Mardi Gras crowds?
We are going to Mardi Gras '02 and I don't have any idea what to expect to be able to do. We are staying on Bourbon St at the Inn on Bourbon. Are we even going to be able to leave the hotel?!
We are going on Friday night and coming home the following Thursday. Can anyone give me a run down of what each day is like and help set my expectations?
I hope you like crowds and craziness. I'm from Boston and went during Mardi Gras about 18 years ago. I'm finally going back on Nov. 1 when there's absolutely nothing going on and I can't wait. Personally since I'm not big on drinking, I was easily annoyed. And I didn't even stay close to Bourbon St. at all. Plus tons of stuff was closed on whatever the holiday is (at least back then it was).
Been reading all the recommendations and have one question. The general consensus seems to be down with Emeril, and I ate at his place in Vegas and wasn't overly impressed. Do people think both Emeril's and Nola aren't worthwhile? Should the fancy expensive dinner out be Bayonna?
See my post below. Since you did not enjoy Emeril's in Vegas, why chance it unless he's gonna be there and you can sit at the counter by the kitchen and watch him in action? There's a jazz brunch at Brennan's as I recall. Their eggs hassard among others and their bananas foster are worth doing. They also make a good Ramos Fizz. And you get the courtyard ambience if you have some choice where you are seated.
You're smart to try it in November. I've never been to Mardi Gras and because I'm no longer into the drinking crowds, I have no desire to experience it. Our trip this past weekend was perfect and I think Bourbon Street was plenty crowded with drinking people for my taste and anyone else's who isn't into the drunken crowds. There were definitely a lot of people around.
In answer to your question, yes, definitely do Bayona for your good meal. It's fabulous! I thoroughly enjoyed it. One of the best meals I've ever had.
I hate to naysay, Terri, but I hope you like slobbering, drunken mobs who make the dregs of the earth look like poster children for humankind. If so - Bourbon Street is your place, assuming you can walk more than a block. Yes, it's that bad. At least you're at an okay stretch of the street, a few blocks from the true center of the "action." But still...proceed with caution.
My terminology isn't up to snuff, but the days directly proceeding Mardi Gras are the best. Better than the day itself. Lundi Gras - Monday? Sunday? - is excellent. And the parades are best before Fat Tuesday. You can actually get close to them. Take a cab or trolley uptown for those, and get there an hour or so prior. Anyhow, it's all a blur after.
I need to run - I know this is a little off topic, so feel free to email me if you have any further questions!
Some things to keep in mind:
Friday evening is when things start to really get crazy. Since your hotel is in the Quarter, you should be able to get there without a problem. Just make sure your cabdriver takes the Vieux Carre exit off of I-10. This will take you around Canal St. which will be closed for the Friday night parades.
Security will be tight at the French Quarter hotels. Most require their guests to wear wristbands as indentification in order to enter the lobby. It might be a good idea to have a copy of your hotel reservations to speed getting through security.
Bourbon St. will be mobbed most of the weekend (pick you up off your feet and carry you kind of mobbed). Most likely your hotel will have an entrance that opens onto one of the side streets that intersect Bourbon. I suggest you use this and cut over to Royal St. or even Chartres St. in order to get around.
Many of the nicer French Quarter restaurants close for the weekend you'll be in town. If you want a decent meal head to Uptown which is less affected by the hoopla (take a cab as streetcar service to Uptown can be delayed for the parades). Good restaurants that are not near parade routes include Lilette, Kelsey's, Upperline, Le Crepe Nanou and Jacque-Imo's.
There is a Mardi Gras forum at nola.com that gets active the in the weeks before Carnival. You can also get some good advice there closer to the event regarding parade schedules etc.
Good luck and have fun!
From my last 4 years of going, here is what I can share.
I never stayed on Bourbon street, but the people who have say it never quiets down then. I have been partying till 4AM and it was still nuts (on the Friday night).
You must like crowds if you are going to hang out on Bourbon Street. The crowds don't seem to be violent or troublesome, even with all the drunkeness. Everyone is usually in a good mood. Wear shoes you wouldn't mind thowing away. I never have, but they do get very dirty and smelly.
Like someone else metioned, use the side streets to navigate the quarter. Royal is always nice.
I have always arrived Friday night, and things are in full swing. If you are driving, remember Canal closes a lot for parades, so you must hug close to the river to get past Canal into the CBD. It is possible to drive on the lake side of St. Charles when a parade is rolling, but expect a lot of people to walk in front of you (not paying attention).
I always found Saturday to the busiest. Two years ago I took my wife to Bourbon Street that night, and supposedly it was record crowd (I belive it!). Monday and Tuesday (Lundi and Mardi Gras), only the true revelers are out. Sunday or Monday seems to be the most "quiet" days. Tuesday night is almost mayhem as midnight nears.
Mardi Gras day, expect to see a lot of costumes - good ones. I have never dressed up, but some people go all out that day!
Be sure to take in the parades. I enjoy sitting along St. Charles. See Endymion (a night parade), but get there early, and it always rolls late. Parade schedules and routes get posted @ nola.com and other places. Parades roll day and night, every day.
As for food, we always ate simple fare during Mardi Gras, Coop's, Fiorella's Cafe, and at the hotel (Le Richelieu - slow and bad food).
You of course will be able to leave the hotel. Don't expect many cabs to be near your hotel (too many people, and traffic is limited). Might get one on Decatur. Plan on walking a lot!
Don't take you valuables out with you. My dad got pick-pocked once by a guy/gal setup. Sliced his khaki pocket and got his money clip ($80). Use the hotel's deposit box. We did.
Get a good map. Last year I plotted a 24"x36" map from Microsoft Steets, showing resturants.
Bring a disposable camera. Many photo opp's, and not out much if you loose one (like we did).
If on Bourdon Street, be prepared to be propositioned for "trade" or "show". Either oblidge, or say "no thanks".
Sorry this isn't food related.
Check out the page I included. Lots of info.