How to Do Mardi Gras Without Being Asked to Lift Your Shirt!

Don’t get us wrong – we LOVE New Orleans. But the thought of wading into a Big Easy Mardi Gras is something better left to young whippersnappers.

We took the rural route and learned about the wonderful goings-on in Cajun Country – what they call the REAL Mardi Gras!

Courir de Mardi Gras involves costumed men dancing on horseback, begging, and chicken chasing!

La Grande Boucherie des Cajuns A tradition older than Mardi Gras, is a communal hog butcher and meat fest.

Fais do-do See what Cajuns do once the kids go to bed… CONTINUE READING >>

With Fat Tuesday fast approaching, we dug back in our archives for this tale of festivities, revelry, and merriment. We offer it as inspiration for anyone who might be planning an adventure of their own.

Jeanerette Mardi GrasDon’t get us wrong – we LOVE New Orleans. But the thought of wading into a Big Easy Mardi Gras is something better left to young whippersnappers.

We took the rural route and learned about the wonderful goings-on in Cajun Country – what they call the REAL Mardi Gras!

Let the good times roll!

THE CRAZIEST THING WE’VE SEEN YET…
AND WE’VE SEEN A LOT OF CRAZY THINGS

Courir de Mardi Gras

We discovered a long-held rural tradition of Cajun Country, Courir de Mardi Gras, in Church Point. It translates to Fat Tuesday Run and traces its origins back to medieval France and the fête de la quémande or feast of begging.

Runners, known as Mardi Gras, ride horses or wagons through the countryside stopping to beg at farms for ingredients for a communal gumbo to be made after the run. The most common offering from the farmers is a chicken which then must be chased and captured by the Mardi Gras.

At 5 AM we were awoken by the beginnings of the revelry. Horses started making their presence known and whoops and hollers filled the early morning air. The staging area was already a sea of mud.

We watched curiously while the participants – who by tradition must be male, over 14 and in costume – registered, drank, saddled up, drank, greeted each other, drank, got geared up, drank, played music, drank, danced, and oh yeah, drank some more. Costumes are imperative to the tradition in that the identity…CONTINUE READING

You’ve gotta watch the video to believe it…it’s, well, just watch.

Chicken Chasing
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(and more history, crazy goings on and what happened when Veronica became part of the proceedings!)

MARDI GRAS DAY – A TALE OF TWO TOWNS

Chicken Kissing

Asking around, we got conflicting answers to the question, “Where do we spend the actual day of Mardi Gras?”

We had spent almost three weeks in Acadiana, celebrating all things Mardi Gras, but still hadn’t landed on where to spend the big day.

Narrowing our many choices down to two, we focused on Eunice and Mamou, because each boasted chicken chasing, a big street festival and authenticity.

We were told Eunice was both “the best – by far” and “too commercial.” Mamou, on the other hand receive reviews like “the most authentic” and “just a bunch of drunks sitting on ice chests.”

Like the idiots we are, we decided to visit both. And both… CONTINUE READING

Mardi Gras Day!
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A CAJUN BOUCHERIE – LET’S PIG OUT!

Backbone Stew

The Boucherie is not necessarily a part of the Mardi Gras celebration, in fact it most likely predates Mardi Gras activities here in South Louisiana, but in recent years many communities have included the old fashioned hog slaughter in their weekend of Mardi Gras events.

Back in the days before refrigeration families would get together to share a butchered hog because the meat would go bad before one family could eat it all. Before long this became a pretty good excuse to throw a little party.

Interesting and entertaining, not to mention tasty. After watching every part of the pig get cut for a specific purpose, we had the chance to sample… CONTINUE READING

Boucherie!
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(and more!)

GO TO SLEEP LITTLE ONE, MAMA WANTS TO DANCE

Straight Whiskey at Church Point Louisiana Fais do-do

“Fais do-do” is Cajun baby talk for “go to sleep” and once the kiddies are all tucked sweetly in bed, Mamma and Daddy (and Maw Maw and Paw Paw) have the chance to “pass a good time.”

We kicked off the Friday before Mardi Gras at a Fais do-do in Church Point.

We were told by a woman earlier in the day that the Fais do-do was essential for us to attend, as it was when the town “come together like family” and that we would be treated as such. And we were.

In a little town like Church Point, we normally stick out like sore thumbs, not because we’re so different as much as that everyone literally knows everyone, and we – well – we don’t know anyone. That changed at the Fais do-do.

The people of Church Point have never met a stranger, we were welcomed with open arms as everyone — from the Queen of The Courir de Mardi Gras, to the ladies handing out beer, to the mayor himself — took the extra time to make sure we had le bon temps!

Big shout out to the band “Straight Whiskey” – the real deal.

Fais do-do in Church Point Louisiana

HOW MUCH KING CAKE CAN ONE PERSON EAT?

Mardi Gras King Cake

As soon as we crossed over the Louisiana border we began seeing King Cakes.

This tradition started in France in the 1100s to commemorate the Three Kings’ visit to the Christ Child.

In Acadiana the King Cake is in the shape of a ring to symbolize a crown and decorated in Mardi Gras purple, gold and green.

A little plastic baby Jesus is hidden inside the cake and the person who’s slice contains the baby is designated as the host of the next Mardi Gras or King Cake Party.

After asking around, we found out that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the flavor of the cake. Bakeries generally fill their King Cakes with cream cheese and fruit, and some fancier versions include marzipan or Bavarian cream. The only guiding principle seems to be the colors – purple for justice, green for faith and gold for power.

Mardi Gras King Cake

The King Cake can be found in this area from January 6th until Mardi Gras Day.

THE BEST BETWEEN-THE-WEEKENDS DIVERSION

Taster's Choice in Eunice

THE place to be on the Wednesday night before Mardi Gras is “Taster’s Choice” in Eunice. We headed down to the Acadian Center at LSU/Eunice to eat some of the best Cajun food we’ve ever had.

Over twenty chefs sponsored by local businesses bring their best dishes for the benefit of the Community Clinic – and a big time is had by all!

For 20 bucks each, we ate ourselves silly and were mesmerized by Marc Savoy on the French accordion playing traditional Cajun music with his family and friends – AND it was all for a great cause.

Once each guest made the rounds and sampled the food, we were encouraged to vote for our favorite dish. Here were ours:

Best sponsor name – Guidry’s Dirt Service’s Crawfish Chowder
Most clever name – Bayou Alfredeaux
All around favorite – Fruge Lumber Company’s Crawfish Étouffée Taster's Choice, Eunice Louisiana

YOU CAN GET BOOZE AT THE DRIVE-THRU WINDOW?

You Can Get Booze at the Drive Thru Window?

As a matter of fact, you can.

And not just during Mardi Gras season. All over Cajun Country all you have to do is drive up and order.

Being the curious types, we tried it on bikes.

It was about one in the afternoon in Marksville when we rolled up to the window at Daiquiri Island and didn’t even get a reaction from our server.

The drink menu was nailed to the wall by the window with concoctions called “Stanky Leg,” “Purple Haze,” and “Whoop Ass,” (among others we’re too embarrassed to type BUT there’s a pic here)!

There was no explanation as to what they might be made of, so we went with something we had heard of – a Mudslide. When asked what size, we opted to split a small – which was 20oz! Delicious and VERY potant. An adult chocolate milkshake, if you will.

You Can Get Booze at the Drive Thru Window?

Later in the day, we found another interesting establishment, The Watering Hole.

Instead of a drive-up window, we actually drove through the building. The walls were lined with refrigerator cases filled with cold beer, wine and the like. And there were daiquiris, as well. Our favorite name was “Hillbilly Suicide.”

The drink we had split earlier was MORE than enough, so we opted for a pound of crawfish scooped up out of a cooler – the biggest little mudbugs we’d ever seen. Delicious!
Daquiri Drive Thru
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(and more!)

MARDI GRAS IS GOING TO THE DOGS!

Canine King of Mardi Gras Dog Parade

Lafayette’s Krewe des Chiens Annual Dog Parade is a must-do.

This parade is geared toward children, but brings out the dog lover in all of us.

Vibrantly costumed fur babies proudly trot down Lafayette’s downtown streets as both participants and spectators.

Everyone has a grin on their snout as beads are thrown, puppies are rescued and donations are accepted for Acadiana’s less fortunate furry friends!


Mardi Gras Dog Parade, Lafayette Louisiana
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(and to see many more cute guys!)

JEANERETTE’S KREWE OF EZANA MARDI GRAS PARADE

Jeanerette's Krewe of Ezana Mardi Gras Parade

Some parades are focused on floats and bead throws.

Not in Jeanerette. This little town of 6,000 throws a real show. Marching bands, twirlers and dancers of all ages fill out the spaces between the floats.

They don’t call Jeanerette “Sugar City” for nothing – this town doesn’t mess around with the treats they throw – candy, beads, stuffed animals, candy, trickets, oh, and candy. And gum.

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KREWE OF CARNIVALE EN RIO – all about the beads!

Krewe Of Carnivale en Rio

This parade IS all about the beads.

Seriously. It was insane. We had discussed ahead of time our rules of personal bead gathering, as we wanted to get a realisic idea about how many one could expect to gather.

-No picking them off the street.
-No grabbing them away from eager youngsters (think foul balls at a baseball game).
-Unless they are thrown directly to us or hit us when we weren’t paying attention, they did not go around our necks.

Even so, we could barely walk back to our vehicle – madness, sheer madness.

We should have realized something was up when we saw all of the “Throw Me Something Mister” signs and fishing nets. The winner was a kid who was holding a laundry basket affixed to a broomstick, creating a target that no float rider could resist trying to make.

By the halfway point there were nearly as many plastic bags that had held the beads floating on the wind in Lafayette as beads themselves.


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David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

Delve deeper:
Visit the crazy Courir de Mardi Gras, in Church Point – chicken chasing!
Check out the authentic celebrations in Eunice and Mamou
Go hog wild at an old-fashioned Boucherie meat fest!
Watch dogs celebrate Mardi Gras at the Krewe des Chiens Dog Parade
Find out how to get booze at a drive-thru window
Join us at the parades in Jeanerette and Lafayette
Learn more about the Acadian, Canadian, and Cajun connection
See our thank you to the mysterious person at the Dog Parade who commited a wonderful act of kindness!

YOUR TURN: Have we convinced you to give rural Mardi Gras a shot? What would be your first stop? Did we miss anything?

It’s Mardi Gras!!!!!!

See all of the parades (including one that went to the dogs), chicken chasing,  a real Cajun Boucherie, and Fais do-do right here…

CONTINUE READING >> 

Fat Tuesday has arrived! While we won’t be down in Louisiana for the festivities this year, we have several times in the past.

See all of the parades (including one that went to the dogs), chicken chasing,  a real Cajun Boucherie, and a Fais do-do right here.

A Group Tour of Boston’s Coolest Sites

Boston boasts some unique and strange history and is an important city in the United States because so many events relevant to the American Revolution took place here…

CONTINUE READING >> 

Boston is a city in the State of Massachusetts with a lot of history as it dates as far back as 1630. Boston boasts of some unique and strange history. It is an important city in the United States as many events relevant in the American Revolution happened there. These events include The Boston Tea Party, The Siege of Boston, The Battle of Bunker Hill, and The Boston Massacre. There are plenty of weekend escapes or historically significant sites for students to visit in Boston. Whether a person is planning a campus tour for their class, sports team, church group, or friends, this post will outline what one needs to know to make sure their trip goes off without a hitch.

Choose Transportation

The mode of transportation around Boston will be determined by the size of the group. For a large group, it is better to get a Boston tour bus rental with driver. The group can bring their own driver or hire the bus with drivers. Smaller groups may opt to get a map, hire a car, and drive themselves around. The main thing is to consider options that could accommodate the group’s capacity.

Transport can also be determined by the group’s budget. They may have enough money to hire a bus but not enough to get a driver. The budget will also determine the type of bus they can rent such as a mini, school, or coach bus. The amount of time spent off the road can also determine the type of vehicle that the group chooses.

Pick some quintessential eerie sites to see

Boston has some eerie sites with a lot of history such as the site of the Boston massacre, Phineas Gage’s Skull, and the Trolley of the Doomed.

Another bizarre site the group can visit is the All Saints Way in Battery Street.

They can also get involved in a treasure hunt in a live-action urban interactive game in Harvard Square.

There is also the Museum of Bad Art of 1993 where audiences are treated to a series of terrible art.

Map Choice Destinations

Choose what other specialized sites the group might want to visit in the area. Tourist maps are especially important because they highlight the places that are must-sees for Boston visitors. The group can visit famous sites like the home of Paul Revere and the 2.5-mile freedom trail, the harbour where the Boston Tea Party was held, and important artefacts related to it. It is what most people believe to have started the revolutionary war that led to the independence of the United States.

Boston is also the home to the longest and most successful ship in US history called the USS Constitution or Old Ironsides.

There are the statues of Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States.

There is also the prestigious Harvard University, the oldest higher learning institutions in the US.

Book Tours

Some sites require registration beforehand. Therefore, it is always good to plan ahead. Most of them offer private tours that can fill the group in on the specifics of the school. Ensure the group follows a strict itinerary so that they arrive at different sites on time. Make sure to book ahead and time the group’s arrival accordingly.

Plan Distractions

The person in charge of the group must find ways to keep the group entertained between sites.

Depending on its age group and the length of time it takes to travel between sites, a group can participate in so many activities.

Entertainment needs to be more than just looking down on mobile devices, listening to music, or chatting with a peer. The group leader can plan activities like singing or playing fun games like 21 questions, spotting games, trivia, or scavenger hunts between stops.

We are happy to present this collaborative post to offer valuable information to our readers.

The Best Tours around Split, Croatia

Split is a fantastic place to be in because it has a great mix of modernity and a robust history with ruins in the city that date back to the old Roman Empire… CONTINUE READING >> 

With about 20,000 people living in the area, Split is the second largest city in Croatia. Only Zagreb, the capital city, is larger. It is a very commonly chosen attraction for many tourists and is said to have been founded sometime around the 3rd or 2nd century BC as a Greek Colony. It’s a fantastic place to be in because it has a great mix of modernity and a robust history with ruins in the city that date back to the old Roman Empire.

Some of the attractions of the city include museums, galleries, rich and noticeable culture, and its music. These are a few reasons why it would be great that on your next vacation time, you find tours around Split Croatia. The city also has a very vibrant sports culture as athletes and sportsmen, in general, are held in high esteem. Some of the most preferred sporting activities in the city includes water polo, sailing, rowing, tennis, soccer, basketball, and handball.

It’s a fantastic city to visit. And if you still aren’t considering visiting the city on your next vacation, the following are a few things may convince you.

Walking Tour to Diocletian’s Palace

Diocletian was a Roman Emperor who built the palace in 305 AD. Even though the palace is now an official World Heritage Site for UNESCO and the rest of the city has developed around it, the Diocletian’s Palace still has many of its buildings in one piece. This walking tour lets you take in the city and its estimated 1,700 years of historical scenery and landmarks. Some of the famous buildings apart from the Diocletian’s Palace include the Golden Gate, the Statue of Gregory of Nin, the Catholic Cathedral of Saint Domnius, and the Peristil.

Blue Cave Tour

The Blue Cave, which is also known as the Blue Grotto, is one of Split’s most awesome features. It is a sea cave filled with water that is situated in Balun, a small bay in the city. The Blue Cave is one of the most preferred spots because, at certain times of the day, the cave shows a fine radiant blue light. It is accessible by boat after an artificial entry was created in 1884. Before then, it was only accessible by diving. It is said that the best time to visit the cave is between 11 AM and 12 noon because it is at this time that sunlight shines through the water, giving it the amazing blue glow, with items in the water looking silver.

The Five-Island Tour

Right after the Blue Cave Tour, a cruise through five islands in the city is highly recommended. This tour lasts between 8 to 12 hours but it is a fantastic trip to take. The islands include Hvar, Ravnik, Budikovac, Vis, and Biševo. This is a fantastic experience for a family trip or even a romantic getaway for lovers. You get to visit the fishing village of Komiža, take in a lot of the sights in the old and historic town of Hvar, and swim and snorkel at Stiniva Cove. Your tour guide will be able to explain all the history behind everything you see. It’s a beautiful tour because you move around by boat and see everything from a great vantage point.

Krka National Park – Waterfalls, Sibenik and Skradin Tour

Named after the Krka River that it surrounds, the Krka National Park is famous for its seven beautiful waterfalls. The National Park is still principally run for tourism as well as cultural, educational, and scientific purposes. The waterfalls are also noted to have a large number of wasps and bees. This is attributed to the fact that it has the second largest concentration of lavender in the whole of the European continent. This tour also involves walking in Sibernik and experiencing the St. James Cathedral. After experiencing (and swimming through the waterfalls), the town of Skradin awaits you. Skradin is very popular for wine and cheese tasting and you can partake in this, too.

Marjan Hill and Klis Fortress Tour

The Marjan Hill is another great place to visit. It is distinctive because it has a thick Mediterranean pine forest that looks out to the city and the sea. Standing at 178m, it gives you a fantastic view of the city of Split, the mountains, and other islands.

The Klis fortress is famous for being the grounds of many battles with the Knights Templar, Ottomans, and the Mongols. The ruins give a beautiful view of Split, just like the Marjan Hill does. It’s also the site for filming Mereen – a city from the popular TV Show, Game of Thrones.

If you have never visited Split, the above are some of the sights you need to see to have the perfect vacation. Feel free to plan a tour to the rich and historic Croatian city and have a feel of the sights, people, and culture.

We are happy to present this collaborative post to offer valuable information to our readers.

Why the Train is the Most Beautiful Way to See Eastern Canada

Rail travel in Eastern Canada offers a unique perspective and an unforgettable travel experience. From French-Canadian chateaus to historic harbours to pristine national parks, there’s so much to discover… CONTINUE READING >> 

If the rugged coastline, brightly-painted fishing villages and historic outposts of Atlantic Canada are tugging at your heartstrings – there’s no better time to plan a trip.

The best way to experience this remote and beautiful region? Take the train through Eastern Canada.

Rail travel in Canada offers a unique perspective on this destination and an unforgettable travel experience. From French-Canadian chateaus to historic harbours to pristine national parks, there’s so much to discover.

Travel Through Serene Scenery

From the peaceful rural communities on the south shores of Quebec to the brightly painted clapboard houses of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, it’s hard to take your eyes off the scenery here. The train cars often fall silent, as passengers stare out the window in awe at the unfolding views.

Train travel means you’ll see eastern Canada from a different vantage point. The train route is older and cuts through remote swathes of the countryside where the roads don’t.

Via Rail’s “Corridor Train” travels from Windsor to Quebec City, bringing you to the heart of some of Canada’s most exciting cities in between stretches of pretty countryside. Via Rail’s “The Ocean” is a 24 hour sleeper train between Montreal to Halifax, through the rolling farmland and coastal communities of the Maritimes.

When you reach the endless sparkling expanse of the Atlantic, you’ll travel along the coast through quiet seaside towns perched on the rocky coastline. Sip your morning coffee as the sunrise gives the waters of Chaleur Bay a warm, pink glow.

Taste The Best of Eastern Canadian Cuisine

Melt-in-your-mouth Nova Scotia lobster. A juicy Montreal smoked meat sandwich on rye. Poutine with fresh cheese curds and hearty brown gravy poured over thick-cut fries. Fluffy pancakes smothered in pure Quebec maple syrup. Flaky French Canadian tourtiere, a ground beef, pork and game pie infused with herbs and spices.

A trip across Eastern Canada will allow you to enjoy these unique flavors. Plus, when you travel via train you’ll be served meals on board so you can dine while you watch the landscapes roll by.

Learn About Canada’s History

Eastern Canada is home to the earliest settlements in Canada and it has centuries of fascinating history to explore.

Travel through the Acadian Peninsula in New Brunswick, where most of the locals are descended from the first French families who settled Canada in the 17th century. Take a tour of Quebec City to hear over 400 years of historic tales. Learn the stories of several generations of Canadian immigrants at the Pier 21 museum in Halifax.

The past really comes to life when you travel by train, as the on-board hosts weave stories about local history throughout your trip. Many of the staff on The Ocean train are Arcadian and are passionate about their heritage.

Sit Back and Enjoy  

One of the nice things about traveling Eastern Canada by train is that you won’t have to worry about finding your way from point A to point B. Unlike a road trip, you don’t have to look at a map to pay attention to your route. You can simply sit back on the train and relax, concentrating fully on the scenery.

While you watch the lakes, rivers and forests go by, you’ll be pampered by Via Rail staff with everything from wine tastings to live music. Train travel is so much more enjoyable than a self-drive vacation.

Plus, your train trip will be more social as well. During the journey you’ll get to know your fellow travelers and bond over card games and conversation.

See These Unforgettable Highlights

An eastern Canada train will take you through some of the best cities in Canada.

Montreal

A city with one of the best food scenes in North America, a year-round calendar packed with festivals and a fantastic art community, Montreal really knows how to enjoy the good things in life. While Toronto is the economic capital of the country, Montreal is undeniably the cultural capital. As well as its cultural offerings, it boasts a wealth of stunning historic architecture, such as the glittering Basilique Notre-Dame.

Quebec City

Founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain, Quebec City is the only fortified city north of Mexico. It’s narrow, winding cobblestone streets and 17th-century buildings are a living museum of early French Canadian settlement. With the ornate facade of the Chateau Frontenac standing proudly above it all, when you take the train from Montreal to Quebec City you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time.

Halifax

Wander into any cozy Celtic-inspired pub in Halifax and you’ll find lively tunes and plenty of friendly smiles. This breezy seaside city has a bright happy vibe, especially along the busy historic waterfront. One of the most important cities in Canada’s history and a common point of first arrival for many new Canadians, it boasts impressive museums such as the Citadel Hill National Historic Site and the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21.

Tips for The Perfect Eastern Canada Train Trip

Bring card games or good old fashioned paper books to entertain yourself while on the journey – there may be remote sections of the route where WiFi is not available.

The best time to visit Eastern Canada, hands down, is the early autumn. In September/October the weather will still be warm and the changing foliage will be at its most spectacular.

However, be sure to avoid Labour Day weekend (held on the same weekend as the equivalent holiday in the USA). This is a popular travel weekend and you’ll be faced with heavier crowds and higher prices.

Customize your train travel experience to suit your interests. For example, if you love history be sure to leave extra time for museum visits and architectural walking tours. You can also add on day trips, wine tasting tours, whale watching and other experiences to create your dream trip.

We are happy to present this collaborative post to offer valuable information to our readers.