Today started by getting ready and putting on our Christmas Eve best to head down 1/2 a floor to the Teddy Bear Tea. The Roosevelt Hotel has been hosting this event for 30 years with appearances by Santa and Mrs. Claus, Rudolph and others. It was a super cute kid show… and the food was pretty good, as well as the waiter who kept our mimosas filled at all times. And I needed those mimosas. My only complaint was that they literally sat us at a table where the speaker for the whole ballroom was blasting 3 feet from my chair. It was terrible. I took one for the team and sat in the “direct” line of fire…and I couldn’t hardly hear anything Kegan said the entire time because they were blasting out a Christmas songs most of the event. It definitely felt like the worst seat in the house and if I booked it again, I’d be one of those people requesting a specific table- AWAY from the speaker. Ha

Photo evidence of my arch nemesis, the Christmas speaker as seen from my chair. My god. Lol
They brought Norah the children’s plate, of course. She wasn’t thrilled because she had already picked out the crustless quiche as her choice (because we thought you had to order from the menu, not that they were bringing everything ha. BUT… she discovered an Uncrustable PB&J on her plate…and instantly, things were looking up 🙂 I gave her my mini quiche anyway. ha
Towards the end the hotel manager and some other folks brought around big silver trays heaping with teddy bears and handed them out to the kids. It was cute.
They had projected snow globes all around the room for photo ops

After tea and changing back into more comfortable walking shoes, we headed out the back entrance and towards Canal Street to start walking towards the water and the aquarium, which was our big destination for the day. Its hard to find things open on Christmas Eve obviously…so I was excited I found a couple things to squeeze in!

This church is right outside our hotel room window. Very cool architecture.
This Walgreens we passed has to be the most vintage Walgreens sign in the world. I LOVED it.
First glimpse of a New Orleans streetcar. This one running up and down Canal Street.

Canal Street is a major roadway downtown, named for a canal that was never dug. It has a big median in the middle- widely accepted as the widest street in America – that used to be known as “no man’s land”. It served as the dividing line between the French-speaking (and Spanish Speaking) city and the English speaking city.

We stopped by Spanish Plaza, a big open area on the waterfront, next to the aquarium, the Harrah’s giant casino and other riverfront high end shoppes. It was constructed in the 1970s as a reminder of Spanish heritage and has a plaque for each province of Spain.
The Creole Queen steamboat was docked right there. It’s made to look and run like an old paddlewheel steamboat, but it just got its start in the 1980s as a tourist boat for dinners and sightseeing.

The Aquarium of the Americas was way bigger than I figured it would be… they had great exhibits, crystal clear tanks, exotic birds, an albino alligator…. it was fun!

The highlight of the day, for sure… for both Norah and I…petting stingrays! We sat there for a good 20-30 minutes petting the majestic sea flap-flaps.
These guys looked like a real-life Flotsam and Jetsam plotting against Ariel from the Little Mermaid ha
Red Tail Hawk
A Great Barred Owl
We left the aquarium to begin wandering around town…stumbled on this statue… and from far away, I’m like “that looks like Churchill… let’s go see who that is…” sure enough- a random Winston Churchill statue. It was apparently donated in the 1970s by the Hilton hotel developers for the “British Square” – the developer was the honorary British consul for Louisiana at the time.
We continued on to the Piazza D’Italia- a modern space created in the 1970s to honor Italian American contributions to the city… it had the same black and white alternating granite we saw on cathedrals in Italy… and hence, gave it a very Italian feel with the brick pavers and the columns on the edge and the fountains.

Next, we weren’t going to make it to dinner because apparently we didn’t have enough food with our mimosas for breakfast ha. We found a place on the map called St James Cheese Company that had cheese plates…and grilled cheeses (Norah’s choice) so we headed there to hang out for an hour or so

Everything was fantastic. Great meats, cheese, everything meshed really well. The Stilton Blue was the best I’d ever tasted. The fresh sheep cheese was great. The Raclette was funky… no complaints all around. Kegan wanted the Jamon Iberico, hoping it would bring back Spain vibes… he said it was good, but just wasn’t the same stuff he was getting there. The search continues 🙂

We continued wandering around quite a few blocks trying to waste time until our Escape My Room Jazz Parlor reservations at 4:30.

Statue of Henry Clay in Lafayette Square
Ben Franklin in Lafayette Square
Norah being an art deco bird.
St Patrick’s Cathedral
Some famous metal porch architecture that is famous in the French Quarter… but is actually a Spanish style. ha Very New Orleans either way.

We arrived to our Escape Game a little early. I had read that this was the #1 escape game in the city…and it did not disappoint.

We entered into the lobby and the game immediately started. An old timey intercom asked us our business and then “the great detective, Erin McKinney?? We’ve been awaiting your arrival. Please come in” and the small door popped open where Laszlo, our lead security detective for the prestigious Delaporte family told us about the travesty they were currently investigating. The matriarch’s daughter was on the run for the murder of her husband, which Laszlo KNEW she wasn’t capable of committing. We had been called in to assist in uncovering the real murderer. But not only the WHO… but also the WHY and the HOW. Finding the WHO was the most important… but if time allowed, finding the motive and how they killed him were bonus adventures.

Not to give away any details, because it really was a FANTASTIC Escape room… we were able to get all 3 items with 4 minutes to go. When we found our way out of the first room, the guide actually said “thats the quickest I’ve ever seen anyone find their way out of there” over the speaker and then again on the 2nd room “thats the quickest I’ve ever seen anyone put that together.” haha and…. as usual, he was absolutely floored with Norah. She figured out a lot of the clues. He was so shocked by her, he bought her a T-Shirt at the end as a souvenir. We will go back on Dec 26th for another room in the house- the Mardi Gras Study.

Next it was time to meander our way down to dinner, even though we were 30 minutes early. We had reservations at Luke- an old-timey flair’d fancy culinary spot on St Charles Street. I reserved this for the raw bar… I wanted some great oysters and it did not disappoint.

I ate 11 of these, only because Norah agreed to try one. She was not a fan. haha and Kegan doesn’t like them… so I got the entire plate! it was glorious. These were local gulf oysters- so for being from warm water-they were massive and fantastic.

They had a limited menu for Christmas Eve- but New Orleans has a tradition of Reveillon, a French based tradition of a long Christmas Eve meal that stretches into the morning. A lot of local restaurants have a Reveillon meal available for a few weeks at the end of the year. Since this was the ACTUAL Christmas Eve Reveillon date- it seemed fitting to order the Reveillon meal.

I forgot to photo the dessert. Imagine that. ha

We walked back to the hotel and settled in for the night in our Christmas pajamas. Norah talked us into opening half of her gifts tonight and the other half in the morning. We agreed.

One of her top requests this Christmas was a game called What Do You Meme? and so I put that in her “early” pile, knowing full well we’d be playing it for the rest of the night… and we did. ha

We added a couple Christmas touches to the room.

We waited around until around 11pm so we could go down to the lobby can get some cute Christmas pajama photos of Norah before bed. The elevator opened to an absolute madhouse of people drinking in the lobby just packed in elbow to elbow and loud as can be. Norah saw the people, the noise…and just immediately hit the button back to our floor. LOL It was a big ole’ NOPE. hahaha

Seriously… what the heck were so many people doing downtown at a hotel at midnight on Christmas eve??? ha

So, we had to abandon hopes and dreams of cute backlit pajama pictures and just call it a night. 🙂 We’ll try again in the morning.

Tomorrow (Christmas) is Christmas Brunch and a ChristmasFest at the convention center followed by another dinner at a middle-eastern restaurant called Shaya that is open Christmas.

Merry Christmas to everyone!