Wednesday, October 30, 2013

House of Broel

Take the train to New Orleans
Say what you want about Amtrak, and I'm from the Northeast so I have very little bad to say about it, but they have excellent taste in graphic design.  Their full line of posters is available here.  I was in the train station today admiring the Amtrak artwork.

I was taking pictures and the conductor behind the ticket desk asked if he could help me.  "The last place I lived was Boston," I told him.  "It was much busier in North Station and South Station than it is here."  He smiled.  "It depends on the time of day," he told me.  I suppose it does.  The Union Passenger Terminal in New Orleans only serves six trains a day.  Imagine that.  The signs don't have to change as the trains come and go.
A sleepy lobby most of the time
I stopped into the train station after visiting the House of Broel on St. Charles Avenue, which is really what this article is about.
House of Broel, New Orleans, LA
The House of Broel is a wedding venue and custom wedding dress shop with a dollhouse museum on the second floor.  I didn't visit for any of those reasons.  I'm already married and dollhouses aren't really my cup of tea, though I did help make one for my sister one Christmas, many, many years ago.  It was the 70's when making things from leftover pantyhose eggs and spray paint can lids was in vogue.  My brother and I made miniature ottomans out of the lids.

If you are too young to know what I mean by the term "pantyhose eggs," here is a peek at the past:

As long as we're going down Memory Lane about my family, I'll tell you that my grandfather always said he preferred Joyce Dewitt over Suzanne Somers in Three's Company.  He also preferred Kate Jackson out of all of Charlie's Angels.  He had good taste.  He married my grandmother, after all.  Connect the dots long enough and you'll be able to figure out why every room in our inn is a different color.  And yes, there was a time when shuffleboard was considered the attraction of a cruise that took place on a ship that was just like the Love Boat.  You'll notice how Joyce Dewitt dances a twirl with the yeoman purser.  I'm thinking of having a shuffleboard court installed in the back garden.  That or bocce.

Anyhow, I went to the House of Broel.  Here is what it looks like on the inside:
Inside the House of Broel
Inside the House of Broel
Ceiling in the House of Broel
It's a beautiful place and Bonnie Broel is a wealth of information, a gem of a lady who was gracious and patient with me as we talked about what I came to discuss.  She seemed a bit surprised when I rang her bell and told her my mission, but she adapted to the situation admirably and told me everything I wanted to know, and then some.  She is full of fascinating stories and she certainly doesn't look like someone who's father fought in WWI.

Why did I go to the House of Broel?  Because I was curious about an advertisement I had seen in the back pages of the November 1952 issue of Popular Mechanix that I was reading while waiting for our guests from Dallas, TX to arrive the other day:
American Frog Canning Company advertisement
What does this have to do with anything?  Regular readers of this blog know that I tell as much as I keep under my hat.  The people who stay with us know that I spill the rest of the story over breakfast, if they are interested.  If you want to know the answer, you will have to make a reservation.

By the way, we have recently received some kind and thorough reviews on Trip Advisor.  We are still mired in the #15 and #16 slot out of 150 bed and breakfasts in New Orleans according to the rankings, but it isn't a bad place to be.  We are not competitive people so we haven't checked out the competition.  Thinking about it, I'm tempted to read the reviews of #149, but it's really none of my business.  I'm too busy trying to be the best innkeeper I can be. It's a pleasant profession.

We don't serve frog legs for breakfast.  I mentioned it to Frau Schmitt and she didn't quite cotton to the idea.  She is usually right about these things.  We offer plenty of tasty surprises without serving frog legs.

Next time, I'll have to remember to post the photos I took of the murals in the train station.  They'll knock your socks off.

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Jazz in New Orleans

Statue of St. Jude in the Mortuary Chapel on N. Rampart St., New Orleans
The difference between street music and classical music is a difference of degree.  Franz Liszt composed Hungarian rhapsodies based on folk tunes he heard as a lad before he received his training as a composer.  George Gershwin wrote Rhapsody in Blue, an American masterpiece that combined jazz sensibilities with classical aspirations.  Paul Whiteman was known, for awhile at least, as the King of Jazz.  He made a film in the 1920s called "King of Jazz."  It featured a sequence called Rhapsody in Blue.  Paul Whiteman commissioned Gershwin to compose it. 

Today, we feature a clip below, found courtesy of James Lileks, that made me remember why I love the Rhapsody in Blue so much, and why I love New Orleans jazz so much.  Play this video as we go along, at least for the soundtrack.  Scroll back up to see what's happening on the screen as you read.  You just might be mesmerized and watch the whole thing.

What does Rhapsody in Blue, which we often have playing on the hi-fi around the house while Tammie the housekeeper tidies up when nobody is around, and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, The Hot 5 Brass Band, Rebirth Brass Band, and The Nowhere Boys Brass Band have in common?  What does Rhapsody in Blue, first played at Aeolian Hall in New York City have to do with the nightclubs that line Frenchman Street in New Orleans?  What does Louis Armstrong have to do with Kermit Ruffins?  What does Irving Mayfield have to do with King Oliver?  What does Trombone Shorty have to do with the Marsalis Brothers?

It boils down to jazz, my friend.  It all boils down to New Orleans, the place where jazz started, the place where America's music was born.  If you want to make gumbo, first you have to make a roux.  If you want flavor, you have to put everything in the pot.

I was in the Mortuary Chapel on North Rampart Street the other day and I noticed that not only is the chapel a shrine dedicated to Saint Jude, it is the official chapel of the NOPD and the NOFD.  Opposite the St. Jude shrine is a shrine dedicated to St. Michael, patron of law enforcement officers, and also to St. Florian, patron of firefighters.
Sts. Michael and Florian flanking St. Mary, Mortuary Chapel, N. Rampart St., New Orleans
I can't claim to know what makes New Orleans tick.  All I can say is that, when you visit, you never know what you will find around the next corner.  Some things don't make sense, even though they are perfectly perfect in their place.  If you can make sense of the definition of the word 'rhapsody' on wikipedia, you are a more intelligent person than your humble narrator.  I don't have the patience to wade through it all.  All I can say is that the word seems to fit how it feels to live in New Orleans.  If you visit, you will know what I mean.  It's magic.

Old Tyme Breakfast Shop, N. Claiborne Ave., New Orleans
We have lived in New Orleans three and a half years and we often pass the Old Tyme Breakfast Shop near the intersection of Orleans Avenue and North Claiborne.  It's a popular place in the neighborhood.  There is often a shoeshine stand set up in the morning.  It's right down the block from the Brown Derby No.2, a wing shack, and a snowball stand, and this is a sentence that only makes sense if you live in New Orleans.

I noticed a new sign hanging on the other side of the Old Tyme Breakfast Shop building.
Roosevelt's Black Pearl Oyster Bar and Restaurant, N. Claiborne Ave., New Orleans
Apparently, according to the new sign, this is also the site of Roosevelt's Black Pearl Oyster Bar and Restaurant.  The small print on the sign says that they have been serving New Orleans for over 40 years.  I had no idea.  I have no idea why they've just decided to put up a sign.

When you live in New Orleans, you don't ask too many questions.  It's not worth the migraine you'll get trying to figure everything out.  You just take things as they come.  Good things come to those who wait.  Patience is a virtue.  That is why nothing ever starts on time here.

Every day is an adventure in New Orleans.  Every day is interesting.  Every day is full of surprises.  Just ask Tammie, our housekeeper.
Tammie the housekeeper

Tammie the housekeeper just punched me in the arm.  She said, "You know I hate it when you put that picture of me smoking a pipe up on the internet!"

I do know that much, and I know other things, too.  So does Frau Schmitt.  Ask us about them over breakfast.  We'll be happy to tell you.

A votre santé,

Monday, October 21, 2013

The B&B for people who love films

We went to the Prytania Theater today, on Prytania Street, just before Jefferson Avenue.  It's in a nice neighborhood.  Near the St. James Cheesery, Crepes Nanou, and LA Thai, as well as the Creole Creamery, and a very nice restaurant with a name I don't remember, but Frau Schmitt does.  

Someone will say the name of that restaurant and I'll say I've never heard of it.  Then Frau Schmitt will say, "You remember it.  It's the place where we talked with that nice couple at the next table because you were admiring his seersucker suit and he told you he got it someplace uptown."  She is usually right about these things.  In fact, the gentleman recommended his haberdasher on Tchoupitoulas Street, just uptown of Napoleon Avenue, on the lakeside of the block.  The food was very good, as good as the atmosphere.  If you are looking for a seersucker suit, I know where to send you.

Anyhow, the New Orleans French Film Festival is just winding down. We happened to have some rare free time this afternoon, so we went to see "Populaire."  Do you know who was in the audience with us?  The guy who owns the Chalmette Cinema.  He has impeccable taste in film.  We chatted outside afterward and he was staying for the next show, "Haute Cuisine."

Populaire was a wonderful movie, which is much better than its trailer, above.  It is rated R, but compared to most of the trash that we see on the screen, both large and small, there are worse things that families can see together.  It is almost chaste.  It is tame and inspiring.  It is lovely.  

As for Haute Cuisine, here is the trailer for that:
Maybe we should have stayed for the next show.  That movie is probably better than it's trailer, too.  We don't get that feeling from the many, many, many overloud trailers we interminably sit through before most movies playing at the AMC Palace Cinema in Elmwood (12 screens! plus IMAX in 3-D!).

One thing that is nice about going to Chalmette Cinema is that when they play a movie, at least the ones we go to see, they don't play any trailers.  One at most, and that is a trailer that whets our appetite instead of turning to each other to say, "No way."

We saw "Captain Phillips" last week in Elmwood and I thought Tom Hanks' Vermont accent was over the top, a caricature of how New Englanders speak.  Frau Schmitt didn't notice.  "I thought he talked like you do," she said to me.  She is usually right about these things, too.

The last line in the movie Populaire is spoken by an American who has taken a French wife.  He says, "America for business.  France for love."  I would substitute 'France' with 'la Nouvelle Orleans."  It's easy if you try.

If either of these films are screened where you live, check them out.  If not, you can always come to New Orleans.  The French Film Festival is brought to us courtesy of the New Orleans Film Society.  

Maurice Chevallier sang, "Thank Heaven for little girls." When he say's "Gigi," I would substitute it with 'New Orleans."

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Living in New Orleans

Louisiana's most famous governor is Huey P. Long, the Kingfish.  If you visit the Old State Capitol Museum in Baton Rouge, which is really the only thing we can recommend in Baton Rouge, it is like a shrine to the Kingfish.  The other governors are given their due mention, but most of the exhibits center around the life and works of the honorable Huey P. Long.  He was no Bobby Jindal, who is our current governor, that's for sure.

Though there is a website dedicated to the preservation of the Kingfish's memory, you won't find any memorials to Louisiana's most inspiring politician in the city of New Orleans.  Though Huey Long loved his sazaracs and he was a regular patron of the Roosevelt Hotel, he had no real love for New Orleans.  The political machine that ran the city never cottoned to Governor Long, and vice versa.  

Plus ca change plus c'est la meme chose.  The politics of New Orleans today have no relationship to the politics at play in the rest of the state.  The city is an oasis in an unforgiving swampy sea.  The mood changes as soon as you cross the parish line.
Elmwood, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana
A recent guest asked me what Louisiana looks like outside New Orleans, so I decided to take a picture in the parking lot in front of the Elmwood 12-screen AMC multiplex movie theater in suburban Jefferson Parish.  Not all of Louisiana looks like this, just Jefferson Parish, which is right over the Orleans Parish line.  Feast your eyes.

The intersection of Bayou Road, DeSoto, Bell, and Dorgenois Streets, New Orleans, Louisiana
I took a picture this morning of the intersection of Bayou Road where it meets DeSoto Street, Bell Street, and North Dorgenois Street, two blocks from our house.  The green building is the old Indian Market.  The yellow building is home to the Cajun Buffet, which serves a very popular and inexpensive lunch with all the fixings; it is all you can eat.  This is what New Orleans looks like.  Part of it, at least.

Big Easy Scooters
We were at Big Easy Scooters on Magazine Street yesterday afternoon and I noticed a recently painted mural celebrating the Amerivespa scooter rally taking place in New Orleans June 12-15, 2014.  That's going to be a good time.  If you are a vesperado, no matter what kind of bike you drive, you know where you can stay, next June or any time.  

You meet the most interesting people when you are in New Orleans.

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Honeymooning in New Orleans

The view from our garden
The trumpet flower tree is in full bloom in our back garden.  It blooms a couple of times a year, whenever it feels like it is time.  It is a beautiful plant.  Everyone comments on it.  It usually blooms when good things happen at our inn, like now.

This week, we had a lovely couple from merrye olde Englande visit us.  They were on their honeymoon.  They arrived in the States last week and drove around the storied South visiting cities known for their music.  Before they reached New Orleans, they had stayed in Nashville, Memphis, and Clarksdale, MS.  "What's in Clarksdale?" I asked.  "There was a festival," they told me.  "If it weren't for the festival, there would be very little."

They stayed for three days and when they left they wished they could have stayed longer.  There next stop was Birmingham, AL, which isn't known for its music, but it is halfway to the airport they need to reach to fly home.  Happy trails.

As we were saying our goodbyes, they told me, "This is the nicest place we've stayed at."  They didn't just mean New Orleans, though the city itself is a wonderful place.  I am sure I have mentioned this before, but New Orleans really is magic, especially our part of town.  "We want to come back for our anniversary," they told me.

That will be nice.
From the Basin Street Visitors Center
There are a couple of good ways to see New Orleans and none of them involve spending all your time in the French Quarter.  The city is much bigger than that.  We are about a 20-25 minute walk from the Quarter and we recommend people see it.  We do not recommend people spend all their time there.  Some do, but most of the people who stay with us do not.  

We live right in the middle of Esplanade Avenue, between the Quarter and City Park.  When people ask us to recommend a restaurant, we suggest walking up our street toward City Park.  There are six restaurants in that direction and none of them are a dud.  It is very hard to get a bad meal in the French Quarter, but it is really very hard to get a bad meal anywhere in the city, including the hot plate counters located in almost every corner grocery store.  Two of our guests just gave us a tip on some succulent turkey necks at a joint uptown.  
Basel, Switzerland Polizei
When policemen travel from Basel, Switzerland, they like to exchange tokens with their hosts.  We happen to have had a policeman and his lovely partner stay with us.  He gifted us with an official fob on a lanyard so that if I'm ever in Basel I'll know to dial 112 in case of emergency instead of 911.  It is hanging off the mirror in our lobby.  We meet the nicest people from all over the world.  Good guests make good company.  

Being an innkeeper is a pleasant profession.  We haven't had a day off since the middle of September, but we aren't complaining.  As I say, good guests make good company, whether they are from New York, Denver, Quebec, Istanbul, Tennessee or Wakefield.  The more the merrier.
Menu at Club Carribean
I was walking the dog the other night and Club Caribbean, on Bayou Road, was just gearing up for the night.  They weren't featuring a band, only a DJ.  Imagine: jerk fish with seafood pasta for only $10.00, and there's a DJ, and it is a happy night in New Orleans.  I don't know where you live, but I would rather be here.

There was a wedding at the Degas House.
Wedding at the Degas House
We don't host weddings at La Belle Esplanade, but we'll be happy to rent you a room is you are attending a wedding at the Degas House.  It is just a block away.  Club Caribbean is two blocks.

As I mentioned last post, we went to see Prairie Home Companion at the Saenger Theater.
Lobby at the Saenger Theater
It's been a busy week on our stretch of Esplanade Avenue, thankfully so.  Good guests make good company.  We hosted a number of academics here for a Middle East studies conference, honeymooners, business travelers, a couple visiting their daughter for her first semester at Tulane University, a couple out on a last pleasure jaunt while they await the latest addition to their family, a film director, a Swiss policeman, a marketing researcher, a banker, a baker, and a plumber and his wife, and two vegetarians.  The conversation around the breakfast table has been robust and enlightening, and that's not counting my contributions.

When in New Orleans, do as the New Orleanians do.
The Basin Street Vistors Center
Spending time of Bourbon Street is like a stag party.  Spending time in the rest of the city is like a honeymoon.

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Dear guests...

Corner of Esplanade Avenue and Ponce de Leon Street, New Orleans
Yesterday morning I was on the corner of Esplanade Avenue and Ponce de Leon Street and I was struck by the dawning sunlight on the banana trees that grow in front of Canseco's Supermarket.  The site that Canseco's uses used to be a Whole Foods Market.  Whole Foods is going to open a few blocks away from us on North Broad Street in a couple of months, in an old Schwegmann's building.

It is wonderful to live in New Orleans.  I think this every day.  I often say it out loud, often for no reason except that I am struck by how lucky we are to live here.  Yesterday's reason was the light on the banana trees.

I have written an open letter to our guests that I am going to date tomorrow and leave on the table by the front door.  I hate marketing.  I hate advertising.  Neither of us is a salesman.  We like to think that we offer a good product and most people seem to agree.  I am going to copy the letter here without comment (and without being on our stylish letterhead paper):

"Dear Guest,

It is true we have your email address.  We won’t abuse it.  You will probably never hear from us.  Who likes an inbox full of form letters and ersatz sincerity?  In today’s travel and tourism market, we live or die by online reviews, primarily on TripAdvisor.  It is the nature of the beast, a Devil’s bargain, for better or for worse.

If you enjoyed your stay, we will appreciate an online review, but only if it is not too much trouble.  We won’t cajole you into writing one if you aren’t comfortable doing so.  If you did not enjoy your stay, we would like to know how we could have made it better.  You can tell the whole world if you want to or you can write us privately.  We really do want to know what is right and what can be better.  No hard feelings.  You have two friends in New Orleans.  Even if you don’t stay with us the next time you come to the city, ring the bell if you’re on Esplanade Avenue and our motor scooters are parked out front.  We’ll be happy to see you and tell you what is going on this week.

We want to be the inn of choice for people visiting New Orleans.  We like to think we offer a unique boutique experience that lets people experience the city the way we do, as citizens.  Ours is a remarkable city.  We live here.  We try to share that.  If we can be better ambassadors, we want to know how.

We hope you come back, not to fleece you through repeat business, but because we really enjoy what we do.  Good guests make good company.  Thank you for staying with us.  

We really do love where we live.  This is probably obvious.  If the levees don’t break, we’ll still be in business many, many more years, enjoying what we do.  If the levees do break again, we'll be here rebuilding.  We love it here.  Ours is a pleasant profession, mostly because good guests make good company.  Thank you for choosing La Belle Esplanade.  We hope you visit New Orleans again.  Good memories are made here.

A votre santé,
Matthew and Melanie"
Corner of Canal and North Rampart Streets, New Orleans
We went to the newly restored Saenger Theater on Canal Street this afternoon.  It is beautiful inside.  I took about a hundred blurry pictures to prove it.  Here is a picture of the starlit ceiling:
Saenger Theater ceiling
More to come.

Until then,
A votre santé,

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Eating in New Orleans

The fork is about 4 feet long
When you are in the innkeeping business like we are, people ask you if you know any good restaurants.

One of our guests today observed that we pay so much attention to what we serve at breakfast that we must be foodies.  She is half right.  I would be happy to go to Mandina's every day and eat turtle soup.  Frau Schmitt is of a different mind, however, and she is usually right about these things.  Like my doctor, she worries what an all-turtle diet does to my serum cholesterol.  

There are over 600 restaurants in New Orleans.  In three and a half years, we have been to almost 200, mostly for lunch.
Cafe Dauphine
When you keep an inn close the French Quarter like we do, people ask for recommendations to French Quarter restaurants.  My pat response is that I like to eat wherever the line is shortest.  Frau Schmitt agrees with this strategy since it is very hard to have to have a bad meal in the Vieux Carre.  Just ask the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

When we're in the Lower 9th Ward, we like to go to Cafe Dauphine, on the corner of Dauphine and Egania Streets.  It's a fairly new place, right across from a pale green and pink shotgun.
Egania Street, New Orleans
They have already built a steady clientele and a reputation based on their signature dish.
Cafe Dauphine menu
Fried Stuffed Bell Peppers:  Fresh bell pepper stuffed with crabmeat and shrimp dressing battered and deep fried to perfection.  I've never ordered that.  I'm watching my cholesterol.  I've seen people order it, though, and it looks delicious.  They are always grinning when they finish.

There are all sorts of interesting things to be found outside the French Quarter.  We don't pooh-pooh the neighborhood that makes New Orleans famous, but, for people who want to get out and about and have adventures, there are plenty of other things to taste and see.  When you are an innkeeper, you have to know these things.

Anybody can read a guidebook and anybody can scour the listings on yelp.  More power to them.  We don't tell anybody to look up anything on yelp, except for this place.  We give you the real scoop on the skinny of what is best about living in our fair city.  We live here.

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Superbe endroit, propriétaires charmants

Great place, lovely owners
I never get tired of this picture.  That's really what our house looks like in the afternoon with the New Orleans sun just cresting over the roofline.  It's dazzling.

Regular readers know that The Most Colorful Bed and Breakfast in New Orleans (TM) is a boutique operation operated by your humble narrator and his lovely wife, Frau Schmitt.  

I am from Connecticut, a place often misremembered as a city in Ohio by people I meet.  I've gotten used to it over the years.  It is a cross borne by everyone who hails from the Nutmeg State.  "You're from Cincinnati, aren't you?"  No.  "Cleveland?"  No, but a large swath of northern Ohio used to be part of Connecticut.  We called it our Western Reserve in the old days.  That's today's history lesson.  
Part of Connecticut
With one of us being from Connecticut, one of the original Thirteen Colonies, good solid Yankee English is spoken here.  Frau Schmitt is from Hamburg, in Germany.  I know a smattering of German words, but Frau Schmitt speaks the Lingua Germania fluently, as is her birthright.  

I took four years of high school French, and I understand it as well as Google translate allows.  Frau Schmitt is taking French classes at the Alliance Française, which is uptown.  She's been taking classes for about a month, three times a week and she already speaks French better than I do.  

We had two German guests, a Frenchman businessman, a young lady from Connecticut, a West Virginian, and a couple from Brooklyn staying with us this weekend.  It was like the United Nations around the breakfast table, full of free ranging and spirited discussions.  It was nothing like the continental breakfast of english muffins and powdered eggs that you get at your standard chain hotel with everyone staring at CNN and flipping glassy-eyed through USA Today.
Like at Motel 6, we leave the light on
I was reading some reviews on TripAdvisor this afternoon and I came across one from our friend Eric D., who is also from France:

"Bien que situé en dehors des circuits touristique, ce B&B est charmant, un aménagement rococo donne un esprit de gaité. La chambre que nous avions était grande, composée de deux pièces, une plutôt salon, l'autre, la chambre, avec un balcon, une belle salle de bains aux équipements "vintage". Les propriétaires présents lors des déjeunés font la conversation. A recommander, même si le quartier n'est pas très beau, sombre, je pense qu'il n'y a pas grand chose à craindre de plus qu'ailleurs dans la Nouvelle-Orleans (quartiers accessibles aux touristes)."

Thanks, Eric.  We couldn't have said it better ourselves.  The next time you visit our fair city, remember, you have two friends in La Nouvelle Orleans.  That's New Orleans for you.

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Bad pictures of New Orleans

Auto Repair Shop, Jackson Avenue, New Orleans
I was just reading about how it is very hard to take a bad photograph in San Francisco and I thought about another picturesque city that is kind to shutterbugs.  I'll give you two guesses what city I'm thinking of.  Here is a hint:  It starts with New and it ends in Orleans.  We should all be on the same page, now.
View on South Rampart Street, New Orleans
I take pictures on my iPhone.  It is about all I use my iPhone for.  I know I can do other things with it, but I don't see much need for them.  I wait until I get home to check my email.  When I go to the doctor, I take the day's newspaper with me.  When I go out to lunch with Frau Schmitt, I talk to her.  When I'm waiting in line at the post office, I talk to the lady behind me, catching up on the gossip.  When I'm on the corner of North Prieur Street and St. Ann Street, and the light is just right, that's when I pull out my phone.  I take a picture.
Corner of North Prieur Street and St. Ann Street, New Orleans
It is as hard to take a bad picture in New Orleans as it is to have a bad meal.  It happens, but rarely.

We do have a business phone, but the best way to reach us is by email.  Our email address is  

Our business phone, which is a landline, is hooked up to an answering machine that doesn't always work.  This isn't an indication that we are some kind of shady, fly-by-night operation.  It is just that most people who call are salespeople, and it doesn't bother me if they can't leave a message, and most potential guests who call can have their questions answered on our website.  If we aren't available to answer the phone, resourceful travelers figure out what to do.  We ask that you make reservations directly through our online calendar.  It is more accurate than having me do it with pencil and paper.

St. James Cheese Company, New Orleans
I'm old-fashioned.  Frau Schmitt is not, but she puts up with me.  I think a telephone shouldn't be able to fit in my pocket and it shouldn't be able to take pictures.  I carry an instamatic that takes calls.  

Nobody comes to New Orleans to watch television, and nobody comes to New Orleans to stare at their cellphone.  That's what I've noticed about the people who really enjoy their time here, whether they visit for a weekend or a lifetime.

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Friday, October 4, 2013

What's new on Esplanade Avenue?

Louis Armstrong International Airport (MSY) 
If you read the tourist literature, you would think that people in New Orleans have Louis Armstrong on their minds every day.  It is more implicit than explicit.  I've got a Bing and Satchmo CD that I like to listen to from time to time.  I would link to it on Amazon, but I've never collected a dime from any sales, so you may as well look it up and buy it yourself.  I hate to clutter up a post with unnecessary pictures.

Everyone has a soft spot for hearing Louis sing "It's a Wonderful World," or play "Cornet Chop Suey" on the jukebox, but I can't remember the last time anyone brought up Louis Armstrong in conversation out of the blue.

I've had plenty of conversations about the speed limit in New Orleans, though.
New Orleans speed limits
Don't believe everything you read.  The divided streets/undivided streets signs are posted at random around the city and they indicate a general rule of pedal to metal, but, like so many things in New Orleans, there are plenty of unwritten codes.  Let's just say that the city public works department isn't always diligent in putting up signs where they are needed most.  

There are traffic cameras everywhere, where most people least expect them.  If they capture your license plate, there isn't any court of appeal.  You pay the fine you're issued, or you pay a bigger one with interest later.  It is something you learn to avoid if you live here, and something you learn to live with if you visit.  A word of warning: school zones are 20mph for two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon weekdays when school is in session.  We usually recommend people don't rent a car unless they really have to.
Ain't dere no more
In other news, the old pharmacy on the other end of Esplanade Avenue, about seven picturesque blocks from our house in the Faubourg St. John neighborhood, is becoming a Tutti Frutti frozen yogurt shop.  I can't say I'm delighted, but I was talking to the cashier at Canseco's Market and she wasn't bothered by it.  "Unlike you, I like frozen yogurt," she told me.  "I don't eat it too often though.  It's kind of expensive."  

My sentiments exactly, among other things.  At least we still have a locally owned pharmacy on South Broad Street.  The online reviews are true.  

Frau Schmitt laid out a nice breakfast the other morning.  It was as pretty as a picture.
An artful buffet
It's the busy season again and it is nice to have company in our inn again.  Good guests make good company.

When you stay in New Orleans, you want to make sure you stay in a licensed bed and breakfast, which we are.  Personally, I wouldn't trust the illegal rentals on airbandb or on vrbo (vacation rental by owner).  A front page article in today's New Orleans Advocate confirmed this.  We suggest you read it in its entirety.  I shudder to think about staying in this unlicensed property.  

People ask us why we don't list our property on airbandb.  When you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.  

In yet other news, there is this interesting article about a proposed new canal in our neighborhood.

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

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