After my stay, how would I describe New Orleans?
It’s a city that has as much liquor and crazy running through its veins as it does history. If you’ve come to NOLA looking for adventure, you’ve found it.
I was on my way to Florida from Texas and knew I had to stop in New Orleans. So, with everything I owned in the back of my car, we started for our first destination on a two week, almost cross country, road trip that ended with over 1700 miles, 5 empty bottles of tequila, too many U-turns, and crashing a celebrity party.
We stayed at the India House Hostel.
Check-in was easy – they take reservations! We grabbed our sheets and pillows and climbed the creaking stairs draped with hundreds of mardi gras beads to our room. India House is everything a traveler/backpacker can hope to expect while staying in a hostel; key lime walls are graffitied in drawings and quotes written by past travelers. The common areas are furnished with mix-matched sofas and chairs, vintage movie posters, and abstract art. Dated currency from all over the world is stapled to the oak beams in the foyer. As a former urban mansion, India House definitely doesn’t lack anything in character. And at 17 dollars a night, it’s a steal. If I ever find myself back in New Orleans, and I hope that I do, I’ll definitely be staying there again.
The hostel itself is in a pretty good location. Across the street is a trolley stop, which is about a 7 minute ride to the French Quarter and a 3 dollar ride gives you a 24 hour pass. The staff was very friendly – many of them that work there are international and spend free nights drinking with fellow travelers on the back deck.
Staying in a hostel can be a hit or a miss. In my opinion, most of it depends on you. If you’re comfortable staying in a room with strangers, sharing a bathroom with strangers, and pretty much just living with strangers, it can be no problem. For cheap (usually – just do your research), you can stay in the heart of the city and meet other people on the road just like you. One of my roommates for a night was Australian. Over the course of 2 days, we met people from France, Mexico, Holland, and Germany.
Note: If you’re going to be traveling in the South during summer, especially July and August, be prepared for the heat.
It was hot. Very hot. Like a sticky, never-ending, eyeshadow-smudging, dripping, slowly melting into the concrete hot. I don’t think I actually stopped sweating until we left. Sure, the rooms do have a sputtering, rusted air conditioning unit, but it’s natural law that heat rises. I spent an exhausting hour around 4 am in the common room, basking in the glory of A.C. as a black-and-white Superman spun the world so fast he turned back time on a television that was never turned off, encouraging myself to go sleep one last night upstairs in the stifling heat. The only escape was at nighttime. The air was still sticky, but at least the sun wasn’t beating down.
We didn’t have much planned for New Orleans, and truthfully, you don’t need much. Every street and every corner has something interesting to offer, from Walgreens that sell whisky (I know, right?!) to a gothic Vampire Boutique. We made sure to eat right, having a taste of creole red beans and rice on the edge of Jackson Square. Now, if you want to spend the night as a tourist, head to Bourbon Street. Its reputation definitely lives up to its name. Try the Grenade, a classic Bourbon Street cocktail referred to us by our Lyft Driver, or a Vegas Bomb. We found ourselves in so many different types of bars: surfer themed, Spanish, a saloon, and a hole in the wall that only played 90s music. And if Bourbon Street isn’t really your thing, be a local and hit up the historic Frenchmen Street.
Of course, a trip to NOLA and the French Quarter isn’t complete without a stop at the famous Café du Monde for some amazing (and messy) beignets and a hurricane. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them at the same time, though.
And, according to a quote left on one of the community refrigerators by a well-traveled anonymous backpacker,
Je suis venu
Until next time, Nola,