What: Mardi Gras
Where: Bourbon Street in New Orleans, LA
When: February 9th-February 12th
Who: Myself, Gwen, Nate, Derrick, Gwen’s 2 college friends (Morgan & Leanne) and 6 other people
Why: When living in Louisiana, do as the New Orleanians do.
Wow. Mardi Gras. What an experience. I think the easiest way to talk about my days in New Orleans is to break it up by day. So HERE WE GO…
Music blaring and coffee in hand, I drove to A-town (AKA Alexandria) to Derrick’s apartment. From there he and I made the 3 1/2 hour drive to NOLA. After a failed attempt to use my ‘Mardi Gras Jam City’ playlist, we spent the tripping talking about life and trying to find a decent radio station. We only stopped once to get gas and get Starbucks, but due to poor city planning, we got back on the highway before making it to Starbucks. We hit major traffic getting into the New Orleans, but at least we got to drive past the Super Dome (BEYONCE WAS HERE!)
We get into the city and we literally drive right up to a FREE and OPEN street parking spot that is a block from our hotel. Maybe this is a sign for a good weekend! Derrick and I are both starving, so we walk around and find a good place to eat. The streets are filled with Elephant Ear stands, Domino pizza carts and places to get frozen drinks. We feel like our luck is running out..We start wandering onto some of the side streets, turn a corner and what do we see? A man on the sidewalk, comatose. People were checking to see if he had a pulse. I don’t think he was breathing. We end up eating at Sergio’s, which was actually on Bobby Flay’s Throwdown where they tried to see who had the best Muffaletta. Even though Bobby Flay lost, we still got Shrimp Po-Boys and Bud Lights. We walk outside to a Mardi Gras Parade (one of many). We had a good time catching beads and watching the floats. A nice family even gave Derrick and I some jello shots.
We finally get into our hotel room and meet up with the rest of our group, as well as meet the other people we are staying in the room with. We had an awesome view of the street and parades from our hotel room. After spending some time in the room <drinking>, we made our way downstairs to a parade that was going on. Our group then tried to hang out Bourbon Street, but due to the immense crowds and craziness, we just hung out on canal street then got waffles at IHOP. We were up so late, we got to watch them clean the trash and beads from the street!! Crazy how much there was!
The next morning, Derrick and I got up and went to breakfast at The Ruby Slipper, which is near the Warehouse District. Since there was a 45 minute wait, we went and took a walk down by the Riverwalk. We walked down past the casino and took pictures in front of a lobster.
We made our way back to the restaurant and ate!! It was so good!! We both had peach bellinis then Derrick had shrimp & grits and I had a omelet with cheese, mushrooms and spinach with a side of grits. I was pleasantly surprised about the grits. They would have been better with cheese. The omelet was also really good. very fluffy, but filling.
After breakfast, we met up with the rest of the group at the hotel and ran around. We spent sometime in Harrah’s. Leanne made 3 dollars, but the rest of us came out empty handed. We made our way back to Bourbon Street where I not only did we get Hand Grenades (a drink that we have no idea what is in it) at Tropical Isle, but I also got my picture taken with THE hand grenade. Although it was kind of groping me through is costume (that’s why I’m laughing). We went to a gay bar where I ran into guys that went to ULM and live currently in Chicago. Love running into people from home, even when I have no idea who they are. We also went to Pat O’ Brian’s to get their famous Hurricanes. The most exciting thing that happened that night was we went to Channing Tatum’s bar on Bourbon Street, Saints & Sinners. It looks pretty cute for having the name ‘Sinners’ in it. We even got on the balcony and through bead at people. A guy told us to come back the next night because they were taking pictures for the website…The night ended with seeing yet MORE passed out drunks and waffles at IHOP.
On Monday it rained off and on all day! Leanne lost one of her contacts, so her, Gwen, Morgan and Nate ran to a local eye doctor. While they were gone, Derrick and I walked around in the rain trying to find coffee. After being “shooed” from a Starbucks, we wandered into a PJ’s coffee for some rain coverage and caffeine. While the coffee was bad, the company was good. We were hungry for lunch, but wanted to wait for the rest our group to eat lunch. We wandered into this little dive place and had some chicken gumbo. The work staff was…intense….but the food was good. When all met up again at Mother’s…a New Orleans must. The line was out the door, but we were entertained by the Commissioner of Tailgating himself, Mr. Joe Cahn. While we had no idea if his stories were true, we googled him and his story checked out. We even got a picture with him! He even does things for the Travel Channel. Check out his website here! We also walked down by the waterfront because there was the ZuLu music festival going on. We listened to this band at an outside cafe, we walked into an art gallery. Later that night, we thought we were going to go back to Saints & Sinners, but we looked rough after all the rain, so we decided to skip it. We also wandered to find this place called Mona Lisa Pizza. They ended up being closed, so that was a fail. We ended up eating at an overpriced pizza place. While bar hopping, we met up with 2 of Nate’s friends and went for a late night snack at Cafe Du Monde for beignets. Safe to say I was not being a dietitian this weekend…Also, we saw Nick Cannon on a parade float!! Pretty cool!
Tuesday was our last night there. It rained off and on, but that didn’t stop us from spending our last day in NOLA outside on the streets. We tried to find place to eat lunch and went to Domenica’s inside The Roosevelt Hotel. I got this roasted eggplant pizza. SO GOOD!! After going back to the hotel and hanging out with people, we all went our separate ways. On our way out of town, Derrick and I got detoured due to the parade that was ongoing, but still managed to get on the highway. We went a different way then when we came. We actually went through Hammond, LA which is where the movie “The Lucky One” takes place. We got Starbucks to tide us over until we got to Lafayette where we got the food we had been longing for since Saturday….JIMMY JOHNS! It was so good. By the time we got back to Alexandria, it was 8pm, then I still had a long (and lonely) drive back to Monroe. It was the first time I had been alone since the start of Mardi Gras. It felt soo go to be back in my own bed and unpack. Felt good to be clean again!
Wednesday I was sore and tired. After sleeping the morning away, I awoke and joined Gwen, Nate, Morgan and Leanne to the Bierdharn Coke Museum and Gardens in Monroe. We got a history about the Biedharns, who moved to Monroe and bottled Coca-Cola. We even got cokes for a nickle in a glass bottle!! After the tour of the museum, we got a tour of Emmy-Lou Bierdharn’s home. She was the daughter of the man who started bottled Cokes in Monroe. She was a very wealthy woman and loved having nice things. She had a career as an opera singer in Europe but moved back to Monroe due to the war. I got to play on her grand piano!! (see picture below) We also walked around in the outside garden. If I was living in Monroe for the rest of my life, I would get married in this garden. It was gorgeous. Apparently they have concerts here in the spring and summer. I’m sure it is really pretty during that time.
I also planned on writing this blog entry, but that obviously, that did not happen. I could barely do my homework. I used Wednesday as a R&R day, and by R&R I mean rest and recover!
Overall, the weekend was great! Nobody got sick, nobody got hurt, nobody fought (at least with each other) and nobody got lost, raped or killed (except for that one guy that got shot on Bourbon)! Pretty successful for us! This time last week I was in New Orleans and a week later, I’m still recovering. Next week is a new week!
P.S. I know I wrote a lot, but that is mainly for me, so I remember what I did!! 1000 brownie points for you if you actually read this whole thing!