The musical departments took a trip to New Orleans over spring break.
The musical departments took a trip to New Orleans over spring break.

Travelogue: Musical departments trip to New Orleans 2023

April 11, 2023

To begin the band and choir’s trip to New Orleans, the bus time was scheduled for 5 p.m. to leave Berlin. Prior to this, all students and chaperones were expected to have labeled suitcases placed in the auditorium for inspection, along with a carry on for the bus ride. Typically, this situation would have been chaotic, but with the multiple chaperones on hand, checking bags and getting on the bus went smoothly. The bus ride was 16 hours with a few breaks every couple hours for not only the students and chaperones but also for the drivers to switch off. On the buses, each row consisted of double seats that could either be shared with another or not, depending on how many people were on the bus. The only downfall to the entire bus ride was how quickly the seats became uncomfortable.

Each student received an itinerary that guided them through each day and what was to be expected. The arrival time in New Orleans was supposed to be 4:30 p.m. but luckily, the buses arrived two hours early and this gave students extra time to explore the French Quarter. The French Quarter was filled with many people and vehicles, making it difficult to navigate the streets. In every direction, there was something new to see including gift shops and small jazz bands. 

The group gathered back together on the bus to head to the hotel, Hampton Inn & Suites to unpack and get ready for dinner. For the first night, students were able to have their own choice in where to eat from the options chaperones provided. Each student received $15 for their meal, but this would be the only time money was provided. Everyone arrived back at the hotel around 9 p.m. and until the 11 p.m. curfew, students were able to have free time.

This is Jackson Square where the group met on the first day.
Sunday, March 19

Maddy Kresal

After the buffet, students walked around the small courtyard at the Court of Two Sisters.

Sunday, March 19

Each morning, students were awakened bright and early to ensure students were getting the full experience of New Orleans. At the hotel, breakfast was available and everyone took advantage of it.

To start off the first full day, students departed for the live jazz brunch buffet at The Court of Two Sisters. The waiters were exceedingly polite and the room was bright and elegant. Chaperones and students had the choices of omelets, chicken and sausage gumbo, jambalaya, seafood, fruit, desserts. After the brunch ended, students were able to step out into the small courtyard the restaurant was surrounding to take pictures and visit some more with friends. At 10:45 a.m., students were to travel in small groups around Jackson Square, the French Quarter, St. Louis Cathedral, and any street listed on the sheet received from chaperones, to have time to explore and try new things. During this time, lunch was at students’ own expense at any place found in the French Quarter. 

After a few hours of touring in the city, students met at Jackson Square at 2 p.m. to load the bus for the “Music of the City” tour. On the tour, the guide informed students about how jazz was born. The bus made two stops, the first one at the St. Louis Cemetery where the tour guide explained jazz funerals. The next stop was the City Park where students also received the opportunity to go inside Café Du Monde to try beignets. Beignets are deep fried pastries covered in powdered sugar. This pastry was light, fluffy, and warm. The funniest moment during that time was chaperones walking around and seeing the students’ faces and clothes covered in the sugar. The tour ended around 5 p.m. at the New Orleans Steamboat Company, where the next tour would begin. 

Students boarded the boat at 5:45 p.m. to be seated for a Louisiana style dinner buffet and also the evening jazz cruise on the Riverboat City of New Orleans. The buffet consisted of gumbo, jambalaya rice, seafood pasta, potatoes, chicken, green beans, dinner roll, bread pudding and ice cream. Along with the buffet, students enjoyed a live jazz performance by the Dukes of Dixieland. Although it began to become cooler outside, many students were seen outside viewing the city from afar and taking many pictures. The long day came to an end as the boat came back to the landing around 9 p.m. Even as students were on their feet all day, many of them still had plenty of energy heading back to the hotel. 

Monday, March 20

Monday morning at 5:30 a.m. was the earliest wake up call as the group has to get through three tours for the day. As usual, breakfast was served at the hotel but with a few different options. The first tour, the Oak Alley Plantation, was not scheduled until 8:45 a.m., leaving students with extra free time at the hotel. A benefit of waking up early, was getting time to be fully awake for the day. 

At the plantation, students were split into three groups for a tour of the “Big House,” which would take about 30 minutes. During the tour, the guide explained the history of the house as well visiting the Civil War Encampment and the Blacksmith Shop Exhibits. Another interesting part of this tour was seeing all the slaves’ houses located down a small driveway from the Big House, where each house had a different meaning for what they were used for. Shortly after the tour was completed, students gathered back onto the bus and headed to the next location, the Cajun Pride Swamp Tour. 

The Cajun Pride Swamp Tour had provided students lunch with boxed Firehouse Subs for when we arrived. Students were able to visit with one another and also get to see a few alligators before the actual tour. At 1:30 p.m., two boats arrived for the swamp tour that would take around an hour and a half. Students received information on not only alligators but also snakes, crawfish, raccoons, and just about anything else as the tour guides were eager to share any extra information that we asked about. On the boat, the tour guide had a baby alligator and everyone had the opportunity to hold and take pictures with it. Usually, tours can begin to feel boring and dragged out, but the tour guide had lots of energy that kept us entertained throughout the entire tour. 

After the tour came to an end, students loaded back onto the buses and headed to New Orleans to have dinner at the Hard Rock Café. Hard Rock Café happened to be on Bourbon Street, which was the number one street students were not allowed to go on during free time in the French Quarter. However, chaperones talked up Bourbon Street to be more horrific than it actually was. Prior to the trip, students had to choose what food they would like from the six options given for the café; Original Legendary Burger, The Impossible Burger, Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Twisted Mac Chicken & Cheese, Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad, and Tupelo Chicken Tenders. Any student that went on this trip would say their favorite place was the Hard Rock Café because, outside of the restaurant, a small jazz band was playing and all the students went outside and began to dance to the music. Eventually, it was time to depart for the next tour, but all the students were begging to stay and skip the next one. 

At 7 p.m., students arrived back at Jackson Square, where they were split into three groups for the Haunted History Ghosts & Legends Tour of the French Quarter, which would be around an hour and a half. During the tour, students learned about the 300-year history of New Orleans that included stories about people and buildings. One of the stories the tour guide shared was called the Romeo Spike. A man took his family out to dinner but unfortunately, the daughter was too ill to attend. After the family left the house, the daughter invited her boyfriend over to fill in time. Arriving at the restaurant, the father realizes he left this wallet so he returns home to an unlocked door and voices in the house. The father rushes upstairs to find the daughter sitting quietly on the bed but he suspects that there is another person in the house. After searching through the daughter’s bedroom, the father retrieves a gun and walks towards the balcony where he sees the boyfriend hanging off the side. The boyfriend panics at the sight of the gun and lets go of the rail where he then slides down the pole. Unfortunately, this pole had spikes sticking out and the spikes disemboweled the boyfriend. The saying around New Orleans is if you stand under this pole for too long, people can feel a wet substance dripping on their forehead with a red tint. Many of the students began to think that the stories were fake and made fun of them along the tour, but the tour guides were very polite and cracked a few jokes. 

Tuesday, March 21

On Tuesday morning, students were awakened at 6 a.m. to get through one more day at New Orleans before heading back home. The buses departed from the hotel to go to Mardi Gras World, where students received a tour of the warehouse, saw a 15-minute video about what Mardi Gras is, and lastly, enjoyed a local favorite dessert called Gambino’s King Cake. On the tour, students got to see behind the scenes of how the parade is formed and, of course, checked out the gift shop. 

After the tour, students headed to the bus and back to the French Quarter where students spent the next couple hours touring more parts of New Orleans including the Colonnade French Market and Farmers and Flea Market. The markets had over 200 crafts, clothing and food vendors that students could explore. Between 1:45 p.m. and 4 p.m., the students were split into two groups to tour the New Orleans Jazz Museum (one group at 1:45 p.m. and the second group at 2:45 p.m.). In the museum, students saw a live small jazz performance and viewed the jazz history and culture. At 4:30 p.m., the groups met up outside of the museum to secure spots for the weekly performances by the dynamic jazz musicians. Luckily, the weather was very nice so students sat in the grass and relaxed. 

As the music came to an end, the students loaded back onto buses to go have dinner at Mulate’s. At Mulate’s, the students had a taste of Cajun music along with a private buffet consisting of jambalaya, fried shrimp, alfredo pasta, chicken tenders, and much more. To create more lasting memories on the trip, students gathered around the band and danced to all the music being played. As this was the last stop in New Orleans, students made the most of it. 

After dinner concluded, the students got back on the bus one more time to finally head home after a few days of fun. The bus made two stops along the way back for breakfast and lunch. On the itinerary, the estimated back of arrival at Berlin was 6:30 p.m., but luckily, the bus was an hour ahead.