Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Things are looking up in New Orleans

Things are looking up
I was in the garden this morning, out back, when I looked up at the back of our house.  There is no wondering which way is heaven.  It is excelsior.  Things are looking up on Esplanade Avenue.
2200 block, Esplanade Avenue, New Orleans
Our street has just been repaved, and there are wide and safe bike lanes.  The pavement, unusual for New Orleans, is smoother than sugar cane.  Back in the garden, the flowers are blooming.
It looks like popcorn

That's a butterfly wing on your left

There are beautiful secrets in New Orleans
Do you want to know the best time to be in New Orleans?  August.  That's when the best things happen.

A votre sante,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Slow season in New Orleans

The 2200 block of Esplanade Avenue
Unless they have family here, most people don't come to New Orleans for Christmas or Thanksgiving.  They don't come to New Orleans in August, either.  This is the slow season in the tourism business.  It's the slow season in any kind of business.  In August, everything in the city slows down.  It is a nice kind of pace.
Tammie, the housekeeper
Even though it is the slow season, we have been very busy.  The inn and the property are works in progress.  We have been making improvements; some of them small, some of them large.

We have been redecorating the suites, moving things around, getting the right zen alignment, coaxing the feng sui, maximizing habitability, reupholstering some chairs.  If you come to New Orleans, you should be comfortably attuned to your surroundings.  There is something in the air.

Tammy, the housekeeper, typed up today's blog post for me.  (Thanks, Tammie!).  She asked me if she could post a real picture of herself instead of the drawing of the woman with a pipe.  "You know I don't like that picture," she said.

I do know she doesn't like it, so I offered that she could post this picture instead, taken at Monkey Hill in Audubon Zoo:
Darwinian company
Tammie, the housekeeper, hit me with her feather duster when she saw this picture.  

A votre sante,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Some New Orleans Saints

Esplanade Avenue and Bayou Road
It seems we have a lot of people who are engaged that stay at our inn.  I don't ask, it's just that I've been reading our reviews on tripadvisor.  We host a lot of fiancees.  Either people are engaged when they get here, or they become engaged soon afterwards.  There must be something in the air.  Je n'est c'est quoi.  
One of us got a new scooter
I recently found out that an honest to goodness saint once lived on our street, and I don't mean Frau Schmitt.  It was Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini.  She lived at 3400 Esplanade Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70119-2911.  It's a fifteen minute walk away.

They still keep her bedroom the way it was.  It is part of the Cabrini High School campus now, a high school for girls.  It turns out you can take a tour.  We would like to thank Adam for his time.  It was a pleasure talking to him and learning from him about the history of the campus and about Mother Cabrini.

After making an appointment, we met Adam at the main entrance on Moss Street.  There are a lot of statues of Mother Cabrini around.
Mother Cabrini on the front lawn

Mother Cabrini in the lobby

Mother Cabrini in the chapel

Mother Cabrini on the landing
That isn't all of them either.  

The original building was an orphanage until 1959, when it was converted to a girls high school.  Mother Cabrini's bedroom is kept just the way she left it.  There is a statue of her there, too.  It is life-size.  
Mother Cabrini in her bedroom
She was quite beautiful.  Adam told us that she really did have blue eyes.  

We asked Adam if he gives a lot of tours.  "I really do," he said, then he clarified.  "I don't mean the tour buses stop by.  I mean that people come because they want to more about Mother Cabrini; school groups, people who are named Frances, pilgrims, people like that."

That makes sense.  It's the kind of place where you don't really want to intrude.  Both Adam and Sister Alice have other jobs to do beside conducting tours.  Their first responsibility is to their students.

If you are looking for a shrine to a local saint that is just as informative and more self guided, we recommend the Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos Shrine on Josephine Street.  It is more of a museum than a working Catholic girls school.
Blessed Frances Xavier Seelos Shrine
We went there, too, but that is a story for another day.

A votre sante,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mail Call!

Our dining room
When people leave us, we like to encourage them to write about their experiences on TripAdvisor, on, or even on Yelp.  

Sometimes, we get regular mail.  That is the best kind of review.  The postman stopped by the other day with an envelope from Wisconsin addressed to us.  An excerpt:

"One week has passed since our wonderful stay at La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast...  I will be sure to revisit your beautiful establishment to continue right where we left off last week!  Thank you!"  

Thank you, Michelle!  You have two friends in New Orleans.  You, your sister, and whoever else you want to bring along, are welcome anytime.  There is no substitute for good company.

A votre sante!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Things to see in New Orleans

Afternoon on Esplanade Avenue
I just finished reading the January 1966 of Esquire that I found in the lobby.  Here’s what Esky had to say, "Any party, whether planned for weeks or got up in a few hours, should cling to party dogma: A party is for fun, escape. It is for the guests, not the host, and is, therefore, an expression of his hospitality.”  I would only like to add that it is also an expression of the hostess’ hospitality, too.

Some days are so good, they are like letting a genie out of a bottle.  I am very excited about something we got for the lobby yesterday.  I was putting an old chair out on the curb for whoever wants it.  I was leaning against the back, looking at the statue of Clio across the street, when a truck pulled up.  “You don’t want that?” the driver asked.  “I’ll trade you something for it,” he offered.

We looked in the back of his truck and he did have an stuffed alli-duck, which I have been searching for at taxidermy studios all over southeastern Louisiana.  He had something bulky under a tarp.  “What’s that?” I asked.

He pulled the tarp aside and thumbed through a notebook he had in his back pocket.  “Let’s see here, this is either part of an orgone generator that used to belong to William S. Burroughs, or it’s the A/C coils from Sandra Bullock’s house.”  

I was tempted by the alli-duck, but I opted for the orgone generator.  He helped me carry it inside.  Either possibility is equally likely.  

William Burroughs’ house is in Algiers.  Two lovely young ladies who stayed with us were on a pilgrimage to find his house.  I wore a beret at breakfast to get into the spirit of things. I think they drove from Arizona.  If it wasn’t there then it was the far side of Texas. They sent me a picture and I posted it somewhere on this blog, maybe three months back.

Sandra Bullock does live in New Orleans.  We were on a walking tour in the Garden District recently and the guide pointed it out.  It is a beautiful house.  It is a nice neighborhood, but both Frau Schmitt and I prefer living on Esplanade Avenue.

“I don’t know who got the better end of the deal,” Frau Schmitt said when she saw our latest acquisition.

A votre sante,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Refreshing New Orleans

Esplanade Avenue and Bayou Road
I took a panoramic sequence of photos during a rainstorm from the balcony of the Clio Suite.  This sequence is from lakeside to riverside.  
Two seconds later
Two seconds later...
The tree in front of 2212 Esplanade Avenue
It was raining where North Tonti Street crosses Esplanade Avenue to our right.  It was raining on North Miro Street, too, a block away.  Thunderheads were roiling over North Tonti Street.  The sun was shining over North Miro Street.  If New Orleans has an aversion to water, the city cannot blame the kind of rain that fell on the corner of Esplanade Avenue and North Miro Street when I took these pictures.  
The 180th degree
It was pouring buckets.
The Gasoline Stranger
That is the way it is sometimes in New Orleans.  Sometimes it rains and sometimes it pours.  There is always someplace to be.  Where?  Someplace dry.  We'll meet you at Napoleon House.  

Esquire magazine ranks Napoleon House as one of America's 10 best bars.  Esky is right.  La Belle Esplanade, LLC is ranked #16 out of 150 New Orleans bed and breakfasts on TripAdvisor.  We are waiting for someone from Esquire Magazine to book a reservation.  

Our business relies on honest reviews through word of mouth.  Like Larry told me, "The only question that matters is, would you recommend us to a friend?"

A votre sante,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Bugs in New Orleans

We keep the light on
I am sitting on the balcony outside the Clio Suite.  It is quiet.  A few people walk or bicycle by, under the streetlights.  There is the hum of the insects in the air.  The air is coolly refreshing after today.  There are chirping birds in the oak trees in the French Quarter direction.  I think they are swallows.  They may be titmice.  They may be really just be crickets for all I know.  Bugs grow big in this climate.

I can hear the night heron that is roosting in the oak trees in front of the Degas House.  You can always tell the sound of a night heron because it croaks like a duck.   The night heron built a nest on the next block sometime after the end of April.  The mother has been up there, hopping from branch to branch, the whole time.
View from Les Saintes Suite balcony

Our neighbor, who lives in the blue house next door, had a night heron nest in front of his house in 2010.  I am not going to say that a night heron craps like a goose, but I am going to say that it is not the most fastidious of birds when nature takes its course.  Our neighbor had a hard time keeping his stretch of the sidewalk clean.  I helped him out when he was on vacation.

They don't seem to have that problem at any of the bed and breakfasts in our New Orleans neighborhood.  I can see five of them from the balcony, and that is without looking down.  
The corner of North Park and, probably East Park
I had some business between Canal Boulevard and Delgado Community College.  When I took a right after the guitar store, Frau Schmitt pulled her scooter up alongside mine.  "Are you sure we're in the right place?  I don't think we've ever been here before."  She is usually right about these things.  Every day seems like our first time out together.  We only buy about two gallons of gasoline a week between the two of us.
This is not the Audubon Insectarium
Anyhow, there is a house on North Park that has a giant praying mantis on it.  It is a very quiet neighborhood.  If you don't live there, there isn't really any reason to visit.  It is a big cul-de-sac butted up against some elevated train tracks.

Canal Boulevard floods under that train bridge almost every day in summer, but it hasn't rained that much recently.    
A closer view
You never know what you will find when you turn a corner in New Orleans.  Having lived in Rhode Island, I couldn't help but think of Nibbles Woodaway.  

I have written down the directions.

A votre sante,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Last Day of Essence Fest

Venerable Mother Henriette Delille
We were booked full this weekend for Essence Fest.  A wonderful group of women stayed with us.  Good company makes good guests, the same way that good guests make good company.  There wasn't a sour crawfish in the pound.  

They had to leave today, which meant we didn't have to clean rooms from top-to-bottom right away.  Playing hooky, we headed down to the Convention Center to catch the festival's last day.

We don't go to Jazz Fest because we can't really justify the cost of a ticket for the amount of time we will be able to spend there during our busy season.  The daytime events during Essence Fest, however, are free.  

I didn't bring my camera.  It was charging.  It has been a busy weekend.

Because our street is so quiet, even though it is close to all the action, we didn't realize how many people were in town this weekend.  We don't usually go to the Central Business District.  It was our first Essence Fest, though this is our third year living here.  I always say four, but Frau Schmitt makes me do the math and she is right, as she usually is about these things.

There were tent vendors set up all along Poydras Street.  The sidewalks of the CBD were crowded on a Sunday.  You can't say that every day.

We took our scooters, naturally, and we took a wrong turn before Convention Center Boulevard.  Good thing.  The lakeside streets weren't as congested.  We parked unobtrusively on the sidewalk. where we wouldn't be in anybody's way, and we joined the crowd headed to the Convention Center.  

It was crowded in the Convention Center in a very good way.  No wonder so many people come to New Orleans over Independence Day weekend.   

If you are wondering about today's photo, I forgot my camera.  I chose a picture of Henriette Delille, because I had to give directions this week to the Backstreet Cultural Museum.  We looked at the map.

"It is here on the last street before North Rampart," I marked it with my pen.  "The map says St. Claude Street, but they changed the name about a year ago.  It is Henriette Delille Street, now.  Bear right on Bayou Road and keep going.  It turns into Governor Nicholls.  Right after The Tomb of the Unknown Slave, turn uptown, left."

The street is now named after Ven. Henriette Delille, who is the first native-born African-American to be considered for canonization.  Until the maps catch up, it is a pain in the neck to give directions, but most people agree that it is a change for the better.

A votre sante,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast

Friday, July 5, 2013

Southern Attitude made in New Orleans

This isn't Cinderella's castle
Some people say they don't want the Disney-fied version of New Orleans.  I can't blame them.  Disneyland is a smaller, simpler version Walt Disney World.  There is no place in the world like New Orleans.  

I like to go to the Enterprise Rent-a-Car office at 1939 Canal Street.  If I need to rent a car, that's where I go.  I am not trying to give them a free plug, it is just where I get the maps we give out to our guests.  This isn't a paid endorsement.  One time, I went into the Avis office at 1317 Canal Street.  Everyone at Enterprise is crisp and professional.

On the maps that the folks at Enterprise Rent-a-Car are so kind to give me (Hi, Janice!), The City of New Orleans is colored yellow. Everywhere else is colored white except The City of Gretna, which is colored pink for some reason.  If you need to find a Best Buy or a Sears, go to the white part of the map.

We were at a Walgreen's in Jefferson Parish recently.  They were selling tee shirts on one of the end caps.
I went to school for graphic design
What kind of southern attitude do they make in New Orleans?
New Orleans ladies from Bourbon St. to Esplande; a flair for life, love, and laughter
The Walgreens was on Jefferson Highway across the street from Jefferson Feed.  You'll never go there.  The goldfish in our fountain come from Jefferson Feed.  As I remember it, we stopped at Walgreens for a roll of Mentos.  It was after we had lunch at Dot's Diner.  It wasn't for a tee shirt.
Pretty to look at, fun to hold, real New Orleans girls wear black and gold.
There are plenty of tee shirt shops in the French Quarter.  There aren't any in our neighborhood, but there are plenty of stores around us.  They do sell white tee shirts at Discount Variety two blocks away from our house, but those are for wearing under a work shirt.  A lot of waiters, lawyers, chefs, doctors, carpenters, bookkeepers, housekeepers, actors, short order cooks, and dental hygienists live close by.
Midnight Hurricanes: a New Orleans Tradition
We've lived in New Orleans for three years.  I have a Cafe du Monde shirt that I like to wear around the house.  I've worn it to Commander's Palace under a jacket.  It is probably cooler to wear a Cafe du Monde shirt somewhere else, like in Boston or Houston or Cleveland.  It can be a conversation starter.  Nobody cares much if you wear a Cafe du Monde shirt in New Orleans, or if you wear a shirt from Juan's Flying Burrito, or Elizabeth's, or the Ruby Slipper.  Come as you are.
I'm sexy and I know it!  Bourbon Street, New Orleans
If you are in the French Quarter and your friend says he'll buy a shirt that says Drunk 1 if you buy the one that says Drunk 2.  I wouldn't recommend you were them around town, either in New Orleans at home.  
Y'at-itude is different from attitude
We spend a lot of time in Saint Bernard Parish.  That's where we get our jellies and pickles.  When we are in the area, we go to Rocky and Carlo's, which you probably won't have a chance to visit, either.  We don't go to Jefferson Parish too often, unless we need to go to Walmart or the movies.  Sometimes we go to Gretna.  We buy Amato's wine at the farmers' market next to the statue of Mel Ott.  

When they are in season, we pick up a bushel of satsumas to serve at breakfast.  Satsumas are in season at the end of August.  We might see you then.

A votre sante,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.  

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Visit to the Civic

Civic Theater, not the Civic Apartments
The Civic Theater has just been refurbished.  It on the opposite side of the Civic Apartments, in the Civic Building, but around back, on O'Keefe Avenue, which nobody visits except people driving by to work or to home, or people looking for the Superdome on Sundays.   They did a very nice job.
Entrance to the Civic Theater
There was a party when we were there.  That's why we were there.
Dancers at the front door
It was like being in New York.  On the inside, too.
A human statue in the ballroom
We don't know if we'll have an reason to visit the Civic Theater again, but we suspect we will.  The did a really good job of bringing it back to life.

Inside the Civic Theater
Then we rode our motor scooters back home.  I was riding the beige scooter.
The only way to travel
Frau Schmitt was riding her red scooter.
The nicest person you will ever meet
You never know what you'll find in New Orleans when you least expect it.  It is a cosmopolitan city, but it is unique in so many ways.  Pick your passion.  Discover New Orleans.

A votre sante,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Monday, July 1, 2013

That Big Falstaff Sign

Falstaff sign during the day
As long as the power is on, you can see the Falstaff sign from the balcony of Le Pelican Suite.  You can't see the Superdome because of the palm tree, but you can't see the Falstaff sign from La France Suite because the pecan tree is blocking the view.  It's as if the two sides of the house have binocular vision.

We went to a party once on the top of the Falstaff Building.  The part up top is called the Falstaff Beer Garden.  It's one story with a mezzanine, and a deck right under the Falstaff sign.  The view up there is incredible.

Mark was there.  He was quick to notice that the Falstaff Beer Garden had run out of beer.  He said it was ironic.  Everybody switched to drinking wine.  Ironically, there was plenty of wine.  

I was around in front of the Falstaff Building.  More people know the Falstaff Building from North Broad Street.  Unless you live nearby, or unless you are visiting someone, there isn't much reason to go past the front of the Falstaff Building.  It's a homebody kind of a neighborhood. 
Front of the Falstaff Building
The Falstaff Building is tall.  It is hard to make out exactly who that statue on the roof is.   Luckily, the tall neon sign that can be seen across town offers a hint.  It's Falstaff.  He is a character from Shakespeare.  

The Falstaff Building is really tall.  From North Broad Street, it looms over everything around it.  
The view from North Broad Street
From the front of the Falstaff Building, the statue of Falstaff offers a toast in the direction of the French Quarter and Treme.  It is really something to see.  I won't say it brought a tear to my eye, but I do think it is a good reason to make a detour if you are in the neighborhood.
Falstaff Statue on the Falstaff Building
You never know what is waiting around the corner.  That is why we feel so lucky to live in New Orleans.

A votre sante
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.
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