The NOLA Diaries – Day Two – Mardi Gras, $2,000 and grenades

On day two we found ourselves walking around an industrial estate in the hopes of finding Mardi Gras World, on crossing over a train track to what doesn’t seem to be a pedestrian friendly entrance, we finally found it.

It’s not often you are surrounded by giant heads of football players, Elvis Presely, a flamingo and the devil upon entering a museum – but that’s New Orleans for you.

Mardi Gras World felt like where Disney characters and their friends come to retire, it was very odd.

Fun Facts about Mardi Gras:

  • It stands for ‘Fat Tuesday’
  • It begins on January 6th every year all the way to, you guessed it Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday aka Pancake Day
  • The colours of Mardi Gras are Purple, Green and Gold
  • They eat ‘King Cake’ which is purple, green and gold that has a plastic baby baked inside of it (it’s so sweet I couldn’t eat it)
  • Beads are thrown from the floats to the crowds below, they are then thrown back onto the floats by the crowds
  • Beads are synonymous with flashing, seriously
  • Floats are paid for by those on them, as they are not allowed to be sponsored
  • To be on a float it can cost up to $1000 because you are paying for the artwork/maintenance as well as to be a part of the parade
  • You have to know what theme your float will be the year before so Mardi Gras World can start on them in good time
  • The float characters can be made from polystyrene or fiber glass
  • The people who create the floats and characters also design for Disney Land among other big names

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All Completely Fake

Mardi Gras World was great fun, and I would definitely recommend it, just seeing the amount of detail that goes into these floats is unreal.

They also have a secret warehouse that they have made to look like the outside of a mansion house on a bayou  – a marshy outlet of a lake or river.
This had nothing to do with Mardi Gras or floats, but it was an insane event space and Flo and I couldn’t help but plan how we could come back here.

Imagine coming from extreme sunshine and humidity at 11am to walk into a warehouse that was cool, night time, had swamps, old trees and quite frankly a very impressive house at the end – all completely fake.

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Both Rude and Polite at the Same Time

NOLA is filled with incredible food, and on our bucket list was – beignets, fried chicken, oysters,  po’boys, gumbo, muffaletta, jambalaya, and andouille sausage.

AS you can tell from my previous blog post  we had already conquered beignets and muffaletta – so it was time to head for gumbo.

We had been recommended the Gumbo Shop by many people, including our hostel, so it seemed like this was the necessary place to go to get our fill of this famous dish.

We headed back to the famous French Quarter and waltzed into the restaurant, not really sure what to expect.

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Absolutely parched from trailing about industrial estates we ordered a local beer and looked at the menu. As much as they had a lot on offer we were here for one thing, and one thing only.

Our waiter was confusingly both rude and polite at the same time. He told us that there was a turkey special of the gumbo and I asked – Is that similar to the chicken one flavourwise then?

He replied – No, it is turkey. 

Right, I tell you what I will never ask a question in New Orleans again. Between him and Josie I get the feeling this is not what you are supposed to do.

Anyway…

Gumbo is a kind of stew with Creole influences, filled with flavour and spice. Flo went for the seafood option and I headed for the chicken. This was honestly absolutely delicious and there was a massive difference between the two choices. We sopped it up with fresh bread and butter and loved every second…

That we were allowed to enjoy.

When you were finished you were finished,  you are not allowed another drink order because you are rushed out of that place before you can say ‘thank you’.

Very confusing when the waiter is incredibly lovely to you but also wants you OUT, sounds like a restaurant one night stand.

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He Lost $2,000

As we were in the French Quarter aka Party Town – we decided WHY NOT GRAB A DRINK. So we headed to Tropical Isle, a famous bar in New Orleans with 3 or 4 spotted up and down Bourbon Street. Why is it famous you ask? Because they serve HAND GRENADES.

No one knows what is in a Hand Grenade, what I do know is that it tastes like melon and you are only allowed up to 4. We stuck to 2, because the hostel told us about two Aussies who had 5 EACH, and we also met those Aussies. This is what happens when you drink too many:

  • Aussie One – was sick over the side of his bunk bed in the hostel onto the French girl below, she wasn’t very happy
  • Aussie Two – gave his card to someone, and possibly his pin number, as the stranger (who he cannot remember) took out $500 from 4 different cash machines

These were big guys who could clearly  handle their drink, so these stories were a firm warning – do not mess with a Hand Grenade.

They are SO easy to drink as well so you can see why people get so sh*tfaced.

Being forced to take a shot out of a waitresses mouth

After our gumbo and grenade afternoon (not a sentence I ever thought I would say) we headed back to the hostel to chill, get changed and join the troops for pre-drinks.

We ended up going out with Germany,  Mr South, Aussie 1, Aussie 2, London 1 and London 2. We took the tram into the French Quarter which is a rickety old thing and takes forever (it would have been quicker walking – but who are we to go against the crowd).

What is great about NOLA/ Bourbon Street, is that you can buy one drink in a bar and then take that drink to every bar on the street – so if you are drinking something strong (aka a Grenade) you don’t have to rush it during your bar crawl.

From listening to live music, throwing (small plastic) grenades into a net, to watching people being thrown off of an electric bull (apart from Mr South), being forced to take a shot out of a waitresses mouth and then eating $40 worth of fried chicken (kindly bought by Aussie 2) – this was an epic night.

TBC…

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