• Greasing of the Poles

    One of the more unique Mardi Gras traditions is the Greasing of the Poles that takes place on the Friday of Mardi Gras weekend at the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street.

    The pole greasing started out for practical reasons to keep people from climbing up the poles at the hotel to the balconies for better views and has transformed into a friendly competition where celebrities grease the poles in the most fun manner in front of a local judging panel.

    This year the tradition will celebrate 50 years in 2020. The public is always invited to gather outside the hotel entrance and this is a wonderfully fun event for the whole family with live music and some local celebrity sightings.

    Get there early for a great spot to view this one-of-a-kind carnival activity!

  • Mystic Krewe of Barkus

    New Orleans is a special place where even the dogs are celebrated and get their own parade through the French Quarter. The Mystic Krewe of Barkus was created in 1992 at a meeting of the Margaret Orr Fan Club held at Good Friends Bar. Thomas Wood brought his dog “Jo Jo McWood,” but people complained about the dog’s neurotic ways while in the meeting. Thomas decided to make Jo Jo McWood the Queen of her own parade and captain-for-life, as a way to get back at them. Thus, the Krewe of Barkus was born.

    Sunday was my first experience with the Krewe of Barkus. I usually choose to spend my first Mardi Gras weekend on the Uptown parade route but I had seen so many adorable puppy photos from past years that I had to check it out. Rain threatened the parade in the morning but the skies cleared for the parade to line up and hit the quarter to a packed crowd that lined the route leaving Armstrong Park all the way to the end on Dauphine. Overcast skies provided the perfect weather for the pups to roll and stay cool.

    It is not every day where you see human and animal spectators line the streets to see dogs in their favorite festive costumes. A highlight for parade attendees was also seeing Her Majesty XVIII, Queen Belle Hebert, a red standard poodle and King Edward VII Bloomenstiel, a longhaired Chihuahua. Krewe Ella de Vil was also out trying to lure dogs with treats into their nets!

  • Krewedelusion Parade

    Also in the Marigny neighborhood, and less X-rated was Krewedelusion. This parade directly followed the raunchy Krewe du Vieux. It’s slogan: “The People Shall Rule – Until a Suitable Replacement Can Be Found.”

    A newer parade, Krewedelusion revolves around satire and was a playful walking event revolving more around music and the arts. It is comprised “innerkrewes” including the Guise of Fawkes, Krewe Dat 504, Krewe of Hellarious Wingnuts, and the Krewe of London, France of Underpants.

    Krewedelusion keeps its annual theme a secret until the actual day of the parade. Throws included everything from cups and stickers to buttons and beads. The parade began on Franklin and Royal Street and ended on 618 Frenchman Street.

    The mission of Krewedelusion is “to save the Universe, beginning at its center, New Orleans.”

  • Krewe du Vieux Parade

    Krewe du Vieux is an R-rated parade that might not be appropriate for young children. It might be an NC-17 parade since it’s barely appropriate for adults. This explicitly sexual and political-themed parade is nothing short of entertaining.

    We watched the Krewe du Vieux in the Marigny neighborhood. The parade consists of 17 “sub-krewes,” each of which presents their own interpretations of the theme. Some of the more colorfully named sub-krewes include the Krewe of C.R.U.D.E., Krewe of Underwear, Seeds of Decline, Krewe of K.A.O.S. and Krewe of L.E.W.D.  And lewd indeed.

    A lot of families with younger children attending the parade had some explaining to do later that evening. Some floats revolved around erections, had massive penis themed floats and much commentary on Donald Trump including a float with him in a compromising position….also involving a penis. Other floats had a quirky take on larger issues such as global warming and at the end of the parade, people rode around to collect all of the beer cans in an effort to recycle as part of the event.

  • Krewe of Boheme

    Krewe of Boheme is a walking parade that was high energy and how could it not be as New Orleans native Tarriona Ball, also known as “Tanks” singer poet extraordinaire of Tank and the Bangas was the queen of the parade.

    With a soaring twenties theme, the spectacular celebrated its second year. It lined up on Franklin Avenue and marched through Marigny and the French Quarter.

    The basis of the parade was to throw out conventional standards and embrace artistic and literary interests. Their goal is to present a visual and auditory feast of mystery, artistry and fun.

    Walking krewes included Krewe of Goddesses, Krewe of R.U.M. (Really Unsophisticated Men), The Merry Antoinettes, Krewe of S.L.U.T.S. (Sexy Ladies Up to Something) and many more. Throws included everything from hand-decorated cups to small pouches of red beans and rice and cookies.

  • ShipRocked 2020

    ShipRocked 2020 kicked off with a parade through the French Quarter in New Orleans Friday night before setting sail Sat Feb 1. The five-day cruise took place on the Carnival Valor and cruised from the Port of New Orleans with stops in Key West and Cozumel.

    Two full days at sea provided time for bands to play all day and fans to meet all of their favorite artists during the band meet and greets onboard the ship. Halestorm and Alter Bridge led an all-star line up on the ship playing two shows each on the boat.

    Other bands rounded out the lineup like Living Colour, Ded, Asking Alexandria, HellYeah, Ra, Black Stone Cherry, Badflower, Ice Nine Kills, Dead Sara and many more. The Stowaways, an all-star band, also performed two shows onboard.

    The first stop was in sunny Key West where there were lots to do and see in this vibrant quiet town. We went to the most southern tip of the continental United States. We also visited the Hemingway House, home to famed writer Ernest Hemingway and his six-clawed cats. Dozens of these cute felines roamed around the property.

    The second stop included Cozumel Mexico, where a beach party was in full effect. Artists such as Joyous Wolf and Hyro the Hero performed as drinks from the open bar flowed and fans rocked out.

    Back on board, there were also a few special first time events during the cruise. Clint Lowery of Sevendust played his first solo show and Maria Brink of In This Moment held a midnight mass solo show.

    Halestorm closed out the Lido Deck stage as we entered the fog of the Mississippi River heading back to New Orleans.

    Next year ShipRocked 2021 will be sailing aboard the Carnival Magic on January 18-23 from Miami Florida. Stops will include Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas and Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic.

  • TWA Hotel

    While figuring out what to do during a ten-hour layover and minor snowstorm before a 15-hour flight to India, I decided to check out the TWA Hotel in the JFK Airport terminal in Queens, New York.

    With over 500 guestrooms, including ones with a view of the runway where you can see flights taking off. I was able to get a day room stay from 8 a.m to 8 p.m. There are also overnight options available for long layovers.

    The hotel opened in May 2019. It transports visitors to 1962 near the head house of the TWA Flight Center airline terminal designed by architect Eero Saarinen.

    Walking into the structure you’re greeted by friendly staff in classic TWA airline attendant and pilot uniforms along with a red sunken in the seating area with a bar on each end. On one winding staircase is a museum area dedicated to original TWA staff clothes designed by Ralph Lauren and Valentino.

    On the other winding staircase is the restaurant called Paris Café which serves food by chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. It serves everything from personal pizzas to a monster portion of fish and chips, varied types of burgers and full entrees featuring wagyu beef tenderloin, pork chops and salmon.

    Passed the sunken lounge is the ice skating rink, a winter addition to the hotel. Right next to the rink is the Connie Cocktail Lounge. The TWA terminal was designed around the Lockheed Constellation, referred to as “Connie” for short, a beautiful quad-engine prop aircraft that became one of the first pressurized aircraft to go into widespread commercial service.

    The plane turned lounge is a place to relax while sipping on vintage-inspired cocktails with a modern twist. We had the entire plane to ourselves, the perfect time to enjoy it happens to be during an impending snowstorm in the midst of January.

    While flurries began to swirl, luckily the only delay I encountered was the cocktail of the called Weather Delay which included Belvedere Vodka, Hot Chocolate and tons of marshmallows. Other classic cocktails such as their version of a hot toddy, negroni and old fashioned were offered.

    After you’ve had enough drinks you can catch the elevator to the rooftop where you’ll find the heated pool which was open even on a chilly pre-snow storm day. A covered bar that sits right next to the pool facing the runway where you can get a view of the planes.

    Whether you want a good stiff drink, fulfilling meal, memorable selfie or just want to learn some history, the TWA museum is a gem for any traveler while in New York.

  • Top 10 Festivals of 2019

    Each year The Travel Addict travels to and photographs over 20 music festivals across North America. This year we ranked our favorites in a Top 10 countdown. Music festivals can be an awesome way to combine a love of travel with your favorite music. There are so many music festivals across America you can find something for every type of music lover.

    Here are my top favorites this year.

    10.  Louder than Life– Louisville, Kentucky

    The music and food and drink festival revolve around good bourbon and metal and rock, as it should since it took place in Louisville, Kentucky on September 27-29. Headliners included Guns N’ Roses, Slipknot, Disturbed. I actually shed a tear and got emotional when I saw Guns N’ Roses, it was my first time seeing them live and playing anthems such as “Welcome to the Jungle.”

    Numerous food vendors served everything from the barbeque, creole, burgers along with desserts such as Funnel Cake Fantasy, Gelato Gilberto and many more. Louder Than Life 2020 will take place on September 18-20.

    9. Austin City Limits– Austin, Texas

    The festival would normally score higher with the trifecta of female performers such as Lizzo, Cardi B, and Kacey Musgraves but the scorching temperatures of Weekend One made it more difficult than usual. Shade, great friends and music were found as usual at the BMI stage. Guns N’ Roses also made their appearance as a headliner at this festival as well accompanied by other heavy hitters, Mumford & Sons, Childish Gambino, The Cure, Billie Eilish, Robyn and more. The 2020 ACL installment will take place over two weekends on October 2-4 and October 9-11.

    8. Lollapalooza– Chicago, Illinois

    One of the largest and well-known festivals in the US, Lollapalooza boasted a variety of artists spanning many genres. Very few music festivals take place in the middle of a major city, but Lollapalooza is in the heart of downtown Chicago. This makes logistics easy with access from trains and hotels and lodging options within walking distance.

    Headliners such as Ariana Grande, Twenty Pilots, Childish Gambino, and The Strokes played in Grant Park in Chicago over the summer on August 1-4. J Balvin became the first Latino artist to headline the massive festival Lollapalooza has a global reach with 2020 dates on March 27-29 in Argentina and July 30-August 2 in Chicago.

    7.Festival dete de Quebec– Quebec City, Canada

    It might be the most notable festival in Canada, as it’s the country’s largest outdoor music event but many Americans haven’t discovered this hidden gem. Festival dete de Quebec is 11 days of a variety of musical performances from July 4-14 in downtown Quebec.  From old school, rock acts like Lynyrd Skynyrd and metal band Slipknot, to electric artist Diplo and pop icon Mariah Carey all headlined a date of this year’s festival. This event attracts over 300,000 people and an all-inclusive pass for 11 days is just $105, which may be the best festival bargain on the planet.

    The festival is also located in the heart of one of North America’s most picturesque cities. Locals are some of the friendliest festival patrons around and welcome visitors from all over the world. The 2020 event will take place from July 9-19 this year.

    6. New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival– New Orleans, Louisiana

    The 50th year of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival spanned eight days over two weekends, the first from April 25-28 and May 2-5. Even with the heartbreaking Rolling Stones cancellation, the festival was filled with a diverse line-up boasting legendary acts Earth, Wind & Fire, Van Morrison, Al Green, Bonnie Raitt, and Alanis Morissette, along with pop artist Katy Perry, J Balvin, rapper Logic, soul artist Leon Bridges and many more.

    The festival gets extra points because of the local New Orleans food vendor options. You can watch iconic artists and dine on beignets from Café Du Monde and my all-time favorite festival food Prejean’s famous crawfish enchiladas. This year’s festival goes from April 23-May 3.

    5. BottleRock Napa Valley– Napa, California

    I love BottleRock Festival because it’s where the culinary and music world merge. This year’s festival took place on May 24-26 at the Napa Valley Expo in California.

    On the culinary stage where celebrity chefs cook with rock stars each year, Alice Cooper brought the theatrics and teamed up with “Bizarre Foods” host Andrew Zimmern he tried (and failed) to break the world record for the number of rubber chickens tossed in the air at the same time. This year some special sports stars also got in on the cooking action. Ken Griffey Jr. cooked with Graham Elliot and Jerry Rice made an appearance with Trisha Yearwood in the Williams Sonoma kitchen.

    BottleRock 2020 is set to blend culinary, music and entertainment worlds again from May 22-24. Headliners include Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stevie Nicks and Dave Matthews Band.

    4. Coachella– Indio, California

    Ariana Grande, Childish Gambino and Tame Impala headlined one of the most well-known festivals of the year Coachella, over two weekends April 12-14 and April 19-21. Other performances included Kacey Musgraves, Lizzo, a DJ set by Idris Elba and many others. The highlight of this year’s festival was a surprise appearance by Kanye West during Kid Cudi’s set as well as attendees getting to see a new spiritual side of Kanye at his Sunday Service on Easter Sunday morning which blew my mind with a full orchestra and 100 person choir.

    Festivalgoers were offered a variety of cuisines from all over the country. A pop-up restaurant was also an option as well as ordering food and drinks ahead of time with Postmates pickup.  From a giant Connect Four, DIY art studio to pie eating contests and dance parties. Coachella offers much more than just a music experience.

    Next year Coachella will be taking place on the weekends of April 10-12 and April 17-19 with Rage Against the Machine scheduled as a headliner.

    3. Sonic Temple– Columbus Ohio

    The inaugural Sonic Temple music and arts festival can be looked at as a replacement for the Rock on the Range festival, which came to an end last year. The three-day festival took place on May 17-19 at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus Ohio. The line-up was led by Foo Fighters, System of a Down and Disturbed.

    A memorable performance was watching Dave Grohl and the rest of the Foo Fighters rock out in the rain. Other performers included British act Bring Me the Horizon, punk rock veteran Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, French metal outfit Gojira and dozens of other bands. Metallica, Slipknot, Bring Me the Horizon, Evanescence and Deftones are already slated to headline next year’s festival two nights that will take place from May 15-17.

    2. Essence– New Orleans, Louisiana

    Essence Festival celebrated 25 years of culture in 2019. It’s one of the few festivals that covers music, fashion, beauty, film, television and politics. The four-day festival was jam-packed with day and night activities. Speakers included First Lady Michelle Obama, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar along with notable names in entertainment, Pharrell and Tyler Perry at the Ernest N. Morial convention center. Democratic candidates Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg flocked to the festival as well to present their ideas as they started their presidential bids for 2020.    

    At night the Superdome main stage was hosted by comedian and television host Loni Love. Incredible veterans in Hip-Hop and R&B such as Missy Elliot, Mary J. Blige, Nas and newer generation of artists Big Freedia, H.E.R., Teyana Taylor and numerous others. Essence Festival is slated to take place from July 1-5.

    1. Bonnaroo– Manchester, Tennessee

    The festival that took the cake this year was Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tennessee on June 11-14. Rapper Cardi B stole the entire weekend with her wild and fun performance. Other notable acts included Post Malone, Solange and Grand Ole Opry featuring special guests, The Lumineers and two sets by Phish. Campground Plazas which offered shade, free Wifi, charging and mist stations as well as medical and information posts and restrooms.

    There were also non-music activities such as Yoga-roo, Soberoo for festival go-ers who were looking for a substance-free music experience. It is the only music festival with a code of ethics to “spread positivity” and it is just an overall chill fun experience for all fans that come from all over the country to experience the magic of Bonnaroo. This year Bonnaroo will take place on June 11-14 with diverse headliners such as Lizzo and Tool.

  • Interview: Michael Voltaggio

    The Travel Addict was able to catch up with season six Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio at this year’s music, drink and food event Bourbon & Beyond in Kentucky.

    Bourbon and Beyond took place on September 20-22 at the Kentucky Expo Center in Louisville KY.  Chef Michael Voltaggio was one of the participating chefs this year on the culinary stage at the festival headlined by Foo Fighters, Robert Plant, the Zac Brown Band, and ZZ Top.

    Voltaggio talked about his secret to a killer grilled cheese as well as his show Breaking Borders, some of his favorite travel destinations and some heartbreaking and eye-opening experiences while in Africa and in the Middle East. We wanted to chat about Lebanon travel because that is the Travel Addict’s next big travel destination. Check out the Travel Addict’s interview with chef Michael Voltaggio below:

    On National Grilled Cheese Day, you were on Instagram with your grilled cheese tattoo. Do you have a favorite tattoo inspired by travel or food?

    I have a tattoo on my wrist that I got in Israel at apparently the oldest tattoo shop in the world. It is the Archangel Michael fighting the Devil. Back in the day, people would stand in line with wood blocks that had carvings on them. They would dip them in ink, put it on their arm, and tattoo over it in a stencil. I wanted to go through that process. I got that tattoo there. That was while I was filming Breaking Borders on Travel Channel.

    What makes the perfect gourmet grilled cheese, in your opinion?

    My secret for grilled cheese is putting mayonnaise on the outside of the bread. Because when you pull the butter out of the fridge and it’s not tempered then you go to smush it on the bread, it puts holes in the bread. I use mayonnaise for that, which has eggs in it so when you cook it on a pan it gets crunchier and crispier and it’s easier to spread.

    You and your brother were on Top Chef and you just opened a new restaurant in Washington D.C. together. Since opening Estuary, have you determined a signature dish at the restaurant? How do you like working with your brother?

    I love working with my brother. It’s our second restaurant. We also have Voltaggio Brothers Steakhouse as well, also in the Maryland, D.C. area. The favorite dish there is – we make these little miniature crab rolls, instead of lobster rolls, and we cut out these little crab-shaped plantain chips and garnish it with it so it looks like there are little crabs crawling over the outside of the sandwich.

    On Breaking Borders, you were with a seasoned journalist going around the globe trying to engage in some hot spots across the world. You did a lot of amazing things on the show – getting to marry people, getting the tattoos – Which location left the most lasting impression and why?

    Every country we visited left an impression for several different reasons. Egypt left an impression because we had our passports taken at gunpoint because we were trying to film in Tahrir Square. Being in Africa, I had the opportunity to go out in the wild in the natural habitat of Gorillas.

    In Uganda or Rwanda?

    In Rwanda. Then we went to Volcanic National Park. I was so inspired being there that I pulled potatoes out of the dirt, the volcanic soil. Then I took bags of the soil with me and I roasted the potatoes in the soil it grew in. Just how gracious and full of life, Africa was an amazing trip. I connected with Rwanda in a big way.

    Is there any place on your bucket list that you’d like to go?

    There are certain trips I’d like to go on for selfish reasons and others for life experiences. I’ve always wanted to go on the Inca Trail and climb Machu Pichu. I’d love to get down there. If I am traveling, I am going to relax, that’s part of it. Usually, I travel for work, but for me, Bora Bora is on my list because I see how beautiful it looks on all the images.

    I have been to Sri Lanka, I’d love to go back to Sri Lanka and experience it again because it was such a magical place. I want to go where I haven’t been. Tonight, I am flying to Amsterdam actually. I’ll get off stage at 3:30 pm. Then my flight is at 5:50 pm and I take the red-eye to Amsterdam and from there I’ll be in Paris next week.

    A lot of chefs I talk to don’t travel at all because they are constantly working.

    It never really is about vacation. We travel a lot for work. I think it was Jean-Louis Palladin who said he didn’t start learning until he stepped out of his kitchen. For us, I think when the restaurants are running, it is our responsibility to go out and get new information, to get new inspiration. If you travel and don’t bring something home with you, then it is a wasted trip. Whether it is for business or pleasure, there is always something coming back with me that I can apply to the restaurant in some way.

    How did the show Breaking Borders come about?

    I was cold-called by the producer. I did a test with Mariana [van Zeller] and we hit it off. She is still to this day a dear friend of mine. The opportunity to travel the world, but to go to conflict zones and use food to bring people together around the dinner table to talk about their differences. I think the world could use that exercise. We don’t eat at our own dinner tables anymore. That is a place for conversation, the ritual my Mom made sure at 5:00 or 5:30 every day there was dinner on the table and you had to stop your day and sit down and talk about what you did. Now on a more global level talking about more important things, getting people around a dinner table is a good opportunity to break bread and discuss things.

     Have you been to Lebanon?

    I have been to Lebanon. I went to Beirut, I went up to Tripoli, it is destroyed. The buildings all have holes in them. There are flags in the street, black flags still. I was with a member of Parliament and he was telling me how horrible it was when the war went down. The fact there isn’t any opportunity to build really.

    The city of Beirut was amazing. The food of Lebanon is probably one of my favorite food destinations. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant, but we were on the coast and the sea is right there. When you are in a conflict zone, people aren’t going in the water as much. So there is pristine seafood coming out of this body of water because no one is going in the ocean. I would definitely tell people to go and visit.

    But I went out into Hezbollah territory. I went up to the Syrian border. I went to a Syrian refugee camp and hung out with the refugees and talked to them about what was going on there. There is a level of fear that is very real. Lebanon is a pot of water with a lid that is gently simmering and they are trying to do what they can to make sure it doesn’t boil over.

  • Voodoo Festival 2019

    There’s a variety of ways to spend Halloween in New Orleans, one of the most unique ways is by attending Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, which took place from October 25-27. Voodoo Fest 2019 got off to a very rainy start on Friday.

    Heavy rains came all day but all the performances went on as planned but only a small crowd braved the weather early in the day. Crowds started to fill in toward the end of the night and it became clear that the die-hard GNR fans weren’t going to miss the show. The band delivered almost a three-hour performance of their greatest hits and did not disappoint.

    This year’s event boasted a varied line-up with headliners such as Guns N’ Roses and Brandi Carlile on Friday, The National and Denzel Curry on October 26 and Post Malone and Bring Me the Horizon to round out the festival on Sunday. House of Blues set up a carnival-like interactive tent this year that hosted up and coming acts along with the very popular costume contest.

    Along with the music, there was a handcrafted market place, beer hall and immersive art installations and of course the food! From classic shrimp Poboys to fried duck quesadillas, anytime you’re in New Orleans you better come hungry.

    Voodoo Festival still remains a unique New Orleans tradition that is unlike all other music festivals. It takes place on Halloween weekend each year and provides great people watching as tons of festival-goers show up in their Halloween costumes to see their favorite bands who often dress up as well.

    Over the years there have been some very memorable costume moments that include My Chemical Romance dressing up as King Arthur’s court in 2011, Lizzo as Sailor Moon, The Revivalists as Run DMC and Poppy as Marie Antionette in 2018. We’ve also had unforgettable performances by Ozzy Osbourne the Prince of Darkness and Marilyn Manson who loved playing the festival. Manson has often called New Orleans the evilest city in the world in interviews so it was fitting he headlined the festival in 2018.