Vacation Economical Any Time of Year:
Attend A Career Conference
Teddy K. Makarow
Copyright 2020 by Teddy K. Makarow
Photo by Stephen Walker on Unsplash
New Orleans three times-- once in the 80’s, once in the 90’s
and once in the 2000’s, all before Katrina in 2005. Each time
New Orleans was a destination for different reasons and each trip was
lovely and exciting. I only wrote about one: the conference in 1991,
not because it was the best but just because it was the only one I
wrote about. So here it is: the way New Orleans was for me in 1991.
your get-way ideas in tissue paper and batten down the hatches on
your bank account too soon. One of the most economical routes to a
mini-vacation any time of year is the career conference.
find those winter workshops in the sunny South: New Orleans, Hilton
Head, Daytona or other cities. Or if you’re exceptionally
astute, you may locate one farther south in the islands. So dig
through that pile of brochures on your desk to find just the right
professional pow-wow that works for you. I have four
interesting to mildly interesting ones on my desk right now.
may be one of
the lucky ones whose corporation, organization or institution still
provides funds for staff development; however, if you are like most
of us in these readjustment times, you are probably footing most of
those bills yourself, but don’t despair; you may be allowed to
list the conference as a career expense. Ask your tax adviser about
hotels not only
offer special conference rates for conference days but also allow
arrival one day early and stay over one day after at the same rates,
so you can arrange some fun in the sun before, after or between
classes. Additionally, many USA cities’ tourist organizations
and businesses offer coupon books and coupon newspapers for
everything from mall shopping to meals to historic sites.
know other career fellows who are attending the conference or you
never meet a stranger, you can arrange to share travel, lodging and
even coupons. Some conference planners offer share
the conference brochure (toll free number). I’ve known the joys
of learning and playing at conference mini-vacations for years; only
in New Orleans I discovered coupons-- lots and lots of them.
In addition to conference cost, we (my three colleagues and I) had
only $350 each for gas, lodging, meals, tours and souvenirs. How
could this lean amount be enough for a five-day mini-vacation in New
Orleans via a writers’ conference. It wouldn’t have been
the case in most other cities, but New Orleans-- the imaginative,
historical and just-plain-fun city knows how to stretch everything to
glamour, luxury and excitement. With registration confirmation came
The Big Easy Bonus Book (New
Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation). Celebration! The answer to
our prayers. A collector’s delight. Free drinks,
buy-one-get-one-free meals in good places, cafe au lait and beignets
off; discount tickets for historical sites, and yes, oh yes,
discounts for shopping. We were on our way.
organized, planned and anticipated our five-day sojourn in the French
Quarter. If two of us shared a room at conference rate ($25 extra for
a roll-away bed), the other two women could share a
room at a slightly higher total. Parking our one car would cost
approximately $12 each, gas $20 each. That left $108 for everything
else—entertainment and meals—not to forget souvenirs.
last came our great day of departure. All four of us worked a full
day, packed food and clothes and kissed our husbands, sons and
daughters goodbye at 4 a.m., two of us having not slept at all, but
we were free of all responsibilities for five whole days.
after 14 hours of ecstatic bliss on the road, we arrived at our
four-star hotel, Le Meridien on Canal Street. Le Meridien met all our
expectations. Elegant in European style, it was clean, comfortable,
efficient, secure—technologically equipped for any traveler’s
needs. The bell boy smiled even as he surveyed all our luggage.
we had defied our usual diets on the way down and were too tired to
walk more than a block from our hotel to a restaurant, we walked to a
neighborhood cafe a block off Canal Street. Our first meal in New
Orleans—red beans and rice...$4.99.
next morning to conserve money for our special meals, we ate
breakfast and lunch from the left-over goodies in our trip picnic
packs and drank coffee made in our pot brought from home. Then we
were off down Canal Street via pied three blocks to the River Walk to
climb aboard the Thomas
Jefferson, the free
ferry which transports commuters and automobiles hourly back and
forth across Mark Twain’s muddy river from New Orleans to
Algiers (West Bank).
the afternoon, with our half-price coupons ($6.50), we again cruised
the mighty Mississippi aboard the elegant Creole
which included a land stop at the Beauregard Plantation, a
battlefield (Battle of New Orleans) tour.
night in the blossomed garden courtyard of Tricou House on Bourbon
Street we drank buy-one-get-one-free cocktails and ate Jambalaya
($9.95) and all-you-can-eat boiled shrimp ($9.95), while listening to
a live band. Then topping off that lovely evening, we had a last
round of Bailey’s Irish Cream at happy hour prices.
on our second morning, we looked to our coolers for a nutritious
breakfast in our rooms, selected our coupons for the day and were off
at 10 a.m. to the Beauregard Keyes House ($2.00 off), on Chartres
Street, last home of Frances Parkinson Keyes. Not only was Mrs. Keyes
a popular author of 37
books but she lead a sophisticated, international life at which any
writer would turn green. By this second day our thirteen-block walk
was a cinch.
Beauregard house, built around 1870 and furnished with that period,
safeguards priceless treasures of furniture from the Beauregard
family and from Mrs. Keyes’ collections of international
and teapots. Later, we found an appropriate souvenir in the carriage
house gift shop-- a period cookbook (All monies go to the
refurbishing of the Beauregard House).
yes; we found just-the-right coupon for noon snack-- a free croissant
at the well known bakery, Le Madeleine at Jackson Square ($1 for
French or American coffee). Munching our pastries made in wood ovens,
we viewed across the square the black and white vestments of the
clergy lined side by side in Noon Mass procession, led by the alter
boys into St. Louis Cathedral (oldest cathedral in the USA).
that afternoon we “shopped ‘till we dropped” in
Jackson’s Brewery (75 shops and restaurants as well as cooking
classes) and the French Market (the nation’s oldest public
market). We browsed in old bookshops finding old books and new, some
about New Orleans such as Confederacy of Dunces
in new dress shops
century buildings with old world charm such as Zorba’s Greek
who should we meet on the sidewalk of Chartres Street with his arms
around tourists with cameras posed, Chef Paul (cookbook author and
television chef personality) of the famous K-Paul’s Kitchen.
It’s just people in New Orleans, not celebrities.
night it was back to Jackson’s Square to Cafe Pontalba to eat
blackened chicken ($8.95), Louisiana crab cakes ($6.95), and creole
beans and rice with ham and sausage ($5.95). For dessert, believe it
or not, three of us trekked back to Jackson’s Brewery to share
a Cafe Du Le Monde coupon-- three beignets for 80 cents. Since one of
us had two blisters from new sneakers and we needed to make an early
start to a $1 off tour of the Superdome, we retired around midnight.
morning, our car parked in a secured area in the hotel was brought
down to us in less than five minutes from our call and we were off
four blocks to the forty-five minute Superdome tour. We parked in the
special park-for-the-tour lane ($1).
Friday morning the home arena football team practiced while our tour
guide talked about the architecture, the funding, the multi-kinds of
events which support the Superdome. I was fascinated
the safety system in the Superdome. Not only does the famous dome
have a vast sprinkler system which can clear all smoke toxicity in
minutes, but also its extensive wide ramps allow access to emergency
vehicles as well as people.
the early afternoon one of our crew visited the new Aquarium of the
Americas on Canal Street (discount coupon) while two of us visited
Jackson Square to shop and lunch at Van’s with our
buy-one-get-one-free coupon for a creole roast beef po boy ($4.99)--
late afternoon agenda included the St. Charles Street car (2-way,
$1.60). The world’s oldest operating streetcar drove us through
uptown to the Garden
District of historic homes (still residential,
lovely) with cheerful, friendly wrought iron gates; houses narrow in
front, many roomed in back, built so close together it seemed
neighbors could reach out to hold hands from windows. We continued by
beautiful, stone crafted Tulane and Loyola, adjacent university
that night because we loved sitting in the open Versailles style Cafe
Pontalba, housed in one of the historic buildings of the New
building in America) on Jackson Square, with the Mississippi River
breezes playing, we scanned the faces of delighted children reaching
for balloon swords, crowns and other toys from the balloon artist
clowns. We viewed portrait artists exact images to the background of
jazz made by street musicians and the staccato beat of young boys
with taps on their sneakers performing on old stones. In this musical
fantasy, we ate shrimp creole ($8.95) and red beans and rice with ham
and sausage ($5.95).
our final day! We purchased those last souvenirs in Canal Place,
Jackson Brewery and French Market, revisiting our favorite shop,
Sugar and Spice Company on Chartres Street where we had enjoyed Cajun
friendliness and old wisdom. However, no longer able to ignore the
tiredness of legs and feet and acknowledging our pride in figuring
within three dollars of the amount spent and the amount to get home,
we had a quick meal at Wendy’s and gloated to the sounds of
nightly free jazz in our hotel.
we phoned for the bell boy and our car at 5 a.m. Sunday morning;
slowly we climbed aboard; sadly, we drove out of the French Quarter
heading to Route 10. Gratefully, as we crossed the beautiful brackish
625 square mile Lake Pontchartrain, we looked back at this unique
city, which had so favored us and many before us.
Orleans, founded in 1718 by French explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne,
sieur de Bienville as a Versailles in the new land, was named La
Nouvelle Orleans in honor of regent of France, Philippe Duc
d’Orleans. Now known as the French Quarter or Vieux Carre (old
square) it is a city of gaiety and mystery; of garden apartments,
flowered window boxes and hidden courtyards; of traditional religion
and island voodoo; of old world charm and new technological wonders;
of unique combinations of French and Spanish architecture and
culture; of luxury and bargains-- a tolerant city which offered a
conference mini-vacation with generous coupons to four colleagues who
needed a five-day get-away extraordinaire for $350 each.
Jazz New Orleans t-shirt $6.95
Louisianna green hot sauce $1.25
Po Man’s Rice Cookbook $2.50
Cat’s Meow Cup Free
pair earrings (shared by 3) $3.00 each
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
Teddy's story list and biography
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