I am starting to get convinced that my trips are kind of cursed, but I’ve just been trying to see the silver lining in them. I don’t know if I’ve shared this with you guys but the last time I went on a trip, I got stuck in London for three days more than I originally intended. It wasn’t exactly a bad thing. On the contrary, I had so much fun in the three extra days that I had stayed in the city.

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This time, I flew into New Orleans not realizing that there was an upcoming hurricane. I mean, who does that? My coworkers have now nicknamed me the “little duck” because apparently duck-weather is rainy weather? I’m honestly not sure how exactly that came about. I’m looking at it in such a way that this trip has given me experiences that I never would’ve experienced had it not been for Hurricane Barry. In no way am I saying that this was a good thing, (it flooded and damaged surrounding areas, and I was just lucky enough to be safe where I was staying at) I still would’ve hoped for better weather, and not just because I was on vacation, but because I’ve made friends with a few locals, and I’d wish for nothing bad to happen to them.

I wasn’t exactly checking the weather before I flew into the city. Everyone I’ve talked to told me that I am coming to New Orleans on one of the hottest months of the year. I literally packed a bunch of shorts and dresses. I finally remembered to check the weather and that’s when my echo informed us to watch out for flash floods. Beanca (my travel-buddy on this trip) and I gave each other a look of panic, but we couldn’t do anything more because this was literally seconds before we ran out of my apartment to catch a cab to the airport. It couldn’t be true, right? The whole time we were waiting for our flight, Beanca checked the weather app every five minutes to see if anything would change. I didn’t want to worry about the weather so I napped at the airport, completely convinced that the storm will clear up and that I was going to have a great time. I was half-asleep, dreaming about the conversation of the ladies sitting next to me because I was unintentionally eavesdropping.

“The wind has slowed.”

“The water finally went down.”

When they finally called for our flight, I was completely awake and convinced that everything was going to be okay. Surely, they couldn’t fly us out if it was that bad, right?

We finally got into New Orleans, and I was so happy that it was sunny and humid. To be quite honest, I got a little disappointed. It was too hot and there was no sign of a flash flood. We checked into our hostel and decided to wash up and get out for a bite to eat. This was a “food-trip” after all. Our guy at the front desk suggested a place that was a 20-minute walk from the hostel. The whole walk was muddy, and the street looked so gross. There were trash cans lying down and cars parked askew in the middle of the street. When we got to the suggested place, they were closed because they were still cleaning up their wet floors. That’s when I realized that it just flooded in this neighborhood and the water just very recently went down. There was truth to the warning after all.

We decided to take an Uber to a Yelp-suggested place after making sure they were open. Our uber driver was the sweetest soul in the world! He got really excited when we told him that we were in his city to eat. He gave us a list of places to go and we intended to visit every single one of them. Our food-trip began and we kind of just put the weather on the back-burner for a little bit. We went to Gallier’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar and tried our very first gumbo. We had 3 bowls and I finished almost 2 of them.

 

The rest of the evening was spent walking around the French Quarter. It was such a fun experience walking around this lively street! Everyone else was in such a party mood. Despite the incoming hurricane, every single place we went to was still open, but also getting prepared. We went from one bar to another, following the sound of live bands whose songs we enjoyed listening to, the vibe to each place was so exciting. Beanca introduced me to a beer that has now quickly become my new favorite. I tried convincing her to dance but she didn’t want to (wasn’t drunk enough.)

We spent a good amount of time walking around Bourbon Street, being total tourists watching street performers and just listening to music. Almost every few meters, there’s another musician playing another instrument and genre from jazz, to acoustic, to alternative, like the backs of pails drummed by little kids.

The next day was still a good day so we started with the highly recommended Cafe Du Monde for a quick beignet and coffee breakfast. Now, I’ve always been honest about not being a dessert nor a breakfast person, so the idea of eating something sweet for breakfast was not exactly very appealing to me. But, I was so happy Beanca dragged me to this place! After watching the movie, The Princess and the Frog, I haven’t stopped thinking about beignets, and I was finally gonna be able to try it, in New Orleans no less! I was not disappointed at all.

I was looking out at the Mississippi River and thought to myself that the hurricane wasn’t even gonna happen. At this point, New Orleans was already at the State of Emergency that my family and co-workers were getting a little worried for me. Meanwhile, I was sending them pictures of a nice and sunny day and was complaining of the heat. We walked around the city close to the Riverwalk and around Royal Street. We had to find Klaus’ mansion, and we ended up discovering Marcel’s place. It was very underwhelming, haha! (PS. Only fans of The Originals will get this.)

We were on a mission to eat crawfish on this trip but every place we went to didn’t have them because they were apparently off-season. We walked towards the French Market where we discovered J’s, Seafood Dock. We wanted to pretty much eat everything on their menu! We even ordered the seafood beignets just to try them. Everything we ordered was pretty exceptional!

The better part of the afternoon was spent just in our hostel because we wanted to be home before it starts to rain. Staying in this place is another story. India House Hostel is this very charming bohemian place. It reminds me so much of big old ancestral houses back home, and I just felt very comfortable in there. Every nook and cranny was probably covered with art that was either made for the house, or just a little piece of remembrance that they’ve kept because of its back story.

Beanca took a nap while I hung out by the pool and I was just so relaxed that I was finally able to finish a book for the first time in months! The place had such a nice relaxing vibe to it, that I felt like I was somewhere else until I looked up from what I was reading and realized that I was surrounded by a couple of people also enjoying their solace. At one point later in the evening, I felt a little bit guilty because I was nonchalantly floating in the pool while the hostel staff was cleaning up around anything that could get swept by the wind. I offered to help, but I was told that I was “on vacation” so I didn’t stress about it more. Anyway, they were probably just taking precautions because judging by how the day went, I don’t believe the hurricane was even going to happen.

We went out again for a late dinner at one of the places our driver suggested. We went to a place called Jacques-Imo’s where they had warm beer, lousy food, and poor service. I am saying that but completely meaning the exact opposite! I was OBSESSED with this restaurant. Everything about it drew me in!

After dinner, we went to a 24-hour bar which was just a few blocks away from the hostel. I’ve lived in Vegas, but this was the first time I’ve been to a 24-hour bar. Another place that had a great live band that made me think about the huge music scene in the city. I feel like it’s such a big lifestyle, that almost everyone in New Orleans is very musically inclined.

The next day was a little bit gloomier. It was already such a big thing looming over everyone in the hostel that this storm might start pouring heavily at any time. Beanca and I decided to fit in our last bit of eating and were able to hit both Cafe Beignet for breakfast and ACME Oyster House for lunch.

The rest of the day we spent indoors again. The mood in the hostel was just a little bit tense that afternoon. Almost everyone else was trying to extend reservations or find other ways to get back home. Flights and trips were getting canceled right and left, and I was just waiting for confirmation for mine. I was supposed to fly at 3PM the next day, but the friends that I’ve made were sure that it wasn’t flying out. Beanca moved her flight to 7AM the next day and we all tried convincing her that it wasn’t going to happen. I finally accepted my fate and decided to extend my stay for one more night. Everyone else was worried about flooding, so Beanca decided to take a cab and wait out at the airport.

This was not just another “bump in the road” like the more than often mishap I’d get myself into. (Those, I can easily overcome after a little bout of frustration.) This was more life concerning. I worried about the flood and getting stranded in New Orleans despite having to go back to work. They assured us the hostel was pretty high up, so the water wouldn’t get in, so I stopped worrying. Beanca already left at this point and I was faced with a choice: to also wait at the airport or to stay at the hostel. I chose the latter. I HATE waiting uncomfortably at airports, and I was at a party hostel after all.

The rest of the night I was in the common room trying to figure out my work schedule and travel plans. I was messaging my manager and was also calling the airline. I finally decided (when life gives you lemons) to make lemonade out of my situation and calmed myself down. I started conversations with strangers and I’ve befriended a really sweet girl from South Africa who was having a solo-road trip through a couple states, I’ve also met a very interesting German guy who was a journeyman. I’ve made so many new friends from the guests that were trapped in the city like myself and also, by the end of the night, I was pretty much on the first-name basis with the whole staff of the hostel whom I ended up spending the whole time with. We all stayed in the common room watching TV & drinking beer while waiting for the storm to happen.

The next morning (which was supposedly the day I fly out) we woke up to the news that the hurricane was officially down to a tropical storm and that it wasn’t going to be catastrophic in our area. We were getting extreme rain, and it was very windy and gloomy, but we were finally spared. No flights were still able to fly out that day, so I was glad I extended my stay. I just spent the whole day in the hostel hanging out with their house cat and meeting more new interesting people. I met this really awesome Canadian couple that’s been coming to Jazzfest for the past 24 years. They are regulars at the hostel: they know the owner, the cat, the staff, and they even got married there! Along with them, I somehow ended up going to dinner with more strangers that quickly became friends. I’ve only been with these people for a couple of hours and somehow we’ve been through a literal storm together. We all ended up going to dinner at one of the local places close to the hostel, where this couple has been coming to for many years. They convinced me of salted caramel martinis and oysters. The place was called Katie’s Restaurant & Bar. We were so lucky that they were open. It has been drizzling for a few minutes at a time but it hasn’t rained hard at all throughout the day. My favorite moment was, after hanging out with this group all afternoon and sharing a taxi to the restaurant together, the first official time we actually shook hands and introduced ourselves to each other, was while we were just getting seated to our dinner table.

The rest of the evening half of the people in the hostel (staff & guests) were hanging out at the porch, drinking and exchanging stories. I loved listening to everyone’s stories and being in between the whole conversation! We were listening to classic rock and roll songs that they were going to see for the Jazz Fest. (PS. This blog is titled from Led Zeppelin’s song because it was somehow accurate to what we were all going through.) I ended up getting invited to go out to the 24-hour bar again with the rest of the staff and decided, heck, I was in New Orleans to have fun, so that’s exactly what I will do!

We went back to Dmac’s Bar & Grill and my new friends introduced me to the guys working at the bar too. It was such a nice familial community that I appreciated being a part of it even for a few moments. I told them I felt like I also worked at the hostel because they were very welcoming to me. They drove me to the airport the next day and that was the end of my trip. My flight was able to leave this wonderful city that I’ve come to fall in love with despite being there during a calamity.

I will definitely come back to New Orleans again! Hopefully, no more weather problems and crawfish are in season. I highly, highly recommend India House Hostel, I am definitely coming back, hopefully, my friends still remember me. Haha!!

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#findgizel in the middle of Hurricane Barry in New Orleans, Louisiana. Falling in love with this colorful, musical city is the easiest thing in the world.

PS: Some photos in this post are taken and edited by my very talented friend Beanca, who also did the design for this website. IG: beancameer

 

xx Gizel

 

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