Monday, March 31, 2014

Good Guests Make Good Company

Good company
If you are like me you read a lot of innkeeping industry trade journals.  Alright, I don't read too many, but I do read them occasionally.  I was reading one today that reported, "Bed and breakfasts, overall, attract seasoned travelers who appreciate a well-catered experience that includes attentive service, attractive surroundings, and attention to details that will make their stay more enjoyable.  B&B travelers seek out high quality at reasonable prices that match the level of experience they expect."  

While this is just a lot of blah, blah, blah, and jargon, it does have a point.  It is very interesting to us the kinds of people who self-select to stay with us.  Good guests make good company and we've had nary a dud in the bunch.

Of course we have online reviews about our inn (ranked #2 on Trip Advisor as of this writing), and we have more traditional word-of-mouth referrals.  We would like to again thank everyone who speaks well of us.  This kind of advertising suits our business model, not because it's essentially free, but because it is more honest.  We could pay someone who has never stayed with us to jigger up an advertising campaign, but would you believe it?

Full disclosure: you can make a reservation at La Belle Esplanade through (affectionately known as "booking(dot)yeah!" hereabouts).  No offense to anyone who feels compelled to make a reservation based on the above commercial, but this isn't really what we're about.  Frankly, I find it rather embarrassing.  While we enjoy clever wordplay as much as the next person, don't be tempted to substitute the word "booking" for "****ing" when you stay with us.  It isn't as clever as the people who approved that commercial think it is.  

We don't do a lot of advertising, per se.  In fact, this humble blog is our main marketing engine.  No wonder we have plenty of availability.  We live off word-of-mouth, which in this digital age means we live also live off of online reviews.  We don't provide anyone with a script.  They are free to write what they want, pro or con.  If most of our reviews accentuate the positive, that is because most people feel the positives outweigh the negatives.  Your mileage may vary.
Two innkeepers
I've been reading a lot of AirB&B reviews recently.  Most of them focus on how nice the hosts are.  Actually, most AirB&B hosts are "super-nice," "awesome," "very cool," or somesuch and whatnot.  Our reviews also say that we are nice people.  We try.

Actually, we don't really try.  We don't have any background in the hospitality industry.  We just treat people the way we would want to be treated by professional innkeepers.  We are accommodating and we are informative.  We don't mind bending the rules within reason.  We don't mind answering questions or offering opinions.  We see ourselves as something besides service industry professionals.  We see ourselves as ambassadors for our city.  We love living in New Orleans.  We want you to see our adopted home the way we do, with love and respect.

We don't go to the French Quarter much because we don't have many errands to run there.  We're not on vacation.  That doesn't mean you shouldn't go there.  You should.  It's beautiful.  You'll have a good time.  That's what New Orleans is all about.

While most of the AirB&B reviews focus on the hosts, very few say much about the lodgings.  Small wonder.  It's hard to be too enthusiastic about staying in somebody's crummy illegally sub-let apartment.  My favorite part of reviews from our guests are the parts about our house.  It is a beautiful place and we are very proud of it.  Let's take another look at that exterior again:
Les quatre belles d'Esplanade
If anyone is tempted, you can always follow us on Facebook, another marketing avenue that we don't pay too much attention to.  We have an account under La Belle Esplanade.  I don't provide a button on this blog because I can't be bothered.  Maybe I should.  It isn't a business account.  It's just us.  We don't see much worth in pretending to be something we aren't.  You have two friends in New Orleans.  

We'd like to take the time to specially thank Ann for providing us with today's photos from her recent visit.  Nice work.

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

P.S.  One thing you won't read about on AirB&B reviews is a review of breakfast.  We put out a nice spread every morning.  We are proud of that, too.

Friday, March 28, 2014

What kind of bed and breakfast are you looking for?

Olive salad, pickled broccoli and apple fritters
What kind of B&B are you looking for today?  I know I've mentioned before that we put out a nice spread for breakfast.  Every B&B says that, don't they?  Here, we mean it.  You won't start the day hungry.  There is something for every taste.
Mango juice, homemade jams and fresh Pontchatoula strawberries
Strawberries have been in season for a few weeks now in Louisiana.  They come from Pontchatoula, the "Strawberry Capitol of the World."   This year's Strawberry Ball is being held in Pontchatoula tomorrow, March 29th.  Unfortunately we have guests checking in, otherwise we'd be going.
Coffee with chicory, the New Orleans way
Today we served crab cakes, among other delicacies.  Tomorrow is sausage from Terranova's up the street.  4th generation sausage makers.  They still make it by hand.  I've seen both father and son at it.  Teamwork.  They make muffalettas on Saturday mornings only.  They usually sell out by 1:00, so get there early.

So, what kind of B&B are you looking for?  It isn't an idle question.  It was posed this morning by one of our guests.  It wasn't Charles Schwab, but it was the next best thing.  Four lovely ladies from Texas are visiting.  Are there any other kind of ladies from Texas?

Charles Schwab probably has trademarked the phrase, "Own your tomorrow."  Too bad.  I like it.  La Belle Esplanade needs a slogan. It needs a lot of things, like a stuffed alligator in the lobby or an open bar.  Since it is taking me a very long time to find a stuffed alligator and an open bar probably isn't the best idea, I've settled on trying to think up a slogan.  After all, what else do I have to do while I'm sitting on the front porch?

Frau Schmitt will tell you that I could be spending my time on plenty of more productive projects, and she is usually right about these things.  I've never been accused of being practical, though.

In the meantime, I have something to occupy my thoughts.

Until then,
A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.
We're the kind of B&B you're looking for.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

New Orleans Meat Market Culture

A humble mailbox
This isn't about singles' bars or pick-up joints.  If you are looking for a date while visiting New Orleans, you've stumbled onto the wrong blog.  Stick around anyway.  You might learn something about another kind of meat market in New Orleans.

Corner grocery stores are all over the city.  There are more corner markets than supermarkets.  There aren't many greengrocers, but most people don't eat a lot of vegetables in New Orleans, though most recipes call for what is called "the trinity."  That would be a base seasoning of diced yellow onion, green bell pepper and celery.  You can taste them in just about every dish.  The more you taste them, the better the meal.

The newest and spiffiest Quicky's I know of was finished last year on the corner of Franklin and North Claiborne Avenues.  It's a gas station that also offers a full-service line of groceries, especially meats in all their abundant varieties.
The Speed-a-rono 3000
I drive a motor scooter as I make my rounds hither and yon throughout New Orleans.  When you only buy gas a gallon at a time, you don't pay too much attention to the price of gas, but I've noticed that gasoline is cheaper on the downtown side of the city than it is on the uptown side.  Frau Schmitt thinks the cheapest gas in the city is at Brother's in the Lower 9th Ward.  She is usually right about these things, but I don't always want to go all the way to the Lower 9, so I detour my way to Quicky's.  I think Quicky's is in the 8th Ward and I like that part of town.  There is interesting scenery.

After buying gas one day at the Quicky's on Franklin Avenue, I went inside out of curiosity.  It's a gas station, of course, but it's also a grocery store.  They actually have a decent produce section, too.  Onions, green bell peppers and celery, of course, as well as a few other fresh vegetables.  Good quality.

They also have a selection of packaged foods and prepared frozen meals, but what really caught my eye in the freezer case were the frozen ducks, as well as turtle and alligator meat.  Only in New Orleans.  

If you are looking for fresh meat, they have every cut of beef, chicken or pork you may be looking for, as well as some veal cuts, all sorts of sausages, and a whole rack of lamb on display.  Yes, you can buy both alligator tail and rack of lamb in a gas station in New Orleans.  They even sell those little paper chef hats that you can put on the protruding bones of a rib roast or on a roast chicken's legs if you like to make a big deal about presentation.  A lot of people do that in these parts.
A full service gas station
Quicky's isn't really any different from most of the corner meat markets.  Besides a meat market, they offer a deli, po' boys, fried chicken, check cashing, and bill payment services.  The deli serves a number of hot plates for dining on the go.  The collard greens smelled like a whiff of heaven.  If you don't know what a po' boy is, welcome to New Orleans.  It is an overstuffed sandwich on a loaf of french bread.

Of course there is a full selection of soft drinks, beer, wine and an extensive line of both top shelf liquor and rotgut.

We had a couple stay with us a few months ago and they went into a neighborhood corner meat market and when they told us about the next morning over breakfast, this is what they had to say:

"We love stewed turkey necks.  Never had them before but we think we're going to have them again today.  They were delicious.  It was a nondescript corner shop and we were thirsty so we just went in for a bottle of Big Shot.  We saw the tray of turkey necks stewing in a chafing dish behind the counter in back so we decided to try them.  Boy, are we glad we did.  Who would've thought stewed turkey necks could be so delicious?"

New Orleanians know.  They also know where to shop.  Be it ever so humble, there is no place like your corner meat market.  Poke your head in one when you are walking around the city.  Nobody will mind.  You just might find something that turns your expectations upside down.  
Pink Ford Fairlane for sale
Also for sale on North Claiborne Avenue is a pink Ford Fairlane.  It's been parked out front of another gas station for a few months now.  I don't know why anyone hasn't bought it yet.  I'm tempted, but I've gotten spoiled getting about 100mpg on my motor scooter.  I suspect I would have to buy more than a gallon of gas a week if I drove this old Ford.  It's not the car for me, but I have to admit it has style.  You never know what you'll see when you wander around New Orleans.

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A New Orleans tourist tip

I've never seen a bat in New Orleans.  There are plenty of crows, especially in the morning or in the late afternoon.  In the late afternoon, they sometimes like to roost for awhile in the oak trees out front, or in the pecan tree out back.  When they roost in the back they sometimes swoop down to the fountain to take a sip.  Maybe they're after the goldfish, but the goldfish are too wily.  They know where to hide.  I've seen plenty of pelicans, mostly in City Park or on the Mississippi River.  Sometimes one will wing over Bayou St. John, hunting for mullet.

We had a couple from Glasgow (Scotland) stay with us over Mardi Gras.  They collected bushels of beads, as most people do during Mardi Gras.  They stayed in the Clio Suite and Tammie the Housekeeper clued me in that something magical had taken place over the bedroom mantle.  I asked if they wouldn't mind if I took some pictures and they happily obliged.
Ever observant Tammie the Housekeeper
People rearrange the furniture in the suites all the time.  No worries.  As long as you stay with us, it's your home too.  Home is where the heart is.  Welcome to New Orleans.  Or, as the sign over our mailbox says, "Bienvenue."  Make yourself at home.  Just don't trash the place.

The classical busts of the women are ours and they are always on the mantle.  The beads belong to the couple and they are now in Glasgow.
Left side of the mantle
Right side of the mantle
I have a photographer friend who reads this blog and he accused me of saturating the colors in our photos.  No.  Sometimes I remove some shadows, but there isn't any need to saturate the colors.  We live in a colorful house.  If it is saturated with anything, it is only good memories.

I was walking our dog on Barracks Street late afternoon the other day when I saw the back of our house, and of the green house next door.  I was walking toward Lenore and Carla's house.  There is no need to saturate these colors.  They stand out on their own.
Like a beacon
In case you are curious, the time for wearing Mardi Gras beads is passed.  Don't be tempted.  If you wear Mardi Gras beads while walking home after a parade during Mardi Gras season, that's cool. Hope you had a good time!  Happy Mardi Gras!  If you are wearing them any other time of year, you only look cool to all your pie-eyed chums on Bourbon Street.  Up here in our neighborhood, nobody is going to come out and say you look like an moron.  They don't need to.

Here's your New Orleans tourist tip:  Mardi Gras beads are for Mardi Gras only.  Any other time of year makes you a target for a pickpocket.  

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The best potato chips in New Orleans

Flag of Valparaiso, Indiana
It's been a busy week on this blog.  Give the people what they want, I always say.  It's a good motto if you're an innkeeper.  Within limits, of course.

Which brings us to the subject of Zapp's potato chips.
St. James Parish, Louisiana
The Zapp's factory is located in Gramercy, LA, a few miles up the Mississippi River from New Orleans.  We don't get out of the city often, but we've been through Gramercy once and we saw the Zapp's factory while we were driving to Sorrento to pick up a few cases of Cajun wine.  The factory is located in a nondescript gray sheet metal building with a sign out front.  Sorry to take the romance out of it for you.

They really are the most popular potato chips in New Orleans.  Maybe in all of Louisiana, for that matter.  We put a small bag in each suite when people check in.  It gives them a taste of the city.

Here's what the original flavor bag looks like:
New Orleans Kettle Style potato chips
Fasten your seat belts, folks.  We're going to be looking at photos of potato chip bags today.  I'm predicting a record number of page view statistics.

Look at the apostrophe between the second p and the s.  It's a crawfish holding a potato chip.  He's cute.
This photo is upside down

Next up, we have a bag of Voodoo chips.  I don't like to buy an "everything bagel" because I really do think that it's made with all the sweepings off the bakery floor.  I think that about the Voodoo chips, too.  I'm not far off the mark.  From their website:

"Voodoo flavor is the result of an accident.  An employee was moving a palette of spices off the top shelf and dropped it.  While cleaning up, someone stuck their finger into the mixture of about 5 flavors and pronounced it great."  It must have been a "Eureka!" moment for everyone involved.
Voodoo chips
Note the apostrophe on this bag.  It's a voodoo doll:
This photo is upside down
Zapp's makes a couple of other flavors.  I took pictures of them all, but I'll spare you from having to look at them all to get to the end of this article.

There's Voodoo Heat:
Voodoo Heat potato chips
And there's my favorite, Spicy Cajun Crawtators, which is fun to say.  Say it now three times, fast.
Spicy Cajun Crawtators potato chips
Except for the voodoo flavors, the crawfish always serves apostrophe duty.  Here is on the crawtators bag:
This photo is right side up
Ed and Judy stayed with us recently.  They're from Valparaiso, Indiana.  They tried the bag of regular Zapp's that we had left in the room for them.  The next day, at breakfast, they said they had enjoyed them so much that they went to the corner grocery that is two blocks from our house and bought one bag of every flavor to try them all.  It was Ed's idea.

Ed said he like the Hotter 'n Hot chips while Judy said she liked the plain.  "They are all good," Ed conceded.  "We can't get good potato chips like that in Indiana," Judy said.  That's why people come to New Orleans.  They want to have experiences they won't get anywhere else.

As we were talking, the sound of a brass band came from the street in front of our house.  Somebody had died.
Jazz funeral, New Orleans
Jazz funeral, New Orleans
Jazz funeral passing down Esplanade Avenue
The procession headed up Bayou Road, which turns into Gentilly Road.  My guess is that the burial took place in one of the cemeteries in Gentilly.  I pass by them when I go to the hardware store.  

"Does this happen all the time?" Ed asked me.  In the four years we've lived here, this is only the second time that a funeral has passed in front of our house.  "That's so sad," Judy said.  She was right, of course, assuming she meant the funeral itself and not the fact that only two have gone down our street in four years.  I prefer to think of that last part as a good thing.

You never know what you'll experience in New Orleans.  It isn't like Valparaiso, a city of almost 32,000 people in Porter County, Indiana.

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

An Esplanade Avenue Snapshot

Statue on Esplanade Avenue
There are three beautiful women who reside on the 2200 block of Esplanade Avenue.  One of them is Clio, Goddess of Peace and Genius of History.  Around hereabouts, her name is pronounced "kl-EYE-oh," though it would be pronounced "KLEE-oh" in most other places, including in Greece, where she would be referred to as the Muse of History, not the genius.

There are Nine Muses, of course, according to Greek mythology.  Each has a street named after her uptown in the Lower Garden District.  Clio: history, Calliope: epic poetry, Erato: lyric poetry, Euturpe: elegiac poetry, Melpomene: tragedy, Polyhymnia: hymns, Terpsichore: dance, Thalia: comedy, and Urania: astronomy.  The street named for Polyhymnia is shortened uptown to Polymnia.  The only ones that are pronounced in their original Greek are Erato and Urania.  Urania is only about two blocks long so nobody really says Urania very often, unless they know someone who lives there.

New Orleans is full of all sorts of confusing things and conundrums.  If you are from anywhere else, you would pronounce the name of our street "ess-plah-NAHD."  Here we say "ess-plan-AID."  Burgundy is "burr-GUN-dee," and Chartres is "charters."  You get the idea.  

It isn't only limited to pronunciation.  Our lobby is a cabinet of curiosities, full of odd exhibits of things I've picked up while wandering the city's streets.  For instance, most people think that squid are strictly saltwater animals.  In Louisiana, we have bayou squid, examples of which I keep in a jar in the lobby:
Bayou squid preserved in formaldehyde
Don't believe me?  Here's a closer look at the card:
Documentary evidence
"Article No. 67: Bayou Squid.  Captured from the Florida Avenue Canal on June 2, 2012."  

I was standing in front of our house when a tour bus paused next to the statue of Clio across the street.  They stop in front of our house all the time.  I don't know what the driver is telling his or her passengers.  Maybe he is telling them the history of the statue, which is the last artifact remaining from the 1884 World's Fair that was held in New Orleans.  I do know that flash bulbs are always going off on the side of the bus facing our house.  I always try to wave.  Hello.  I hope you're enjoying your VIP city tour.
The side of a tour bus in New Orleans
At this particular stop, the VIP tourists got to snap a picture of the other two beautiful women who reside on Esplanade Avenue.
Two more beautiful women on Esplanade Avenue
Frau Schmitt is going to be happy when she sees this.  We are both very proud of our sign.  
Our sign through the fence

Some people say that the lady on our sign resembles Tammie the Housekeeper.  There is a passing resemblance.  
La Belle de l'Avenue d'Esplanade
Tammie the Housekeeper
If you are still awake after reading this far, I know what you're thinking.  I started off this post by saying that three beautiful women reside on the 2200 block of Esplanade Avenue.  Doesn't Tammie the Housekeeper make four?

Tammie the Housekeeper only spends here workday here, if you can call it that.  When she sleeps after a long day's work, she sleeps in Metarie, across the border in Jefferson Parish.  She has a lovely family.  She doesn't really resemble the picture I always put up when her name is mentioned.  Tammie the Housekeeper doesn't smoke a pipe.  She does, however, like to complain whenever I use this picture.  You're welcome, Tammie.

As I've mentioned before, we got our sign made at Mystic Blue Signs, uptown on Magazine Street.  It's handmade by a lady who is a professional sign painter.  You don't find many sign painters anymore.  Then again, you find all kinds of things in New Orleans that you don't find anyplace else anymore.  It's an old city full of traditions.  It's a big city with a heart.  New Orleans has an old soul.

To give you a sense of scale of how tall our sign is, I'll put up one last picture.  I don't want Frau Schmitt or Tammie the Housekeeper to accuse me of being afraid of publishing my own ugly mug.  Shield your eyes...
A humble New Orleans innkeeper
Unlike Tammie the Housekeeper, your humble narrator is not ashamed of being seen clenching a pipe in his mouth.  Bienvenue.

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lucky in love, home in New Orleans

Gayarre Place, New Orleans, LA
When a city has been around for three centuries, it accumulates a lot of details.  A barge docked in the Mississippi River accumulates barnacles, why wouldn't the port city on the river's shore?  When you live in New Orleans, you accumulate memories.  Good memories.  The best kind.

We have lived in New Orleans four years, now.  It isn't as long as people who were born here.  It's not as long as other people who moved here before us.  It is long enough to be thoroughly charmed, to be caught in the city's web, to be captivated by its spell, but that really only took about fifteen minutes.  After that it's been all gravy and roux.

When you live in New Orleans, you can't help but gather up bits and notions that history leaves in your lap.  You can walk around the city with a camera, but I wouldn't recommend it.  When you have a camera, you are too focused on taking pictures.  When you don't have a camera, you are just busy enough to enjoy what you see.  The good memories will stick in your mind.  You won't need to be reminded.  The best memories will get better with each recollection and retelling.  

Since we don't have to worry about carrying things back home on a plane, we pick up what catches our fancy and we display them in our inn.

Remember the other day when I told you about Denise, who walks her dog past our house?  She is an artist and she painted a wine glass that she gave us, apropos of nothing aside from the fact that she likes the colors we painted our house.  That's what it's like to live in New Orleans.  Everyone is generous with their time, with their courtesy, and with their joie de vivre.  You can't help but smile when you walk down Esplanade Avenue.

Here's the wine glass Denise painted.  We keep it on our mantle in the dining room:
Denise's wine glass
When we first moved to New Orleans, we were lucky enough to meet a man who collects driftwood on the banks of the Mississippi River.  The land between the levee and the low water mark is called the batture.  This gentleman walks the batture with his significant other and his dogs, and he collects driftwood that he later assembles into objects that are both beautiful and functional.  He made the shelf that hangs over the mantle in our dining room...
The mantle in the dining room
When we saw the shelf in his studio, which is in Arabi, part of St. Bernard Parish, he had some shells on the shelf, by way of showing what the shelf could be used for.  When we purchased the shelf from him, his significant other insisted he throw in the shells as lagniappe.
Shells from the Mississippi River
The shells come from apple snails, which are an invasive species.  They are edible, but no one eats them much...yet.  Give it ten years and they will be on every fancy menu in town.  If there is anything that New Orleanians love, it is something to eat.  Ask a New Orleanian for a recipe and it always begins, "First you have to make a roux..."

We have a mirror on the mantle that we got from a local artist who we know quite well.  One of us thinks he is a genius.  Whether our estimation of his talent is correct or not, only time will tell.  When you look in this mirror, you can see your New Orleans face.  It's like magic.
Your humble narrator in the mirror
He also painted a picture that we have in our lobby.  It's a reproduction of a vintage sign that used to hang in streetcar stops along St. Charles Avenue.  He is as interested in New Orleans history as we are.  He is as much in love with the city as we are.  As much as anyone is, really.  Lucky in love, home in New Orleans.
Stops on the St. Charles Line
You never know what you'll pick up in New Orleans.  Most people leave venerating the city through fond memories they have gathered up while they've walked these storied streets.  Some people leave with venereal diseases they've contracted on Bourbon Street.  Esplanade Avenue is not Bourbon Street.  Our inn is full of stories, but it is a far cry from Storyville.

When you leave New Orleans, we hope you leave on a high note.  It is only the happy ending of a prologue, a prelude to future chapters to follow.  You will want to come back.  In a city chockablock with traditions, nothing is ever conclusive.  Good things live on and on.  The best things last forever.  Vive la Nouvelle Orleans, as the old Creoles like to say around the coffee shop counter.  Vive la Nouvelle Orleans, indeed.

This was someone's New Orleans face on St. Patrick's Day in front of our house:
Vive la Nouvelle Orleans
You can be who want to be in New Orleans.  You can dance like nobody is watching.  You can be happy.  You can be your best self. It's a nice place to be.

Long live New Orleans.

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A boutique lodging experience

The 2200 block of Esplanade Avenue, New Orleans
Life is exciting... and relaxing!  You, too, can spend an idyllic romantic getaway in the orange house with blue shutters located right in the middle of Esplanade Avenue, one of New Orleans' most picturesque thoroughfares.  Walk to the French Quarter to enjoy cool jazz on a hot night.  Walk to City Park to enjoy shady strolls alongside placid lagoons.  Some of the city's finest dining establishments are found in our neighborhood.  It's where the smart set go to meet, greet and get great eats.  

I'm working on a marketing brochure.  Can you tell?

We've been very busy since two weeks before Mardi Gras.  Hardly an empty room in the house, not that anyone notices because there is plenty of room for everybody.  It looks like we'll have a day off this upcoming Wednesday and then it's a full house again until the middle of April.  If you are planning to come to New Orleans in the middle of April, check our website for what's available.  Every suite is filling up fast.

Did I mention that we have a new website?  You can still go to but it will redirect you to our new web address:  As much as we liked the handcrafted look of our old site, we've been in business a little over a year and a half now.  If we are going to be professionals, we may as well look the part.  Don't worry, we aren't going corporate.  It is still Frau Schmitt and your humble narrator who will be answering the doorbell.  It's still just us and Tammie the Housekeeper.

The new website has some new features.  For instance, you can now compare the amenities in the different suites on one page.  Huzzah!  The people who helped me design it told me this is a nice feature.  I suppose it is, so I included it.  They had a lot of other advice that I chose to ignore.  I am ignoring it at my peril.  

"But these other things will get you more web traffic," they said.  That may be, but we've been doing okay doing things counterintuitively. Some things may be good for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but those things are just plain boring to read.  Not like this at all.  I found a lot of their suggestions off the mark.  Like having a soundtrack.  Or a background color other than white.  I like things in black and white, except for walls, ceilings, and shutters, of course.

We have an interesting variety of people who choose to stay with us because we do things differently.  If you want to wear a suit off the rack, you can shop at TJ Maxx.  If you want to wear a fancier suit off the rack, you can shop at Men's Wearhouse.  If you want a bespoke suit, you will go to a tailor.  

If you want a predictable vacation in predictable room, you can stay in a chain hotel.  If you want a fancier stay in a predictable room, you can make a reservation in a fancier hotel.  If you want a boutique experience in a part of New Orleans where the locals live, you will stay in a small bed and breakfast inn run by gracious and eccentric hosts who care about what you want to see and what you might enjoy.  Frau Schmitt is the gracious one.  I'm the eccentric.  Tammie is the housekeeper.
Tammie the Housekeeper
Here are the countries of origin of our guests this past month or so: Scotland, England (twice), Canada, the Netherlands, Germany (twice), France, Kenya, and Australia.  It's been an interesting mix.  Everyone spoke English, but Frau Schmitt got the opportunity to speak her native German and a chance to practice her French.  I tried out a little Pig Latin but no one could understand what I was trying to say.  We all had a good laugh, though.

Here are the States our recent guests came from in the past month or so: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.  A lot of people from Texas stay with us.  I'm not sure why, but we are always happy to have them.

Remember the flags we had flying out front last year?
Last year's flags
They were Haiti and Corsica, recommended by our neighbor, the vexillologist who lives in the blue house next door.  He recommended them because of New Orleans' close historical ties to Haiti and because Napoleon was Corsican.  No one really understood the connection and the flags were getting a bit tattered, so I asked our neighbor for a fresh recommendation.

"K.I.S.S." he said, and when he said it I have to admit I was puzzled.  I thought he was talking about this:
Turns out, he was talking about this:
Our new flags
He likes to talk in acronyms.  He's an old navy man.  Keep It Simple, Stupid.  Of course.  Our new flags are testimony of the states from which Frau Schmitt and I hail.  They are the flags of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, and the State of Connecticut.  

Both states have Latin mottoes.  Hamburg's is: Libertatem quam paperer maiors digne student server posteritas."  Translated into German, it is: "Möge die Nachwelt bemühen, die Freiheit von unseren Ältesten gewann preserve."  In English: "May posterity strive to perserve the freedom won by our elders."

Connecticut's motto appears on its flag.  It's a bit more succinct: Qui Transtulit Sustinet.  In English: "He who transplants, sustains." Translated into German, it is: "Er, der Transplantationen, trägt."

I haven't asked Frau Schmitt if my German is correct, so don't blame her if it's off.  The only other language I'm fluent in besides English is Pig Latin.

As I told our recent guests from Montreal,
A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Pelican Can Tell You...

View from Google street view from this morning
I sure wish Google would drive by soon for a new street view.  The middle of the 2200 block of Esplanade Avenue is recognizable from its architecture, but the colors have changed quite a bit since the last time they took a picture of our street.
View from my camera this morning
At least it seems that it was a nice day the last time Google visited New Orleans.  There's that.

On the shore of Big Lake
There was a pelican sunning itself by one of the lagoons at City Park this morning.  If you are ever in St. Petersburg, FL you'll find the pelicans there are tame.  They aren't afraid of anything.  In New Orleans, they are wild.  They are skittish and tend to stay away from people.  I don't know why.  The people in New Orleans are the friendliest and nicest people both Frau Schmitt and your humble narrator have ever met anywhere.

This pelican wasn't acting cagey as we approached.  Here's why: Frau Schmitt and your humble narrator were on our way to have a picnic lunch.  I was carrying a plastic bag holding a few pounds of crawfish, boiled potatoes, and sweet corn from Broadview Seafood, also known as The Crawfish House, which is just a few blocks from our house.  
Photo courtesy of the Broadview Seafood website
When people stay with us, we always recommend Broadview Seafood.  I think they have the best boiled crawfish in New Orleans.  Big Fisherman on Magazine Street is good, but the crawfish on the downtown side of the city are spicier.  Food imitates life.  Cajun Seafood on North Claiborne Avenue is also good, but I prefer Broadview.  At least at Cajun Seafood you can eat inside.  Be warned that it has zero ambience at either place.

While we recommend getting boiled crawfish at Broadview Seafood, it is takeout only.  We discourage people eating it in their rooms.  It is messy and it smells up the house.  Don't eat crawfish in the house.  You can eat it in the back gardens.  Our preferred place is a picnic in City Park under the Singing Oak.  On the walk up, we like to stop at Swirl Wine Bar on Ponce de Leon Street to pick up something to wash down the crawfish.

The pelican smelled the crawfish.  It is impossible not to.  I reached into the bag, fetched one out, and tossed it to the pelican.  He opened his bill and swallowed it whole.  A pelican is a funny bird, but this pelican can tell you where the best crawfish in New Orleans can be found.  I'll tell you again: it's at Broadview Seafood.

In other news, Denise stopped by our house the other day.  She lives around the corner.  She walks her dog in our neighborhood and she often stops to chat when I'm sitting out front waiting for guests to arrive.  She is very nice.  No surprise.  As I say, people in New Orleans are the friendliest and nicest people I have ever met anywhere.  It is a joy to live here.
Our Lady of Dorgenois
I know I've mentioned this before, but if you are reading our blog for the first time, we have two statues of the Madonna in our front yard.  They are Our Lady of Dorgenois and Our Lady of Rocheblave, named after two streets nearby.
Our Lady of Rocheblave
Denise has always admired them, though she has expressed some misgivings about the paint job I gave them.  She mentioned to me that if she had a Madonna statue, she would paint hers differently.  A few weeks ago, I offered to get a statue for her if she wanted one.  She accepted.  

She stopped by the other day to show off her handiwork.  It's a bit more traditional.  She did a beautiful job.
Three Madonnas
Denise is keeping her statue at her house.  I like to think of it as representing Our Lady of Miro.  Denise is very talented.  She painted a wine glass for us and it's on the mantle in the dining room.  You can see it at breakfast if you stay with us.

Here is Denise's Madonna with another beautiful lady:
La Belle d'Esplanade
If you are looking for an interesting place to stay when you visit New Orleans, I can think of a colorful place owned by gracious professional innkeepers who know a lot of secrets found in this magical city.  A pelican can tell you where, or you can click on our signature below.  We look forward to meeting you.

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...