Wednesday, February 10, 2016

An Innkeeper's Work Is Never Done

A flower in the Rex Den

Yesterday was Mardi Gras.  Boy, what a day.  Like all good days, though, it had to come to an end.  It's 4:30AM on Ash Wednesday as I write this.  There's no time like the present to start one's penance.

You might think I'm going to talk about Mardi Gras but, frankly, I've been talking about Mardi Gras every day for the past two weeks and now that's it's over I'm done.  I'd like to just take a moment to share something with you.  It's time for my favorite feature of this blog:

Mail Call!

A reservation came in yesterday with the following note attached:

"No questions! Very excited for our stay. Your blog/website and writing style is authentic and draws in the reader... we are looking to enjoy the city on foot/public transport, both the usual spots but hopefully more time spent in the overlooked places."

I spoke with this chap on the phone.  Not only did he call the blog authentic.  On the phone he told me it's mesmerizing.  Maybe you agree.  For my part, I like this guy already.  It seems like he has a good head on his shoulders.

Copyright Emma Fick

In other news from the mailbag, Emma Fick has finished an illustration of La Belle and its sister houses.  That link will take you to other illustrations she's done of New Orleans for a book she's working on.  If you want to see her previous book about Serbia, it's here.  

We haven't met Emma in person, yet.  She's due to stop by the house soon for a tour and to get some of the inside skinny as to what the house actually holds (hint: it's a secret until you get here).

Another flower in the Rex Den

Well, it's 5:00 now and I have to sign off.  I have things to do.  You wouldn't know it to look at us but neither Frau Schmitt nor I are on vacation.  An innkeeper's work is never done.  It's a good thing we love what we do.

À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade
....where the rest comes easy.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Some Real New Orleans History

The mantle in our Clio Suite
Remember, in New Orleans, it's usually the rule that most things are pronounced differently than you think, especially if street names or Greek Muses are involved. 

Who are the Nine Muses?  In alphabetical order: Calliope, Clio, Euterpe, Erato, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia, and Urania.

You think this is trivia, but everybody in New Orleans knows this and everyone in New Orleans pronounces those names differently than you probably just did if you are reading this blog aloud.

I recommend reading it aloud.  Rex Hollywood reads each installment aloud to his sweetheart.   I know this because Rex told me this himself and his sweetheart confirmed it.  It's no wonder people who know him (what, you don't know Rex Hollywood?) call him "The Last of the Red Hot Lovers" behind his back.  I know this because one of Rex's pals stayed with us and he told me that in confidence.

Anyhow, one of our suites is called the Clio Suite because there is a statue of Clio in the park across the street from this suite's balcony. You, and most of the world that speaks English, French, German, Latin or Greek, Spanish, Albanian, Polish, Magyar, or Arabic, would naturally pronounce the name "klee-OH."  You would be wrong.  In New Orleans, it's pronounced "kl-EYE-oh."

Now you know.

A float in the Rex Den

I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking, "Waitaminnit!  This is Mardi Gras season and you said you were going to post pictures of all the floats you saw in the krewe dens you visited two (2) weeks ago!"  

I did say that and I'm getting around to it, but I was looking through some old photos when I found something else that caught my fancy today.  Wanna see it?

A relic from another time

By the usual loopy narrative logic of this blog, let's travel back to one fateful night two years ago when I visited the men's room at The Steak Knife Restaurant on Harrison Avenue in New Orleans' Lakeview neighborhood.  It was strictly for professional reasons.  

Frau Schmitt and I have been to The Steak Knife twice.  We both like it, but with about 800 restaurants to choose from, we have to eat at as many as we can so that we can talk about them knowledgeably with our guests and make recommendations.  The Steak Knife is in a part of the city that few of our guests ever visit (though Alan and Shelly were there just the other day for ice cream --- to Harrison Avenue, not to The Steak Knife).  If you want to learn more about The Steak Knife, here's a link to their website, though, I have to admit, I don't think you're going to learn much there.  They apparently don't feel an urgent need to publicize.  After 40 years in business, they're probably right.   

Let me get to the point, already.  

This particular men's room is full of old pictures and magazine clippings and this one of the guy holding two fish caught my attention.  Here's the caption under the photo:

Big news about a big catch

In case you can't read the tiny print:

"TWO BLACK BASS, both slightly over two pounds, were caught the other day in a back lagoon at City Park by Jack Crowley, 2422 Laharpe.  The fish were taken on a plug casting rod.  City Park's fishing season closes for two months, beginning Monday."

Our inn is located at 2216 Esplanade Avenue.  2422 Laharpe Street is just four blocks away from where we live.  You can stroll over and take a picture of Mr. Crowley's house if you want to.  I just might do that later this week even though Jack doesn't live there anymore.

Coincidentally, I was walking our dog around a back lagoon this morning and two gentlemen were fishing there, in two different locations.  I asked one of them if he had had any luck.  He said he had just hooked a bass and he showed it to me.  He was a kindly looking, elderly gent.  It wasn't Jack.  I know Jack.

You never know what you'll find as you wander the byways and restrooms in New Orleans.

And, on that note, we must conclude.

Frau Schmitt's mother-in-law is coming to visit.  If installments don't come as regularly as we've recently become accustomed, you can't blame my mother.  Blame it on Mardi Gras.  The whole city shuts down during Mardi Gras.  Though Mardi Gras is next Tuesday, the real serious parading begins today and it's not going to stop until Lent.

À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade
...where the rest comes easy.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Perfectly Perfect New Orleans Vacation

Bon voyage!
Frau Schmitt and I always talk to our guests.  We spend an hour or more every day going over the previous day's adventures and planning what the new day may bring in New Orleans.  We are very rarely privy to all the details that transpire between one breakfast and the next.  We always see our guests at breakfast, but we rarely bump into them around the city during the day, and we don't always bump into them when they come home for a nap or to redress for the next round of adventures.  We always see everyone at breakfast.

Kyle and Sue, Kyle, really (sorry Sue, but put credit where credit is due), posted a very nice blog of their time in our fair city.  Kyle and Sue had some real New Orleans adventures. They stayed with us for a week.  Look, nobody ever says their stay is too long.  It is always too short.  Sure, you may get homesick and we understand you have things to do back home, but nobody is ever bored in New Orleans.  Frau Schmitt and I have lived in New Orleans for almost six years and we are still discovering new things even though our guests consider us experts in the local culture and the folkways, and every restaurant and museum under the glorious Louisiana sun.  

Here is a link to Kyle and Sue's New Orleans Adventure.  I'm pretty sure they won't mind if I provide you with the link.  I tip my jaunty fedora to them for really exploring the city on its own terms and really experiencing New Orleans the way it is should be explored, on the map but off the grid, if you will.  What does that mean?  It means whatever you want it to.

I'm not on vacation, so I don't judge what anyone does while they pass a few days, or a week, in our fair city.  I've run the gamut of New Orleans experiences.  New Orleans is full of surprises and you'll find the ones that delight and bemuse you.  I live here, but I've also been a tourist.  We live in a many- and wonderfully-faceted city.  It really is magic in New Orleans.

Is there a perfectly bad New Orleans vacation?  Not that I've seen from my vantage point of being an innkeeper.  Nobody leaves New Orleans disappointed.  Most people, when they do finally and eventually leave, have a tinge of regret that they couldn't have had another day to have another meal, to see another neighborhood, to meet someone else, to hear another band, to just relax in the most relaxing unique city in the world.

A tip of my fedora to Kyle and Sue.  Good guests make good company.  Good guests, as all of our guests are, make our profession a joy.  Sue, I'm looking at you when I write this.  

If you, dear reader, are thinking about visiting New Orleans, we hope you'll consider staying at La Belle Esplanade.  The rest will come easy.  Ask the professor.

À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade.
...where the rest comes easy.
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