Day Five: Brunch and Bacchus

It was nice to sleep in a bit today.  I was tired from Saturday when for whatever reason I tried to fit Mardi Gras into one day!  We had brunch at Arnauds, one of New Orleans’ most famous restaurants where you can experience the city’s tradition.  It’s very elegant, the service was gracious, and the food was superior.  I chose the restaurant’s signature appetizer, Shrimp Arnaud, Gulf shrimp in a tangy Creole remoulade sauce made with Cajun mustard; crab cheesecake with cream and Brie cheese in a sherrry-infused cream sauce; and, for dessert, Bread Pudding Fitzmorris, Arnaud’s famous cap bread, raisins and custard with warm Walker’s Imperial Bourbon Sauce.  YUM!!! 

 The Gumbo Trio played jazz music in the background and when they broke into “When the Saints Come Marching In,” table by table got up to form a serpentine dance around the room with everyone (yes, including me) waving their white napkins in the air.  I believe this “dance” is called the “second line.”  I’ve seen this in movies and was thrilled to be swept up in the moment of pure revelry!  

We needed to walk off the brunch and since Arnaud’s is located right around the corner from Bourbon Street, that rue was our destination.  It really is a pleasant walk in the early afternoon when the crowds are less.  I continued my quest for beads being thrown from balconies (albeit with a little less enthusiasm than yesterday!).  As we walked in an area of the street we had not been to yet, we passed Pat O’Brien’s, where the famous New Orleans drink, the Hurricane, was created.  You know what they say: when in Rome . . . .   

We continued our walk down Bourbon and as we began to walk out of the bar area, we began passing some exquisite private homes, most with ornate black steel balconies and many of those beautifully decorated with Mardi Gras decorations.  We both wanted to rest some this afternoon before the

Man with beads

Just when do you know if you have enough beads?

evening parade, so we started to return to our hotel, passing Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo along the way, but got slightly detoured as we heard Zydeco coming from the bar on the corner of our street.  We enjoyed the music of The Bonoffs for about an hour and then returned to our hotel where we enjoyed the warmer weather and sunlight by sitting on our balcony and watching people pass below.

At 6 p.m., we headed to the Bacchus parade, which I’ve been told rivals Endymion as the top parade during Mardi Gras.  The parade didn’t reach Canal Street, where we were standing, until after 8.  I learned of another tradition with this parade; it is led by a huge gorilla float (think King Kong) and his lady friend.  While parade etiquette dictates parade viewers don’t throw beads at the floats, there is an exception for this parade where it’s customary to throw beads at the parade’s icons.  Right behind the gorillas rode King Bacchus, who was especially important to the crowds this year.  He was Drew Brees, quarterback for the Saints, and that’s all people around us were talking about.  (Later in the evening, the news reported that the crowds for Bacchus were bigger than usual this year because of Saint fever and Brees being the king).   We stayed for about an hour and saw several floats, which I think were better than Endymion and that’s saying a lot because last night’s floats were spectacular.   We made our way back to the hotel by way of Bourbon Street so I got to see the “other” side of the street I had walked in the daytime.  (Note to self: watch out for beads that missed their target making walking on sidewalks and streets like walking on marbles.)

Tomorrow, we tour the city of New Orleans.


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