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Published: February 11th 2018
So, after a fantastic night's sleep we were up at a reasonable hour. The beds are very comfortable. We had breakfast at the hotel and then made our way to the French quarter. We worked out if we walked directly across the road, Bourbon street is only a few blocks away. We crossed over it without me even noticing until we got to Royal St. Which is fine because Royal street leads straight onto St Charles where todays parades are. The walk down royal street was really interesting. Lots of little gift shops and galleries. Definitely worth further exploration, but this morning we were on a mission to find St Charles Avenue and the grandstand we had booked tickets for. We found Lafayette Square and the ticket booth. picked up our tickets and made our way to the grand stand, no dramas. We didn't need to worry too much about time, the parade started at 11am and it was the better part of an hour before they got to where we were. Once we were in the grandstand I immediately regretted not bringing water. It's quite humid here and I was feeling somewhat icky. We worked out we can leave the
grandstand, go to the bar behind it and buy beers to bring back in. Very convenient. The only downside is we have to use the port-a-loos which are not great. I mean REALLY, not great.
The first parade today was Krewe of Iris. There were about 35 floats and I don't know how many marching bands. A lot of the marching bands were from local schools. They did a great job but you could see the long walk was taking a toll on some of the marching girls. The parade route is at least 2-3 kilometres long, that’s' a long dancey walk waving pompoms and batons. Some of the girls were still smiling and dancing as they walked on by. Some were looked like they were just praying for the end to come. Krewe of Iris was a very "civilised" as Miz Jo put it. Lots of floats reflecting certain era's. The colonial era, the Viking era, the prohibition era. You get the idea. As the parades pass by they throw out beads and things to the crowd. Soooo many beads. We caught a few and thought how cool is this. 20 floats later we thought OK enough already.
People collect bags and bags of them. We got a little bag and started collecting the other throws coming from the floats. We'll pick out a few keepsakes but the rest can stay here I think.
Next up was Krewe of Tucks. This parade was much more cheeky. Literally toilet humour. One float had a massive dunny on it, and there were lots of references to the toilet, the throne, golden throne and even a golden shower. I'm hoping the kids in the crowd didn't get that pun. Their throws had plungers and their "beads" were in the shape of pints. Much more risqué, but heaps more fun. It started to rain during the parade so we started making our way back to the French Quarter. By the time we got to Canal St (on the edge of FQ) Jo had decided to go back to the hotel for a rest. I stayed a bit longer but outside the grandstand it was harder to see the parade. The crowd in some parts is about 10 deep so I was on tippy toes trying to take photos. I got up to float 33 when I decided to give up and
join Jo back at the hotel.
You can learn a lot from the locals. As we walked towards the parades we noticed people had set up early with their camping chairs and esky's. FYI you can drink on the street here and nobody gets arrested. On the way back, we saw people sitting on top of ladders, their throws draped around them. Highly organised. One tip for beginners though. Keep an eye on the throws, if you aren't paying attention you can get bonked on the head with a wayward throw. Krewe of Iris were gentle, the tucks were absolutely piffing them. This could become a blood sport.
On the way back, I decided to walk down Bourbon St. From this end it was the Bourbon street I had imagined. People on balconies, music coming from every corner, people everywhere. It's really entertaining to watch but the crowd is very young so I don't see us partying up in Bourbon street too much. Definitely one to see though. After a rest we went out for dinner and back down Bourbon street. It was even more crazy than before. And dangerous. By now a good soaking rain had come
through (I know I walked part of the way home in it) Walking through a mix of rain and fallen beads on asphalt made for some interesting slides. Fortunately, no topples into the mud, no broken bones so I'm taking that as a win. Although I had to wonder with the mix of people, alcohol and beads...how many cracked skulls will tonight bring.
And my last note for the day. We got lunch from a food truck today. I had gator on a stick. :-)
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