I had just gotten off a greyhound bus and was awaiting the metro train as I was visiting a friend who went to school there. A middle ages women by herself asked me where I was staying and continued to rant about how the hostel she was staying at was not picking up the phone and how can you run a business and not answer the phone. I thought this woman was crazy and that a hostel was some type of hospital. Little did I know several years later I would be fully embracing hostels as a means of affordable travel.
After several years of fruitlessly not finding any travel companion whom would attend Mardi gras with me, I made the ultimate (and possibly very dangerous) decision of braving post-Katrina New Orleans alone. I found a suitable hostel to stay in by using the greatest website www.hostels.com and reading reviewers ratings and comments on the hostels. I was told to stay in any type of hotel around the french quarter or bourbon street would cost several hundred dollars a night, and I did not see staying in a hotel room alone as a very enjoyable vacation. Therefore, I decided to stay in India House after reading favorable ratings on the character, staff, and fun of the hostel.I chose to overlook the fact that it was doing only fair as far as security and location was concerned, but I figured you have to take the good with the bad! Little did I know I would be embarking on my most favorable hostel trip ever. There are many things that you just have to expect when staying in a hostel (particularly if you are staying in a “dorm” as I typically am). People will not be quiet when you want to sleep, it will not be pristine, and showers are seldom luxurious.These items paled in comparison to what the staff, character, amenities, and the social atmosphere of the hostel contained. Very much unlike most American hostels I have stayed in, this hostel was not only a temporary home for backpackers but appeared to have many permanent residents. Yet it was filled with many Brits and Aussies as they typically are. One of the first few days I was there it was one of the employee’s birthday and the hostel threw a huge crawl fish bake complete with baked potatoes, corn on the cob, and asparagus. I am PAILS of crawl fish, enough to cover two picnic benches. There was not only one but four of these pails.It was beyond welcoming. The best part of this hostel had to be the open minded, friendly, and fun group of people that stayed here with included Aussies, Brits, Canadians, and surprisingly many fellow Americans. Within days we seemed to have known each other for years and spent meals, parades, and nights out at bars together. The hostel itself was absolutely adorable and quite accommodating to the Mardi gras atmosphere. The best part for the late night parties had to be the beer machine (in the style of a soda machine) with cans of American beer costing a meager $1.00. What more could a broke 20 something ask for?Was the location horrendous? Sure, it was not in exactly a safe place, and New Orleans public transport is not exactly dependable, but it was manageable and not unreasonably far walking distance from all the sites. At the end of the day, it hardly seemed to matter.