New Orleans: Krewe du Vieux

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I think birthdays are literally a celebration of life. An anniversary of birth shouldn’t just be acknowledged but freakin celebrated and after the year with the limo, exploration of Pittsburgh and the high standard of parties my parents set for me the only thing left to do was gather my gals for a quick getaway. The destination of choice was New Orleans. I looked up all things Mardi Gras and discovered that Mardi Gras may just be a day but the season lasts for quite some time. In fact the weekend before my birthday was the first parade of the season. Also known as Krewe du Vieux the parade was adult themed and mostly locals filled the streets to celebrate.

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Krewe du Vieux was a spectacular sight. Costumed onlookers cheered the many floats stunned by the jazz bands, unicorns, glitter, and half naked men and women. If Macy’s ever hosted an adult parade these floats could contend with them. They were random and more jaw dropping than the last. One float had Trump assaulting Lady Liberty the other had put some time in making it look like there was a woman on a stripper pole while the float was moving.

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After buying a beautiful headpiece from a woman selling them at a market in The French Quarter and seeing the parade the only other things on our list was food. We ate so much good food from so many different places. I love spicy food but it doesn’t like me and I totally put that aside for this particular trip.

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The first meal I had here was a shrimp picatta dish from Arabella Casa Di Pasta. The restaurant was down the street from our house and we were hungry and needed food ASAP. As I don’t eat beef or pork I went with seafood and was not disappointed. It had great flavor and lemon didn’t overpower the dish. It was a great portion so much that I couldn’t finish it. This place is right next door to a cool Karoke dive bar and you can go back and forth. The atmosphere between the two of them are nice.

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Next up for memorable meals was a shrimp Po’Boy. Apparently you have to have one when you come to town and I’ve never had one period. Somehow I ended up at Belle’s Diner . I had a shrimp Po’Boy that was ginormous and could be compared to Primanti Brothers only in size not in taste because southerners know how to season some food. Not only was the breading on this sandwich perfect but it was seasoned with care. It was one of the most memorable food experiences the entire trip. This was also the place where I tried a King Cake Shot that tasted like a King Cake and was rimmed with sugar. Mary (the manager) didn’t say much besides they make their own cinnamon infused vodka specifically for this drink. That was all she had to say to sell me.

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It was in the seventies in February and we had no choice but to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather. We did a lot of walking. Bourbon Street was exactly what we expected. It was full of shouting, dancing, and balcony dwellers throwing metallic colored beads. I have enough beads to last for next Krewe de Vieux and I don’t exaggerate (this time.) A random stranger gave me a tarot reading for my birthday and I loved how kind most people were. You almost felt like family.

Getting around for the six of us was a piece of cake as I have no problem going somewhere and figuring out their public transportation. I love Lyft but $3 all day bus/trolley passes was the smartest way to get around. The buses were pretty timely and the trolleys were cute. The true Pittsburgher in me thought of Mister Rodgers every time we rode the trolley.

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By the last day I was tired of creole fare but we made one last cuisine stop based on the fact that the menu had everything at a reasonable price and they allowed you to split the check. 801 Royal was a great time. Me being me I ordeded shrimp Alfredo and it had so many green onions on that I enjoyed the extra crunch. It came with a bread round which was just bread lining the plate. I had a cocktail called A Jazz Funeral and it would’ve been someone’s funeral if I had to finish it there. Hurrah for to go drinks! Everywhere should allow you to take your beverage to go.

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While waiting on my friends to decide on our next move, I made new friends who gave me an oyster shot. Named that because it actually had am oyster in it and could only be described as a shot of Bloody Mary on steroids. Was it the best? No. Would I try one again? Absolutely. Did all my friends have one? Nope.

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A lot of the trip was my usual approach “Let’s not plan the day and just get lost” but the one thing we all agreed on was a ghost tour no matter how touristy it was. I don’t believe in ghosts but I enjoyed the stories and history lesson. There were some truths within the fiction. My favorite was the first New Orleans settlers being told not to build on the land and just like men they didn’t listen. I don’t watch American Horror Story but we got to see the house where filming happened. The reality of ghosts makes me indifferent but our tour guide was so animated that I wanted to believe her.

Since to go drinks are a thing and me and my friends are savvy, I made us to go drinks. I’m notorious for using what I have to make a cocktail that doesn’t taste like alcohol but has a lot of alcohol in it. If there was a cocktail version of Chopped, I would win every time. We didn’t name the drink but if you ever only have Apple Amsterdam vodka, Sprite and apple juice, mix it all together and go for it. It’s good. My friends absolutely loved it.

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We rented a house on Airbnb for this trip and the entire trip was no more than $450 per person (flight included). We flew Allegiant for the first time and yes they charge for everything but if you do your research, book early and pack like a boss, you’ll enjoy your flight. We arrived on time, the crew was fresh faced and excited and they board back to front which makes all the sense. Everyone should do that. Not knowing what to expect they surprised me. Would I fly Allegiant again? Yes. Was the whole trip amazing? Yes.

 

After riding the trolly, checking out many of the Krewe du Vieux parties, and pigging out on the fare it was time to pack up and head back to Pittsburgh. After four days in Nola it was great to see home. We hadn’t even left Nola before deciding that this trip would become an annual thing. For the price and my savvy planning, this couldn’t have been a better time.

Eye|Candy (Photos from my Galaxy)

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Cool Stuff |

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Head Wrap: Instagram @marrowcreative

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