Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Meandering Mississippi Tour and New Orleans

I had the opportunity to visit New Orleans last month. Our Meandering Mississippi Tour starts here next May, so I longed to see how the city was doing. I stayed at one of the best hotels in town and it was cheap – and empty.

If you're looking for a place to visit, there's no town that needs your tourist dollars more right now than New Orleans. The French Quarter is as charming as ever, but there is evidence everywhere that it is struggling to become what it used to be. Famous restaurants like Brennan's are closed for renovations. There are help wanted signs in every storefront.

East of the city is where you see the devastation. Huge parking lots of cars covered in dried muck, left unclaimed since the hurricane. Miles upon miles of empty houses, deserted malls, former neighborhoods where the only people we saw were clean-up workers wearing breathing masks.

But in the French Quarter, from our hotel room on the 26th floor, we watched the huge ocean-going ships as they floated down the Mississippi River. We walked along Bourbon Street and listened to the Zydeco music dance through the open bar doors. We stood in line for 30 minutes to eat the best shrimp Po’Boy sandwiches in town. These are signs of the old New Orleans, signs of renewal, signs that this city will come back.

So come join us on our Meandering Mississippi tour next May. And help revitalize a city that needs our support.

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