Monday, December 9, 2013

New Orleans B&B Blog 70119

Our back yard
It is the middle of December, almost, the Advent season.  We'll be taking a brief hiatus from the blog, to resume soon after Christmas Day.  There is no particular reason, aside from the fact that this seems to be the right time to take a pause from writing.  
Redbeard Cycles, Orleans Avenue, New Orleans
One of the empty storefronts on Orleans Avenue has recently been refurbished and put back into commerce.  You can't walk around our neighborhood without seeing renovations and reconstruction going on.  The streets are being repaved and a new Whole Foods Market is opening up a few blocks away, on North Broad Avenue, where the old Schwegman's Supermarket used to be.  There will be parking on the roof, the way it should be.  

The newest place on Orleans Avenue is Redbeard Cycles, a shop that is keeping a low internet profile for the time being.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Watch out for motorcycles.  Motor scooters, too.  And bicyclists.  And pedestrians.  And little stray dogs.

I was telling Frau Schmitt that I am starting to feel embarrassed by the reviews we keep getting on Trip Advisor.  I don't mind exceeding people's expectations when they don't expect much.  The reviews we've been getting are making me blush.  She told me not to worry about it.  She is usually right about these things, but I prefer to take the same strategy that the Tic Toc Cafe does:
Painted on the side of the Tic-Toc Cafe, Metarie, LA
We run a little boutique inn.  If you don't include a lifetime of being nice to our fellow human beings and being friendly and providing reasonable advice and being able to carry on a convivial conversation, and just being plain folks who love living in the city we call our adopted home, neither of us has a background in hospitality.  That is to say, neither of us has a background in the hospitality industry.  

If you stay in our inn, we treat you the way we would like to be treated.    When you check in, you aren't a customer.  You are a friend we haven't yet met.  That's why you're welcome.  The money that changes hands counts for something, of course, but the fact that we are proud of our inn and we want you to enjoy our little part of New Orleans counts for more.  Fond memories are made on Esplanade Avenue in New Orleans, LA 70119.
Morning on Esplanade Avenue, New Orleans
We will resume our usual schedule of twice-weekly blog posts after Christmas.  There are plenty more stories to tell and pictures to share.  Until then, Frau Schmitt just raised a glass of Cajun wine to the health of you and yours, with best wishes for today, tomorrow, and all the days to follow.

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

New Orleans is full of surprises

Sunset New Orleans
You can't see it in a photo this size, but that's the Superdome in the background, about 2 and a half miles away as the pelican flies.  It takes about an hour to walk there, if you are so inclined.  We never have tickets for a game but we like to tailgate with everybody else outside the stadium.  We love when the Saints are playing a home game.  It's the best time to run errands, and the play-by-play commentary is on every radio so we always know what's happening, even if we are just picking up fresh pralines at Loretta's.  Go Saints!

I was standing on the balcony of La France Suite, overlooking the back gardens and the pecan tree in back of our shared property.
Fresh pecans make good pralines
I always tell Frau Schmitt, who is the better half of this pair, that we live in a beautiful neighborhood.  She agrees, and she is usually right about these things.  There is something to be said about a smart woman's point of view.

I was making the introduction of the neighborhood to two guests from Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, and I mentioned that things look very different in New Orleans.  Nothing is as it appears.  I mentioned that there are some abandoned buildings, some blight, some empty lots.  Two days later, Stephen, the male of the pair, said, "I was expecting the worst, the way you described it.  It's really the best."  He is right, of course, the way Frau Schmitt usually is.  We live in a lovely part of town.  It is pure New Orleans.  There can never be anything wrong with that.
The fountain in the garden
As I write this, I can hear some crows cawing in the palm tree a block away on Governor Nicholls Street.  The past few weeks have brought crows to our neighborhood, almost as many as come by in springtime.  Who knows why anything happens in New Orleans? Some people chalk it up to magic.  We do.  Some people claim that New Orleans is a magical city.  You'll have to visit it yourself to decide if this is true.

It is.
Orleans Parish Prison
The sheriff is building a new prison on Gravier Street, or maybe it's Girod.  Wherever it is, it is in Mid-City, hard by the interstate highway.  The old prison building looks just like the LSU dental school, or the new LSU Medical Center that is being built on Canal Street.  I took the picture above of the old prison after having a lunch of fried catfish on Tulane Avenue.  Ours is a wonderful city.

After I snapped the picture above, I ran into Claire DuBois.  "Did you get that picture I sent you?" she asked.  I had.  The picture was of her grandmother, Clarissette DuBois (nee Etoile) who worked as the secretary of the American Frog Canning Company in 1939 when she posed for the photo.
She is holding the female in one hand and the male in the other
You never know what you will encounter in New Orleans.  It is a magical place.  We know a few restaurants that specialize in frog legs.  Boy-o-boy!  Are they ever tasty!  Especially on Tuesdays when the fresh catch is auctioned in the Frog Market in Broadmoor.  If you want to know New Orleans' secrets, you have to live here.  That's what we do.

A votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.
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