Bonjour mes amis! It is your lovely world wandering wanderess back from another adventurous adventure! This time to New Orleans for the Superbowl and Fat Tuesday! Mardi Gras baby!!
Now, I’ve been to New Orleans several times for work, but have never had the chance to attend Mardi Gras. I figured that this is the year to knock off a lot of bucket-list items, I did bring in the New Year in NYC watching the ball drop, so why not add in another crazy item to cross out?! You only live once right??
I was lucky enough to have my amazing boyfriend and two other fantastic coworkers join me on this adventure! With less than 24 hours off from my pre Superbowl festivities to this one, I ran home, did laundry, packed, and headed to bed.
Within the running around though, I would like to add a quick side note about a fabulous woman named Amber who makes Bronco’s tutus. I drove all around town the night before I left trying to find her stand, and found it at my very last stop (off of Gun Club and Quincy in Aurora). She was out of tutu’s but so graciously offered to special make mine and have me pick it up on my way to the airport the next morning. Talk about a rock star individual! I am absolutely in love with the tutu! I will be wearing it to EVERY Bronco event and promoting her like crazy. Thank you again Amber, you’re beyond amazing!! See picture below, and it’s even cuter in person!!
Now back to our regularly scheduled programming
The Mardi Gras festivities began early Sunday afternoon. We landed in New Orleans around 2pm and met up with an awesome local who took us to our first drive-through liquor experience!! I had heard about these places before but had no idea how drive-through-esq they really were. We went to a daiquiri place, pulled up, ordered our drinks, and drove on. Such a crazy experience, just like going through a McDonald’s drive through but for booze! Don’t worry folks, no drinking and driving occurred.
After getting our awesome drinks, we grabbed an Uber and headed down to the French Quarter, or at least attempted to. I had another fabulous coworker, Sandra, who was in town spending her yearly Mardi Gras with friends and had a reservation to watch the Broncos game at a bar just outside of the French Quarter. Our plan was to head to the hotel, drop our stuff off, and make it to the bar by 5pm. Little did we realize though, what normally would have been a 20 minute or less drive, took about an hour as we had to keep rerouting the driver because all the parades were happening. Nearly every street was blocked off and it was a mess to get anywhere, EVEN walking on foot. About halfway between our hotel and the bar, we all decided to jump out of the car and make our way on foot. We split up, as Tyler and I were DETERMINED to catch the Superbowl, so we took our backpacks and headed straight to the bar, the other two headed to the hotel.
Traveler’s tip. I always recommend packing as light as possible. One thing I’ve definitely discovered throughout my many travels is that you can survive with a lot less than you think. I always, on my personal travels, just pack a backpack, so that if I get stuck in random situations and do not have time to drop my stuff off, I can still walk around town and explore without being lugged down by tons of excess baggage. If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend attempting one of your travels with just a backpack. I use the same size backpack to travel for a weekend trip, then I do for a month trip. You just pack essentials and do laundry along the way if you need to. I promise you, it allows spontaneous adventures to be way more feasible when you have no giant bags weighing you down, and who cares if you wear the same outfit. Life is not about the material gains anyway, it’s about the adventures you find along the way.
After navigating ourselves through some parade madness we eventually made it to the Grand Isle (the bar), just in time for the beginning of the game. We met some fabulous people that night (two of them happened to be on our flight into New Orleans from Denver, small world), and caught up with old ones! We had one of the best spicy shrimp poboys ever, and an amazing local IPA to top it off. The game was fantastic, (HELLO DENVER BRONCO SUPERBOWL CHAMPS!) and the bar happened to be a Bronco bar, so everyone celebrated the win with us. It was a fantastic night! Despite the fact the commercials were hard to hear, and we didn’t really get to see the halftime show, (that’s what Youtube is for anyway!) real life experiences will always be better than the ones you watch on TV.
After the game ended we headed outside to catch some of the parades that were still going on. The floats were pretty spectacular, but started to look the same after a while, but all the bands are ridiculously talented and awesome to listen to! We got so many beads (and did not even have to flash a single boob), and random trinkets. Apparently they just throw them at you all the time, even when you’re not looking. Be careful! We caught several different parades and eventually a few hours later made it back to our hotel and called it a night. The adventures were just beginning and we wanted to be well rested for the days to follow.
Lundi Gras, aka Fat Monday, if there is such a thing, started a little bit later. Tyler and I slept in while Natalie and Valerie hit up the town early for breakfast dance parties, and Mardi Gras festivities. Tyler woke up not feeling so well that day, so we wanted to take it easy. We met up with the girls around 1pm to take part in a Haunted History Tour of New Orleans to learn more about this amazing city.
Now me, personally, I’m not a huge fan of tours. I like to discover a city on my own, and take things in at my own pace. I like to become a local while being a tourist, rather than be a tourist surrounded by locals. My one exception to that rule is when there are walking tours (no bus tours for this one), where I can actually see the city for myself and learn some awesome history along the way that I probably would not discover otherwise. This was definitely one of those tours. It took us about 2 hours and we wondered to some corners of the city I have not seen before.
If you have not watched American Horror Story Coven, I highly recommend it ( it is very brutal though, so just know you have been warned). It, for the most part (not all of course), hits on factual historical events about New Orleans and it’s residents. Two of the most prominent figures were Dalphine LaLaurie (the woman who brutally tortured her slaves, such an awful and sad story) and Marie Laveau (one of the best known voodoo queens). The tour included both of their houses, history about them, and of course places along the way that included the origins of vampires lore, and witchcraft acts within New Orleans. We also visited buildings where mass murders and awful crimes took place. The city indeed has a dark history and from the moment it was colonized, it was the home of the poor,and criminals alike. It was built to house those who would not conform to the European rule. It was a place for sinners, and wrong doers, and to this day explains the exotic and unique traits and culture of the city. We even learned some horror stories about the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel, the place we were staying at. Fun fact, nearly every hotel keeps a record of all ghost activity reported by guests or staff alike. You can ask the front desk to see the book if you dare…=)
After the tour we ran back to our hotel to bundle up some more (who knew New Orleans got cold!), and Tyler and I headed out to grab some food. This was Tyler’s first time in the city, so I tried my best to give him a quick tour despite the sickness that was quickly taking over him. We made the mistake of letting our stomachs guide us to the first open restaurant we found, and had probably one of the worst dinners you could have in New Orleans. The place was called Franks and was right off of Decatur Street. We got the New Orleans sampler that included gumbo, jambalaya, and red beans and rice, and they all tasted the same. It wasn’t until after we sat down and got our food that we checked out reviews and realized they had a 2 star rating. We could clearly see why. I do no recommend this place to anyone. Totally a rookie mistake. Sometimes, despite the fact you’re hungry, it pays to wait for great food at a busy restaurant and do your research than jump into the first available one you see.
After our meal I took Tyler to Cafe du Monde, one of the oldest and most famous beignet and coffee shops in New Orleans. I knew this would not be a let down and it definitely made up for our awful meal. On our way back to the hotel I showed him the Mississippi River overlook which is stunningly beautiful. We then made our way back to our hotel, just a few blocks away, and up to the rooftop to eat our beignets. A firework show started right as we got to the top over the Mississippi River so we enjoyed our beignets and coffee/hot chocolate with a beautiful view.
We wandered out once more that night to grab some water for our hotel, but called it another early night as Tyler’s sickness was only getting worse. We wanted to try our best to be awake and moving for the big day, Fat Tuesday the following morning!
One of the biggest parades for Fat Tuesday begins at 8am. The parade did not hit our location until around 11am though so we rolled out of bed late and headed that direction. Tyler had thrown up earlier that night and Natalie was still in bed, so Valerie and I headed up the street to watch the parade go down. Once again, the costumes, floats, and bands were amazing. We stayed for most of the parade and headed back to our hotel to grab the others.
On our way there was stopped on Bourbon Street. The best way to describe Mardi Gras, is Halloween for adults. Everyone is dressed up in costumes from superheros to handmade Mardi Gras themed suits. It’s a beautiful thing to witness. People put a lot of time and effort into their costumes and that alone is amazing to see. Bourbon Street itself is LINED with balconies and people EVERYWHERE throwing beads, catching beads, drinking, eating, dancing. It’s an amazing sight to see. You can’t quite explain the beautiful chaos that is Mardi Gras until you’ve experienced it yourself. It’s its own unique beauty.
Valerie had to leave early that day and head to Vegas for a bachelorette party so Natalie, Tyler, and I headed out to grab food. This time researching a good spot, and actually waiting in line for it. It was WELL worth it. We ended up eating at Royal House, and had probably some of the best food ever. We had some seafood pasta, shrimp and grits, and crawfish ravioli. It tasted fresh and so flavorful! The staff was ridiculously friendly too, despite the fact it was chaos. They kept dancing, chanting, and hopping around from table to table. It was a HUGE upgrade from our last spot. I highly recommend this place to anyone in the area!
After, we hit up Cafe du Monde again, toured the city some more, hit up Bourbon Street one final time, and called it a day.
Now my Mardi Gras trip was not nearly as drink and chaos filled as I had normally anticipated it being. With Tyler dealing with a nasty bug, we took the trip a lot easier than we originally thought we would have, but I have no regrets. We got to see the town, we got to remember it, and we got to embrace the chaos in the best way possible. I am not the biggest drinker anyway, so I think we did Mardi Gras right. We got our beads, we got our drinks, we got our food, and we experienced all that we could despite the sickness.
This weeks life moral is to always be ready to go with the flow. As I stated in my first post, you can attempt to plan every moment of your trip, down to the last second, but life always tends to get in the way. Traveling will teach you very quickly that you cannot control the uncontrollable and instead, you must learn to become super flexible. Yes, we did not get black out drunk on Bourbon Street, I did not flash my woohaa’s, and I did not dance on a bar top. What I did do though, was explore an amazing city, take part in one of the most famous holidays of the year, and experience it all with my best friend and love. THAT to me is way better than any expectation I may have had before the trip. So my wanderers, never be afraid to go off the plan, to do something different, and go beyond what is expected. Make your trip amazing despite hiccups you come across along the way, because life will always get in the way of life. The cool thing about that though, is you get to choose how to define it, so define it with a smile and make the most of all of it!
So until next time my loves! Go out, be spontaneous, go with the flow, and make the most of life because you only have one life to live! Talk to you all soon!