Mardi Gras madness

The crazy whirlwind of Mardi Gras is finally over. Don’t get me wrong, it was fun but it was also hectic and stressful and hung over. Well, maybe just I was hung over – but you get the point.

This year, we made it to less parades – Krewe du Vieux, Chaos, Muses, Hermes, Krewe D’etat, Morpheus, Bacchus and Argus. We tried a few different locations for watching the parades this year, too. In the past, I have watched almost all of the uptown or midtown parades on Canal Street. This year, we watched from Napoleon and on St. Charles near The Avenue Pub – which was awesome because of the free bathrooms! [see below for a slideshow of my Carnival pictures.]

Besides our fun bead catching and restaurant hopping, those of my party did get a chance to have the stereotypical Mardi Gras experience.

When people think of Mardi Gras, they think of booze, boobs and beads. And yeah, there is a lot of that but there are also some downsides.

Using a taxi

During Mardi Gras, the best bet to get to or from anywhere is to take a taxi cab. Unfortunately, New Orleans has more than its fair share of horrible cab drivers. I have met a couple who are nice, but for the most part they’re all rude men who don’t know how to get anywhere. They all have GPS in their car, but apparently do not know how to use it at all. Here are some tips for navigating New Orleans in a cab:

  • Always know directions to where you need to go, unless it is somewhere as broad as “the airport” or “the French Quarter.” Two major roads in New Orleans are Carrollton and St. Charles, yet when I tell cab drivers to take me to the corner of those roads, they look at me with a blank stare not knowing how to even begin the drive.
  • Ask up front whether they will be using a meter or whether they will want a flat rate – especially during Mardi Gras. Some cab drivers, despite city codes and their own companies’ policies, seem to think that the entire week leading up to Mardi Gras is a “special event” denoting a $5 per person flat rate policy. That is, unless there are less than three people in the car, then they will want a $7-per-person flat rate at least. They also tend to not divulge this information until you have started the drive. City codes and the largest cab companies state that special events are only concerts, football, basketball, etc.
  • Don’t joke with others in the cab about not having enough money to pay for the ride. This will lead to the driver putting child locks on all the doors and refusing to let you out until you pay up. For real – this happened to us last weekend.

When you’ve got to pee

During Mardi Gras, one of the most valuable commodities is a bathroom. Restaurants will milk their public restrooms for all their worth, making you purchase something (or donate to charity as one Burger King bathroom did to us this year) in order to use the toilets. During Mardi Gras and the days leading up to it, expect coffee shops, fast food restaurants and drug stores to have a buy-to-pee policy. Your best bet for a good parade spot is to be near a bar (which usually don’t charge for bathrooms – especially if you buy a drink), a friend’s house or to just go ahead and buy the $2 coffee or burger for your pee ticket.

Invest in special MG clothing

Whether you’re going down Bourbon Street every night or just catching beads at the parades, you can bet that from the waist down (at least) you are going to be filthy. Best bet: wear closed-toe shoes and pants that cover your entire legs. You don’t want any of that filth on your legs or feet, trust me. Picking out some old clothes or some cheap thrift store clothes that you won’t mind throwing away at the end of the week is a good idea. I saved some old tennis shoes and ended up throwing them out on Wednesday. Don’t think that people are exaggerating when they say there is literally a sea of garbage and vomit in the streets. Don’t.

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