New Orleans is a party city, at the same time there is an incredible amount of poverty. The cab driver that dropped me at the hostel told me “It’s a great place to visit but a bad place to live”. He also told me that the only safe place I town was the famous French Quarter. Everywhere else he recommended not risking it. Unfortunately for me, the India House Hostel I was staying in is about 2 miles from the French Quarter. The only real safe and cheap way to get between the two is by streetcar (really old trams like the one at the Beamish Museum in Durham).
Although the neighborhood was bad, the hostel was good fun. It’s made up of about five small wooden buildings facing onto a courtyard and swimming pool there is an outside big screen projector on which they show movies and college football. They are mad about it in New Orleans, they can fill a 90,000 stadium on a Saturday night to watch two state universities play each other. The Hostel put on a BBQ and for $5 you got a huge meal and as much margarita as you can drink.
French Quarter of New Orleans is full of galleries, antique shops, markets and bars playing great blues and jazz. It's full of tourists (mostly American) taking horse and cart rides around the tiny streets. Bourbon Street in particular is great, there are so many bars on that one stretch that they all have drink offers on. I didn’t go at night, but apparently it’s a lot seedier with girls flashing in exchange for bead necklaces.
There is also quite a nice little park in the middle of the French quarter called Jackson Square which provides a nice retreat from the buzz outside, although when I was there it was too hot to sit out in the sun. Around the outside edge of the park there is a host of psychics, astrologers and palm readers, but my favorite was the voodoo bone readers who claim they can read your future by the way some chicken bones land.
At the moment, I’m 10 hours into a 19 hour train ride to Chicago. I’ve also decided to skip Denver and go direct to San Francisco for Chicago. It takes 54 hours, but I’m expecting some amazing scenery to keep me entertained. Failing
that I could fill my time replying to emails and watching movies on my laptop, so please send me an email and let me know what’s happening back home and any ideas for stuff to do in San Francisco.
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