Originally posted on Pink Pangea
“It’s a marathon not a sprint” is the phrase you will hear most often during Mardi Gras.
For those who don’t know, Mardi Gras is a carnival celebrated in New Orleans and some other parts of Louisiana and the South. It’s for Fat Tuesday, the last hurrah before Ash Wednesday and Lent. Mardi Gras involves parades with huge floats, marching bands, cheerleaders and dancers that go all over the city. This was my first experience of Mardi Gras, as I’m on a study abroad exchange program in New Orleans.
Watch out when you’re catching beads. People have been known to knock their teeth out…
Before the parades started, I managed to get tonsillitis, which was extremely disappointing as it meant that I would be on antibiotics and probably have to take it easy. However, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise as I was able to really pace myself and not overdo it on the alcohol. With the Muses paradestarting on Thursday 12th February and Fat Tuesday being the 17th, you have to be careful if you want to make it to the end.
Here are a few things I’ve discovered that will hopefully help any ladies who want to travel to New Orleans during this crazy period!
1. Check the weather every day and dress accordingly – some days I wore sunscreen and other days I needed a raincoat and umbrella.
2. Wear comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty. Be prepared to walk a lot!
3. Carry cash, as lots of places won’t accept card payments. Taxi drivers also prefer to be paid in cash.
4. Bring your own alcohol and food to save money. At each parade there are throws–free giveaways–and at the Krewe of Tucks, I got a little flask that I could attach to my bag.
5. Visit the church on St. Charles when you go to the Uptown parades. It has free toilets, serves alcohol, hot drinks and reasonably priced food. Try the homemade cookies! This place is amazing if you need to shelter from the rain.
6. Watch out when you’re catching beads. People have been known to knock their teeth out…
7. It can be tricky finding a toilet Downtown, but if you buy a frozen yoghurt on Canal Street, you get a voucher that allows you to go back and use the bathroom. This also goes for buying a drink at the Avenue Pub on St. Charles.
8. There is an app you can download called Airpnp that will help you locate the nearest loos.
9. Don’t drink too much beer if you don’t want to spend too long queuing for portaloos.
10. Bring tissues/toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
11. Do the all-nighter from Lundi Gras to Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) inside not out in the cold. Some people camp out on St. Charles and have barbeques, which sounds like a great idea but in reality, it’s freezing. It’s probably best to stay indoors for as long as possible to ensure you have enough strength to keep going for the 8am parades on Fat Tuesday.
12. Don’t bring your own alcohol to the Boot for the Tequila Sunrise all-nighter because it will get confiscated.
13. Stand clear of the marching bands. I managed to get whacked in the chest by a drummer, which was not fun. The bands take up a lot of room on the parade route so keep your distance.
14. Have fun and stay safe. You will never experience anything like this again!