When people find out you’re an introvert, they often assume it means that you don’t like people, or that you live like a hermit.
This isn’t true.
Introversion simply means that rather than recharging our batteries by spending time with a lot of people, we “refuel” on time alone, or with one or two other people that we’re especially close to.
Anything else wears us out quickly and can become…overstimulating to the point that we just don’t enjoy it.
For many of us introverted types, this doesn’t mean that we don’t enjoy things like Mardi Gras, we just partake in the celebrations in our own way.
Until this past weekend, I’ve never had the pleasure of attending Mardi Gras celebrations in Mobile.
If you keep up with my blog, you’ll know that Mobile, AL is one of my favorite places on Earth. It is fast becoming almost an adopted second hometown for me.
It helps to be related to a local Mobileian. Having someone who can be your own personal tour guide is a great way to get to know a city like Mobile.
I had time for a very fast getaway before Lent, so I made a 30 hour trip to see my cousin and add Mardi Gras to my list of Mobile experiences.
I arrived about 3 o’clock Friday afternoon. With a parade set to start at 6:30, we had just enough time to get downtown to grab a happy hour special at Dauphin’s.
While I sipped a refreshing Les Dauphin, my companion enjoyed her French 107. We shared a couple of crab cakes while taking in the panoramic views just outside our window from 34 stories.
The dining room side has the best views though.
Dauphin’s is pricey, which is one reason we chose happy hour to go. But the views alone….well, they might just be worth a full price dinner.
After drinks, we walked down to the newly opened Moon Pie Store.
We splurged for a King Cake Shake, a delightful little concoction of ice cream and king cake (complete with baby), and headed outside to watch the parade.
The folks at the Moon Pie Store were very busy and forgot about our shakes. They ended up giving us one for free when we reminded them that we had not been served. It’s always nice when folks apologize with free stuff.
Our parade vantage point was directly across the street from the Battlehouse Hotel and it was a great spot to watch both the Moon Pie drop, signaling the beginning of the parade, as well as the parade itself.
The theme of the parade was great rivalries. Everything from Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader to Batman and the Joker was represented.
We did pretty well on beads too, though not as well as this guy:
After the parade, we headed over to Pizzaria Delphina, which came highly recommended by my cousin.
This little (and I do mean tiny) Italian place is right off of Dauphin and had great atmosphere and a friendly staff.
We sat at the bar with our Cabernet and Merlot and chatted while we waited on our dinner.
I chose the veggie stromboli which came with a side of marinara.
Homemade crust with stringy mozzarella, spinach, mushrooms, peppers and onions.
It. Was. Tasty.
I could only eat half, so we got our leftovers boxed up and headed home to rest for the full day we had planned on Saturday.
We got back downtown about 11 the next morning and opted for brunch at Wentzell’s, which is sort of my tried and true, go-to place to eat in Mobile.
We had mimosas out on the patio and basked in the fresh air while enjoying shrimp and grits, oysters Bienville and fried green tomatoes topped with crawfish.
We walked to Government Street from Wentzell’s and caught a parade there, which was a floral themed parade of mostly children’s floats.
It was here that I caught my first Moon Pie. Parade level: expert.
It was very warm and bright outside and we got pretty hot in the sunshine. But it wasn’t a very long parade, so when it was over we headed to the Carnival Museum a few blocks away.
This is such a cool place to visit, especially during Mardi Gras. The tour guides were fun, full of interesting stories, and the costumes on display that have been worn by Carnival royalty over the years are really something you need to see for yourself to believe.
These are the ensembles worn by the 2016 Mobile Carnival Association King and Queen. The robes are are always made by hand.
The purple one in this photo had over 10,000 Swarovski Crystals sewn onto it and weighs 80 lbs. The queen who wore it only weighed 115 lbs and couldn’t walk while wearing it. Ball bearings were attached to the bottom of the train so it would glide effortlessly behind her.
The very rich traditions (and rich means any way it can be meant in this statement) are really why Mardi Gras has become what it has become for the city of Mobile.
According to the docents at the museum, Mardi Gras is the number one “industry” in the city, surpassing it’s largest manufacturers, etc.
There are 77 krewes in the city with more than half having the necessary resources to put on a parade. So, Mobile celebrates Carnival for weeks prior to Fat Tuesday, and the tourists often prefer it to New Orleans because of the more family friendly atmosphere.
And, truly, it does have that. There were families everywhere and the float riders in the parades definitely cater to the kids by being sure to toss stuff within their reach.
Having been to Mardi Gras celebrations in NOLA, I could definitely see the difference in the two overall atmospheres of how each city participates.
The Carnival Museum is 3 floors of well preserved and detailed explanations of all things Mardi Gras. I highly recommend it.
After our tour, we went over to Firehouse Wine Bar to get off our feet and have a little refreshment.
When I tell you this little gem is my favorite new spot in the city, I’m not exaggerating.
My cousin and I decided it was the perfect introvert’s hideaway from the crowds.
She sipped Pinot Grigio while I sampled both Reisling and Rosé.
We also ordered a cheese tray and some baked brie to share.
The treats are reasonably priced and we had the entire little back room to ourselves for over 2 hours.
This would be a perfect spot for a book club to meet, but I so enjoyed having this intimate little oasis to enjoy some one-on-one conversation with my cousin.
It was quiet, relaxing, and the service was warm and friendly.
We reluctantly left our cozy couch because it was time for the last parade of the day and we didn’t want to miss it.
The Mystics of Time Dragon Parade is one of the most popular in the Mardi Gras tradition and it did not disappoint. Fire-breathing dragons followed Father Time, and children and adults alike were delighted by the unique and beautiful floats.
We didn’t have as good of a vantage point for this parade as the crowds were distinctly larger, but I was proud to catch some official Mystics of Time beads to add to my haul.
Following the parade, we picked up a few treasures from the Moon Pie Store to commemorate our fun and my first (but certainly not last) Mobile Mardi Gras.
As is ever the case, Mobile did not disappoint and I would highly recommend experiencing this historical and most enjoyable event for yourself.
Mobile is one of those places that I experience anew every time I visit. And I end up wanting to relocate every time I do. #retirementgoals
As I made my way back to Mississippi in the late hours of Saturday night, I smiled to myself.
No matter what anyone tells you, even introverts know how to “laissez le bon temps rouler“.