Did you see the latest AAD Author visiting Larissa’s Bookish Life yesterday with her own After Dark on Bourbon Street story? You should totally go read it…like now.
After Dark on Bourbon Street
Mattias Vitale dishes on NOLA and Mardi Gras.
Ah, the sweet aroma of the French Quarter. I’ve always found New Orleans intriguing, for several reasons, I assure you.
Let me begin by introducing myself. My name is Mattias Vitale and I lead the most powerful vampire coven in all of Europe, or so they say. When I need refuge from the usual dastardly deeds, New Orleans tops my list of favorite destinations. Yes friends, even the villain takes a vacation.
What’s not to love about this town? The Crescent City is rich with copious amounts of culture and history—some of which I can still recall from the days of the early settlers. Having roamed the earth for nearly six hundred years, I’ve learned to appreciate more than most people. But this celebration of Mardi Gras has surely grown into a spectacle far different from the festivities practiced in the 1700s.
Even now, as I stroll through Jackson Square, enjoying a piping hot cup of chicory coffee from the famous Café du Monde, visitors from far away cities and nations tear through the square with fistfuls of colored beads. Strangers speak in native tongues, but they all understand “bead currency”. Foolish humans and their fascination with bared breasts. If I measured every set of bare breasts I’ve seen with a strand of beads, the pile would be astounding.
Swarms of people currently approach Bourbon Street, which will soon flood with tourists spanning the globe, sampling beignets and vats of frozen alcoholic beverages while experiencing the largest pre-Lenten party in Louisiana. Elaborate floats will parade the road this evening along route to the Garden District and will stretch throughout the city, its passengers tossing coins, beads, and other trinkets symbolic of the event. Some folks will enjoy the tastes of Cajun cuisine and delicacies, while others will be seduced by the excitement of NOLA nightlife and long to explore the paranormal realm in search of evidence of my kind.
But when the crowds disappear, remnants of the celebration linger all year round. All one needs to do is look to lampposts, trees, and other nooks to see a stray strand of beads in memory of Mardi Gras festivities.
I admit to having fallen victim to the novelty of Mardi Gras and often participated in my fair share of sampling. Oh yes, blood tastes all the sweeter when laced with confections and hints of Absinthe. Apologies if you thought I might refer to the gumbo. *snicker*
One aspect of Mardi Gras that I’ve always appreciated is the donning of masks. There’s something about the mystery behind a mask that seems to heat one’s blood with excitement. You’ll find an enormous selection of these masks from simple to elaborate designs in most souvenir shops around the quarter. But be forewarned…I’ve seen how collecting these pieces could grow into an addictive hobby.
If you were wondering about the best place to experience Mardi Gras, it would truly depend on your preference. If you enjoy the crowds, brave the walk on Bourbon Street. But I prefer a spot above the masses on one of the balconies overlooking Rue Bourbon. If you’re fortunate enough to reserve accommodations in one of the few hotels lined along Bourbon, be sure to secure a room with a balcony facing the street. The view is from a comfortable distance but close enough to feel like your immersed in the party below. In fact, this is one of the only times of the year when it’s legal to toss the coveted beads from balconies. At a cost, as you’re already aware. Remember the term, “bead currency”? This would apply.
While I have little tolerance and tend to avoid the crowds as of late, I do make a point to visit sites that have become old favorites and hope you’ll also appreciate my recommendations to enhance the pleasure of your trip to this gem of a city.
One of my favorite pastimes is a fine little establishment hidden along the 700 block of Toulouse Street. If you’re not in search of Ye Olde Original Dungeon, you certainly won’t find this late night bar. Doors don’t open to the public until after 10:00 P.M. and even then, it’s dark, gothic and metal atmosphere are not for the faint of heart. Perfect for a vampire to do his bidding. However, I do recommend you visit at least once.
Take a walk through the picturesque Jackson Square, passing the rows of local artists with displays for your consideration and you won’t miss the majestic Saint Louis Cathedral. Continue down the small side street along the left side of the building and you’ll find yourself in Pirate’s Alley. Stop into the Absinthe House nestled in the center of Pirate’s Alley, and sample one of the town’s signature drinks…Absinthe. Marvel at the talented bartenders as they blend this potent concoction from scratch—a true feast for the eyes.
At the corner of Bourbon and St. Phillip Streets sits the historic Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. The quaint drinking establishment removed from the noise and the crowds of Bourbon Street, is the oldest bar in America! In fact, the building utilizes natural light and when the sun sets, you’ll see mostly candlelight in this tourist attraction. If you’re looking for old world New Orleans, this is the place to visit.
Speaking of old world New Orleans, you simply can’t walk down the streets without feeling the influence of celebrated figure, Marie Laveau. A lovely woman I had the pleasure of meeting a time or two during my travels, Ms. Laveau is the renowned ‘Voodoo Queen of New Orleans’, having practiced Voodoo during the 1800s and often raised an eyebrow or two. In fact, the Marie Laveau House of Voodoo is a lovely shop on Bourbon Street dedicated to Ms. Laveau and her practices.
While it’s true that I dine on one particular source of nourishment, I occasionally acquire a taste for some of the freshest seafood in New Orleans, which you’ll find at the Acme Oyster House on Iberville Street. While oysters are the specialty, you’ll find other phenomenal dishes on the menu. Be prepared to face long lines at this tourist spot. With such a demand, it leaves one to wonder if it’s true what humans say about oysters. *wink*
How could I forget the famous Café du Monde? One simply can’t consume enough chicory coffee, Café Au Lait and beignets. Gods I look forward to bringing my lady love to New Orleans and watching her expression as the sugar covered dough graces her lips for the first time. The thought of the confection mixed with the naturally sweet taste of her lips could drive a man mad. But first, I’ll have to convince her that I’m not the prince of darkness. Sure I’ve committed a few nefarious acts to secure her position by my side, but a man in love does drastic things.
Many NOLA visitors embark upon several tours offered around the town. I’m a bit partial to the vampire tour. This roughly two hour walking tour makes frequent stops at several locations rumored to be involved in actual vampire events. Was Jacques St. Germain a vampire? His secrets will remain safe with me, so you’ll have to be the judge. If the tour doesn’t satisfy your craving for the undead, do come to see me. I have a few friends who would be thrilled to accompany you on a private tour for a small donation.
Another tour I’d recommend is the cemetery tour. For those of you unaware, New Orleans has a rather unique burial requirement. All of the dearly departed must be buried in above ground tombs due to the town’s high water table. These cemeteries are known as ‘cities of the dead’ where the tombs are so elaborate, some resemble monuments. The most famous of these sites is Lafayette Cemetery. You may have seen the landmark as the site has been used in several movies filmed in New Orleans.
Souvenirs are abundant all throughout town, but I’m somewhat partial to the charming Boutique du Vampyre on Toulouse Street. Here you’ll find exquisite pieces of gothic jewelry, breathtaking chalices, and a variety of vampire collectibles designed by local artists. In fact, I’ll be headed there shortly to purchase a new bracelet for my Gianna to replace the hideous relic she’s grown fond of. Perhaps a gift will do the trick.
It’s been my pleasure to give you a glimpse of New Orleans and the Mardi Gras festivities. I sincerely hope you have the opportunity to visit this extraordinary city. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve grown quite hungry and feel the need to taste all that New Orleans has to offer.
Meet Jae Lynne Davies!
Jae Lynne is a wife, mother and author who wishes there were more hours in a day to balance all three and her full-time job, but whenever she finds a spare moment, you’ll find her sitting in front of her laptop typing the next chapter! Jae Lynne currently resides in the suburbs of Philadelphia with her husband and two children.
Jae Lynne Davies is giving away an eBook copy of Mythic. To enter, all you have to do is answer this one question: Is there a certain area of New Orleans you want to experience? While we’re at the AAD Conference, where should we hit up? Remember, you must answer the question in order to be entered.
In addition to the fabulous prize above, Larissa and I are giving away two $25 ARe gift certificates, so be sure to answer the question.
Even though I’m not giving the additional entries any more, you can still help support the author by sharing their article, and this contest, on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere you can. After all, the more people who are aware of this fabulous author ensures we get more fabulous stories.
The winner must post a review of the novel someplace. Whether it is on their own blog, Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing or wherever, it doesn’t matter. Just help get the word out.
The contest will stay open until February 28th at which time I’ll determine the winner with help from the snazzy new plug-in I have.
I have not been contacting winners, so you will need to check back to see if you’ve won.