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Fests, Holidays, and Other Must-Attend Happenings
Ever seen the look on someone's face when they tell you about their trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras? Or enjoyed the bumbling banter of a couple of friends trying to piece together a memorable (and not-so-memorable) night from St. Patty's Day in Dublin? Well, here's a compilation of incredible festivals, holidays, and other annual happenings certain to spawn many unforgettable stories for years and years to come. Yes, you'll still be spewing these tales when you're eighty-five, senile, and crapping in your trousers. That's assuming you remembered to put them on.
New Year's Eve
It's midnight. You're seeing double. She's seeing triple. And somehow, despite all the rum-induced blurriness, you still manage to find each other's lips and maul one another among two hundred people doing the same frickin' thing. It's so unbelievably romantic that Meg Ryan should star in a movie about it. Ah, you gotta love New Year's Eve. If it's amateur hour, we don't want to be professionals. This is a time to forget last year and all the ladies that said you smelled funny. It's a time to start new and fresh. It's time for personal rebirth. But first, it's time to get stupid.
Like peanut butter and jelly, chips and salsa, Paris Hilton and a night vision camera, some things are just meant for each other. Vegas and New Year's Eve are no exception. You've got two major options when traveling to Sin City for this momentous holiday. You can hit The Strip, where each hotel offers a different party and at midnight people pack the street for fireworks. Or you can head downtown (where the crowd is a little bit older) for an enclosed block party. We suggest you go to The Strip, where you and a mere three hundred thousand peeps will get drunk together.
Booking a flight and hotel should be done early for this popular event. When it comes to the hotel, either go big, with hipster places like the Hard Rock and Mandalay Bay, or just find the cheapest internet deal you can get on The Strip. There's no rule against spending all your waking hours at another hotel. Dinner reservations will be brutal for this holiday . . . so forget it, eat wherever, and spend your money on booze, blackjack, and a yo-ladies-get-in-my limo. Before you come here, perform some quality due diligence. Find out where the best parties are happening. Call ahead to put your name on any club lists. And get everyone on the same agenda. You'll no doubt lose buddies along the way. "Hey, anyone see Sully since that girl put her hand down his pants?" Have a place to meet up, even if it's the Spearmint Rhino for lap dances at four a.m. Also, make sure to place all your college bowl game bets the day before. Who knows where you'll end up New Year's Day morning and how banged up you may be when you surface. At some point get to the Sports Book and exploit those amateur athletes by winning big on their talent. Like Ralph Macchio in The Karate Kid, this year will kick the silly stool out of any New Year's you've ever rang in.
WARNING: Stay away from that woman with the dazzling gold tooth who's really, really interested in seeing your hotel room.
Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
Accessible only by boat or inner tube, and boasting a permanent population of a mere hundred and fifty souls, this beautiful, hammock-swaying, unspoiled treasure of an island has become an incredible New Year's Eve destination. It all began when Mick Jagger and a couple of the Beatles rang in 1970-something here. Before long the secret was out. Today, more than eight thousand people schooner their way here to experience a one-of-a-kind place and event. Foxy's is the bar here and possibly the most famous watering hole in all of the Caribbean. Foxy himself is legendary, and the self-proclaimed "laziest man in the world." Be sure to get a taste of his impromptu comedic calypso sessions. Beyond Foxy's bar, you've got Ali Baba's, Happy Laury's, Soggy Dollar Bar, and Sidney's Peace & Love--great names, great places to enjoy a drink or ten.
For New Year's Eve, this four-square-mile island becomes one big, fun-loving beach fest. Tropical cocktails, fresh fish, a pig roast and reggae music all combine to make the perfect island party. Up and down the beach, everyone is jamming and having a good time. You can sleep wherever. Campgrounds are most likely your best option. Getting here should be done from St. Thomas, Tortola, or another nearby island. Beautiful people abound, and the vibe is friendly, open, and free-spirited. It's not a huge singles scene, but you'll still have options. And you could always journey here with the "right" group of girls. When you're not sporting a pleasurable rum buzz, you can go diving, fishing, kayaking, or just boating with a dinghy rental. Pure paradise, Jost Van Dyke is the last true Virgin of these islands, and New Year's Eve makes for a wonderful night to sleep with her.
LINK IT UP: Happy New Year! Now carry on to more water-friendly activities. (See chapter 2 under "Diving, Sailing.")
With absolutely zero off-season, there is no bad time to hit New Orleans . . . only some times better than others. New Year's Eve is most definitely one of those times. You factor in the hopefully warm weather, bars that never close, streets that beg you to wander with open containers and the Sugar Bowl just around the bend--this is one sick place. The party begins on Bourbon Street, flows into the French Quarter, and around midnight finds itself in Jackson Square for the big old Ball Drop. What happens along the way and how you manage the chaos is totally in your court.
For this special day, you should probably find one all-you-can-everything party to attend, as bars will be packed and lines will be mind-boggling. Pat O'Briens, The Cat's Meow, Razzoo, and Bourbon Street Blues all are worthy of investigation. You can always go someplace less crazy early, then make your way to the madness of Bourbon Street. But hell, you're in New Orleans--do as you're supposed to do. If you really want to check something special off your list, get tickets to a Bourbon Street Balcony and hover above the masses like the king you are. Also, obtain any and all beads ahead of time. You will discover that getting girls to flash their boobies never gets old, running out is a problem, and prices on Bourbon Street are retarded. For added shenanigans, bring along a voodoo doll, tell the ladies to pleasure him and then you. Strip clubs are omnipresent and fall into several categories, ranging from "pretty sweet" to "do not touch me, sleazy." Casinos are here to take your money. And lastly, bring a camera, because at some point you'll be running on blank tape and this will be the best way to remember what a great time you had and what a depraved human being you truly are. Upon waking up the next day, head out for a world-famous New Orleans Bloody Mary and start all over again.
WARNING: If you find yourself being smothered by the breasts of a large forty-something divorcee from Mississippi, use the straw from your Hurricane to breathe.
While everyone else is jammed in an overcrowded bar where a hundred bucks gets you an endless, but not easy-to-obtain supply of booze until midnight and second-hand nibbles from a nasty cheese-and-fruit spread, you are halfway across the world toasting Budvar with aspiring Czechoslovakian models, taking a drag of some fine Eastern European wacky weed, and witnessing a fireworks display that you'll have no choice but to describe with a drunken, "Dude--that is awesome!!"
Prague is far away, but it is a huge New Year's Eve destination. They refer to the celebration as "Silvestri," as it's the feast day of Pope Silvestri. If he only knew how people were commemorating his big day. Anyhow, plan to take at least a week off to come here. Before or after New Year's, you can easily pop over to other European spots to maximize your time. In Prague, you can find hostels, cheap hotels, and even rental apartments--whatever fits your cash flow situation. The night of New Year's Eve, you can easily and aimlessly wander your way from bar to bar getting to know all your fellow celebrants. Or you can attend one of the bigger venues, like the Palak Akropolis, that are filled with DJs, bands, and a whole lot of hoopla. Wherever you are, at midnight tag along with the friends you've made to Old Town Square or Charles Bridge for the huge fireworks display. It's cold here, so grab a helping of whiskey for the road, find a cutie to cuddle up with, and when the moment is right, tell her you'll be happy to warm her hands in your pants. If she balks, blame your depravity on the language barrier--always a reasonable excuse. Clubs will be noisy into the wee hours. New Year's lap dances are available at a variety of welcoming places; and, overall, the party runs citywide, so no matter where you find yourself, you'll probably be having a totally awesome time.
Copyright © 2006 by Tim Burke and Michael Burke