Dan and Lu's Travels
Thought we were going to miss the bus this morning. The traffic and weather were both really awful but Serena got us to the station with 10 minutes to spare! The bus pulled out and went round the corner into the rain, just as the windscreen wiper fell off! So we were delayed for a while but not too long. Greyhound bus drivers all seem to have a pretty good sense of humour (at least at the beginning of the journey) - they have to make standard announcements about what you're not allowed to do or bring on the bus and they always seem to make a joke out of it. So after our driver had proclaimed "no drinkin', no smokin', no fussin', no cussin'" we set off. As we got into Louisiana the roads began to sprout legs and become bridges that went on for miles across the swampy, flood prone land. The 'transit centre' (come on, its a bus and train station) in New Orleans was in a pretty bad state of repair and the taxi we got into was even worse.... the driver loved the fact we we're from England as he said that was his middle name! We pulled into N Robertson Street, which is where our hostel was and I think we both thought "I hope he's got it wrong". Most of the hosues were almost derilict and there were the insides of many out on the street. I t wasn't wrong. There were a couple of guys sat outside the hostel who waved and welcomed us in. The place is absolutely fine and the a/c works well in our room, which is a good thing as its very sticky and hot here. As we were checking in a random white red-neck looking guy who stunk of alcohol staretd talking about giving us a guided tour (!!). We were then accosted by him as we were making noodles and he insisted on bringing a very '80s ghettoblaster out into the backyard and playing us some music from his home state of Kentucky. I quite liked the music but the guy was scary, repetitive and annoying. He tagged along when we left and we thought we were in for an awful night. He ranted on about getting a bus (which was going the wrong way), he then sat on a car bonnet and started talking to himself so we told him we were going to walk and started walking. he didn't follow us but we were on edge for a while..... Only 3 blocks down from our street is the start of the French Quarter. We were walking down Esplanade which is one 'border' of this area. The houses still mostly had the spray painted writing on that told people the house had been searched for damage and bodies after hurricane Katrina hit last September, but some were repainted and they were all lovely. French, shuttered buildings with flowers and tress outside. We wandered down to Decatur which is almost on the Mississippi and went into a fabulous antique/bric-a-brac shop, which was piled high with clothes, mardi gras posters and old soda machines, among other stuff. By the time we found our way to Bourbon St I was compeltely in love with the place. All the houses are beautiful and different to each other, its a residential area but every so often there's a random shop or restaurant or bar. It feels a bit european, that is until you get nearer the centre of the action. It then becomes like nothing you've ever seen. Music coming from everywhere and seeming to seep from the ground and into your body. A group of about 8 young guys were playing jazz and dancing on the street; proper old skool swinging jazz - and people would just stop for a while and listen and dance and tip. We went into a bar called Fat Catz and took advantage of the happy hour 3 for 1 drinks. Got there just at the right time; the band had just started and the place filled up fast. The band consisted of tromboune, trumpet, keyboard, drum, two guitar and two saxophone players, headed up by a very short blind guy. They were amazing. There are certain places you go to where there are expectations to meet. I was a bit scared of coming here just in case in didn't live up to them. It does, and more. Its just got something special. After the band finished we wen tto a place called Sing, Sing which was quite small but had a big singer who would walk out onto the street and sing and dance. Love this place so much!