I really felt I knew New Orleans by the time our trip was over.We had a wonderful group.
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Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 4:00 p.m. If you arrive early, you might like to visit historic Congo Square (901 North Rampart Street), located inside Louis Armstrong Park, and listen to the drum circle played on Sundays from 3:00 pm until 5:00 pm. It is only a few minutes walk across Rampart Street; ask for directions at the hotel. Each day, we will walk up to 2.5 miles, sometimes on uneven terrain. Today we will walk 2 minutes to Mister Gregory's and climb a flight of stairs there.
Afternoon: Program Registration: 4:00-5:30 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and other important information. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in.
Dinner: We will gather at 5:30 pm in the hotel lobby and walk a short distance to Mister Gregory’s Café (806 North Rampart Street). We will have a Welcome Dinner including appetizer, entrée, dessert, and non-alcoholic beverage.
Evening: Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures including contact numbers for key staff, and answer any questions you may have. Please Note: Minors need to be accompanied by an adult family member in all activities. Scheduled free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Please be aware that program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. We’ll continue with Mardi Gras-related activities. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll learn. We’ll start out with some videos which show what Mardi actually looks like. Pay attention – the information in the video is used in our fast-paced “Mardi Gras Facts and Fun” game. (Yes, there are prizes for knowing the answers!). Then, it is time to bring out your artistic-side. Grandparents and grandkids will be given art materials to make their own Mardi Gras masks. We will then return to the hotel for some pool time. This is the perfect opportunity for the kids to bond, and for the grandparents to get to know each other better. Then settle in and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.
Activity note: Each day we will walk up to 3 miles, sometimes on uneven terrain. Getting on/ off the motorcoach up to 5 times. To get onto the motorcoach, you will also need to walk up a few steps. We'll be driving up to 5 miles on the motorcoach, or approximately 15 minutes, at a time.
Breakfast: In the hotel’s breakfast room, the breakfast buffet offers scrambled eggs, meat, hot oatmeal with toppings, yogurt, hot waffles, cereal, bagels, English muffins, pastries, toast, fresh fruit, milk, orange, juice, coffee, tea, water.
Morning: To start our exploration of New Orleans, a local expert will provide us with an interactive overview of the city and its history. We’ll then walk to the nearby cemetery to visit one of the most unusual places anywhere in the U.S. – a New Orleans “City of the Dead.” Learn how and why New Orleans adopted above-ground resting places, how local residents honor the lives of those who have gone before, and about some of the famous characters who lived in the area (including a Voodoo Priestess and a Pirate!) We will then board a motorcoach for a narrated trip to The Music Box Village playground. This nonprofit location will give us the chance to interact with the rustic looking houses that make music, as our bodies interact with the buildings and the electronics that have been installed in each. The grandkids will have a blast running around, while you are enthralled with the technology/body interactions. This is a truly unique musical experience!
Lunch: We’ll have a picnic lunch of Panini sandwiches with chips and drinks.
Afternoon: Our motorcoach will take us to the most widely recognized Praline manufacturer in New Orleans – Aunt Sally’s. Pralines are delicious brown sugar candies, and Aunt Sally’s has been making them since 1935. At Aunt Sally’s, we’ll get an expert-led, private visit to see how Pralines are made and get a chance to sample the different varieties. A fun and tasty stop! Our next location is at the Port of New Orleans where the World’s largest float manufacturer, Mardi Gras World, is located. Here, Mardi Gras genius Blaine Kern has created an enterprise that not only builds floats for New Orleans’ annual celebration, but has become the world’s leading maker of floats, props, and sculpture for theme parks (like Disney and Universal) and pageants worldwide. We’ll get a chance to try on Mardi Gras costumes, see a movie about the history and development of Mardi Gras, and eat a traditional pastry served during Mardi Gras -- King Cake. We will then join a Mardi Gras World educator for a behind-the-scenes up-close view of how the artists create gigantic sculptures and fantastic floats and decorations. We’ll also see where hundreds of these spectacular constructions are stored. You’ll then have time to explore on your own and shop.
Dinner: At a popular eatery on historic Frenchman Street in the colorful Marigny District, discover varieties of hot dogs, sausages, and other tasty treats you never even knew existed; non-alcoholic drinks included.
Evening: After dinner, we’ll explore the music options on Frenchman Street. For a sweet dessert, we’ll stop at one of the city’s most popular spots, Café Du Monde. This 24/7 spot is best known for its light, French-style, square doughnuts which are covered with mounds of powdered sugar -- beignets (ben-yays). Cafe du Monde, which opened in 1862 as a French Market coffee stand, still offers dark and au lait (with milk) roast coffee with chicory. They also have white and chocolate milk, and orange juice. Our advice – don’t wear black clothes – you’re likely to get covered with scrumptious but messy powdered sugar!
Activity note: Each day we will walk up to 3 miles, sometimes on uneven terrain. Walking/standing up to 2 hours at a time. Getting on/off a motorcoach and driving up to 5 miles, or 10 minutes at a time.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: Only in New Orleans! We’ll walk from the hotel through the French Quarter to WWOZ, 90.7 FM, New Orleans number one jazz radio station. This non-profit, listener-supported station streams music 24 hours a day. It is the voice, archive, and flag-bearer of New Orleans culture and musical heritage. Led by a station staff member, we’ll have a rare opportunity to see the station at work, watch as a host/disc jockey conducts a live on-air broadcast, see/learn about the equipment and technology, and sit in the space where musicians come to make music. If we are lucky, we may even get to announce live on the air! WWOZ is broadcast over the Internet worldwide, so you can take a little bit of New Orleans with you wherever you go. Our next stop is New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, the only national park dedicated to music. A Park Ranger will lead a walk to learn about the birthplace of this unique and upbeat American music form. In the late 1800’s, while the rest of America was stomping to military marches, New Orleans developed Traditional jazz and Hot Jazz (Dixieland). This new music was based on African/Voodoo drum rhythms and German brass sounds. With our Park Ranger, we’ll explore the history, beats and sounds of this musical form. We’ll also hear stories about the colorful New Orleans-born musicians who were involved this type of music – people like world famous Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton (who claimed to have invented jazz), and Buddy Bolden (“King” of New Orleans Jazz).
Lunch: From nationally renowned Central Grocery, a small old fashioned Sicilian grocery store, we’ll have Muffuletta sandwiches, chips, and non-alcoholic drinks. Muffulettas, invented in 1906, are made on a big round loaf of Italian bread, spread with olive salad, and topped with cold cuts and cheeses. They are a unique New Orleans treat, and they are delicious! Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches will be available for our less adventurous eaters.
Afternoon: Performance. We’ll return to Jazz National Historical Park for an upbeat, live jazz concert. The remainder of the afternoon is free to explore more of New Orleans on your own. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.
Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. If you want to have dinner at one of the famous restaurants, we recommend making reservations in advance. Most of these are upscale restaurants that have a strict dress code; men must wear jackets and women are required to wear dresses or dress pants. Shorts and sandals are not allowed. You might also want to take in some of the local jazz which is played all over the city. Please see the “Free Time Opportunities” section.
Evening: At leisure. Even though it’s mid-week, there’s always lots going on.
Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles total. Walking/ standing at the sites for up to 2 hours.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: The oldest and most mysterious of mystical-magical traditions is Voodoo. When slaves from Africa were brought to Haiti, they were forced to convert to Catholicism. However, it didn’t take long for the slaves to see similarities between the Catholic Saints and their African “Loas” (god intermediaries). This was the beginning of Haitian “Vodou”. When some of these slaves were then brought to New Orleans, they continued with the “Voodoo” traditions. Voodoo is a religion that is still practiced in New Orleans today. On our first field trip of the day, we’ll meet a Voodoo Priestess, who will share with us the truth about the Voodoo religion. We’ll get a chance to explore some of the most important customs and beliefs, and the modern day identity of this fascinating religion. We’ll learn about voodoo dolls and gris-gris bags. We’ll even get a chance to participate in part of a Voodoo Ceremony. Voodoo is not the “black magic” we see on TV. (Although be sure to ask about the how and why people were made into zombies!). We will then walk to Voodoo Authentica, the only Voodoo practitioner-owned and operated shop in the French Quarter. We have made special arrangements to be met by a real Voodoo Priest, who will continue with Voodoo stories and show us many of the shop’s alters. After answering our questions, we will have time to shop in this unique store.
Lunch: No trip to New Orleans would be complete without dining in an upscale restaurant. After returning to the hotel to change into “fine dining” attire (men’s jackets not required), we will walk to Antoine’s for a 3 course lunch (appetizer, entrée and dessert). Established in 1840 by Antoine Alciatore, this restaurant has the distinction of being the oldest family run restaurant in the U.S. It is one of New Orleans most famous restaurants. At Antoine’s, French-Creole cuisine and impeccable service have combined to create an unmatched dining experience.
Afternoon: After lunch, we’ll walk to Jackson Square to explore this focal point of the French Quarter. It was originally called the Place d’Armes and was renamed for General Andrew Jackson (who later became the 7th President of the United States). Jackson was the hero of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans, a battle which was fought AFTER the peace treaty had been negotiated (this is an interesting story that you will hear!). At the Square, we’ll visit the oldest Cathedral in the US, the Saint Louis Cathedral. We’ll also look for painters, musicians, palm readers and other street artists that congregate around the Square. We will then return to our hotel for a shared grandparent-grandkid experience focusing on Jazz Greats. Choose a musician or musical group, then learn about your musician/group on the Internet. Use your own personal Smartphone or Tablet, the hotel’s computer, or materials we’ll provide. On our last afternoon, we’ll make presentations to the group through acting, poetry, art, or storytelling.
Dinner: At the hotel, it’s a pizza party!
Evening: For our evening activity, we will have a Pool Party. This is a chance to spend time having fun with our new found friends. You will also have time to finish your Jazz Greats Project (if it is not already done). Or, spend time on your own, further exploring the sights and sounds of New Orleans.
Activity note: Each day we will walk up to 3 miles, sometimes on uneven terrain. Today, we will also be boarding a trolley using a few steps and walking a full flight of stairs at Mister Gregory’s.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: We’ll walk from the hotel and hop aboard one of New Orleans’ streetcars for a ride to City Park. New Orleans has the oldest continuously operating street railway system in the world! The cars have wooden seats and clanging bells, and are one of the best ways to see the city roll by. Riding the street cars is lots of fun. Can you figure out what happens when the cars reach the end of the line and they want to come back? How do they turn around? We’ll get off at City Park, a gorgeous 1,300 acre park that is about 50% larger than Central Park in New York City. We’ll begin our visit sitting under the “Chime Tree”, listening to the fabulous sounds made by the interaction of the wind with the chime installation in the Great Oak Tree. We will then have a scavenger hunt at the Bestoff Sculpture Garden on the grounds of the New Orleans Museum of Art. There are more than 60 works by artists from around the world in 5 landscaped acres. The sculptures are incredibly interesting, diverse, and kid-oriented. Everyone should enjoy the sculptures and the scavenger hunt (and yes, there are prizes!).
Lunch: We’ll have a picnic style lunch with sandwiches, chips, and drinks.
Afternoon: After lunch, we’ll hop the streetcar and return to the French Quarter for an ice cream float snack, while we listen to a live jazz band. We will then return to the hotel where we will give our Jazz Greats presentations to each other.
Dinner: For our farewell dinner, we will be going to a Louisiana Shrimp Boil which has great food, a “show” portion and live music. Dinner includes an appetizer, entree, dessert, and non-alcoholic drinks. You’ll learn all about shrimp and Boils, while enjoying the food and party atmosphere at this fabulous, fun dining experience.
Evening: After dinner, we’ll recap and reflect on an incredible program of music, family fun, and experiences with new Road Scholar friends. Then prepare for departure after our wrap-up session in the morning and get a good night’s rest.
Activity note: Hotel check-out is by 11:00 a.m.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet on your own. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!