A cup of hot chocolate and a chance meeting with the “The Boss”

If you’re lucky, you might meet your idol tonight,” the porter whispered as he carried our bags to the room.

What? Who? Who?”

Oh I can’t possibly say…”

This was no time for a guessing game. So, there was only one solution. I gave him the ‘puppy dog eyes.’

Go on, pleaaaase, tell us…”

He closed the door behind him and paused, before finally murmuring the words: “Bruce Springsteen.”

Really? Wow! He’s staying here too?”

Well all I can say is that he’s headlining JazzFest tomorrow, and you *might* just bump into him later…as he *might* be staying here too.”

As the porter left the room, I looked at Kate in utter disbelief and we burst into laughter as we reminisced about our terrible experience the night before. What a difference a day makes…

It was a Friday evening and after a twelve hour train journey, we had finally arrived in New Orleans. Shattered, sweating and still suffering from the flu, we found ourselves stuck behind at least forty people at the taxi rank. Nightmare.

 After a fifty minute wait, we got to the front, only to be intercepted by two dodgy looking characters who had just walked out of the station and were claiming they’d been in front of us all along.

 “Yo. We been in line all the time. These two don’t know what they sayin.’ We goin’ first.” Ideal. Exactly what we were looking for.

 The guy organising the taxis stepped in and asked: “so, who’s telling the truth?” (as if he had to ask…)

 Seeing the mixture of fury and desperation on our faces, he let us get in the cab.

 “All I want to do is sleep.”

 “Me too.”

 “I really hope this hostel is alright…”

 We decided to stay at a mixture of hostels, hotels, motels and friends’ houses on this trip, but we really regretted picking a hostel for this leg of the trip. We had no idea what we were letting ourselves in for.

 Calling it a hippie commune would have been a compliment. Plastic sheets, lumpy stained pillows and creaky wooden bunk beds without guard rails. The lack of air-con meant we were dripping with sweat within seconds of entering the dorm and the communal bathroom was filthy. The bin policy appeared to be: ‘use the floor.’

There was no way we were staying any longer than one night and so as we sat in our uncomfortable beds, we formulated an emergency ‘escape plan.’ It really felt like we were in Alcatraz. We logged on to our trusty friend ‘hotwire.com’ and at first glance, nearly all of the hotels were booked up/extortionate prices because of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Just when we felt like giving up, a super saver deal popped up for an incredible 4* hotel in the best area of town for a bargain price. Unbelievable. We couldn’t believe our luck. 

The next morning, we bolted out of the hostel doors as fast as we could and soon found ourselves at the spectacular ‘Le Pavillon’ hotel. We weren’t surprised when the porter revealed Bruce Springsteen was staying at this hotel too. The place was incredible – exquisite crystal chandeliers, and Italian marble pillars lined the dazzling lobby, which was adorned with flower arrangements and fine antiques. It really was incredibly regal and breathtaking. What a pleasure to stay in such a place.

Beside the bed, we found a note which informed us that at 10pm every night, the hotel offered complimentary peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches with milk or hot chocolate. So, we headed downstairs to find a long table with an enticing selection of different breads, peanut butter, marmalades and jellies (jams). Next to it was another table full of hot chocolate, milk and delicious freshly whipped cream and mini marshmallows. Mouthwatering doesn’t even begin to cover it…

Whilst we were downstairs, we decided to have a walk around the hotel as Kate had read up on some historical facts and informed me that outside the hotel was America’s largest gas lamp. She positioned herself take a photo of it, but the timing couldn’t have been any more priceless. Just as she was holding her phone up to take the snap, a bouncer approached her and informed her: “No photos please.”

Oh but I’m just taking a photo of the gas lamp,” she said innocently. He didn’t look convinced and we couldn’t really understand why…until we looked behind the gas lamp. It was only then that we noticed the huge car with tinted windows at the entrance of the hotel. ‘Photographing the gas lamp’ must have sounded like the most unconvincing excuse for attempted ‘Springsteen spotting’ he’s ever heard. Oops…

As we headed back to the lobby, we couldn’t help but notice a sudden surge of activity. Trolleys with huge amounts sushi, vodka and wine whizzed past us and headed towards the service lifts.Then, an influx of numbered guitar cases and suitcases started piling up in the lobby. Surely “The Boss” himself wasn’t arriving at exactly the moment we had wandered down to the hotel lobby? What are the chances?

Before we could finish our hot chocolates, Bruce Springsteen casually strolled past us like he was your average hotel guest. He looked great! We took the opportunity to say hi to him and he was happy to pose for a photo before he went upstairs to rest before his big gig.

The next day, he headlined “JazzFest” – the biggest jazz festival of the year. We couldn’t believe how lucky we were to bump into him the night before he performed in front of a crowd of 50,000 people. Who knew that a bad night at a hostel could lead to such a cool experience?

Just before we went upstairs to bed, the porter ran over with some brochures about the hotel for us. Ah a nice bedtime read, I thought. It was shortly afterwards that I discovered “Le Pavillon” is actually one of the most haunted hotels in New Orleans. Not only that, but the most paranormal activity out of anywhere in the hotel had been detected on our floor. Jeepers!

Sleep well,” he said…