Mardi Gras Weekend in New Orleans

Mardi Gras in New Orleans is an experience that I feel everyone should have at least once. My girlfriend and I had one of the greatest, alcohol-fueled weekends that the Crescent City had to offer.


Mardi Gras Weekend in New Orleans

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by ripplefan2 on June 5, 2007

I mean it's Mardi Gras...What isn't there to do? I would suggest not getting too drunk where you would miss the parades. Those are really cool and extremely out there with the costume designs.${QuickSuggestions} Print out coupons from www.neworleansonline.com. There are hundreds that can save you tons and open you up other things you wouldn't normally do. There are also plenty of free shows happening near Jackson Square and a great group of street performers right across the street on the weekends. You can't miss them because they are screaming, hollering and blasting music...and, oh yeah, dancing and doing tricks. It's really a sight to see.${BestWay} I would suggest walking everywhere because everything is basically centrally located. There is a trolley car that goes along the river if you are so inclined. But to truly experience the wonder of New Orleans, walking, soaking in the music that emminates out of the bars like pheromones to the drinker and seeing the crazy people that park on every street corner, enjoying the fun and excitment that is Mardi Gras.

Olde Town Inn

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by ripplefan2 on July 9, 2007

When I made it down to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, my girlfriend and I ended up staying in the Olde Town Inn (http://www.oldetowninn.com/Welcome.html)on Marigny Street because everything else was booked. Running us around $80 a night, this place was affordable, but it was way the hell out there.
Upon arriving, we were greeted in the office by a team of the most relaxed dogs that I have ever seen. The woman in charge couldn't have been nicer, telling us what was happening that day and even drawing a map for us so we knew where to go. Then she and one of her dogs, lead us upstairs to our room.
Situated on the second floor, our room had a beautiful view of the courtyard area. The room itself was a picturesque room with a ceiling fan, AC unit, private bathroom, dressers, closets, and even a little living area. But we didn't have time the first day to explore the room, we had Bourbon Street calling our names.
The next day we awoke to a fresh, free breakfast of bagels, muffins, coffee, tea, and an assortment of juices. Nothing like waking up and have a free, great breakfast. The food was also served in a small enclosed lounge area with a microwave and sink, if you wanted to bring food back and heat it up.
All in all, this place was amazing and totally worth the money, however the distance to Bourbon was a little unbearable. It was something like a 20 minute walk to the end of Bourbon, with the bars another 10 minutes away or so. But the Olde Town Inn was nice and a good place to stay if you can't stay in the French Quarter.
Olde Town Inn
1001 Marigny Street
New Orleans, Louisiana, 70117
(504) 949-5815

Aquarium of the Americas

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by ripplefan2 on July 6, 2007

There is nothing like a trip to the aquarium, no matter what city you are in, but the Audubon Aquarium (www.neworleansonline.com/directory/location.php?locationID=1246) in New Orleans is truly unique. Offering tons of marine life from the local surroundings of the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico, the attractions are unrivaled. Located right on Canal Street overlooking the Mighty Mississippi, this aquarium is perfectly located no matter where you are staying.

With the admission being a bit high ($17/person for adults), you really do get the most bang for your buck. But please try to go when school is out because I went during Mardi Gras on a Friday, thinking I would be the crowd, and I was way off. Apparently every school comes down here for a field trip and little kids + hangover = unhappy traveler.

Anyway, inside, there were some really cool attractions. There was an albino alligator, tons of different jellyfish (ones that even seemed to be producing electric lights), Sea Otters, a really cool tunnel that goes under water to view the inhabitants of the tanks and much more. In the tropical forest area, there were two Toucan birds looming right over head, Piranha’s, Monkey’s and plenty more jungle life that you are not really supposed to play with, but the workers there don’t seem to care so much.

One of the coolest things to see is midday when they feed the fish I n the giant tank. First of all, the big tank contains a community of fish that is reminiscent of a community center during a town meeting, and they are everywhere. There are sharks, stingrays, barracuda’s, turtles and a multicolored universe of fish. In one of the rooms, there is a giant viewing area that looks like a movie theater with a screen that is very much alive. The workers drop tons of dead fish into the tank and the fish take different turns scarfing down whatever they can. The sharks grab a little here and there, but the stingrays are the ones to watch; they eat right up against the glass so no other inhabitants can share in their delicacies.

There is plenty more to do while here, but I would hate to ruin the fun that each floor has to offer. However, while you are the aquarium, buy the combo ticket that goes with the IMAX movie, because they are pretty interesting. I bought a ticket for what I though was the shark show and ended up watching a documentary about New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina and the effects. It was very moving and worth it completely. I also heard the shark show was really cool, but I will catch it next time.
Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
1 Canal Street
New Orleans, Louisiana, 70130
(800) 774-7394

French Market

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by ripplefan2 on July 10, 2007

Situated right near the banks green edge of the mighty Mississippi, this seemingly impromptu street fair happens everyday just passed its beige colored archway. The French Market is one crazy place and be prepared for thousands of people in a relatively small area for hours at a time. Try to get there either first thing in the morning, or more towards dusk, when they are closing. At any one time, you could be waiting for minutes as the wave of people come crashing in like a tsunami of consumers; taking all they can in the rush and leaving money in its wake.

Anything that you could possible be looking for is right here; beads, masks, boas, gifts, hats, shirts, etc. But everything is negotiable and a price can easily be rendered in your favor, as long as you are willing to bargain a bit. Try to never settle on a given price, unless you know its a deal, a always give a counter offer. At the French Market, this works really well. One of the coolest things that I found there were these paintings of the Crescent City on old pieces of marble and stone. These are all around the city, but for $10-$20 a piece; at the French Market, I got one for $7. A lot of things were like that, so before you plan on that perfect souvenir, the French Market should be one of last stops, this way you'll know it’s a good deal. However, if you are looking for that perfect Mardi Gras outfit, maybe this should be a first stop so you can save a bit of dough for the night time and you can have more money for Bourbon Street. Whatever your fancy, definitely make the French Market a sight that you witness, it's worth it.
French Market
1008 North Peters Street
New Orleans, Louisiana, 70130
(504) 522-2621

Mardi Gras

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by ripplefan2 on June 5, 2007

I know what you’re thinking, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, who needs a review, I know what to expect. But do you really? I thought I did but I was way off. I decided that my girlfriend and I needed a weekend off and bought us tickets down to the Crescent City. Unfortunately, we rented a hotel room a little late. Although our hotel was picturesque and perfect, the location was not ideal for a couple of seasoned drinkers, but right up our alley in the price department – about $80/night. The Olde Town Inn on Marigny Street was our choice. (www.oldetowninn.com) Situated in the residential area just past the historic French Quarter, it was filled with a surreal experience. Even though the city is considered rebuilt and flourishing, our area was anything but. Every other house was abandoned and marked from the last time it was searched by the Coast Guard after Hurricane Katrina. Our hotel had recently been revitalized, just as the city had been, and really had the feeling of what this city was supposed to feel like during the Mardi Gras celebrations. The lounge chair filled courtyard was lined with day glo beads, flags and posters along with a free breakfast and kitchen/lounge area.

Immediately after dropping off our bags, we set out on our journey to the notorious French Quarter. After crossing Elysian Fields Road (an appropriately named street) and Esplanade Road, we started on the end of the famed Bourbon Street. The end of the street is covered with Spanish style homes and beautiful trees, all leading up to the ever growing noise and ambiance of the center of the French Quarter.

It being 1pm and a Thursday, it seemed like a good as time as any to start drinking. But not just any drink; a New Orleans drink. Our first stop was The Beach Club. The rustic styled bar with a small, offset stage, Zydeco music blasting out of the jut box and drunken people on (or under) every available barstool. The drink that the Beach Club claimed to be famous for was The Hand Grenade, a full on concoction of liquor and sweet juices. The cups are plastic (as all cups in the French Quarter are since no glass is allowed) tubes with the base shaped like a grenade and an actual plastic grenade floating on the top. The idea is to finish the drink (duh) and then take the plastic grenade toy and throw it up into a basket hanging from the ceiling filled with these remnants of drinkers past. Sounds like an easy enough thing to do, but after a Hand Grenade, that basket seems as big as the top of a nail.

The Hand Grenade was great but why stop there, right? So we packed up our livers and stumbled down to the next bar, which was only across the street. We were brought in by the live music pouring out the doors like a cartoon hand luring our floating bodies through the masses of drunkards. On the stage, a local band was playing every song you could every think of, from Jimi Hendrix to Nirvana to Britney Spears. And all of the songs sounded like someone just put these records on through the speaker system. It was here that we discovered the dreaded drink that New Orleans is famous for, The Hurricane. Never In all my life have I ever had a mixed drink that made me forget so much. I remember leaving the bar after a jug of The Hurricane, and then walking around but not making it far. After what only seemed like a minute, we were back on our voyage back to The Olde Town Inn.

The evening seemed to be where most of the action that you have seen on television, or heard about from friends, is. And man is it there. Walking down Bourbon Street after the sun has fully set is an experience all in its own. The streets are packed with people, drinks, music, boobs and cops. At every corner there are groups of police wishing a happy Mardi Gras and beads come flying from the heavens as if it were raining cheap plastic. It’s kind of strange to see grown adults reduced to bead junkies, willing to stab their fellow man for these shining, flimsy necklaces.

One of our greatest experiences was while walking down Bourbon Street and dead center on the horizon was a sign that had me stop dead in my tracks; Huge Ass Beers To Go. And were they ever! After that, we headed to Canal Street to watch the Mardi Gras parade festivities.

Giant, elaborate floats cruised by with jesters, knights, and children throwing beads and other Mardi Gras peripheral at the ever growing crowd of onlookers. On Canal, the city’s true artists come out. On the corner of Bourbon and Canal, a face painter stood covered in tie-dyed robes offering free face paintings in return for tips and a picture for his collection. A horn blower sat on the adjacent corner blasting the hypnotic sounds of Miles Davis. It was a truly unique place to be at that time.

The next day, to help quell our hangover, we decided that a gingerly walk into the French Quarter was a good idea and walk along the river to the aquarium. Our first stop was the highly regarded Café Du Monde (800 Decatur St.) for some coffee and beignets (French doughnuts). If you have the chance, I highly recommend a visit to the café, not only for the beignets, but also for the ambiance. An esoteric group of musicians and artists surround themselves outside the café and entertain the dining room.

While walking along the river bend, you realize how the city got its nickname of the Crescent City. Also, the muddy waters of the mighty Mississippi are extremely calming to view. If you planning on going to the aquarium during the weekend, do not go during the day, thinking that you will beat the crowds. All schools in the surrounding areas take their students there, so you will inundated with screaming kids all day. Not an ideal situation for a hangover. However, the beauty and wonder of the aquarium is worth the hectic students. There is a combo package that I would recommend that includes admission to the aquarium as well as an IMAX movie that is playing next door. We were lucky enough to see a documentary about the Wetlands and the hurricanes. It was extremely moving and very intense.

With our headaches still in tact, we headed over to the French Market on the opposite end of the cable car line near Café Du Monde. The arc doorway leads you into the outdoor commerce of the French Market. Anything, I mean anything, that you are looking for can be found there. But bring your bargaining mind, because you can talk anybody down in price. If a price doesn’t work for you, start to walk away and they come after you and offer a better price.

One of our last stops, before leaving New Orleans was an intimate dinner at the Red Fish Grill (www.redfishgrill.com) on Bourbon and Iberville streets. The two of us sat down to a romantic seafood dinner and a bottle of wine. I have never had such mouth watering, delectable food. Our hotel recommended this place and it was to die for. If you are a seafood lover and are in the neighborhood of the French Quarter, the Red Fish Grill should be one of your stops.

Full and satiated, we headed back out into the raucous of Bourbon Street for one more boob flashing night filled with intense drinking. We went to a place whose slogan is “Turning one drink into 4am.” Pat O’Brian’s was our destination for our last hooray, and what a hooray. Outdoor patio’s, heat lamps, music, and Hurricanes as far as the eye could see. There could have not been a better way to finish up our trip and I recommend it all to everyone.

For all of you who plan on visiting the Crescent City during Mardi Gras, have the time of your lives. But pack Advil, Alka-Seltzer and condoms. If I have to explain why to bring these, New Orleans isn’t for you. Enjoy! Bon Chance!

http://www.igougo.com/journal-j66593-New_Orleans-Mardi_Gras_Weekend_in_New_Orleans.html

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