Monthly Archives: March 2012

Mardi Gras in New Orleans – Part 4

After three nights of partying in New Orleans it was finally Fat Tuesday and our last full day in the city. I woke up sleep deprived and hungry (like the last couple of days) so I left the hotel and went in search of food with my buddy Arun. We were able to grab some burritos at a Mexican joint called Felipe’s that was only a couple blocks from our hotel and the place was pretty good. After breakfast/lunch we meandered down Decatur Street near the river where we got to see the Riverboat Natchez close up.

We continued down to Frenchman Street where we were last night. The word around town was that it was a good spot to be for Fat Tuesday, and since we had enjoyed ourselves there yesterday, we figured why not. On our way there we passed by Jackson Square where people were gathered around watching some street performers.

Among the street performers there was this one blues band playing on the street who had an old school bus which the singer was using as his stage.

When we finally got down to Frenchman there was already crowds of people in the streets and mini makeshift parades starting up. A lot of people were dressed in all sorts of costumes and music was playing everywhere.

We stayed on Frenchman Street for a while, just drinking and hanging out and watching all the spectacles happen around us.

We were lucky enough to witness a delivery truck, which was trying to make it’s way through the crowds, stop, and then watched the driver jump out of the truck and start dancing to the nearest music beat. He then proceeded to get on top of the truck and dance around, putting on a show for everyone.  It was awesome.

As the evening crept up on us we decided to head over to the Tremé area where there was supposed to be an Indian parade, however we got there too late and missed it. With no other plans we decided to hit up Bourbon Street one last time and made our way down to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop which I had visited the day before. We got a few drinks there and hung out on their patio which was surprisingly not too crowed. Eventually we all got hungry and decided to grab some pizza at Vieux Carre which was nearby; the pizza wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t amazing either. As our night winded down we figured we should stop into one last place for some drinks, but we wanted to make it a good place. We ended up at the swanky Loa Bar in the International House Hotel where there was practically no one inside. The bartender was friendly and the drinks were superb. We stayed there until closing time and then grabbed some snacks (Gator-Tators) and a case of beers on our way back to our hotel. Back at the hotel, Arun insisted on trying on ALL of the beads we had gathered throughout our stay.

When he tried to take them off he got his head stuck in the entanglement of beads and he cried for help but we all just laughed (he was alright after all). In the morning we attempted to ride the Airport Downtown Express back to the airport from the city but became stumped on where to pick it up. After about an hour of walking around with our bags in the gross Louisiana humidity we hailed a cab. We zipped along the freeway in our taxivan and I thought about how great the trip had been, but I must say, all the partying took a lot out of me and I was kind of relieved it was over.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans – Part 3

I ended being the first one up Monday morning, and it didn’t look like anyone else had intentions of getting up anytime soon so I figured I might as well get up and go see some sights. It was kind of nice waking up and going out on my own to explore around town. Even though it was around 10 or 11 in the morning there were already crowds of people in the streets watching parades on Canal Street and collecting beads on Bourbon Street.

I made my way down Bourbon Street which was still crowded during the day but not nearly as bad as it was durning the night.

The first place I wanted to check out was called Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop which is supposedly the oldest continually running bar in the United States and was once owned by the pirate Jean Lafitte.

I stopped by the bar but didn’t go inside since it was still early and I had other things I wanted to see. I got off Bourbon Street and started walking through the surrounding neighborhood which was quite nice.

I liked walking around checking out the architecture and getting away from the crowds. I made my way towards the Tremé area and eventually found myself in Louis Armstrong Park.

I didn’t intentionally mean to visit the park but it was a nice area with not that many people around so I hung around there for a little bit.

I finally made my way over to Saint Louis Cemetery Number One which I really wanted to check out since it’s like the oldest cemetery in New Orleans.

The cemetery had a few tour groups wandering the grounds; I tried to stay away from the tour groups and just show myself around. It felt more eerie walking around through the maze of above-ground tombs by myself anyway.

While in the cemetery I was able to visit the supposed tomb of Voodoo Queen,  Marie Laveau which had all types of offerings set around it and the three ‘X’s marked all over it.

I think the three ‘X’s were supposed to symbolize wishes her spirit had granted to people but I’m pretty sure now it’s just a touristy thing to do.

 I left the cemetery after spending an ample amount of time there and eventually met up with my friend Arun who was now out and about. Once we met up we decided to cruise over to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop where I had passed by earlier, and this time I actually got a beer.

We met some friendly folks there and chatted, but we started getting hungry for lunch so we headed out. I had looked up a place called 13 which was on Frenchman Street that was supposed to have some vegetarian offerings for us, however when we got there we were informed that they had changed their menu during Mardi Gras to make it easier for their kitchen to get orders out. Luckily for us we saw a Mediterranean place across the street called Mona’s Cafe which wasn’t too busy and also had some pretty excellent food. After we finished eating the rest of our friends had met up with us on Frenchman Street but I was about ready for a nap so I headed back to the hotel for a while. While I was attempting to nap I kept hearing what I thought to be a horrible drummer in the streets below but it turned out to be fireworks that were happening over the Mississippi. I got a pretty awesome view of the show from our hotel window.

After my unsuccessful nap attempt I returned to Frenchman Street to meet up with my friends. They had occupied a spot at a bar called DBA which had a pretty good beer selection and also had live music which people were going nuts over.

We hung out at DBA for a while meeting interesting characters, talking, and drinking before we finally decided to call it a night. I definitely enjoyed hanging out on Frenchman Street that day, it was kind of a different atmosphere than Bourbon Street but still positively festive, as Mardi Gras should be.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans – Part 2

After our first night of partying on Bourbon Street we woke up around noon and had a look out our hotel window. This was the first time we had a glimpse of New Orleans during the daytime and we were pleased to see it was looking awesome outside.

We could see parades happening in the streets below and enjoyed watching the Steamboat Natchez make it’s rounds on the Mississippi.

Even though it was past noon it was time for us to get breakfast so we hit the street in an effort to find somewhere to eat. This was not the easiest thing to do. We battled the crowds and parade routes trying to find a decent place to get some grub. It was even harder finding good food during Mardi Gras being a vegetarian.

After a while of walking around aimlessly we settled for some carnival style food from a street vendor. I bought a $5 piece of pizza which tasted like cardboard; it wasn’t good at all but at least we weren’t so hungry anymore. Since we now had some food in our stomachs we decided it was now time to grab some beers. We headed over to a place called the American Sector which is part of the National World War II Museum, so before going to the restaurant we stopped inside the museum to take a quick look around.

The restaurant was actually across the street from the museum and was connected to a place called the Stage Door Canteen, which is also part of the museum. We took our seats at the bar, had a friendly exchange with the bartender, and ultimately ordered their “P-51” dark amber ale.

After some time at the bar we wandered out onto their patio which was totally unoccupied. The restaurant wasn’t all that crowded even with Mardi Gras going on and it felt nice to get away from the crowds for a while.  Since the place was so nice and mellow we ordered more beers, cocktails, and had some food; all of which was great.

Having spent about 4 hours at the American Sector we finally decided we should mosey on to somewhere else. There was another bar nearby called Circle Bar I wanted to check out so we headed over and it was probably only a few blocks away. Circle Bar is appropriately located right off Lee Circle where the General Lee Monument is located.

Unfortunately Circle Bar wasn’t as mellow as the American Sector, and happened to be on the forefront of the next upcoming parade, so there was a $5 cover to get. We didn’t really have any other plans until later so we decided to pay the cover and went inside and grabbed some beers. Circle Bar was a little on the small side but wasn’t too crowded and had a great jukebox.  After a little time there I left my friends to go back to the hotel to get in a quick (unsuccessful) nap before we went out at night. Around 9pm my buddy Josh woke me up and it was time to go. Earlier in the trip, just by luck, he procured us some free passes to a Captain Morgan’s Party on Bourbon Street that was to have an open bar and free food. I was skeptical at first but as we walked up to the place it looked legit.

The party was being held at a place called The Bourbon Street Blues Company and with our passes we were able to go upstairs where we got balcony access.

I must say, once inside I was pretty impressed. The place wasn’t too crowded so it was easy to get drinks, and it was nice to hang out on the balcony to see what was going on down on the street.

After getting our fair share of free drinks and pizza I decided we should leave and see what else was happening. Josh wasn’t quite ready to leave so I left with my two friends Andy and Arun. We ended up wandering into some random bar to use the bathroom but also ended up getting drinks there. Andy got the jello shots. Two of them, because he’s awesome.

We eventually made our way back to our hotel room at some point and by the time we got back Josh had beat us there. For some reason he had locked himself in the bathroom and was taking a bubble bath; maybe he had to wash off the Mardi Gras. I eventually barged in because I had to pee, and then Arun, Andy, and I hit the town again for some more trouble.