Saturday, May 31, 2014

Le Pelican Suite (Update)

Sitting room, Pelican Suite, La Belle Esplanade
I would say that our most popular suite based on reservations is the Pelican Suite.  It may have to do with the pictures, but I suspect it also has something to do with it's being one of the least expensive, along with La France Suite.  Both of these two are smaller than the other suites we have.

Guests who have stayed in both suites say they prefer La France because of La France's furnishings.  I'm agnostic on the matter.  There's no accounting for taste.  Everyone agrees they're both very nice.

Le Pelican Suite is not cramped, just smaller.  It's cozy.  It's also in the rear of the house.  It also has a plantation-sized bed.  What's that mean?  It's B&B talk for a full bed, one size down from a queen.  It sleeps two people.  It's an antique, and a beautiful antique, at that.  We'll see a picture of that later. 

The sitting room is lavender and the bedroom is green.  The ceiling in both is blue.  There's both a wardrobe and a closet, which is a rarity in this part of the city.  There is an antique couch, two velveteen chairs, a paisley ottoman, a fold-top writing desk, and a marble-top dressing table.  There's a beautifully carved mirror over the (non-working) fireplace in the sitting room.  At least, I think it's beautiful.  There is another (non-working) fireplace in the bedroom.  In fact, except for in Tammie the Housekeeper's broom closet, there are (non-working) fireplaces in every room in the house.
Tammie the Housekeeper
Tammie the housekeeper told me the other day that we're rated the Number 1 New Orleans B&B on Trip Advisor.  She told Frau Schmitt first, of course.  We enjoy being professional innkeepers.  
Bed in Le Pelican Suite, La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast
That picture seems pretty dark, doesn't it?  Well, I'm not going to touch it up.  Like most of the pictures we post online, this one was taken with my phone.  It's part of our marketing strategy, if you can call it that.  You think our inn looks nice online; then you arrive and it looks better than you thought it would.  That's why we've never used a professional photographer.  We don't want to make anything look better than it is.

So far so good.

I was standing by the window when I took this picture of the desk in the bedroom:
Bedroom in Le Pelican Suite, La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast
Pelicans are the predominant motif in Le Pelican Suite but over time other elements have crept in.  The theme is mostly dedicated to old maps and old Louisiana.  We just didn't tack the "Le" on there just to sound French.  That's really what you call the pelican en la langue francais

So, why have a Pelican Suite anyway?  Brother, if you have to ask that question, you don't know anything about Louisiana.  Take a look at our state seal:
Seal of the Great State of Louisiana, U.S.A.
As citizens of Louisiana, we believe in a couple of different things.  Here's three of them: Union, Justice, and Confidence.  We also believe in having a good time, too.  Good memories are made in New Orleans.

It's very quiet in this suite, in the back of the house.  I didn't take a picture of it, but this suite has a very private balcony. How private? It's surrounded by oleander and the branches of whatever the tree is called that grows in our neighbor's back yard.  It's a green oasis, except when the oleander is in bloom.  

The oleander tree is in bloom today, as I write this.  It has been for about a month.  It will be for about another two months.  There won't be a flurry of white blossoms anymore.  Only lush green.  It's very romantic.

Of course, this suite also has a private bath containing a sink, toilet and antique claw foot tub.  The tub is equipped with a shower head and curtains that feature, what else, a pelican.

There's a refrigerator stocked with amenities, as well as a coffee pot, tea kettle, television, free wifi, iron, hairdryer and ironing board.  It's a very nice suite.

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Orange House on Esplanade Avenue

I found an old picture in a shoebox
I've chosen the title of today's post with a motive in mind.  You see, I googled a phrase that I thought people would google after they've taken one of the bus tours that roll down Esplanade Avenue.  You see, the buses always stop in front of our house.  I don't know what they're talking about in there, but I can see the flashbulbs pointed at the inn.  I don't blame them, I take pictures of the house all the time.  It's beautiful.
Orange house on Esplanade Avenue, in Treme
Anyhow, I wondered what I would google if I wanted to learn more about that orange house on Esplanade Avenue after the tour?  Or, if I was taking a bike tour and the guide stopped at the park across the street, I snapped a photo, and a week later, I might wonder...What's the story behind that orange house on Esplanade Avenue?  If that were me, this is what I would google: "Orange House on Esplanade Avenue."

I tried it today and guess what came up first?  An Air B&B rental around the corner from us.  You won't find out anything about our house that way.

Some people say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  They painted the house on the corner of North Rocheblave and Barracks Streets a couple months ago.  I asked the painter how the owner came up with the colors.  All the painter would say was that he couldn't say.
Corner of North Rocheblave and Barracks Streets
According to the listing, the owner is renting a sturdy ground floor apartment that sleeps four on a futon and on a cot that can be moved around the house as occupants see fit.  The cot is for the fourth person.  From what I can figure from the description, the futon is meant to sleep three.  The minimum stay, according to the listing, is 2 nights.

The city maintains a list of licensed short-term rental properties on its website.  You have to scroll down a bit, then they're listed in alphabetical order by registered business name.  See what you can find.

There are plenty of licensed B&Bs in New Orleans.  We belong to the Professional Innkeepers Association of New Orleans (PIANO). If we don't have a room available, check out the website the association maintains for its members:  

There is a beautiful orange house on Esplanade Avenue:
A more recent photo
You know where to find it:
2216 Esplanade Avenue
We live on a very beautiful street.

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

La France Suite (Update)

Sitting room in La France Suite, La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast
I'm sure I've mentioned that the inn is an ever-evolving work-in-progress.  It's time for me to update our suite descriptions.  Not much has changed over the last year-and-a-half, but enough noteworthy things have happened that it's time to start afresh.  As Tammie the Housekeeper told me the other day while she was handing me my eyeglasses, "You and Frau Schmitt really seem to be hitting your stride in this innkeeping business."  
Tammie the Housekeeper
She held my glasses up to the light.  "How do you even see through these things?" she asked.  I see well enough.  That's why I get to describe the rooms on our blog.
Bedroom in La France Suite, La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast
La France Suite is the two rooms in the back of the house, one room after another.  It has its own private bathroom equipped with an antique claw foot tub perfect for a deeply relaxing soak.  It has a mounted shower head and curtains so that you can scrub off the modern way, if you so choose. 
Sitting room in La France Suite, La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast
The sitting room has a fainting couch, a velveteen-upholstered reading chair, a marble-topped table we found on the street and carried across New Orleans on our scooters,  a marble-topped dressing table, and a wardrobe that the cabinetmaker signed inside.  There is a statue of Joan of Arc on the mantle, and there is a slender collection of books pertaining to France that one of us finds interesting.
Bedroom in La France Suite, La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast
I don't saturate these colors after I take the pictures.  The camera doesn't lie.  The bedroom has a plantation-sized antique bed.  Plantation-size is B&B talk for full, one size down from a queen bed.  It's an antique.  Nobody can complain about sleeping in a bed made like this.  They don't make them like this anymore.

There is also a refrigerator stocked with a little wine, beer, soda, juice and water.  Help yourself.  If you need anything else, there's a corner grocery store two blocks down Esplanade Avenue toward the French Quarter.  There is a writing desk, television, free wifi, a bust of Napoleon, and there's a dresser dating from 1884.  There is also more Joan of Arc memorabilia.  She's the patron saint of Orleans, France, and she's pretty well respected in New Orleans, too.  
View from La France Suite balcony, La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast 
The balcony is an open gallery along the lakeside that ends in a little sitting area with a cafe table and two chairs.  The sun sets in this direction.  You can see the Superdome behind the telephone pole, and you can see it better at night, when it's lit up.  It's about two miles away as the pelican flies.  We're close enough to everything on our shady city street, but we're also far enough away.  

The corrugated metal building facing Barracks Street on the lot next door is Mr. Bourne's Muffler Shop.  He's been open at this location every day, except Sundays and Tuesdays, for more than 42 years.  The shop is an institution, like Mr. Bourne, himself.

There aren't (m)any people who still speak French in New Orleans, but Frau Schmitt is taking lessons.  We get to welcome a lot of international guests.  As for myself, I only know the three words I'm always thinking when I walk into this suite: Vive la France!

If you're thinking about going to Jaques-Imo's, well, this is more Jacobin.  Laissez les bon temps rouler!

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Mr. Okra was on my street!!

The mantle in the Clio Suite
I know a lot of German words, but I don't know as many as my lovely partner in innkeeping.  I'm only from Connecticut.  Frau Schmitt is a native a Germany transplanted in New Orleans.  Do you know what Connecticut's state motto is?  Its on the flag that hangs over our front door.  Qui Transtulit Sustinet.  Who Transplants Sustains.  Our other flag is the flag of Hamburg.  

I asked Frau Schmitt what Schadenfreude is.  She said, "It's the sensation of pleasure you feel from someone else's misfortune."  She is usually right about these things.  I hate to ask for reviews.

When you check in, we sit down at the desk in the lobby.  There is usually two of you, and you sit on two chairs on one side of the desk, and I sit in a squeaky chair on the other side with a picture of Buddy Bolden's nervous breakdown behind me.  
Buddy Bolden
What's the first thing I say?  I say, "First, we get the business out of the way.  I need a credit card."  After I jot down what I need, I say, "It's all pleasure after this."  And I mean it.  It's not about the money.  We need it to keep the inn open, but cash flow isn't what being a professional innkeeper is about.  We love where we live.  Our job is make you feel welcome in the city we call home.  We call it home for good reasons.

Home is where the heart is.
You knew this photo was coming
The other day, a lovely couple told us at the end of their stay, "We can't believe you're new to this.  You're the best, most natural innkeepers ever!"  [Ed. Note:  If you're reading this, no, it's not you.  A few different people said it that weekend.]  

I blushed while Frau Schmitt elbowed me in the ribs.  The customer is always right, especially when they're company.  It's like Tammy the Housekeeper always says, "Good guests make good company."  She learned that from me.
Tammy the Housekeeper
On behalf of Frau Schmitt, myself, and Tammy the Housekeeper, an army of three, I would like to thank everyone for their kind words and wishes.  We make it up as we go along.  We improvise and solo like jazz.  It's New Orleans.  We cross our fingers that whatever we are doing works well.  We are happy to see you and we like to share.  We try to be honest.  Your reviews are our bread and jelly.  In New Orleans, the best part is lagniappe

Tammy the Housekeeper always needles me to ask departing guests to write us a review on Trip Advisor.  Frau Schmitt tells her that it wouldn't be polite.  She tells Tammy the Houskeeper that practicing a profession well is its own reward.  Frau Schmitt is usually right about these things.  Tammy the Housekeeper tells her, "A little praise goes a long way, too."  Frau Schmitt knows.  That's why she's always telling Tammy the Housekeeper when she does a good job. It's all the time, for Pete's sake.

Even though Tammy the Housekeeper thinks we don't know that she finds change in the sofas and keeps it, she does a good job.  So does the gardner, the maintenance man, the webmaster, the termite inspector, the Fire Chief, our mailman, our meter reader, the paperboy and the tax assessor.  A lot of people say that the mayor is doing a good job, too.  Not everybody, but most.  

Sometimes, when we're talking to the neighbors on the corner, Mr. Okra comes by:

When Mr. Okra is in the neighborhood, it's gonna be a good day.
A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The bearable lightness of New Orleans

We've been a tad busy the past couple of days doing this and that and whatnot, keeping things in working order, making improvements, tweaking a seemingly successful formula to become better innkeepers.  When I say we're already too busy, Frau Schmitt likes to tell me, "Idle hands are the Devil's tools."  She is usually right about these things, especially when it comes to her husband.  

While I have a few future articles in the hopper, they are going to have to wait awhile until I catch up with other business.  Now, if this were some other bed and breakfast blog, I'd feature some warmed over recipes for you to enjoy.  The kitchen isn't my department, though.

When I was in elementary school, in Connecticut, we couldn't go outside for recess if it was raining.  Snow was no problem, though.  When it was raining, we went to the school auditorium to watch a movie instead.  It kept us occupied.  I'm going to show you a movie today:

The Backstreet Cultural Museum is about a ten minute walk from our house.  We always recommend it.  You'll learn something about what it is like to live in New Orleans.  It is better than you can imagine.

Until I'm ready to sit down and write a real blog post...

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Telling Time in New Orleans

After the sun goes down in New Orleans
You know what the French Republican Calendar was, right?  After the French Revolution, the Jacobin government implemented an alternate calendar.  It was more rational, more scientific, more poetic.  Each day was divided into ten hours, and each hour was divided into a hundred minutes, those minutes were divided into a hundred seconds, and so on, and so on.  It was like the metric system.

They still kept twelve months, but they changed the names.  Then they only gave them three weeks.  Guess how many days in a week?  Ten.  You needed to work nine days to get the tenth day off.  There's a reason this calendar didn't catch on in New Orleans.  

As I write this, it is 4:24PM, Saturday, May 10, 2014, the 3rd Saturday of Easter.  If New Orleans had adopted the Republican Calendar, it would be 7:70 o'clock, Primidi, 21 Floreal, CCXXII, The Day of Thrift.  If any of this makes sense to you, you're living in the wrong time period.  

Napoleon abolished the Republican calendar before he sold his empire's claims to Louisiana to the U. S.  But, that's not the reason we don't follow Republican Time in New Orleans.  You see, when the French Revolution was going on, and during the French Republic, New Orleans was a part of Spain.  Between 1763 to 1800, New Orleans was a Spanish Colony, albeit one that spoke French.  New Orleans never switched calendars.  It stayed Catholic the whole time.

That doesn't mean the calendar or clock mean the same thing in New Orleans than they do everywhere else.  Things just happen when they happen, according to their own schedule.  Nobody really knows what the phrase, "on time," means.  As they say here, "Laissez les bon temps rouler!"

New Orleans is located in the Central Time Zone, but there's always something going on.  Here is how time passes in New Orleans:  You know how when you're at work and you're really focussed on a project and then some stray thought slips in and before you know it's time to go home and you've just daydreamed the afternoon away.  New Orleans is that daydream.

You'll get used to it once you're here a few days.

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Good Photo Subjects in New Orleans

2200 block of Esplanade Avenue, New Orleans
For regular readers, it must get a bit dull having me post pictures of our inn over and over.  Thanks for coming back.  I can't help myself.  I take pictures of the house all the time.  Even though it's the same subject, I never get tired of it.  Bear with me.
One man says this is the most beautiful house in New Orleans
I'm also used to getting my picture taken when I'm standing in front of the house.  Naturally, I can't do it myself, but when I was taking the picture above, there was a tour bus stopped behind me.  Somebody has a picture of the house with my best side facing them.  

Sometimes, I'm waiting for guests to show up on the front stoop, and a car will pull up in front of the house and come to an abrupt halt.  It isn't our guests.  It's somebody who wants to take a picture of our house.  I can't blame them.  I wave.
2212 Esplanade Avenue
When our next-door neighbor added the bright yellow shutters to his blue house, we entered into a kind of competition.  Everybody stopped to take pictures of his house as the most colorful house on Esplanade Avenue.  He and I were playing pinochle one night when he bet me that I wouldn't paint our house a brighter color.  Frau Schmitt egged me on to accept his bet.  She is usually right about these things, so I did.  

So, 2216 Esplanade Avenue was painted orange with blue shutters.
Some gentlemen prefer redheads
After we had raised the pigment quotient on our block of Esplanade Avenue, our neighbor on the other side decided to get into the act and take it to another level.  Now everybody's taking pictures of the green house.
2222 Esplanade Avenue
It's a neighborly contest to see who can paint his or her house the brightest.  I hear that the guy at 2212 and his wife have a new scheme in mind... a new color scheme!  At least, that's the story they tell on some of the bicycle tours that stop in front of our house.

None of it is true.

If you want to take a bicycle tour of Esplanade Ridge with a reputable guide, I'd like to recommend Crescent City Bike Tours.  I know Kristine.  She and I got our tour guide licenses together, so we're sort of blood-somethings.  She knows her history and she can tell a story.  She lives here.  Not here on Esplanade Avenue, but you know what I mean.  

Out of 167 New Orleans activities, Crescent City Bike Tours is rated #16 on Trip Advisor as of this writing.  Let me tell you, they are better than the current No. 1, whoever that is.  I listen to their tall tales about five times a day.  Kristine will tell you the truth.  She's not paying me to say this.  She doesn't even know I'm doing it.

From what I've heard, rankings on Trip Advisor have to do with an algorithm of reviews.   Crescent City Bikes, as we like to call them around the innkeeper's water cooler, hasn't been open for too, too long.  It's like Frau Schmitt likes to say when I'm watching a pot of spaghetti, "Everything takes time." She is usually right about these things.  

Sometimes, I interrupt Frau Schmitt when she's whisking meringue.  "The cream rises to the top," she'll say, and she's usually right about that, too.

Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of my bike tour guide friend.  I'll have to leave you with this, instead:
Tammie the Housekeeper
Tammie the Housekeeper sez: "It's quality, not quantity, that counts."

A votre santé,

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Colors of New Orleans

Sign on North Broad Avenue
I had something to do, so I headed uptown on North Broad Avenue.  I once remarked to Frau Schmitt that North Broad is our main street.  We're always taking it to get somewhere and we always take it on the way home.

Pink building, North Broad Avenue, New Orleans, LA
For many moons, the building on the corner of North Broad and Toulouse Street has been a lot of colors, but it's never been pink and red until very recently.  It's maybe been four months.  The walls are pink and the roof is red.  The windows have lime green trim.  
What lies behind the green door?
I had the chance to talk to Sarah, who told me that it's going to be a kind of antique and artistic gift store, if I understood her correctly.  It seems to be a collaborative of seven women who are a part of the neighborhood.  A lot of them meet at the Fair Grinds Coffeehouse.  That tidbit didn't help me since I usually go to the Pagoda Cafe for coffee.  It's a big neighborhood.

Anyhow, I love the colors.  Every room in our inn is a different color.  Frau Schmitt likes to say, "You can't be afraid of color,"  and she is usually right about these things.  She also says she doesn't like the red with the pink, but I disagree with that.

As I was saying, I had an errand to run in Uptown.  I didn't see many colorful buildings Uptown.  I did see this one, however:
Napoleon Avenue, in Broadmoor
I thought it was a different house, but I wasn't disappointed when I parked my scooter in the Napoleon Avenue neutral ground.  I had to take a picture since I had my camera on me, so I temporarily blocked the Broadmoor Fine Arts and Wellness Trail.  Even though there wasn't anybody around, there is still a lot going on in Broadmoor.

What scooter was that?
The Black Bullet 
It was the scooter I was driving across New Orleans to pick up a loaf of  that pretzel-shaped olive bread at La Boulangerie.  That's a French bakery on Magazine Street.  It's the second weekend of Jazz Fest.  Everybody is in a good mood.

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Your New Orleans questions answered

Knights of Electra Mardi Gras parade poster
I don't know what most people do as their first night of the second weekend of Jazz Fest winds down, but I imagine a few of you readers go through our archives of blog posts.  One such reader emailed me recently with a question.

Dear Mr. King,

I recently read your blog post dated April 2nd, 2013, "Weekdays in New Orleans."  I would like to commend your unique ability to evoke what it is like to live in the City Care Forgot.  I have learned so much about the Crescent City from reading your blog.  You have true talent.  Reading your blog has brought me new appreciation for the Big Easy.  You've made me want to move to New Orleans.

In April 2013, you wrote:

"Why are people serving up waffles off a gas grill on their front porch?  Why is a man doing a word search puzzle by flashlight in the middle of the sidewalk at 6:00AM?  What's a Rhode Island Red rooster doing in Louisiana?"

Can you tell your eager fans if you're now able to shed some light on these things, now?

An Anonymous Pal
A nice place to consider a response
Dear Pal,

Thank you for your kind words, but over-the-top flattery and phony enthusiasm will get you nowhere.  We don't offer government or military discounts.  We are negotiating with AAA, but nothing's final yet.  With that out of the way, I can answer your other questions.

When you see people serving up waffles from their front porch gas grill, or serving macaroni dinners out the side door, or fish fry plates from their kitchens, it usually means someone has died and the family needs to raise money for the funeral.  It's usually ten or fifteen dollars a plate, less for breakfast.  You can afford it.

When you see an old man doing a word search puzzle by flashlight next to the McDonough High School gym, you don't ask why anymore.  You just accept that some people do things for reasons all their own.

There are a few flocks of semi-feral chickens that run through our neighborhood.  Rhode Island Reds are the most popular cocks because they are hardy and they make the hens lay brown eggs.  In New Orleans, brown eggs are cheaper than white, and that's what you put in yak-a-mein.  In New Orleans, you can have yak-a-mein for breakfast.

This is what I have learned so far.  I may be wrong.  I'm sure someone will tell me if If am.  Then, I'll have more information and more better answers.  When you try to describe some things in New Orleans, the words don't always come out right.

I hope this both satisfies your curiosity and whets your appetite.  There are adventures to be had in New Orleans.  I know just the place to stay.
La belle Avenue d'Esplanade
Your Humble Narrator
A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast
A votre santé
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...