Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sweet Home New Orleans

The view out our window yesterday
Like our guests, we sometimes like to escape from our daily grind, such as it is.  Unlike you, we have company coming tomorrow so we couldn't travel too far.  We just got away for two nights before the busy season starts.  We're not going to have another day off until June.  I know, it makes you pity the life of an innkeeper.

Where do you go if you live in New Orleans, where everybody else in the world goes?  We went to Alabama.  It was as exciting as it sounds and that suited us just fine.

We stayed at a bed and breakfast, naturally.  We didn't know it when we made the reservation, but Trip Advisor ranks the B&B we stayed at as #2 in the whole country.  We can see why.  What a pleasant surprise.  Point Clear Cottages.  Now you know.

Talking to our fellow innkeeper this morning, he said he was very blessed in this life.  One of the blessings he counted was, "I've lived my whole life in Fairhope, Alabama."  I can't comment on the other things he listed, but I have to agree with that one.  What a gem of a town.  We didn't know anything about it before we arrived but after a visit to the local history museum, we sure know a lot about it now.  

In the past, people have asked us what there is to do in Mobile, AL.  Since we hadn't been there, all we could say is that we didn't know. We went yesterday.  We're still not sure what to do.  Instead of staying in Mobile, go down the east shore of the bay a spell and stay in Fairhope.  Stay at the Point Clear Cottages if you can.  There are only two cottages, so you have to book early.  Go during off season, which is anytime but summer.  You have a fair hope of reserving a spot in January.  The weather was gorgeous while we were there.  

Now that we're back home, Frau Schmitt and I were looking at one of the paintings in our lobby.  This one:
I love New Orleans
That painting says a mouthful.  You'll feel the same way after you've been in New Orleans awhile.  You'll want to be back.

À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Friday, January 23, 2015

New Statue in City Park, New Orleans

Happy Mardi Gras
There's a new statue in City Park, up the street from us.  Actually, there are two statues, but I think one of them is ugly and I can't make myself take a picture of it.  What is it about post-modern art, anyway?  Either you love it or you hate it.  I don't like the new sculpture that's been installed next to the art museum.  Some people call me an old fuddy duddy, though.

Of course, the newest sculpture you see is the one on the front lawn in front of the art museum.  Did I mention I'm not going to take a picture of the sculpture I think is ugly?  I don't mind saying it again.  You'll have to walk up there to see it for yourself.  The sculpture I like is a bit deeper in the park, by the Festival Grounds where they hold Voodoo Fest.  

It takes about twenty picturesque minutes to walk from our house to City Park to see the ugly statue that I didn't take a picture of.  It takes a bit longer to get to this one:
Iconic roses
It's a spray of roses that could have been cast by Cleas Oldenburg if they were painted differently.  Oldenburg was a Pop artist, not a post-modern one.  We can debate that last point if you choose, but I'm sticking with the assertion.

Everyone who sees the rose statue talks about it at breakfast.  Nobody talks about the other sculpture (I can't bring myself to call the other one a statue; it's just a gaudy thing). 

Look up close at the roses:
It could be a Febreze ad
It's made of painted stainless steel, Nida-Core, fiberglass and paint. That's what the plaque says.  It was made by William Ryman (b. 1969) and was made in 2011.  It's called "Icon."  That's as good a name as "Roses," I suppose.

If you go into the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) you'll see a gold log cabin that Ryman also made.  See what you think.  I have little to say about it.

I go to NOMA all the time.  They have a very good photorealist show in there right now.  They have a little bit of everything.  NOMA isn't MOMA by any stretch of the imagination, but it's a nice place to spend some time to see some really good art.  I find the permanent collection very interesting and enlightening.  If you go the third floor, you'll pretty much have the place to yourself.  It's full of African, Asian, and Polynesian art.

There are all sorts of things to see in New Orleans.  If you get bored here, it's your fault.  It's not the city's.  The city is a cornucopia that overflows with delights for all the senses.
A rose as tall as a tree
You'll see when you get here.  There is a genuine Claes Oldenburg statue in the sculpture garden behind NOMA.  It's of a giant safety pin.  I like that one, too.  It's almost as good as the Oldenburg in Minneapolis.  

À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Grooviest B&B in New Orleans

Is this place really Squaresville?
Frau Schmitt and your humble narrator take their jobs of being New Orleans ambassadors seriously.  We try to know everything we can about the city we call home.  All the better to make recommendations, my dear.  

I was talking to Tammie the Housekeeper the other day.  It turns out that some of the B&B housekeepers in New Orleans meet for lunch every month.  This month they were at Jack Dempsey's, down in the Bywater.  
738 Poland Avenue, New Orleans, LA
I love Jack Dempsey's.  The walls are unfinished particle board.  The food is pretty good, too.
Tammie the Housekeeper
Tammie the Housekeeper was making the bed in La France Suite when she mentioned that La Belle Esplanade doesn't have a reputation for being the grooviest B&B in New Orleans.  "That's what Miriam LaRue said, anyway, and Lucille agreed with her."  I suppose it all depends on who you ask.

So what B&B is the grooviest in the whole city according to the informal poll taken at Jack Dempsey's Steak and Seafood House the other afternoon?  Tammie the Housekeeper didn't want to tell me but she finally relented after I had pestered her into the Clio Suite across the hall.  "They say it's the Lookout Inn," she finally said.  

Well, like their web address says, Look Out New Orleans.

I went over yesterday to spy on the competition and take some pictures:
The grooviest B&B in New Orleans
As I was snapping that photo above, Kelly, the innkeeper, was taking out the trash.  Caught in the act!  Luckily, we know each other and she invited Frau Schmitt and I over for dinner.  Nancy from Auld Sweet Olive came, too.  

After dinner, Kelly and Mark (her husband) gave us a tour of their inn.  Let me tell you, it's like a palace in there.  They have four suites: the Mission Suite, the Mardi Gras Suite, the Elvis Suite and the Bollywood Suite.  Did I mention the Mardi Gras Suite?  The whole place is pretty groovy, I have to admit, especially the Elvis and Bollywood Suites.  The Wall Street Journal mentioned them in an article a while ago.

The place is clean, too.  Even though it was January, the whole place smelled like April freshness.  Most B&Bs do.

Frau Schmitt and I talked about the Elvis Suite after we got home.  "I think La Belle Esplanade is groovy enough the way it is," Frau Schmitt said.  She is usually right about these things.  "That's what Tammie the Housekeeper said, too," I said.  "Tammie the Housekeeper also called me an old fuddy duddy," I added, "Imagine that!"

"Tammie says that about everybody who's over thirty.  Even herself and she's only 31," Frau Schmitt told me.
The pool at the Lookout Inn (a pool!!)
If you want to stay in the hottest neighborhood in New Orleans, the Bywater, here's a recommendation:  the Lookout Inn.  If you want to stay in the Marigny, here's a recommendation: Auld Sweet Olive.  If you want to stay in the West End, here's a recommendation: Rose Manor.  If you want to stay on Esplanade Avenue, well, look at the top of this blog.  No place in New Orleans is Squaresville.  That's not entirely true, of course.  Some places are, but we're not going to name them here.

Wherever you stay, you'll have a good time.  Good memories are made in New Orleans.

When I was taking pictures of the Lookout Inn, I asked if I could take a picture of Kelly.  She graciously agreed.  I was so nervous that that camera jiggled in my hands.  All I could capture was a snap of the top of her head.  Here it is:
It should be crowned with a tiara
À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.
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