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Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans has been on my bucket list for ages, so I was thrilled when I finally planned the trip!

I landed, slipped on my heels, and met up with the crew to celebrate our first night in The Big Easy!

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

After checking out a few bars, we headed to Bourbon Street, because #obviously.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

It was crazy how crowded it was!

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

The balconies were lined with people throwing beads, encouraging those below to show some… shall we say… skin.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

But not many people on the street were flashing. This isn’t what I’ve heard about Mardi Gras!

Turns out, there has been a lot less skin shown since the advent of social media and camera phones. According to those on the balcony, no skin = no beads, so I was left empty handed (happy, mom?).

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

The streets were crowded, and I wanted a better view. So there was only one solution:

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

It’s good to be tall!

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

It was fun being part of the Mardi Gras atmosphere on Bourbon Street, even though it wasn’t quite as debaucherous as I expected. But it was a little too debaucherous for some. Turns out, not everyone is a fan of Mardi Gras…

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

But everyone is a fan of NOLA’s famous Hurricanes! You can’t visit without trying one from where the drink originated, Pat O’Brien’s on St. Peter Street.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

We ended the evening in the best possible way: with gumbo purchased out of the back of a van.

Yep, I’m serious.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

And we even had some for leftovers the next morning! It was surprisingly delicious!

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

By day, the French Quarter (or as cool locals call it, “the quarter”) is festively decorated for the holiday.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

The best part about New Orleans? You can take your drinks to go, and wander about the streets while sipping. It is one of the city’s best qualities, since I always hate waiting at the bar for people to finish their drinks!

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

We grabbed a drink(s) to go, and headed out to explore.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

By day, things in the quarter look just as crazy.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

And apparently at all hours, people are still up on the balconies, throwing beads.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

The first rule of Mardi Gras is you don’t talk about Mardi Gras. The second rule of Mardi Gras is that once beads hit the ground, they’re dead/dirty/tainted (I have yet to come up with a definitive word). Basically, you can’t pick up beads from the ground, no matter what. It simply isn’t done.

So, naturally, the streets are covered in them.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

And dogs are covered in them too, apparently.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

While we were out, Anton and I picked up some masks for an upcoming NYC masquerade ball.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

That evening, at 701 Bar & Restaurant (formerly known as Lucy’s) I did my very first scorpion shot. Yes, there was a scorpion in my tequila!

After I ordered, I asked my friends if the scorpion would be alive or dead. They made fun of me! They thought it was obvious that it would be dead. I thought it was definitely a question worth asking!

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

There was also this really cool shark drink.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

When you tip over the shark, red “blood” fills the water!

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

It’s impossible to visit New Orleans and not try a beignet from Café Du Monde. It’s open 24 hours a day, and the line usually stretches down the street. Because God was smiling down on me, when I arrived back at the apartment that night, Anton’s family had brought back beignets! Mine was delicious, especially since I ate it in my pajamas, and didn’t have to wait in line!

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

On Lundi Gras (the Monday before Mardi Gras), I got to do the coolest thing! I was invited into a private party on Bourbon Street that opened up onto a balcony.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

Which means that I got to overlook the action, AND throw beads!

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

I threw beads down to Anton and Oren.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

But don’t worry, I made them work for it!

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

The most surprising part about Mardi Gras is how it ends.

At midnight on Mardi Gras (so, technically, on Ash(ley) Wednesday), everything stops. The bars and restaurants close, and people are ushered out the door and off the streets. A fleet of street cleaners take on the city with careful choreography, and before long all evidence of Mardi Gras is gone.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - travel tips - Wanderlust in the City

But the memories (and this blog post!) live on.

Stay tuned for more Mardi Gras travel posts on what parades to see, what parties to attend, and where to eat!

~A

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