February 28, 2017 1 Comment
I've spent a lot of time in New Orleans, LA (N.O.L.A), and this city has never, ever disappointed. Any time of day, any day of the week, any time of the year there has never been a dull moment which is of COURSE why I had to catch the Big Easy in it's prime- during Mardi Gras 🎉
Mardi Gras, translated to 'Fat Tuesday' is a celebration that takes place on the last Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a Christian tradition where observers practice fasting, moderation and repentance during 40 days leading up to Easter. So, Mardi Gras is the final day of indulgence for those who follow this tradition go cold turkey, although I highly doubt majority of the people at these events will be repenting... If they did, their systems would most likely go into shock, and they'd need a lot longer than 40 days (I'm not not including myself). It's funny the idea is to treat yourself before embarking on 40 days of good behaviour but Mardi Gras season lasts longer than that timeframe, starting in January (although celebrations are mostly just on weekends, they buzz is all around as soon as the New Year hits).
Before we get into how awesome the 299th year of Mardi Gras in NOLA has been, I have to give a shout out to another city I love where they celebrated their 314th Mardi Gras... Mobile, Alabama: The OG birthplace of Mardi Gras. Although, NOLA's has become much grander I have a few Mobilian friends who I know I'd be hearing from if I hadn't reckinized.
NOLA is my favourite city so I have A LOT of specific travel tips and recommendations to share, and will post those soon. But for now here have been some of our favourite highlights of this weekend:
NOLA is unique in that there is hardly a divide between the tourists and the locals* (Or at lest they make tourists feel that way). Everyone is welcome, everyone is equal. Everyone shares. Bars share drinks and clientele: The open container laws mean you can buy your drink at one bar and walk it down the street and into another. People share their beads: There is a weird, randomly intimate connection, you feel when you lock eyes with a stranger throwing beads and they choose you to toss their next handful too. Everyone is in costume, dancing, laughing, drinking. The feeling of freedom is unparalleled (coming only a close second MAYBE to being 16 on grad trip #invincible).
The people in NOLA, whether tourists or locals are like this all year round. It's always bustling, and everyone is laid back, everyone is dancing and free. This was amplified during Mardi Gras, from the shear volume of people who come out!
*This stemming from my view point as a tourist. As much as I wish to have surpassed tourist status in NOLA from seeing it with local friends.. I haven't. There is SO much to experience and you have to live it all to truly understand it. The history of this city runs so deep, gets dark, and it's not enough to just know of it... New Orleanians are passionate and generous and make you feel at home. They'd never rub it in, but to be truly New Orleanian is next level living -I can only wish to one day experience that level of understanding for this city.
We stayed at the Ace Hotel and it was the BEST. There was amazing staff and live music in the lobby, a Stumptown Coffee shop, three awesome cocktail bars (plus one decked out bar in our room complete with bitters and coup glasses)! The rooftop pool gave us an awesome view, and the chance to meet other entertaining guests.
My favourite was the Krewe of Bacchus Parade; one of the most famous parades that takes place on Sunday. Some of their notable Mardi Gras Kings are Will Ferrel, Larry King, Hulk Hogan, Alan Thicke and Drew Brees. This year they had Jim Caveziel. Another popular parade is the Krewe of Endymion which takes place Saturday night. Definitely make sure you see a day parade and a night parade if you can!
Intense people (mostly families) arrive hours before the parade and start setting up their tailgate spot complete with BBQs, lawn chairs, coolers, the whole nine. So be prepared to take a back seat or to schmooze your way up front.
It's also helpful to know the parade routes because a lot of streets are completely blocked off. TO get to Bourbon Street we had to walk around the parade about 5 blocks.
Leaving The Country Club
With NOLA being the largest food port in the world, this is undoubtedly a long list for me but I've narrowed it down to 5 to give you a taste:
The Cafe Du Monde Essentials
Bars here are boppin' all day and all night long... Here are 5 spots I always try to stop at in NOLA.
Enjoying the back patio oasis that is Pat O'Briens
Again, I could go on about NOLA forever. We didn't even get to the ghost tours, cemeteries, voo doo, swamp tours, museums or plantations. I didn't even meant o get into the restaurants and bars but they are such gem spots I couldn't help myself. Whenever you find yourself in NOLA I hope this guide helps make your stay as enjoyable as possible!