Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Best New Orleans Convention Hotels

Built in 1883 like something out of 2001
The best places to stay in New Orleans for a convention are not even hotels.  The are licensed bed-and-breakfasts that are members of the Professional Innkeepers Association of New Orleans (PIANO).  

In some people's opinion, the best places to stay are not on Convention Center Boulevard, or anywhere nearby.  Plenty of people want to be close to the "action."  There are a few, however, who want to get away from talking about work.  They are people who enjoy savoring a neighborhood's embrace.  They want to be in one part of New Orleans during the day, and they want to be in another, more romantic part of New Orleans during the night.  This is usually someone who brings a spouse along.  

If you are on vacation as well as attending a convention, you may as well make it memorable.  How much are you going to remember about the convention?  Make the rest of it worthwhile.  Stay in a part of the city where people live and make new friends.  Your significant other will thank you for it.

When people like that come to New Orleans, they stay in a bed-and-breakfast.

We think we know why.  I think I know why more than Frau Schmitt does.  She is usually right about these things.  

You'll find out when you get here.  Until then, as Tammy the housekeeper always says...
Tammy, the housekeeper
A votre sante,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.  

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

New Orleans Cemetery Tour

Saint Louis King of France

You know how happy kids are to take a historical walking tour in July?  They like it doubly much when they are tromping between the ovens in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.  

It was 93 degrees and humid during some parts of the day.  Depending on where you were standing, it was raining; the kind of rain that cools you off without making you wet.  Depending on where you were, it could have rained buckets for twenty minutes.  I heard that it happened in Gert Town around 10:00 this morning.  

The picture above is of the statue of Saint Louis IX.  It's in St. Louis Cemetery No. 3, on the end of Esplanade Avenue.  Though better maintained than St. Louis No. 1 and No. 2, it was just as hot at 2:00 this afternoon in No. 3, where it was 93 degrees and humid.  There were three busloads of tours wandering about.  The kids were loving it.

If you haven't paid for a tour, it is shoplifting to linger too long while the guide is speaking, even if the only purpose of your being there is to visit the grave he or she is talking about.  Even if you already know the story and could tell it better yourself.  Since I'm not that kind of person, I wandered around taking pictures of where there weren't any tour guides.
Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta
That's an apartment building in the background of this picture, not a mausoleum.

When we lived in Boston, we lived within walking distance of Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta Church.  There was a very nice ice cream parlor and coffee shop around the corner on Dot Ave.  

St. Louis No. 3 has a remarkable collection of statues of 20th century holy people.
Saint Padre Pio
Bronze must be cheaper than marble.  You don't see many old bronze statues in cemeteries, either in New Orleans or anywhere else I have ever been.  They are usually made of marble.  Bronze was saved for the public square.  Marble must have been cheaper than bronze at some point.  
Our Lady of Grace
A New Orleans Brass Band
I'd like to say that a brass band passed by, but that doesn't usually happen on Wednesdays in our part of town unless there is a funeral.  It doesn't happen often.  It usually happens on Saturdays and Sundays when some happy couple is getting married.

I walked back to our place under the shady oaks.  It was 82 degrees in the shade, and just as humid.  I waved to the tour bus that was paused in front of our house.  On my way up our front porch, I passed a statue made of fiberglass.  
Our Lady of Dorgenois
 A family wearing fanny packs walked by.  One of the kids said, "This is the most beautiful street we've been on, yet."

I couldn't agree more.

A votre sante,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

News Breaks in New Orleans

The corner of North Dourgenois Street and Bayou Road
Maybe it isn't that interesting, but it is interesting to us.  We live in the neighborhood.  They are fixing up that little building on the corner of North Dourgenois Street and Bayou Road.  It had the yellow walls, the party-tile roof, and the tree fallen on its rump end.  

It used to be a record store.  For as long as I have known it, it has been empty.  Before they started fixing it up, I walked in the open back door.  It is surprisingly spacious in there.

They have taken the walls, the floors, and most of the roof all off.  They are going to replace it.  Better.  They are going to rebuild it.  It looks like a skeletal pagoda.  It is a Chinese House.  For no other reason than it is.  It is like yak-a-mein or chow-chows.  

People say, "I'll meet you at that Chinese building on Bayou Road."  You know where they mean.  

I didn't take any pictures to document the carpentry that is happening up the road from us.  I was too busy thinking about something else.
Crawfish house on North Broad Street
The corn on the cob from Broadview Seafood Market, on North Broad Street between Columbus Street and Bayou Road, is the spiciest we have ever tasted.  

A votre sante,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

How not to write a bed and breakfast blog.

In the picturesque middle of Esplanade Avenue, New Orleans
As any good business owner will do, I was looking over this blog's statistics the other day.  I ran the numbers through an algorithm I've devised.  

While you will never find a spider in La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast, I sometimes find them crawling all over this blog.  It is all in the keyword placement and search engine optimization (SEO).
Tammy, the housekeeper
It turns out we have seventeen flesh-and-blood people who access the internet, give or take to the best of our estimation, who follow us regularly.  It is nice to see you.  It's Tuesday evening, New Orleans Time.

I don't know who you are.  I don't even know if you really exist.  It's a guess.  Madam, I'm Adam.  All I know is what I hope.  On Esplanade Avenue, a stranger is a friend you haven't yet met. 

Frau Schmitt and I, your humble narrator, do hope you enjoy reading this blog.  Tammy, the housekeeper, does too.

If you are looking for a personable quirky boutique New Orleans bed and breakfast inn, you are always welcome.  If you want to stay in the French Quarter, no harm, no foul, no offense taken.  None intended.  We hope that if you read this blog regularly, you will want to walk up Esplanade Avenue at least once in your life.  You don't know what you're missing.
The sun rises and sets on Esplanade Avenue
We live in a beautiful slice of New Orleans.  It is full of stories.  We are very lucky.  We live in New Orleans.  

A votre sante,

Monday, June 17, 2013

Things you don't see in New Orleans

John McDonogh statue in front of City Hall
A lot of people ask me, "Why are so many schools named McDonogh?"  We live down the street from John McDonogh High School, John Mac to its alumni, and the former McDonogh No. 12.  There are more than twelve schools named McDonogh

John McDonogh (1779-1850) was a miser from Baltimore who nobody liked.  He got rich in New Orleans.  The McDonoghville neighborhood that straddles Algiers and The City of Gretna, is named after him.  

At the moment that he died, he owned more land than anyone else in the world.  It surrounded all of New Orleans.  

In his will, he left his hoarded fortune to two cities.  One was Baltimore, the place of his birth.  The other was New Orleans, where he died.  He is buried in The City of Gretna.  The money was supposed to be used to build schools.  It did.  That's why so many schools are named McDonogh in New Orleans.  There used to be over 30.

Old man McDonogh made one request in return for his bequest.  "Let little children be permitted to water a few flowers around my grave." 

I'm not making this up.  I read it on wikipedia.  It's a fascinating story.    
Statue of John McDonogh courtesy of wikipedia
When people take the St. Charles Avenue streetcar, they go past Lafayette Park.  "Who's that statue?" a husband will ask his wife.  "It's Lafayette Park, so that must be Lafayette," she tells him.

It's John McDonogh.

There is another statue of John McDonogh in the Central Business District, but none that I know of Downtown.  The other one is in that park in front of City Hall.  I can never remember the name of the park, but you can't miss it.  You can get there on the Loyola Street streetcar.  It's not City Park, which is just up Esplanade Avenue from us.
John McDonogh statue in front of City Hall
Not too many people see the statue of McDonogh in that park in front of City Hall.  The park has some interesting sculpture, but there isn't much to recommend it.  More people go to City Park to see sculptures.  

I think the memory of John McDonogh would be better honored if the statue that is currently located in that lonely park in front of City Hall could be relocated.

We need more statues on Esplanade Avenue.
Gayarre Place, New Orleans
A votre sante,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Good to the last crumb

An atypical New Orleans street corner
I was down by City Hall the other day, which is not the busiest part of the city.  I got off at the streetcar stop at Elks' Place.  I hopped onto the Loyola Line for a few blocks that I could have walked faster. 

I looked up to the statuary over the entrance to City Hall.
New Orleans City Hall pediment
When you visit in New Orleans, you try not to think about politics too much.  It will just hurt your head and you still won't understand it any better when you're done thinking about it.  Things work the way they do in New Orleans.  It is a catholic city.  

When you live in New Orleans, you try not think too much about politics if you want to keep your sanity.  Things work out the way they do in New Orleans.  It doesn't have to make sense.  Forgive and forget.  Try again.

It has been a long time since anyone has associated New Orleans with two naked Indians and a live alligator.  

After I was done at City Hall, I headed up Simon Bolivar Avenue.  Something about this sign reminded me of City Hall.  I can't say what it was.
A particular New Orleans street corner
When you cross Canal Street to the head of Elk's Place, you will see my second-most favorite statue in New Orleans.  It is the statue of Molly Marine.
Molly Marine, New Orleans
That statue reminded me of my first-most favorite statue.
Clio, on Esplanade Avenue

A votre sante,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Broadmoor Lives!

A hotel in New Orleans
You could always stay at the Lucky Inn Hotel.  It's just off North Broad Street, on Iberville.  It is a very colorful place done up with with an oriental motif.  I was passing by the other day when it caught my eye.
The door to the lobby
I parked my motor scooter on the corner of Iberville and North Dorgenois Streets and I walked into the Lucky Inn's parking lot to get take an admiring snapshot.  

As soon as the shutter had clicked, a lady's voice came over a loudspeaker.  "Get out.  Get out.  I'll call the police."  I looked in the sky, confused, trying to locate its source.  I didn't see anything amiss.  "Get out, I tell you," the voice said.  "I mean it."  

I was about to put my hands on my hips as I tried to figure out what was going on, then I realized she might think I was reaching for my six-shooters.  I opted to fold my arms and cup my chin.  It occurred to me that she meant me, and that she meant it.  

After that, I continued up North Broad Street past where it becomes South Broad Street.  I circled around the Melpomene Pump Station and I parked on the corner at Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.  
Meyer's Auto Parts
There has been a lot of activity in Broadmoor recently.  It is pretty obvious that Broadmoor lives, as the slogan puts it.  Soon enough, someone will put out a brochure about Broadmoor.  The intersection of Washington Avenue, North Broad and Toledano Streets, and Louisiana Avenue could start to resemble parts of  Freret Street.  I don't know if that is anyone's plan.

Next to Meyer's Auto Parts is a shop that I'm fond of because we share a last name.
Hub Cap King
When our guests borrow our complimentary bicycles, I sometimes recommend they take Jefferson Davis Highway to Washington Avenue so they can take advantage of Jeff Davis' neutral ground and its statues, and see the Blue Plate Building.  Then, I tell them to take Washington Avenue.  It is shady on Washington.  People tell me they enjoy the ride and they will never forget it.  Just make sure you bear downtown at the apex of The Hoffman Triangle.  Otherwise, you'll be on Toledano Street, and that won't be as pleasant a ride.

One Way sign in New Orleans
I just put my hand in my pocket, and I remembered that I forgot to tell you about something else that happened to me on the corner of North Dorgenois and Iberville Streets, diagonally across from the Lucky Inn Hotel.  I found a shiny penny, heads up.

A votre sante,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Is New Orleans Safe?

It is more impressive at night
We went to Armstrong Park the other day.  It's close by.  It is the most peaceful place you'll ever want to get lost in.  It's in Treme.  We were on a cemetery and voodoo walking tour.  

There are plenty of cemeteries all over the city.  If you don't live here, they rise up in the most unexpected places.  As you may know, the cemeteries in New Orleans aren't anything like what you have back home.  They are amazing mazes.  In a city that has been filling its crypts for centuries, you never know what will be waiting around the next corner.  

When people ask us if they should take a cemetery tour or just visit one on their own, we always sat that it depends.  It depends on if you are going to visit the grave of a loved one.  We generally recommend the tour, not because the cemeteries are unsafe, but because you should understand where you are.

Armstrong Park is in Treme.  Storyville. 
This is in New Orleans
Some people are surprised to learn that we live in Treme.  "Like the HBO series?" they ask.  Not really, but close enough.  The camera crews shoot all over New Orleans.   John Goodman lived just up our street, around the corner at Crete Street.  That's what Frau Schmitt tells me.  She's watched all the DVDs, and she is usually right about these things.
This is something to remember, at night
Some of our guests ask if there is voodoo in New Orleans.  Based on the tour we took, there is.  A little.  They ask if New Orelans is dangerous.  New Orleans is a little bit dangerous, but we wouldn't call it unsafe.

The people who live in New Orleans go about their lives, making their city like nowhere else, making it home.  It is very picturesque.  Most of the people who die in New Orleans are buried above ground.  Most of the people who live in New Orleans dance like nobody is watching.  
Statue in Armstrong Park
I haven't seen any voodoo, per se, but there is definitely magic in New Orleans.  That much is for sure.

Everyone who stays here long enough agrees that New Orleans is safe.  Good memories are made in New Orleans.

A votre sante,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

We have never written a review on Yelp

An inn on Esplanade Avenue
I am waiting to hear from the Yelp salesman.  We didn't set a firm appointment.  He told me he will call me back in June.  Every time the phone rings, I wonder, is that the Yelp on the line?  

I don't know if he's really a salesman.  It's never that he's actually selling me something.  He just keeps telling me to encourage our guests to review us on Yelp.  He calls every few months.  He's pleasant enough, but I don't think anybody loves Yelp as much as he seems to do.  Every few months is just about right.  

I've read enough reviews on Yelp.  None of them were about La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast, or any other New Orleans bed and breakfast, really.  The ads I read were about other things: where to eat, where to get a haircut, where to get your cat spayed.  Things like that.

I decided to spend a day in front of the computer, so I spent some time on Yelp.  In all honesty, I can think of some reasons to use Tripadvisor and even though Yelp can perform equally well.  I don't know who Bradley N. is, but when he writes a review it is a thing of beauty.  He can stay with us any time.
We are entering the slow season in New Orleans.  Maybe it's because Yelp blocked our only review so no one can read it.  I prefer to think that it's the heat.  We'll be taking advantage of the lull, making some changes and additions to the inn.  

I replaced some antique toilet seats today with real top-of-the-line models.  No one is disappointed by attention to detail.  None of the new seats has shells in them.  I argued for shells in translucent lucite, but Frau Schmitt was against them.  She is usually right about these things, and she is probably right this time.

A view of our lobby
I've been feeling the lobby seems a bit bare since I moved our stuffed marlin into Les Saintes Suite.  Now that we have a bit of free time, I've scheduled a mission out in the swamps.  I'll be visiting taxidermists in Plaquamines Parish.  Have motor scooter, will travel.
Ready, willing, and able
I've decided we need something new over the mantle.  I've decided on a stuffed duck with an alligator's head.  They are harder to find than you might think.  

Plaquemines Parish is bigger than you think, especially when you are trying to visit every bayou taxidermist within scooter range.  This alliduck hunt is going to take longer than a trip to Baton Rouge.
Five motor scooters viewed from the top of the LA Capitol 
The Yelp salesman should be calling any day now, ready to "yelp-it-up" and give me tips to create a "yelpy" atmosphere around the breakfast table.  We prefer to answer from our own experience, rather than refer our guests to Yelp when they have a question about our neighborhood.  We've never written a review on Yelp.  Neither Frau Schmitt nor I are much of a writer.  We work better in person, with a handshake over a cup of coffee.  

Bradley N said a eyeful when he observed that Esplanade Ridge is a location ideal for exploration.  I say that, myself, almost every morning.

When we have adventures in New Orleans, or in the rest of Louisiana, our home base is La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.  

-A votre sante.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

New Orleans is Changing

The sign at St. Joe's Bar
St. Joe's Bar is on the corner of Joseph and Magazine Streets, uptown.  It's across from the Whole Foods Market in the old Arabella Streetcar Barn.  The first Whole Foods in New Orleans was on Esplanade Avenue.  It was where Canseco's is now.  There is going to be a new Whole Foods Market in our neighborhood, again.  It's going to be in the old Schwegman's on North Broad Street.  

Things are changing at St. Joe's Bar.
Signs in the window at St. Joe's Bar
The posted policy on the bottom has been in effect for a long time, thanks to Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who passed away the other day.  Louisiana was the last state to raise the drinking age to 21.  St. Joe's Bar is close to Tulane University, so it has always been leery of college IDs.  In Boston, you have to have a state-issued ID, a military ID, or a passport.  No college IDs allowed anywhere.  It's the law.

Also, as if it were in Boston, there is no smoking allowed inside St. Joe's Bar.  The sign in the window reads, "Thanks in advance for your interest in the health of our guests and the St. Joe's Family."  I'm pretty sure this doesn't refer to a certain family that was visited by magi, but New Orleans is a very Catholic city.  You never know.  Most things are other than they appear.  Unlike in Boston, smoking is permitted on the patio.
More signs in the window at St. Joe's Bar
In another window there are two more signs.  One of them repeats the bar's smoking policy.  This probably needs to be said twice because, unlike in Boston, smoking is usually permitted in bars in New Orleans.  The other sign is more poignant, written hurriedly by hand. "Our insurance no longer allows us to permit dogs in the bar.  Thanks."

I didn't stop in, but I hope dogs are still allowed on the patio.   
Across the street from St. Joe's Bar
Things are changing around St. Joe's Bar.  Uptown New Orleans is different from Downtown.

A votre sante,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Five New Orleans Restaurant Reviews

View from a parking garage
It's hard to have a bad meal in New Orleans, whether you dine in or eat out.  Is there any other city in America with so many restaurants per capita?  Those are only the ones you know about.

We've been dining out quite a bit this week.

Some of the places are well known, others less so.  Some are conveniently located while others are out-of-the-way.  Some were better than others, but it may have been the night.  All of them were good.  One of them was inexpensive.

Two plates of Mardi Gras Indian Tacos.  Two unsweet iced teas.  Two Juan's Flying Burrito shirts.  'nuff said.
Fats Domino Statue

Two years ago, we took a cab from Irene's Cuisine on St. Peter Street.  The driver told us that Irene used to be married to Tommy.  He said that now they don't talk to each other.  He said that after an acrimonious divorce, Irene struck out on her own and now people prefer Irene's cuisine to Tommy's.    

You know Irene's.  It's the place that makes the whole block smell like garlic.  It took about eight minutes by cab from the corner of St. Peter and Chartres Streets to 2216 Esplanade Avenue.  It cost eight bucks with tip.  We could have walked but it was late at night, and really, sometimes, you're in a rush to get to bed.
We leave the light on
Statue of Pete Fountain

It's closer to Storyland than Storyville.  They say this joint used to be a bordello.  There is a mural on the wall as evidence.  Based on the location, I am dubious.  Since I hope to one day be an honorary Cajun, I had the duck.  Frau Schmitt had the fish.  She is usually right about these things, and the duck was very good, too.  Wide windows look out on the 500-year-old oaks in City Park.

Statue of Al Hirt

I can't tell you where Clancy's is.  It's like finding the Octavia Bookstore, or the Laurel Street Bakery.  You just head up Annunciation Street until it feels right, then you start looking around.  It is worth finding.  They have the best sweetbreads in the city.  Not only did the waiter tell us this, he was right.  

We sat in the Pub Room.  I had an old fashioned.  Frau Schmitt had a Pimm's Cup.  The place was full and the bartender was expertly busy.  Good company, like good food, makes a good meal.  They have the best soft shelled crab recipe in the city.  I had the duck.  Frau Schmitt had the fish.  It was a very good meal.
Stature of Louis Prima

Pascale's Manale on Napoleon Avenue may be the birthplace of barbecue shrimp, but I prefer to have the bib tied on at Mr. B's.  Frau Schmitt had the duck, which was very good, too.  

When people visit us, they are surprised that we spend as little time as we do in the French Quarter.  It's not that we don't like the French Quarter, because we do, it's just that we live here.  You can't have a bad meal anywhere in New Orleans, no matter where you go.  Even if you stay in.
We leave the light on
A votre sante,
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