Monday, March 23, 2015

Hard Luck in New Orleans

The young lady's name is Marianne
Today's post hasn't been vetted or approved by the French Consul headquartered in New Orleans.  I'm a big fan of Marianne.  We sometimes work with the French consulate to provide lodging for visitors and they sent us an email today that had that image available to download onto my virtual desktop, and, as always, her profile captivated me, so I cut and pasted it here for you to see so that I could write a long run-on sentence contrary to all the rules of good blog-writing that say that I should deliver short descriptive sentences to hold your attention and keep the text moving along, adding to the narrative, staying on topic, and being generally informative to attract search engine traffic and keep the reader entertained by providing the illusion that he or she is learning something about the city they are planning to visit.  So far so good.  Let's continue from here.

Our use of this image should not be considered an endorsement from the French government to stay with us.  Quite the opposite, it should be considered a swipe that I took to lead off this post.  We met the consul once.  He's very handsome and charming.  We made idle chitchat over champagne.  He probably doesn't remember us, nor should he.  We are as dull as dishwater.  Aside from that chance meeting and talk about the weather, we have no relationship with him, his office, or anything else really.  I just like Marianne.  As a New Orleanian, I find everything French fascinating.  Don't you?

Is there a single woman who symbolizes New Orleans?  There is, but it isn't Marianne and it makes me sad to say that.  I love the way her hair billows out from under her Phrygian cap.  In New Orleans, we have Margaret, who most people don't know, though she has a statue at Margaret Place, and we have Sophie Wright, who has a statue at Sophie Wright Place, and we have Oretha Castle Haley, who has a street named after her, and we have Mahalia Jackson, who has a theater named after her, and we have Joan of Arc, who also has a statue, hers at the beginning of the French Market, suitably enough.  Is there a single woman who represents the spirit of New Orleans?  No.  There a a lot of them, including every one you will pass when you walk down the street.  Say bonjour, or at least say hello.

In New Orleans, we also have a statue of Winston Churchill, of all people.  It's at the foot to Poydras Street, which few people visit unless they are trying to catch the Riverfront streetcar or they are staying at the Riverside Hilton, or they are lost.  No one ever mistook Winston Churchill for a woman.

The nice thing about writing a blog is that your humble narrator gets to write about whatever he pleases.  Being an innkeeper, your humble narrator gets to talk about whatever he pleases, too.  Sometimes, people ask a question, and I just launch off on a story that I find interesting that has more tangents than a kitten in a ball of wool.  No worries.  Nothing happens the way it is planned in New Orleans.  It's a city in which people will talk your ear off if given the chance.  I have a captive audience, so I just ramble on at breakfast, just like I do here, and nobody complains.  I know a lot of things.  If I can't explain them clearly all the time, it's because things are complicated in New Orleans.  It takes a while to sort everything out.  You need to stay for more than two nights.
It is time for a picture
It is time for a video!  Here is some film stock of New Orleans from 1940.  Things haven't changed much.  Frau Schmitt and your humble narrator recognize most of the places filmed in this old documentary.  If I may indulge in a little bit of French, "Plus ça change plus c'est la meme chose."



Life is beautiful when you live in New Orleans.  When you visit, you get a taste of what life can be like.  Laissez les bon temps rouler!    

There was never a canal on Canal Street. Don't believe everything you see on the internet.  Don't believe everything you read on the internet, either---even our reviews.  I add this last caveat because we cannot be all things to all people.  We strive to be good hosts to everyone who comes through our front door, but we aren't for everyone.  If you are looking for something comparable to a stay at the Roosevelt Hotel or the Ritz-Carlton on Canal Street, we offer a similar level of service, but not the same amenities.  We're headquartered in an old Creole mansion in Tremé, after all, not in a modern (for their time) skyscraper hotel building.  We are a boutique bed and breakfast inn in New Orleans but we can't claim to be a luxury brand hotel by any stretch of the imagination.  We do what we can.  We are located one mile from the French Quarter.  If you are thinking about staying with us, go back one sentence and read it again.  We are not in the French Quarter.  We are within walking distance, but our inn is in a different neighborhood.  

We do what we can, like Joan of Arc did, and what Marianne represents.  We do what we can to make your visit to this magical city we call home an enjoyable adventure.  It isn't Disneyworld, but it isn't meant to be.  We don't provide fantasy, but we are still living our dream, in New Orleans, the way it is meant to be.

We hope you'll visit us soon.

À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Friday, March 20, 2015

We got some new artwork

We meet the most interesting people
We got a couple unexpected and unsolicited things in the mail recently, which is always nice.

The first thing we got was an award from Booking.com.  We don't usually offer rooms through OTAs (On-line Travel Agents) and we don't do that for a few reasons.  

Reason #1:  Most people who make a reservation through an OTA are looking for the cheapest price.  They pay more when they book through an OTA than they do when they book directly through our website.  They do it anyway.  The listed price for the suite is the same in both places, but we don't add on any "processing fees and taxes" the way OTAs do.

[I got a phone call a few minutes ago.  Q: "How much are the taxes when we check in?"  A: "They're included in the price.  Whatever our website says, that's the price.  We don't charge more than that.  We aren't here to nickel and dime you."]  

Reason #2:  Most people who make a reservation through an OTA don't visit our website so they don't really know what we are about. All they know is what the OTA people have written about our inn, which is a sparse description that isn't always as accurate as we would like.  If you want to know what kind of services we offer and what kind of personality our inn has, our website reflects that to the best of our ability, as does this blog.  Thanks for reading!

Most people who make a reservation through an OTA don't read our blog.  If you are the exception, we would like to thank you double for stopping by this page today.

Here's the award:
9.7 out of 10
The award is just a cheap piece of plastic that says that last year La Belle Esplanade received an average rating of 9.7 out of a possible 10.  We are very grateful for the compliments from our guests, don't get me wrong, but I collect enough clutter on the mantle without adding a cheap piece of plastic.  After a few days, I finally stowed the award in our storeroom.  It just does't fit with our decór.

On the other hand, our Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence from last year is displayed on the mantle in our dining room.  We are much more proud of that and it's much more attractive.  We are hoping to add another one for this year.

If you make a reservation through an OTA, they'll send you an email asking for a review after your stay.  Trip Advisor doesn't do that.  Trip Advisor doesn't know you stayed with us.  I certainly don't tell them.  All our reviews on Trip Advisor are voluntary.  

We don't email you after your stay with a link to review sites because I know I don't enjoy being spammed for the rest of my life from someone whose company I once enjoyed.  That's what hotels do.  Frau Schmitt and I are just happy you visited.  What's nice about Trip Advisor is that they won't spam you after you write a review, either.  It's a nice arrangement all around---all good memories.

With that businesslike bit out of the way, the other thing we received in the mail is a watercolor of our house from a previous guest.  It arrived unexpected, out of the blue, like a pelican soaring out over the tops of the oak trees in City Park and then landing on our front stoop.
A work of art
We had the painting framed with the note that the artist sent with the picture.  It came out very nice and we've hung it in the first stairwell off the lobby where everyone will see it.  We have an older watercolor of the house from before we moved in and repainted.  That one must be about 20 years old.  We hung the old one with the new one.
Before and after
I don't think the house was ever the very sunny yellow-yellow the way it's depicted in the older painting.  Our house's former color scheme always reminded me of Gulden's mustard.  We never repainted the shutters on the sides of the house. The shutters in the front are now sky blue while the ones on the sides remain green as a historical detail.
They call it brown mustard for a reason
We live in a very interesting house.  Everyone enjoys it.  It is full of details and none of them are cheap plastic.  Well, there are some Mardi Gras beads here and there, but aside from that there is very little cheap plastic.  

We'd like to thank Mimi for her pleasant surprise.  Your painting is in a place of honor, as it should be.  A tip of the fedora in your direction, Mimi.  Cheers!  Don't be a stranger!

If you are thinking about visiting New Orleans, you know where to find us: on our website, not through an OTA.

À votre santé.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

You meet the most interesting people in New Orleans

Your hosts
I'm not talking about us when I say you will meet the most interesting people in New Orleans.  Compared to everyone else, we are as dull as dishwater.  We have a lucky profession, however.  We get to meet the most interesting people.  If you stay with us, chances are that you'll get to meet a couple of gems.

Everyone who lives in New Orleans is proud of their city.  Everyone who visits New Orleans soon gets swept up in the swim of things.  Nothing in the city ever happens on time, nothing works the way it is supposed to, always expect the unexpected.  If it might be true, it probably is.  If something is probable, it will happen---you just have to be in the right place at the right time.

Let's look at a video, shall we?


I only speak English and a smattering of vocabulary from other languages that serve me well in a pinch (à votre santé).  Frau Schmitt speaks German, her native tongue, and English, and a little bit of conversational French (she's taking lessons).  Neither of us speaks Danish, which is the language in the video above.  "Kaerlinghed" is the Danish word for love.  

Jazz.

5,615,715 people live in Denmark.  It is the 113th most populous country in the world.  That's a lot of people.  The population of the U.S. State of Louisiana is 4,649,676.  All of these figures are cribbed from the English version of Wikipedia.  I can't make dette eller hint (dis or dat) from the Danish version of Wikipedia.

As we say in New Orleans, Who Dat?

It doesn't matter how a man dresses.  What matters is what's in his heart.  I like to dress up for breakfast.  After all, I'm the host.  You don't pay good money to see me as I look when I roll out of bed.  As innkeepers, how you look when you come down to breakfast doesn't matter to us much.  Don't show up naked.  What matters is what you bring to the table.  If you show up looking like a bum, well, that just makes me look better.  Please do.  Just don't show up naked.

As innkeepers, we meet the most interesting people in our line of work.  We meet people from all over the world.  Celebrities sometimes stay with us.  Nobody makes a big deal out of it.  As a former small-scale celebrity myself (currently fallen into blissful anonymity), I can tell you it's a pain in the neck when people just want to talk about what you are famous for.  When you're a celebrity, you just want to be a regular Joe or Jane once in awhile.  Welcome to New Orleans.

I'll tell you something: it's great to be big in Japan.  I've never been to Japan, so I imagine that it's nice to be well known somewhere far away and still collect royalties---while all the while nobody bothers me and I can shop at the supermarket without interruption, buying my can of sardines in peace with no one caring what brand of sardines I prefer.  That's the dream life.  Here's another dream life: living in New Orleans.

Let's look at another video:



See that singer in this video from the 80s?  He's the same guy as the singer in the first one.  Time is kind.  He is a peach of a guy.  His wife is a peach of a gal.  Time has been kind to her, too, if I can say that without seeming to forward.

You'll meet the most interesting people in New Orleans.  Not necessarily at our inn, though we tend to attract a very interesting clientele, but on the streets, in the bars, and wherever you choose to go.  Even at the supermarket.  A day in New Orleans is an adventure.

À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Jazz.  Kaerlinghed.
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