New Orleans

Trip Start Jun 26, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Louisiana
Friday, November 9, 2007

New Orleans, located in Southern Louisiana and is famous for two thing, Its Jazz music and the damage inflicted by Hurricane Katrina. The latter is still visible 3 years on. Just walking from the Greyhound terminal to the hostel you pass under the interstate flyover which is resident to numerous homeless folks as well as passing by boarded up houses in desperate need of repair. This is more evident in the nine acre region of New Orleans and its refugee camp, but without a car it is very difficult to get to. Makes me wonder why the Republic administration has done so little to help the residents of New Orleans.

One area that has appeared to escape the hurricane damage is the touristy French Quarter. It is busy in the day with tourists eating in cafes while listening to the local live jazz bands or buying I survived Hurricane Katrina T-shirts. However its in the evening when the French Quarter comes to life especially Bourbon Street with its numerous bars, clubs and strip joints. New Orleans also has its own potent alcoholic drink 'the hand grenade'. Served in plastic grenade glasses this mystery concoction (I am guessing it's a cocktail of several types of rums, lemonade?, ice and something else) is lethal with the rumour that 5 grenades is enough to pass out. Lets say I wasn't up for trying this hypothesis out. Almost everyone will like Bourbon Street with its variety of music. In some bars live Country or Soul music is being performed or one can entertain oneself at a rock or a R'n'B nightclub and for the Japanese there is karaoke. But the highlight for me with the mechanical rodeo bull and like a true novice I didn't even last a minute or was it only a few seconds. Either way It was a pathetic effort compared to some other tourists so my excuse is the alcoholic hand grenade affecting my coordination and balance. Also it is a weird sensation when you are serenaded by bead necklaces, throw from the balcony above, which is very popular during Mardi Gras in February.

However me and this Australian couple stumbled across the best entertainment of the night at 4.00 am at the 24hr MacDonald drive through. So the three of looking to satisfy our hunger after a long night partying got into our invisible car and mimic our way through the drive through. However because our car wasn't real MacDonald's refused to serve us. Apparently it is their policy to only serve cars in a drive through and we were told if we wanted serving we should drive a car through, even in our intoxicated state. UTTER MADNESS!!. Eventually we did get our food at 4.30am even if we did end up with the wrong order, Bacon and Egg biscuit (or for those English readers Bacon and Egg in a scone) not particularly great but we all know you'll eat anything when drunk.

The following day (Sunday), the aim was to get back to the French Quarter and see a New Orleans funeral. I have been told you have the mourning family being followed by a brass band which is leading more people, known as the second line through the old streets, with the group stopping every few blocks for drinking and letting the brass band play. Otherwise it sounds like a good excuse for a jolly good knees up, usually one of these going on every Sunday.

Unfortunately I never made it out the hostel that Sunday. There is a lot of pros and cons about the India House Hostel. This hostel is a socialising hostel so don't expect too many early nights, an Indian doctor in Louisiana found this out the hard way. Why he was staying in a hostel was curious in its self however the general consensus is that he was too tight to spend more money on a hotel which would have provided the peace and quiet he requested. Was funny seeing Mickey telling the doctor a few home truths in a stereotypical gay manner (i.e. drama queen, the limp hand and the bitchy comments) or did they only came here because it was called the India House???

Some of the negatives, expect to see the odd cockroach outside near the swimming pool but more important there is a beer thief among the staff or guests. During one night, beers and food belonging to 3 people had suddenly disappeared, ME BEING ONE OF THEM! I wasn't impressed that they stole 3 bottle of Newcastle Brown but what really annoyed me is they also took my lunch for the following day. The barstewards!!!

Other points of interest include alligator sight-seeing in the swamps. But unfortunately I didn't see any when a group of us from the hostel took a daytrip around Louisiana, although we did find a concrete sculpture park in someone's front garden.

Would love to have stayed longer here in New Orleans, its definitely a US city with culture but I have pre-booked a flight to Los Angeles. However I will be back here, I don't know when, maybe during Mardi Gras when the big party begins......
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