Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patrick's Day in New Orleans

St. Patrick's Day is one of the best holidays out there. I am a tad biased since it's my mom's birthday, a fully dedicated Irish holiday and I have visited lovely Ireland, making it all the more special to see the green shamrocks everywhere. I especially love St. Patrick's Day parties. It is the perfect time to grab some green, dye your beer and wipe out that Guinness tshirt. People love getting into the spirit of the holiday and my group of friends seems to especially appreciate the Irish background. A few years ago, my parents gifted me a trip to New Orleans over my Spring Break. I was able to take my friend (who's now my sister-in-law!) Mary. We went right after Mardi Gras but just in time for St. Patrick's Day. What a blast!!

I do believe that New Orleans, LA aka NOLA, finds just about any reason to have a parade. We went to church that morning and then spent the whole afternoon at the parade. People meet friends and family, many have relatives or friends in the parade. There are parades all over the city! Floats and displays are decked out in shamrocks and green sparkles. The streets were lined with stores and vendors selling "Shamrock Lemonade," a vodka drink with some lemonade that is dyed green.

Men walked down the street with what looked like umbrellas that had a strip of Styrofoam down the center to hold the masses of fake orange, white and green flowers. Each gentleman who walk up a lady (many times, someone they knew) and would give a hug or kiss on the cheek before presenting her a flower. Many also carried buttons, trinkets and beads. SO MANY beads!!! I came home with a bag full just from that parade alone. We were a bit tired after standing for hours. I don't know how those NOLA folks do it every year! But the whole experience was so much fun.
Other New Orleans highlights:

The Manor houses. We visited Oak Alley, which was stunning. They were amazing. Rich with history and so beautiful.

Beignets. Yum!!

Burbon Street. This wasn't our fav but we did love that we were allowed to walk out of the bar onto the street with a classic Hurricane drink. We sipped as we explored and walked to dinner in another area of town.

Drive through Daquaries and Snowballs. Most neighborhoods have little cement Snowball stores that people can walk to. They are open in the early spring until the late winter. Don't confuse them with snowcones! These treats are perfectly shaved ice with one of many flavors (my favorite was Tiger's Blood). You can get it plain or "stuffed" with ice cream in the middle. Oh, and they are incredibly inexpensive! Definitely indulged in a number of those when we were there, including on our way to the airport!

Airboat Rides. We made the trek out to the wetlands and went on an awesome airboat ride. The views were incredible. Feeding alligators wasn't half bad either! Just dress warmer than you think, the wind really whips you.

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