is the alluring House of Broel (504-522-2220), a Victorian mansion, wedding chapel and dollhouse museum — you’ll find over 60 replicas of mansions, homes and shops! Don’t miss a tour of this romantic abode.

Just southwest of the Garden District is Audubon Nature Institute (504-581-4629). Audubon contains nine parks and museums, all committed to nature preservation and education. A zoo, an aquarium, scenic parks, an 18-hole golf course and clubhouse are a few of the attractions that make up this family-approved venue. There’s something for everyone!

Cruising the mighty Mississippi

The only way to travel the Mississippi River is by steamboat, and Steamboat Natchez claims it’s the only one left in New Orleans. Book a dinner jazz cruise or a two-hour harbor cruise to take in the city skyline from the water, traveling as people did in the past. Let the world-renowned Dukes of Dixieland serenade you with classic jazz tunes. To book your cruise, call 504-586-8777.

New Orleans cuisine and the dialysis diet

French, Creole and Cajun influences are what make New Orleans food unique. But for people on a dialysis diet, some foods shouldn’t be on your plate. DaVita dietitian Sara Colman says that New Orleans cuisine can be enjoyed if you remember to request any sauces on the side and dishes that are low in sodium. Some favorites that can be modified: beignets with French market coffee, grits, crawfish étoufée, gumbo, po’ boy sandwiches and blackened red fish or red snapper.

Limit or avoid these Southern staples: cheese grits, café au lait, shrimp creole, pecan pie, bananas Foster, sweet potato pie and red beans. Many of these items are high in potassium, phosphorus and sodium, which aren’t good for someone on a kidney diet.

Who Dat? 

In 2010, the New Orleans Saints won their first Super Bowl Championship title. The “Who Dat” football stars had a Mardi Gras of their own in the streets of New Orleans after the big victory. Check out the beloved Saints in a home game at the massive Louisiana Superdome (504-587-3663 or 800-756-7074). The Superdome also hosts concerts and events.

Uneasy times for the Big Easy

New Orleans has dealt with many natural and manmade tragedies. Colonization, flooding, epidemic outbreaks and destructive fires are some of them.

In 2005, New Orleans and much of the Gulf Coast were devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Although New Orleans is functioning again, many neighborhoods still bear the scars of this disaster. Organizations have rallied to clean up these areas, including the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity®.

A major oil spill off the Gulf Coast in 2010 affected the residents and wildlife of New Orleans and surrounding areas. If you do plan to visit, call the place you want to stay and ask if it’s affected by the spill.

The DaVita Guest Services Contact Center (GSCC) not only arranges dialysis for travelers, but also provides emergency assistance to patients and teammates in case of a natural disaster or severe weather. Call 800-244-0680 for information.

Summary

Through highs and lows, the people of New Orleans continue to be devoted to the place they call home. Its unique traditions and diverse culture have helped it thrive. New Orleans is a magical place for travelers from all walks of life.

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