New Orleans is a city that pulses with energy, exuding life and supreme coolness with every southern-soaked beat.

Me and my friend Hayley based ourselves at the India House Hostel for our stay – a decision fuelled by wanting to make the trip as cheap as possible, rather than because of the luxury it offered, but it actually turned out to be a great choice. With a large communal area, swimming pool and brilliantly greasy, good-value breakfast, it was a really sociable place, where pre-drinking around the large picnic-bench style tables meant you met other travellers easily. Unbeknownst to us, it was Spring Break, and thus we had to embrace all that that entails but somehow… we managed it.

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In the days, we explored the infamous French Quarter (an easy journey via street car from the hostel – remember to always carry the right $1 change), taking in the gorgeous buildings with shuttered windows, and wandering around the markets and along the Mississippi. We stopped for Po Boys (my favourite was stuffed with deep fried oysters) and did Oyster shooters as full-scale jazz bands performed outside in the sunshine. We also spent a day strolling along Magazine Street (which stretches from The Garden District to Uptown), stopping in at the vintage shops and enjoying the many restaurants lining it. Sadly, we didn’t try beignets and coffee from Café Du Monde – but if the queue and the smell is anything to go by, I’d also recommend it.

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But the night was when the city really came alive. Frenchman Street, in the French Quarter, opens its doors to the best bands in New Orleans. It’s an incredible place to go and enjoy strong drinks surrounding by the infectious energy and vibrant soul of jazz. And then once you’ve had enough drinks (like I say, it was Spring Break), Bourbon Street offers a gaudy strip of bars offering Hand Grenade cocktails and sweaty music to dance to. Avoid it in the day though, it smells a little bit like sick…

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But of course, the very best thing about the trip was hanging out with Hayley. She was the first person who knocked on my door in university halls and has remained one of my favourite people in the world ever since.

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Despite the fact that we spent almost an entire day of our New Orleans trip lying prone on the India House Hostel sofas before managing to walk the whole 30 metres to McDonalds (and yes, I realise this is awful given everything New Orleans has to offer), I had the very best time – catching up, walking and singing in our own personal Glee club and trying desperately to figure out how we were supposed to get beads…

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