Friday, November 21, 2014

Walking in New Orleans

Bed in our Clio Suite
We made some new acquaintances this past weekend who used our inn as their headquarters to make a walking exploration of this magical city we call home.  Why not?  Frau Schmitt and I walk everywhere, and not just because we have to walk our dog.  We walk our neighborhood because, as I say to everyone on the introductory tours of our garden, I find it endlessly fascinating.

I live here.  We've lived here for four and a half years now.  We still have the zeal of converts.  There are so many details, everything seems ever new.  If any of this sounds familiar to regular readers, it's because I haven't changed my mind about how much I am in love with New Orleans.  I wouldn't be a good innkeeper if I had.  

I understand that there are innkeepers who have a negative attitude about New Orleans; at least, they have a negative opinion of any neighborhood that isn't their's.  Where they live is safe.  Everywhere else, well: There Be Dragons.  Beware.
A view of our dining room
I've never come across a cannibal in all my walks about New Orleans.  That doesn't mean they aren't out there.  It only means that they are as rare as yellow-bellied sapsuckers.
I've never seen one of these.
Photo courtesy of wikipedia
There are many parts to New Orleans.  Many neighborhoods.  I don't recommend staying with us if you want to spend most of your time Uptown.  Uptown is the other side of Canal Street.  It's the American part of the city.  Esplanade Avenue is Downtown, in the Creole part of the city.  It's all New Orleans, but the two halves are very different----which is to say nothing of Algiers on the other side of the river.

You can visit Uptown if you stay with us.  Plenty of people do.  Everybody does, really, but if you stay with us, your focus should be Downtown.  Uptown, in our estimation, is a place to visit, not a place in which to stay.  YMMV.
Some of our front windows
From our house, you can walk to the French Quarter and Frenchmen Street, of course.  You can also walk to City Park and the New Orleans Museum of Art.  Further afield, off Esplanade Ridge proper, you can explore Tremé, the 7th Ward, Mid-City, and the neighborhood that is called City Park.  All of this comfortably on foot.  Most people don't do this, but those that do come back with stories that make everyone else in the room wish they had gone along for the stroll.

It's a fascinating city we live in.

When you walk around New Orleans, you'll find everyone is friendly.  Everyone says hello.  If you find yourself lost, just ask for directions.  New Orleanians know their city is confusing and they're happy to help you find your way.  It's a wonderful place in which to find oneself lost.  Home is where the heart is, and many people say that this is the first place where they felt they had nothing to fear.  Plenty of other people say the opposite, but they don't stay with us. They stay in the French Quarter.  

I would like to give another shout-out, yet again, to the Rose Manor Inn, in New Orleans' West End neighborhood.  It's a bit out of the way, but everything I know about this inn makes me respect it all the more.  They're in a different spot, out on the edge of town.  Not that there isn't anything to do there---there's plenty, and it's a historic and interesting neighborhood.  It's different from Esplanade Ridge, but there's no harm in that.  The innkeepers are top notch.  

If we happen to be full, which happens more and more these days, think about staying at the Rose Manor Inn.  Read their website, read their reviews on Trip Advisor.  Know in advance that you will be nowhere near the French Quarter.  We're not in the French Quarter, either.  If you choose to stay at the Rose Manor Inn, I predict you'll be pleasantly surprised.  You'll see a different part of New Orleans that most people never see.  There is something magnificent to be said for that.  We inhabit a magical city.
Looking lakeside on Esplanade Avenue
À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Maybe they call it Yahoo Travel for another reason.

Tammie the Housekeeper
Tammie the Housekeeper corralled me in the linen closet this morning.  This isn't going to be the spicy story that you might expect with an opening like that.  She was hot under the collar about something she had read on the Yahoo Travel website.  It was an article titled, "We Can't Stand You" and Other Confessions of a B&B Owner.

She made me read it, looking over my shoulder and hissing between her teeth every time we reached a part that particularly made her blood boil.  "What do you make of that?" she asked when we were done.

It's balderdash.  That's my opinion.  A bit of shock schlock.  Internet meme grandstanding.  Chum cast out to attract the search engines that half digest the stuff on the web before they spit it out again for you to find.  It's poppycock.  Mirriam-Webster Dictionary gives a Dutch origin for that word.  I always think of it back to its Latin roots when I say it, but this is a family blog so Mirriam-Webster will do just fine.  

Here's my opinion: real innkeepers did not write that article.  If they did, then they aren't real innkeepers.  Does this lift the veil on B&Bs?  No.  It's pure poppycock.

I'm comfortable that Frau Schmitt and Tammie the Housekeeper will allow me to speak for all three of us.  We are not happy when our guests leave.  We do not do a happy dance.  We do not lie to our guests, nor do we assume our guests are lying to us.  How is that any way to live?  How is that any way to conduct business?  Being an innkeeper enriches one's soul, it doesn't kill it.  Whoever wrote that article appears to be dead, or at least hollow, inside.  It isn't a funny article.  It's very sad.

We do not carry concealed weapons.  We don't know anyone who does.  When someone makes a reservation, we do not look them up on the internet, research their Facebook accounts, or even give them a moment's thought until the week before they are about to arrive.  Then, we write to them to make sure they don't have any questions or special needs for their upcoming stay.  We verify their arrival time to make sure we'll be here when they are.

Hospitality is not a game.  It is a profession.  We certainly don't judge anyone.  We are honored when someone chooses our inn as the headquarters for their time in New Orleans.  We are ambassadors for our fair city and our mission is to make sure our guests leave with good memories.  There can't be anything phony about that.

Anyone is free to believe the Yahoo article.  That will say more about the person who believes it than it does about B&B owners in general.  I can't say I take offense.  It's so patently false and so far removed from our reality that, frankly, it doesn't make sense.  It isn't journalism or an exposé.  It's poppycock, pure and simple.  

I can't even say shame on Yahoo for printing something like this.  They are an internet company that is losing its relevance.  If it weren't for the Yahoo's big stake in Chinese company Alibaba, what would their stock be worth?  It's gone up ten points the past month.  I wish Marissa Mayer luck, but, like most people, I think, I don't give Yahoo much thought.  If this article was a way to get my attention, it worked.  It worked for as long as it took for me to calm Tammie the Housekeeper down and to write this blog post.  Then I had enough time to think, "What was Tammie doing on Yahoo, anyway?"  If this is an example of the quality content I can find on Yahoo, well, I'm not only speechless, I'm inclined to read elsewhere.

And now, for the love of Pete, Tammie the Housekeeper is tugging at my sleeve to show me a follow-up article.  It's even more titillatingly egregious than the first.  Who cares?  Noise in a vacuum.  The less said about this nonsense the better.  If the author(s) can make a living out of spinning this hooey into a career, maybe a book deal, at least, more power to them.  None of what they describe has any resemblance to how Frau Schmitt or I spend our days or conduct our business.  That goes double for Tammie the Housekeeper.
La Belle d'Esplanade
If you want to experience a true boutique New Orleans B&B experience instead of the yahoo way, we have know of a place on Esplanade Avenue where we recommend you might stay.

À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Foundation of New Orleans

Somewhere in New Orleans
I've said it before and I'll say it again, you never know what you're going to see when you turn a corner in New Orleans.  The photo above was taken on North Peters Street.

Yup, there's dancing in the streets.  Music, too.  Tonight, as I write this, I'm entertained by a brass band across the street where there's a wedding.  Love blooms in New Orleans, too.
Just another day in New Orleans
When people come here, they ask if they're dressed appropriately for whatever restaurant they have reservations at.  Honey, you're in New Orleans (as any waitress will tell you).  You can wear whatever you want.  Be yourself.  Nobody judges you.  Nobody looks twice.  There are too many other things to see.  It's a kaleidoscope of a city.
Don's Automotive, New Orleans, LA
I was at Don's Automotive the other day, but I don't own a car.  I went because Don's Automotive is also known as Don's Garage and Social Club.  I went to socialize.  Nothing is what appears to be here.  Or, rather, it is what it appears to be but it's also something more.  It's something more magical.
Plaque in the New Orleans Wax Museum
You thought I wasn't going to talk about the wax museum, didn't you?  I haven't forgotten.  There are still about thirty exhibits to go through and I took pictures of every one of them.  

The wax museum, officially known as the Museé Conti, is full of recreations of great moments in the city's history.  There are some other things, too, but it's going to take weeks for us to get to them.  In the meantime, here is exhibit No. 2. A City Is Planned:
The planning of New Orleans
Three men in a Parisian boudoir looked over an inaccurate map of some swampland in Louisiana when they drew the street grid for the French Quarter.  I think Pauger Street is named after the man who designed the original city, but I'm not double checking that statement.  You can if you want to.  I'm betting you're not that interested, so I'm just going to let that fact stand unchallenged. 

If you want to know the truth, ask me over breakfast.  Then, I'll tell you that the city was laid out by Adrien de Pauger, and that he selected many of the street names in the French Quarter, too.  He also designed the original street layouts for Biloxi, Mississippi and Mobile, Alabama.  He got around, but most experts agree that New Orleans was his best work.

You'll agree, too.

Come experience it for yourself.

Until then,
À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

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