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!
After checking out a few bars, we headed to Bourbon Street, because #obviously.
It was crazy how crowded it was!
The balconies were lined with people throwing beads, encouraging those below to show some… shall we say… skin.
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?).
The streets were crowded, and I wanted a better view. So there was only one solution:
It’s good to be tall!
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…
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.
We ended the evening in the best possible way: with gumbo purchased out of the back of a van.
Yep, I’m serious.
And we even had some for leftovers the next morning! It was surprisingly delicious!
By day, the French Quarter (or as cool locals call it, “the quarter”) is festively decorated for the holiday.
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!
We grabbed a drink(s) to go, and headed out to explore.
By day, things in the quarter look just as crazy.
And apparently at all hours, people are still up on the balconies, throwing beads.
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.
And dogs are covered in them too, apparently.
While we were out, Anton and I picked up some masks for an upcoming NYC masquerade ball.
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!
There was also this really cool shark drink.
When you tip over the shark, red “blood” fills the water!
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!
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.
Which means that I got to overlook the action, AND throw beads!
I threw beads down to Anton and Oren.
But don’t worry, I made them work for it!
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.
But the memories (and this blog post!) live on.
For all of my New Orleans travel posts, click here.