Here I go!

I've been told many times over the years that I should write travel guide books, but this is as close as I plan to come to that!

Since getting my first passport at age 43, I have gotten to go places in this world that I never dreamed of seeing, and I'm an inveterate note taker. My travels since 1986 have been as a professional travel agent...which only increased that note taking. I hope to share some of the things I've found interesting for one reason or another -- maybe for cultural or historic reasons, maybe just beautiful, maybe ultra good, maybe just hilarious. And sometimes just because I liked it, related to travel or not.

My speciality in the travel business is Italy, though I handle travel pretty much worldwide..and if I don't keep up with a particular area, one of the great agents in my office does. See www.sallywatkins.com for more about the professional side of my life.

Your comments and shared tips are very welcome! I truly believe "we get by with a little help from our friends."

Friday, January 22, 2010

National World War II Museum, New Orleans

Today I visited the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, and can highly recommend it - and highly recommend that you plan to have lunch there.

Under the name of the National D-Day Museum, the facility opened on June 6, 2000. In 2003, it was designated the National WW II Museum by the U.S. Congress. There is now a second building across the street, with plans for yet further expansion. All through the buildings you see American veterans acting as volunteers.

Touring is self-guided, with the largest focus on D-Day preparation and operation. The first building has three floors, with large galleries and a good museum shop. Music everywhere is from the war period.

Across the street in a newer building are the Victory Theater, Stage Door Canteen and American Sector cafe. You first view a lead-in to the movie in an anteroom, then are taken into the Victory Theater with lovely leather seats, an enormous screen and high-tech effects. That total experience is about 45 minutes with shows every hour on the hour, is narrated by Tom Hanks, and very well done.

On Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoon, there is "Let Freedom Swing," a jazz and swing production in the Stage Door Canteen, with brunch or dinner before...and dancing. See http://bit.ly/StageDoorCanteen

The American Sector cafe is by local chef and restauranteur ("August" is the name of his New Orleans restaurant) John Besh, and is exceptionally good, I thought. Besh was named one of Food and Wine's "Top 10 Chefs of America" in 1999, and "Best Chef in the Southeast" by the James Beard Foundation in 2006. Filled with light and having female wait staff in typical 1940's 'diner waitress' attire (complete with the seam up the back of the hose), the food is American Classic with ample twists. I had a grilled vegetable sandwich with a side of 'Southern Greens," all served in a nice presentation and being quite tasty. People at the table next to me were raving about the Chicken and Dumplings. All desserts are house-made, too. This place is definitely worth a stop.

"The Road to Victory: A Vision for Future Generations" capital campaign has been launched to expand the current museum and will include four prominent exhibit pavilions which will portray all campaigns of the war on land, sea, and air, and each branch of the U.S. military services, and a public parade ground. This $300 million expansion project will quadruple the size of the existing facility and will add state-of-the-art programs and exhibit space, library and archives, and collections and conservation space.

There are myriad events at the museum. You can check the calendar here: http://bit.ly/MuseumEventCalendar

And here's your unknown fact for the day: at the beginning of WW II, America had the 18th largest armed force in the world....behind Romania.

The museum carries the address of 945 Magazine St., but actually faces onto Andrew Higgins St. between Magazine and Camp. It is open 7 days a week, 9A-5P, except for Mardi Gras Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas. There is ample parking in a lot directly in front of the newer building, for $ 6. The American Sector restaurant is open Monday through Thursday 11 A - 9 P, Friday and Saturday 11 A - 11 P, closed on Sunday.

38 comments:

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