Honestly, now I don't even remember where I got the idea to go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. But if you've been following my blog for some time , you remember that in 2009 I started my first Bucket List, and one of the ideas was - Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
Well, two years later, I've made it happen !
Partly inspired by Rio de Janeiro 's Carnaval, partly by articles like " 10 Best places to get drunk in public", I wanted to experience this celebrated -around -the- world event first hand.
I had only a couple days to spend in New Orleans, and being XHyperActive, I wanted to see/do everything ( or at least as much as possible). After surfing the net and checking out some of the Lonely Planet books, I found... tons of absolutely useless information.
So here, I'd like to offer a few of my own tips, and I hope they'll be useful:
- If you are not planning to "get wild and out of control" try not to go there the last weekend/Monday/Tuesday or at least avoid the famous Bourbon Street
- The cheapest way to get from airport to Canal St is by bus ( instead of taking taxi/shuttle for $33)
- The cheapest place to stay is 10 minutes away from downtown along Tulane Ave ( I got a room on the day of my arrival for $70 )
- The famous drinks to try - Hurricane/Hand grenades/Bloody Mari/anything with alcohol in it
- The famous food ? Don't even know where to start. I've never been a big food snob, but trying out "authentic southern cuisine" was one of my reasons to visit New Orleans. Got to try : po-boys ( basically a seafood Subway sandwich ); Jambalaya ( spicy fried rice with sausages/seafood); Cajun cuisine ( everything spicy); Beignets ( powdered doughnuts )
Things to do ?
River boat tours
As a kid growing up in Western Siberia, I was fascinated by Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn/ Tom Sawyer, and never thought that one day I would travel on the mighty Mississippi River, where Twain operated a steam-powered riverboat.
A unique journey back to the early days of Louisiana bayou and swamp explorations is a "must do" during your visit. Just 3-4 hours long, these trips offer a quick look at the Louisiana Wetlands, the inhabitants of the swamps, and particularly the life and habits of the American alligator.
Optional - The French Quarter History Tour. A better alternative - read a book, and go for a walk or better watch "The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans".
Turned out, I am not a big fan of carnivals. But the French Quarter made an unforgettable impression on me. If visiting Paris/Spain seems like a "dream that won't happen", New Orleans is a cheap ( "off season" ) and a great alternative.
P.S: There was another "heavily promoted " tour - Hurricane Katrina tour, traveling through neighborhoods affected by the hurricane. I wasn't sure if I wanted to ride around on a bus looking at other people's devastation...."they say that money goes towards families affected by this disaster"...If you believe in something like that, aside from Mardi Gras, that's another reason to visit this wonderful town. If not, here are " Top 10 reasons to travel to New Orleans "...