Thursday, 14 April 2016

Vacation Blog VI: It's not the end. It's not beginning of the end. It's not even the end of the beginning.

But it IS the end of the damn vacation.

Oh, what a trip.

10:30 AM - Up and done with breakfast and we are off to the closest pool for a short bit of poolin' and hottubbin' and sunnin'. Unfortunately the sun didn't much cooperate but the other two were there. We actually experienced a ton of wildlife on this trip, but for the most part the kind you'd expect. But this morning we got two kinds you may not totally expect.

First, on the way to the pool, some golfers passed by us and told us to stay away from the water hazard right in front of the green they just played, as there was a gator poking his head out of the water!! OK I know gators in Florida are hardly newsworthy, but this is a small lake on a golf course, I would think the staff might try to keep out the alligators. At some point some golfer is going to get too close to the water and try to retrieve a ball, and lose an arm. Or worse.

I would have got a picture of this but, uh, I was just too anxious to get to the pool. It had nothing to do with a morbid fear of gators or anything like that.

I'm just going to assume he looked like this.

At the pool, we got some more wildlife, and this time we actually saw it: a Corn Snake, in the tree right above the pool! He started out on the lowest branch, just about 8 feet off the ground (I probably could have reached it if I wanted to jump at it, and you know, if I felt like getting bit by a snake). A security guy came by and said he'd try to move it later when the snake got lower. Uh, buddy, if the snake gets lower he's on the ground and the guests may not like that much. Corn snakes are not poisonous but they will bite if cornered, and let's face it, snakes scare the bezeezus out of a lot of people including a certain lovely female accompanying me on this trip.

Snakes actually don't scare me at all, especially if I see it and know where it is, and even moreso when I know it's not dangerous. I'm not trying to sound like a tough guy, if I walked down the street and suddenly a snake slithered right in front of me I'd probably jump 10 feet and screech like a 12-year old girl at a Bieber concert, but it would be the surprise of the thing that did it to me, not necessarily the snake itself. I actually enjoy seeing snakes at zoos and the like. I just like to know what they are and where they are :)

As I was leaving the pool I went back to the tree and was going to take a picture of the snake but was told he had slithered to a higher spot in the tree and I couldn't see him.

3:30 PM - After lunch we head back to the Magic Kingdom for our last park day of the trip. There is a severe thunderstorm warning tonight but we are lucky, as we have been all trip, and the only rain we see while we are in the park is about 5 minutes of very light sprinkling.

While in the 30-minute lineup for the Winnie the Pooh right (which was actually 12 minutes), I wrote a song. This is totally original, all mine, and any resemblance to Mama Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys is completely coincidental. In fact I may have my lawyer contact Willie Nelson's estate posthumously

He's not dead? Seriously? How is THAT possible?

Anyway, here goes.

Mamas, don't take your babies to Disney too early
They'll never remember
A thing that they see
And all they will do is bug meeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Mamas, don't take your babies to Disney too early
They'll bitch and they'll cry
They'll whine and they'll moan
And you will just want to go hommmmmmmmmmme

I think I may have to call Bruce Dickinson. I smell a gold record.

Seriously, people, leave the damn babies at home. We saw TWO different babies that looked like they were about 4 hours old. Is Dad standing at the foot of the bed with scissors to cut the umbilical cord and a MagicBand??? "Hey babe, pop that little thing out so we can make it to Epcot in time for the parade!!!".

8:15 PM - Th-th-th-th-th-that's all, Folks!!! Oh I just mixed Looney Toons with Disney. Actually how come Disney hasn't BOUGHT them yet? They own everyone else.

Back to the car and headed back to the resort to finish packing. Tomorrow comes very early. Looking forward to being home, of course, but also don't ever want to leave. What a truly fantastic trip.

Oh, Alamo finally called me this morning. The guy was very sympathetic to my problem and said he was going to look into my rental and call me back later today to see if they could give me a better deal on my car (since I didn't get the car I wanted). He didn't call back.


Assuming nothing overly interesting happens tomorrow, this will be my last blog post of the trip.... sort of. I will, as promised, give a more detailed description of our dinner at Victoria & Albert's and full pictures of all the food and reviews of the wine. I'll try to get that done sometime this weekend.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the ride.

Our next Florida trip won't be until the Magic Kingdom's 50th Anniversary, in 2021 or 2022, depending I guess on when the official celebration is (it opened October 1st, 1971). It kind of pisses me off that the Frozen ride will be celebrating it's 5th Anniversary before we get here again!!! And the Avatar land will be 4. And everything ELSE that opens between now and's like it never ends!!

“Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.”

- Walter Elias Disney

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

NHL Playoff predictions

Quick break from the vacation to tell everyone what is guaranteed to happen in the NHL playoffs.

First, round 1 predictions:


DAL over MIN in 5 games
STL over CHI in 6 games

NSH over ANA in 7 games
LAK over SJS in 6 games


WSH over PHA in 4 games
PGH over NYR in 6 games

NYI over FLA in 6 games
DET over TB in 6 games

Western Final: LAK over DAL

Eastern Final: WSH over DET

Stanley Cup Final:

LAK win their third Stanley Cup in 6 games over Washington.

Conn Smythe Trophy: Jonathan Quick

You can put it in the win column, baby!!

(No actual guarantees should be inferred)

Vacation Blog VI: clouds in Florida? I thought they stopped those at the border

11:00 AM - I'm seriously getting used to this sleeping in thing. It's actually a pretty good thing, considering that we are a couple days away from being back on the West Coast and waking up at 11 AM is really 8 AM which is pretty reasonable. That's what I'll keep telling myself.

1:30 PM - Off to the main pool where we are going to relax for the day.

Or not. What's with the fucking clouds? And I don't mean the cute little clouds you might normally see in Florida, I mean the huge dark disgusting thunderstorm clouds. There was a thunderstorm in the forecast for today, but not until later in the evening. Damn weather forecasters have ruined my wife's pool day!!

3:00 PM - A raindrop.

3:01 PM - RUN to the car and get back to our townhouse before the huge rain and thunderstorms hit.

6:45 PM - The rain and thunderstorms hit. Right when they were scheduled. Perhaps we were a tad premature.

Well anyway, we decided to do most of our packing today so that we could spend some time at the pool tomorrow morning while the weather is supposed to be good. We are back to the Magic Kingdom tomorrow afternoon for our swan song on this trip. It has truly been an unbeatable trip so far.

We are both torn between being sad that the trip is almost over and looking forward to being home for a couple relaxing days in our own home before getting back to work on Monday. It will be nice to be home in our own beds for a couple days....but the getting home on Friday is going to be something else.

Tomorrow: The Magic Kingdom, and possibly the last blog post of the trip.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Vacation Blog VI: The White Whale is dead.

10:00 AM - I'm starting to like this sleeping in stuff.

11:30 AM - Off to the park. Not really sure what to expect as it's been so long since we were at this park. We have three Fastpasses booked and also a sit down lunch at a restaurant that I've heard is good.

First we get on the Kilimanjaro Safari, which is sort of the same thing you get at California's San Diego Zoo Safari Park, but on a much smaller scale. Still, it's fun and it's an opportunity to see animals you don't see anywhere else. Tracey got some great pictures, especially considering that most of them were taken while riding in a moving Jeep on bumpy terrain.

Just a fucking kitty.

1:30 PM - Lunch at the Yak and Yeti restaurant and it was really, really good. We both had appetizers and chicken dishes and had enough food left over to take home and have for dinner tonight. They serve Indian and Chinese inspired dishes and have excellent selection. Really good.

After lunch we hit the Kali River Rapids, an inner-tube river ride that we know we are going to get soaked on....and we did.....but what a letdown this ride was. I had forgotten it is SOOOOO short, just one little drop and that's it. The Grizzly River Rapids ride in Disney's California Adventure is 10X better.

Next up there are some more animals to check out including some spectacular birds.

Komodo dragon who decided it was time for a big yawn. Apparently they are able to take down animals as big as....
...this thing, a water buffalo.

After the animals, we headed to Expedition Everest, the big ride in the park, which neither of us remembered to be all that special. Boy our memories were off. It was fantastic.

One more picture:

This is construction on Pandora, the World of Avatar, which is scheduled to open in 2017 and reported to be really quite spectacular. We'll see!

On the way out of the park, I was finally able to harpoon the White Whale. Pocahontas is dead! Well not DEAD, good grief that sounds macabre. She's just finally off my list of princesses to take pictures with, which leaves the list at zero, at least until next year when the next one comes along.

Cute story: the girl in front of us in line to get pictures with Pocahontas was in tears, she was so happy to meet her. This happens from time to time with the princesses (is Pocahontas a princess? Not really by any actual definition, I don't believe), but it's usually with really little girls. This girl? She was at LEAST 17! Tracey actually thinks 19-20.

The cast members helping out the line said they absolutely LOVED it when older 'kids' had this kind of reaction for the characters. I get that, but I wonder if they would have felt the same way if *I* was in tears meeting Pocahontas?? Changes things a bit, right?  :-)

5:15 PM - Time to head out of the park, which closes at 5:30 anyway, and head back to the resort. We had a fantastic day, better than we thought. We had underrated this park, I think, and are looking forward to our next visit in 5 or so years once Pandora is open.

7:30 PM - Up to the pool for a little Nelson tradition of hot tubbing. 20 good blog reader points to anyone who knows the movie that is referenced from.

Every time this entire trip that we drive by a Mustang convertible, which is pretty damn often, one of us points at it and says "hey, next time we should get a convertible!".

FUCK YOU, Alamo.

To bed at a reasonable hour tonight, hopefully, as I'm still trying to kick this cold once and for all. Today was an improvement.

Tomorrow: Nothing. Our last "resort" day of the trip, probably some preliminary packing, as we prepare for a very early Friday morning flight. Thursday we are at the Magic Kingdom one more time, so it would behoove us to at least get started on things tomorrow.

You know what else would behoove me? Using the word behoove more. It's just neat to say.

It would behoove you to read tomorrow's blog too.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Vacation Blog VI: Wizards and Muggles and Dragons, oh my!!!

10:00 AM - Another pretty good sleep and we're up and ready to grab some breakfast and head to Universal Studios.

No Fastpasses today; no schedule, no real plans, and no idea of what the crowds and lineups will be like. All we really want to accomplish today is to try to get through everything at the new Harry Potter land, Diagon Alley.

Parking is pretty easy and no lineups at the gate. Since we are hungry we stop off at Panda Express for lunch before getting into the park. I tell you, for $25 we get a hell of a lot of darn good Chinese food. So much food we can't even eat it all.

This is on the CityWalk, which they have much improved since our last trip. This is opposed to City Wok, where we could have had the City Chicken, City Beef and City Pork.

Those of you who watch South Park are howling right now. The rest of you have no idea that was even a joke.

Off to the park; the "original" park, Universal Studios. One of the new attractions in Diagon Alley is the ability to actually ride the Hogwart's Express into the other park, Universal's Islands of Adventure, so assuming we can get on that we will be in both parks today at some point.

No lineup to speak of at the gate and it seems crowded but not crazy so far. Fingers crossed. We've heard nightmare stories about the lineups for the new rides.

The first ride we get to is the Despicable Me Minions Mayhem ride with a posted wait time of 50 minutes. Oh boy that is not good....if it's 50 minutes, the really new rides are probably hours.....

But we are very pleasantly surprised to see a board saying that the lineup at the big new ride, Escape from Gringott's, is only 30 minutes! That's good news. Of course in Universal speak, 30 minutes means 45, but that's still pretty reasonable.

There is a sign fairly near the entrance directing us in the direction of Diagon Alley. I'm mentioning this because this is the LAST sign we see indicating which way to go. Why is that important? I'll get to that.

Oh, and let's completely forget about the Harry Potter stuff for a minute and let's take a quick side-trip over to Springfield.

The last time we were in this park, Springfield consisted of the Simpsons Ride and not much else. Now?

Moe's is a working tavern, and Krusty Burger features a few different restaurants inside, including Cleatus's Chicken Shack. For Simpson's fans, this is theme park heaven. Really, really well done.

OK let's get back to Harry Potter for a moment.

First, let's start where we are supposed to start, in London.

Notice something missing? Signs to Diagon Alley. None. Why not?

Because there SHOULDN'T BE ANY!!! Diagon Alley is hidden, it's not SUPPOSED to be easy for us muggles to find. A fantastic little touch.

But we did find our way through.

Oh, and the Butterbeer. Frozen Butterbeer.

I have two? I guess Tracey didn't want any.

So here are a few pics of Diagon Alley.

There are so many more pictures I would shut down the blog site if I posted them all.

The theme here has been done to absolute perfection. It is, without exaggeration, the single most immersive and impressive theme park section or "land" I have ever experienced. Once you are in here, you can NOT see anything but Diagon Alley. There are absolutely zero signs that you are in a theme park. I've never felt so surrounded by the reality of the story.

For perspective, I'm not the biggest Harry Potter guy on the planet. I loved all the movies, but that's where my interest ends. I don't read Potter fan fiction and I've never read the books. But Tracey, the "Potter-phile" of our clan, summed it up pretty well:


Yes, yes it is.

So, it would stand to reason that if they went to this level of detail on the theme of the land, the 'E-Ticket' ride, Escape from Gringott's, must also be awesome?

In a word, no.

It looks great; the story is intriguing, but the ride itself falls a bit flat. There is a bit of excitement, then a stop for story, then a bit of excitement, then stop for more story. The ride is SO short, and it's taken up by more story than excitement. They were SO CLOSE to perfection. So close.

After the ride we hop onto the Hogwart's Express for the trip over to Hogsmeade. I understand there are tons of different experiences that can happen to riders on this trip. For ours, we get to see Hagrid riding along with us outside the window and we get almost attacked by a Dementor INSIDE the train. Cute, but not spectacular by any means.

So we are now in the other park, Islands of Adventure, and frankly this park mostly sucks. The Spider-Man ride is really good but we've done it many times, and there are a few decent rides involving water but neither of us is dressed to get soaked. We decide we might as well go back to Universal Studios, do everything else we want to do there, and call it a day. If we've finished with the parks we won't have to come back a second day, giving the wife an extra POOL DAY!!!

Other than the Gringott's ride, the longest lineup in Diagon Alley was for the ice cream place. Ice cream place.

Butterbeer ice cream. Soft ice cream in a waffle cone. Tracey has that, of course, and it's fabulous. I had the Chocolate Strawberry Peanut Butter Sundae.

Strawberry Peanut-Butter ice cream, covered in hot fudge and whipped cream sprinkled in crumbled shortbread cookies.

And only 181 calories, so I'm told.

5:30 PM - We are done, literally and figuratively, and are heading back to the resort to enjoy some rest, some dinner, and some wine. What a terrific day so far and we are both hardly able to drag ourselves back to the car.

Oh, and a quick update on the Alamo Rent-A-Car has now been EIGHT FUCKING DAYS since my case was kicked up to "upper management" who were supposed to contact me. EIGHT DAYS, nothing.

I'm looking forward to burying these assholes anywhere I can.


That's just the beginning of what I'm going to try to do to these scumbags.

Going to watch a little TV and get to bed early and try to finally kick these cold once and for all. Today wasn't a bad day but the damn cough is hanging around like Matt Damon in Rounders.

Tomorrow: To the Animal Kingdom, a park we haven't visited in about 7 years.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Vacation Blog VI: tonight's a MK kind of is a sleep a lot kind of day

8:45 AM - huh wazzzat didkr whattime is it zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

11:50 AM - HUH WAZZAT TIME IS IT???? Noon!?!!??! The last time I slept until noon I was still in diapers. And not the adult kind that my Dad wears.

Wow. Tracey is actually laying next to me in bed. She had a lousy sleep. I actually had a good one, but I was up until 1:30 AM watching the results of the Kings game. FFS, they blew a 3-0 against a minor league team (the Jets) and lost in a shootout, giving the Ducks a chance to win the division today. What a colossal error that might turn out to be. And obviously it was a colossus error on my part staying up that late!

I feel about the same today; hoping that this damn cold has peaked and I will start to feel a little better every day. If that happens, I should be feeling 100% just in time to go back to work next Monday. PFFT.

We hop in the car and head up to the main pool for a few hours of R&R and some time in the lazy river. After about an hour of that, I'm done; I think all the cold medicine I'm taking doesn't like me laying out in the sun for too long. I leave Tracey at the pool and head back to the room where I basically do nothing for an hour. Sit with the computer on my lap dozing off every few seconds. It might have been the least restful rest ever.

4:00 PM - Back to the pool to pick up the wife and get her back in time for "The Process (TM)" to be completed so that we can make our 7 PM dinner reservations at the Liberty Tree Tavern. Some of you may remember this restaurant, we go here every trip. It's "family style" dining, meaning the food just keeps on coming until someone barfs or passes out. The food is always excellent, too.

5:40 PM - Into the car headed to the MK. Guess we'll have to actually pay for parking today as I can't figure out a way to park at the mini-golf place and get to the MK without going through Epcot, and we don't have park hopper passes so that's out.

6:30 PM - We arrive at the Magic Kingdom with no lines at security and no wait at the gate. So far, so good. Checking the wait times, there are very few long wait times for anything. The Dwarves are at 70 minutes and the second longest wait time, and I'm not shitting you, is 60 minutes for Peter Pan. Unreal.

7:00 PM - Dinner at the Liberty Tree Tavern. Family style and great food is always their hallmark; except for this time, when the food was really just pretty OK. Last time we were here I felt that it had slipped just a tiny bit too. Perhaps our little "hidden gem" has become so un-hidden that they are churning out too much food too quickly and the quality has suffered. It's still far from lousy, but not up to the usual standards. This has definitely slipped off the "must do" list.

Can't complain about the service, though. Tracey laments that her favorite item, macaroni and cheese, is no longer part of our waiter gets them to make her some! Not to mention that our glasses don't get close to being empty before our pop is refilled. The food wasn't perfect, but the service sure was.

We had a wonderful night at the MK, knocking a bunch more rides off our list and taking in the breathtaking scenery that is Disney at night.

Not to mention, pictures with Anna and Elsa from Frozen! My 'pictures-with-Disney-princesses' wish list is back down to one. Just the white whale.

Pocahontas, be afraid. Be very afraid. I'm coming for you on Tuesday.

So please be there!!!!

11:30 PM - Back at the resort and absolutely exhausted. Looking to adjust some plans for later in the week to try to take in more stuff at night as it's so much better than the hot days. We'll see if we are able to switch our Fastpasses to later times.......

Off to bed. Tomorrow? Butterbeer. Oh yes, there will be Butterbeer.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Vacation Blog VI: shopping and pooling and a whole lotta not much else

10:00 AM - If I sleep in until 10 AM, I'm sick, clearly. Not sure I feel any worse this morning but don't feel any better, either.

10:30 AM - Tracey is up and she's feeling OK so it's going to be up to me today. She makes a nice breakfast and I'm going to put on a brave face and try to make it through the day.

11:45 AM - We are off to Disney Springs, formerly known as Downtown Disney. It has been undergoing a massive refurbishment which is probably around 2/3 done at this point. There are parts of it that we don't recognize at all.

The only thing I really want to accomplish today is getting my hands on a Mint Chip Dazzler from Haagen-Dazs. But we can't find it! The damn thing is gone!

I might as well just lay down and die.

We do a little bit of shopping as there are tons of great shops here including a HUGE Disney Christmas Shop, After a few hours I am almost physically unable to walk back to the car. I think I was high on cold medication and the high is starting to wear off.

3:00 PM - Back at the resort and Tracey cooks up a little bit of lunch as I sit down to relax. I have to go to the Disney Springs website to confirm that my Haagen-Dazs has in fact been ripped away from me, only to find out it is NOT gone, just moved around the corner to the only section that we didn't explore. Dammit I guess we should have actually looked into it before we left.

Really enjoyed the new shopping area and there is still lots to come. It's going to be quite a destination when it's finally finished later this year.

3:45 PM - Tracey suggests I have a nice, hot bath and I decide to take her up on her offer. It really is a pretty damn good bath tub. In fact, it's so good I doze off a few times, and wake up covered in bubbles with my pillow halfway into the water. Thankfully nobody was there to document that moment for posterity. Feeling really lousy, it's all I can do to drag my ass from the tub to my bed which is about 12 feet away. I'm asleep in seconds and I have to really fight to force myself to get out of bed at .....

7:10 PM - ......I could have kept sleeping but at some point I'm going to have to go back to bed tonight and I doubt I can sleep for 16 hours straight. Tempting to give it a shot, though.

Spending the rest of the evening relaxing and watching the hockey scores. Some teams that had great chances soiled their bedsheets today (Boston, St. Louis). Hopefully the Kings don't do the same in the game they are playing right now.

Tomorrow we have most of the day to relax before heading back to the Magic Kingdom for a late dinner and even later Disney fun! I'll feel better tomorrow. Positive thinking!

Friday, 8 April 2016

Vacation Blog VI: We continue today with......well I don't know at this point....

No, you didn't miss a blog post yesterday, I didn't do one because we didn't do anything! One hour at the pool and the rest of the time we just relaxed at our resort. Both of us weren't feeling 100% so a nice relaxing day was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Speaking of the doctor, I have a fever. And the only prescription is more cowbell.

7:15 AM - I am awakened by the sound of some kind of alarm outside my window. Maybe "alarm" isn't accurate, as an alarm would intend to wake up lots of people and this is just loud enough to disturb me.....but it's enough that I drag my fat ass out of bed and look around the townhouse to make sure it's definitely coming from outside. Once I confirm that, I head outside to see if I can figure out what is making the noise; it seems to be a series of beeps; sometimes 4, sometimes 5 or 6.

Jesus, I think it's a fucking bird.


Anyway, I'm up now, might as well get a start to the day. Waiting to see what our plans are for today; we are scheduled to go back to Epcot but Tracey wasn't feeling well last night, as she seems to be catching the cold that I have. If she slept well and is feeling OK this morning, we'll be heading out in the early afternoon to start enjoying Epcot for the last time this trip. If not, that's OK too, we can take it easy again today. We have some wiggle room with our schedule.

10:00 AM - Tracey is up and feeling pretty good so our Epcot trip is on. I whip up some pancakes and bacon for breakfast. The longer I'm up, the worse *I* start to feel....turns out that my concern for how Tracey was going to be feeling should have probably been concern for myself.

11;30 AM - We are off to Epcot where our first Fastpass of the day is almost ready. Of course we execute our "parking cheat" to the letter and our timing is pretty good as the boat arrives not long after we get to the dock. I'll tell you, what's better than a lovely walk through a Disney resort, a beautiful and relaxing boat ride to the park where there is virtually nobody else using this entrance, all the while saving $20 on parking? I feel like King of the World. As usual.

After our first couple rides we head to the Nine Dragons restaurant for lunch. The food here is really good (Chinese, in case the name of the restaurant wasn't enough of a clue) and we are particularly interested to try our the Honey Sesame Chicken that we haven't had in quite a few years. Many of you who have been to my house have actually tasted this chicken dish, or at least our version of it. After trying it here last trip we noticed that the recipe was in one of the Disney cookbooks so we've tried it a few times with excellent results. At least we THINK the results have been excellent....but we won't know for sure until it arrives and we compare.

We were mostly right. our version of the recipe is really pretty good and they taste pretty much about the same, but the one we are eating now is a little bit softer and the texture is better. Something for us to think about next time we make this.

3:00 PM - Oh boy am I ever starting to feel brutal. It's like this cold was just fucking with me.

"Hey, asswipe, you know a couple days ago when you thought you had beaten me and I was just about gone??? JUST KIDDING!! Bend over and take it for a couple more weeks, jackass!!!!!"

Off to the Test Track, which is sponsored by Chevrolet. And I mean sponsored. It's a fun ride, it has been totally re-imagined since the last time we were on it and it is much improved, but it pukes up Chevrolet advertisement and cross promotion like cats puke up hairballs.

First thing you do is to 'build' your own Chevrolet, and then during the 'test ride' portion, you get a score based on the car you built. And remember this is a Chevy, so you know it was issued at least three recall notices during the time it took us to build it.

Our score was pretty terrible.

It was SO terrible, in fact, that Chevrolet immediately called us and offered us jobs.


Honestly the Chevrolet jokes just write themselves.

Not long after the ride I'm ready to tap out for the day and Tracey is right behind me. She has an interesting math equation:

46 + 43 + 85 = 5

Seems like a crazy equation, but it makes sense:

My age + her age + temperature = the number of hours we can handle in a park in one day

It's been pretty much bang on so far, anything over 5 hours in this heat seems to be too much.

We have one more important stop to make before leaving the park: the German pavilion. Specifically the caramel store.

Everything you can imagine is covered in caramel in this store. We end up buying quite a few tasty morsels and head back towards the resort. We stop at Publix to pick up a few more supplies to get us through the trip, including a bunch more medicine to try to finally beat this damn cold.

8:00 PM - Watching TV while getting ready to upload the blog and then hit the sack to try to a good sleep. Obviously if you are reading this I have been successful uploading the blog. I know, I should have been a Private Detective, my investigative skills are off the charts.

Tomorrow: Heading to Disney Springs for a little shopping, then back to the resort for some serious pool day. Weather is supposed to be great, so much time floating in a lazy river seems to be on the menu.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Vacation Blog VI: might as well enjoy some more relaxation time!!!

3:00 AM - Why exactly am I awake right now? And this isn't one of those "I'm going to get up and pee and then go back to sleep" awakes....this is a "Hello world! It's time to start our day" awakes. At some point I go to the window and notice that the world just responded "Fuck you, jackass, it's still pitch black out here, go back to sleep".


The bed is ridiculously comfortable and getting back to sleep happens eventually.

8:45 AM - Let's try this again.


World: "Meh."

Anyway the sun has come up and it's already really hot. Our night at the Hotel has come and gone and we are supposed to check out around 11 but you can tell they are pretty flexible on that. We have breakfast reservations at 10:25 AM at the character breakfast down in the lobby.

It's similar to the character breakfast that we always attend at Storyteller's Cafe in the Grand Californian. The food isn't quite as good (I've always said that the SC is the best breakfast buffet on the planet) but it's still very good and the characters that come through are better here. We see Pooh and Tigger, and Alice, the Mad Hatter, and Mary Poppins. Not characters you see every day, in fact this was the first time I've had a pic with the Hatter.

After breakfast we hand our bags into the bell to hold them until it's time to leave and head back to the pool, expecting to have another 3-4 hours at the pool before we head to the Magic Kingdom. It's nice today but not as nice as yesterday, as there are some clouds and a significant breeze which actually makes it a bit cold from time to time. When you add in the annoying family of Gingers sitting behind us, we decided to cut our pool time a bit shorter than we had originally intended.

This is my favorite exchange between mom and the 4 year old boy:

Do you want to eat?  No!

Do you want to go in the pool? No!

Do you want to go back to the room? No!

Do you want to play with your monkey (not making that up). NO!!!!! He seemed particularly offended by that suggestion

Do you want to lie down in the shade? No!

Tell me what you want and I'll do it. No!

At this point he stopped waiting for questions.




I wanted to drown the little fucker at this point. Or, better yet, sentence him to about 2 hours in the sun with his alabaster skin.

Mom mentions to him that they don't want "a repeat of yesterday". Obviously this kid is just a real joy to be around.

2:30 PM - Enough with the clouds, the breeze and especially the Ginger Cookie family, so we change into our park clothes and leave the pool. We drop off our pool bag with the bell and head upstairs to the 2nd floor where we hop on the Monorail for the short ride to the park. Gotta be the best way into the park, a 2 minute walk from your hotel room to the Monorail.

So, some of you may be asking, why did we stay here for one night? We already had a spectacular resort, we didn't NEED a Hotel room.

True. The most obvious answer is that we didn't want to risk driving back to the resort after all the wine we consumed at Victoria & Albert's. Second most obvious is that we just wanted to know what it would be like to stay here.

Those are both true, but it went a little farther than that too. This entire trip germinated during our first Caribbean cruise, in 2014. The entire cruise was great but we totally fell in love with Key West during one of the stops. We HAD to plan a trip that encompassed Key West.

So the idea of this trip was born: One week Caribbean cruise (the Eastern Caribbean this time), 1 week at this timeshare resort, 2 days at one of the spectacular resorts in Key West, and 5 nights at the Grand Floridian. We proceeded on the assumption that would be our itinerary all along.

And then the Canadian Dollar went into the toilet. It's one thing to pay $700/night for a hotel, it's another thing to pay $700/night plus 30-35% exchange.

AND....we had lots of extra timeshare weeks available. So we changed up our plans, and booked a second week at this resort and probably saved ourselves $5K USD over what we would have paid to book the GF and Key West resorts; so it didn't seem like a waste of money to book ONE night at the GF.

Of course, that means we STILL have to go to Key West at some point!

3:00 PM - We arrive at the Magic Kingdom and breeze through tiny lines at security and the gate. It doesn't seem as busy today, but that is just a ruse. All the activity is inside.

Honestly I'm not feeling that great. Terribly dehydrated and feeling stuffy. Some fluids help, but we are dragging our asses around the park, waiting for our dinner reservations at 4:55. Tracey is always such a trooper when she's not feeling 100% and we have plans, I feel like I should do my best to try to soldier on as well. We get on the Disneyland Railway and take a tour of the park. The shade helps me but at one point I thought I was going to pass out. It's really NOT that humid today, we have been so lucky with the humidity; but I've spent more time in the sun in the past 24 hours than I have most of my life and I think it's getting to me.

But oh man am I ever tanned. The wife, who doesn't tan (at best she may get a rosy hue), isn't impressed with me.

4:55 PM - We are into the Beast's castle for our dinner at the Be Our Guest restaurant. I think I had forgotten how gorgeous this restaurant is. The food is also absolutely terrific; Tracey loves her chicken and I have one of the better salmon dishes I've ever had from anywhere not-at-home. They have the salmon flown in daily from Scotland apparently. Hmm.

During dinner I consume 2 glasses of Diet Coke and 3 glasses of water to try to re-hydrate enough to get me through the night. The problem is that I am freezing cold, which probably indicates dehydration. Hopefully getting out of the restaurant and back into the sun will help that.

For dessert I have some of the Grey Stuff (it's delicious) and then we are on our way. I'm totally stuffy now but didn't think it appropriate to use nose spray in the restaurant where our neighbors are only about 18 inches away. They do pack them in here.

Over to Peter Pan, our first Fastpass of the day. Tracey loves this ride. When we are done we have about a half hour until the real fun begins, our first ever ride on the new Seven Dwarves Mine Train which opened since we were last here.

We have time to shop a little bit and we notice that the posted wait time for Ariel's Undersea Journey is only 20 minutes. As with most Disney wait times, they under promise and over deliver. We are on the ride in around 13-14 minutes. Although the actual ride is identical here to the one in California, the big difference in the queue, which is really well done here. If you are going to have people waiting in line, you might as well entertain them while they wait.

7:10 PM - It's time! Our first experience on the Seven Dwarves Mine Train! And it's really really good. Quite a bit like Big Thunder Mountain but with some really nice themeing as well. One complaint: The ride buggies are really small, I could barely get the bar down over my legs. I know I'm a big guy and I have big legs in particular, but there are a Hell of a lot of people in this country a lot bigger than I am, and they would never fit. Never.

At this point we've done the most important things we had scheduled for today so I am tapping out, We head back to the Monorail to take us back to the Grand Floridian to get our bags and car and drive home to the resort. It's really so nice to get back 'home' to this beautiful resort. We aren't sorry we stayed at the GF for a night.....but at the end of the day, a beautiful hotel is still just a hotel. Our 2-bedroom townhouse at this resort is just so incredibly comfortable.

I'm exhausted and not feeling great so I take a bunch of medication and a sleeping pill and hit the sack. Tomorrow we were planning a Universal day but we have changed our plans to make it a resort day, so we can just hang around and relax and make sure I'm feeling better for the rest of the trip.

Vacation Blog Part VI: Catching up on two incredible days

So here we have it, it's Tuesday and we are headed to the Grand Floridian Hotel. We are expecting this to be the highlight of a trip filled with highlights.

We arrive well before normal check-in time as our plan is to spend the day at one of the pools before our much-anticipated dinner at Victoria & Albert's. We are greeted by a gentlemen who takes us up to the concierge level and does all the check-in arrangements on an Ipad while we sit and relax. He gives us our MagicBands, which will act as our room key and we can also charge everything we buy at any Disney property directly to the credit card on file just by tapping the band; and not just for the duration of our stay in the hotel - for the duration of our trip here. Our Fastpasses are saved here too, so this is basically the only thing we really need to take into the parks. What a great system.

OK but here is one system that is NOT great; they will text you when your room is ready. Seems simple, right? Problem is it just never works. Not here, not at the Grand Californian.... it just doesn't work for Canadian numbers even though they swear it should. Anyway, no huge deal, since I'm aware it's not going to work I just check in every once in a while to see if our room is ready. It doesn't really matter much since we are going to the pool.

And what a pool. Lots of comfortable chairs, a huge pool, huge hot tub (I'm going to try to resist going on a rant about the temperature of the hot tub though...because it is filled with toddlers, and if a hot tub is a comfortable temperature for toddlers, it's not hot enough!!), and a restaurant/bar. Everything you need for a lovely day at the pool.

Tracey loves the sun, and I do not. Generally an hour at a pool is about all I can stand. Today is an exception though, it's just so damn nice and the weather is as close to perfect as it could be. Literally not a cloud in the sky. Hot but not humid, and the pool is the perfect temperature. Tracey is in Heaven.

3:00 PM - It's check-in time so our room is pretty likely ready, so I head to the front desk to find out. Yes it is ready, the cast member tells me as he seems to get very excited to tell me where our room is. I paid for a small upgrade; for a view. Nothing much, there were lots of more expensive rooms. He goes on to tell me we have a very special view and our room is in a "secret" hallway. We are on the 2nd floor but you can't get there from the 2nd floor, you have to go up to 3 and take a hidden hallway down to another elevator to get to our room. The bellman gets our bags and while he is showing me to the room, tells me that this is how they get VIP's in and out of the building without being seen. LOL. In fact, it turns out that there is a certain SNL-Sarah Palin impersonator in the hotel right now. We didn't run into her.

We get the bags into the room and I can't believe the view. Here it is.

So yeah, that's Cinderella's castle in the background.

I go back to the pool to tell Tracey about the view and she is giddy. We are going to be able to watch the fireworks from our room after dinner tonight.

4:30 PM - Up in the room and "The Process (TM)" is well underway for dinner. I realize that I left most of my suit hanging in the back seat of the car like a moron. I have to call down and get someone to go to my car, which is in valet, and get it for me.

There seems to be ONE problem with this day, and it's that I seem to be getting a cold. You may remember I mentioned that I started the vacation with a cold; well, that one wasn't even totally gone yet. Can you even GET a cold on top of a cold?? Is it like stacking wilds on a slot machine in Vegas?!?!?

Thankfully we had some nose spray that I can use to keep my sinuses clear so that I can enjoy the food and wine at dinner. Hopefully things don't get any worse.

6:00 PM - We arrive at Victoria & Albert's. Stunning as we remember it is. We have "upgraded" this time from the regular dining room to the Queen Victoria room, which contains only 4 tables. We have two waiters designated for us all evening. It's quite an experience as we knew it would be.

I will do a full food/wine post on everything we enjoyed here later but for now, just a few pics from the evening:

And just one more:

That's the butter. The BUTTER, made into the shape of a chef's hat. Those are the kinds of details this restaurant goes into.

10:00 PM - Four hours after dinner began we are back in the room just in time to see the start of the fireworks show. We have the perfect view. We are too far away to hear the audio accompanying it of course (the park is all the way across a huge lake), but it's still a nice treat.

Tracey (who I may have to start referring to as a mermaid given how much time she spends in the water) is off to another long bath in the huge jet tub we have and I am exhausted and going to bed. I'm out like a light before she is done her bath.

Tomorrow: more Grand Floridian fun, and the Magic Kingdom.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Vacation Blog VI: Post Wrestlemania Hangover of sorts......and the world's worst golf

8:14 AM - Not a legitimate hangover or anything, but why am I up so damn early? I probably didn't get to sleep until around 2 AM. Oh I long for the days before my sleep-in mojo left me so abruptly.

I suspect about 75% of you just said something to the effect of "he just got off an amazing one week Caribbean cruise and now he's in Disneyworld, and he's complaining about only getting 6 hours sleep? What an asshole".

Fair point.

I head out to our patio to sit and enjoy the morning while Tracey sleeps. As I mentioned previously, we back right onto the golf course, so in the hour or so I am sitting out there I get to witness the worst golf in the history of mankind. Seriously, some of these people must think that because they are staying at a resort with a golf course that they are contractually required to play. Most of them look like they have never played in their lives. I cannot think of any other rational explanation.

One old guy duffs the ball to within about 30 feet of me and then proceeds to hit it 6 more inches (at which point his obviously very helpful cart-mate says "Five!"). He then hits it again and again (SIX! SEVEN!) and again until he finally makes some contact and deposits it right into the lake. It was honestly hard not to laugh out loud.

In the time I spent out there I must have seen, no exaggeration, 40 balls plunked into the lake. And it's a very small lake. And it's not that close to the green; in other words, it's really not even in play. But these chowderheads have ALL found a way to put it in play.

Old Bertha walks up to her pretty pink ball, sitting in the middle of the fairway and has so much confidence she is going to put it into the water that she takes her special pink ball and changes it out for a white one.

And old Bertha was right. Ker-plunk.

First time in my life I ever considered re-selling lost golf balls as a legitimate career.

TWO more balls into the lake in the time it took me to type that last sentence. Tracey just got up and came out here to join me and has seen three balls into the water in the 2 minutes she's been out here. Unreal.

Maybe they don't understand how the game is supposed to work?? The ball goes in the hole, not into the lake, dumbass.

Very people-friendly wildlife out here as well. Squirrels are all over the place. You know, cousin Eddie used to eat these things until he found out they were high in cholesterol.

Also some beautiful birds hanging around and a wild rabbit came closer to me than I've ever seen before. Rabbits are usually so skittish around people.

Ker-plunk. Again.

Two squirrels seem to be actually playing with each other, I've never seen that before. Or maybe they are fighting.

Oh hang on, they are doing something completely different. Oh Jesus. That was disturbing.

Lady just walked up and put the ball OVER the water, and literally yelled "woo-hoo!!!!!". You would think they were trying to hit the ball over Lake Ontario. It's about 11 yards wide at it's widest point. At it's narrowest point, I could jump over it.

11:00 AM - Tracey made some wonderful bacon and eggs for breakfast and we decided to relax for a little while and then hit the pool for some unscheduled and unsanctioned pool time. Tracey approves.

I also approve because Bitchy Bear, Snippy Bear, Grouchy Bear and Grumpy Bear are all allergic to water. And to pool complexes.

We head over to the nearest pool complex, which is about a 4 minute walk from our villa. It's one of the smaller areas in the resort but it's still gorgeous. This resort is really terrific.

2:00 PM - Back from the pool and getting ready to head to Epcot. We have 3 Fastpasses booked again today and dinner reservations at their nice Italian restaurant. We haven't eaten there before but I've heard excellent things.

The big happenings at Epcot is the re-imagining of the Maelstrom ride in the Norway pavilion into a Frozen ride. I'm sure it will be awesome but we are missing the grand opening by about three weeks. Damn.

2:45 PM - We have discovered quite a loophole into paying for parking at Epcot; we park at the Fantasia Mini-Golf area (free parking), and walk about 1/4 mile to the Swan and Dolphin resorts which has a boat that goes to the Boardwalk and then to Epcot. Bam. Zero dollars for parking at Epcot, AND, more importantly, a very lovely boat ride.

Our first Fastpass for the day is at the Epcot Character Greeting spot, where we think we are going to get pictures with some very rare characters, Baymax from Big Hero 6, and Joy and Sadness from Inside Out. Turns out that I misunderstood though, and there is no Fastpass for those particular pictures, but our Fastpass gets us into pics with Minnie, Mickey and Goofy. We'll have to go back at our next opportunity and get the other pics.

4:30 PM - Our early dinner reservations at Tutto Italia, in the Italian Pavilion in the World Showcase part of the park. It's a nice, if not spectacular, restaurant. Tracey's pasta is really good. My chicken dish is OK, but the breast is slightly overcooked. It's a decent meal but below the usual Disney standards. For wine we chose an Italian Chardonnay which is pretty decent.

After dinner we wander through the park taking in the sights. It is their annual International Flower and Garden Festival and the topiaries are quite impressive as they always are. This is our fourth trip to Florida and three of them have been during this Festival.

7:40 PM - After a few more experiences and a lot of walking, we are beat. Yes we are really old. Five hours in a Disney park seems to be just about it for us, especially in the heat. We certainly can't bitch about the weather though, it's gorgeous and not very humid.

Home to the resort to get a good night's sleep, tomorrow is a very big day in a different way from today. Tomorrow we check into the Grand Floridian Hotel, for one night only, and have dinner at Victoria & Albert's.

Vacation Blog VI: Brock Lesnar vs. Mickey Mouse in a Texas Death Match

7:45 AM - There aren't many days this trip where we will be up early, but this is one of them. This is our first Disneyworld trip since they totally rolled out the MyMagic+ program which features the ability to book Fastpasses well in advance, among other benefits. I, of course, booked everything as soon as we could, and today all of our Disney fun is scheduled for the morning.

9:00 AM - We arrive at the Ticket and Transportation hub where we park and hop onto the ferry boat for the short ride to the gates of the Magic Kingdom. It's windy and cold this morning but that won't last long. We have to fight with the usual number of strollers. Parents: if your kid needs a stroller, they are too young for Disney. Just leave them the Hell at home please.

Yeah that's gonna happen.

Anyway, after the ferry ride we have to hop into a HUGE lineup to get through their new advanced security. There are metal detectors somewhere but we didn't see them. The bag search that they've been doing for years has been stepped up to a brand new level. Obviously Disney is smart enough to know that they are a perfect target for those pieces of shit who keep screwing up our world, and they are going to do everything they can to keep their guests safe. I'm fine with a little extra time to get into the park if it's due to extra security.

Loving the new RFID system, We scan our park tickets and are into the park in seconds. Those same park tickets host the details of the Fastpasses that we booked a couple months ago. As we get into the park we head straight to Splash Mountain, where our first Fastpass is already scheduled.

You can book 3 of them per day in advance, and when you have used up those 3 you can go and schedule more for the day pending availability. It's crazy busy today - this will be the busiest park day we experience this trip - so there is no way we will be doing any more than these three rides today, which was always our plan anyway.

After we both get pretty wet on Splash Mountain we head right next door to Big Thunder Mountain. Great ride as always. It was originally scheduled to go down for refurbishment tomorrow so we made sure to get on it today, but they have changed the refurbishment to August so we can get on it again later in the trip if we like.

Next up is Pirates of the Caribbean, which we generally make our first ride of every trip, but this is as close as I could get to make the Fastpasses work. I told Tracey I probably lost 170 "Good Husband" points for the poor scheduling. She says no, more like 270. Sigh.

There is a scene in Pirates that always reminds me of Newman (the cat, not the Seinfeld mailman).... a scene with a drunk pirate laying in the mud with a couple of pigs. We aren't sure why this always reminds me of Newman, I guess it has to do with his piggish pink nose and huge belly. Even though he's been gone for a couple years now, it chokes me up a touch.

Gotta tell you about our lunch. We wandered into Frontierland, not far from the Haunted Mansion, and found a place called Columbia Harbour House. It's a cafeteria-style restaurant with two qualities, one of which is very much Disney, and one notsomuch.

The food is excellent. No surprise.

It's pretty affordable! Not always so Disney-esque.

We actually got three entrees, one of which was a salad featuring chicken and various vegetables in a peppercorn vinaigrette. Fabulous. Tracey had a sandwich which she absolutely loved and I had a shrimp dinner. It came with eleven ELEVEN large butterfly style breaded shrimp, coleslaw and a huge amount of Newman's (the Seinfeld mailman, not the cat) least favorite vegetable, steamed broccoli.

Seinfeld: "Newman, you wouldn't eat broccoli if it was deep fried in chocolate sauce".

This entire lunch was about $32, including two pop. The food was really fantastic and the price is more than reasonable. ELEVEN big shrimp? In some places that would be $32 all by itself.

We head down Main Street and go into a few of the shops and do a little shopping on our way out of the park. We have three more visits to this park during the trip so no need to deal with the crowds today, and we have other plans tonight.

3:00 PM - We get back to the room in time for the Wrestlemania pre-show which should be starting any minute.

Oh for F***s sake. I'm in the Eastern time zone. What an asshole. It doesn't start for hours.

Since we have some time to relax Tracey decides it's time for another 2 hour bath (yes, that jet tub is pretty awesome) while I update the blog and relax waiting for the 2-hour pre-show to start at 5 PM. I'm such a moron I can't believe I forgot about the time change when setting today's itinerary.

The show is in Dallas at Cowboys stadium which seats around 100,000 people. I don't know how many tickets they sold; I can't believe it's close to being sold out (I mean why would anyone buy tickets for a wrestling show that is so far away you might as well be watching ants and cockroaches battle over a piece of popcorn???) but I could be wrong.

.....and it appears I AM wrong, as they announce a new WWE record crowd of over 110K. Seems legit, too as the seats at the top of the arena, which I'm pretty sure aren't even in the same county, look full.

It's the best Wrestlemania in years, top to bottom, save for the Main Event which was pretty lousy and the finish was even worse.

Oh, and here we are, sitting in Orlando, watching the year's big event on a computer screen and IPad when they announce that next year's Wrestlemania is taking place in......


Fuck me gently with a chainsaw.

11:30 PM - The 4.5 hour event (6.5 if you count the pre-show) finally ends and we are off to bed. Our day tomorrow consists of dinner and evening activities at Epcot so we can sleep until we sleep and do whatever we want until the late afternoon.Thanks Christ for that, because we are both really tired after a pretty full day!

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Vacation Blog VI: a rental car nightmare that has ended the "perfection" of the trip

5:19 AM - OK I know I took a sleeping pill and got to bed early but I wasn't planning on being up and alert before the sun came up and before we even got into the Port of Miami. What an asshole.

6:00 AM - I can see land, as the Port of Miami is in sight. Disappointing to end this wonderful week on the cruise, but as long as it's over, we might as well get the hell to Orlando and start the next two weeks which we also know will be fabulous.

7:30 AM - Our last breakfast buffet. Oh, the memories. Oh, the bacon. Oh, the heartburn.

8:00 AM - Off the ship and through US customs in a breeze and we're in a cab and on the way to the Intercontinental Hotel where we are picking up our rental car from the Alamo desk in the hotel. The hotel is gorgeous, and right by the Port; it's somewhere we might consider staying the next time we are down here for a cruise.

What we WON'T be doing again is renting a car from Alamo. There is a reason we try to rent from Hertz, they always take excellent care of us. This time, booking through Priceline, Hertz didn't have any convertibles available and we really got a good price on our convertible through Alamo. Only problem? No fucking convertibles.

Alamo knows how to take the reservation, they just don't know how to HOLD the reservation, which is really the most important part of the reservation.


As if that wasn't enough, the Manager was a total prick and couldn't care less. He offered us an upgrade to a "Premium" car we didn't want but pretty much had to take. His only other offer was to cancel the reservation, in which case we'd have to pay last minute prices with someone else or sprout wings and fly to Orlando. We took the Premium car (at the last minute he did offer to pay for the gas) and started off for Orlando.

3:00 PM - After a fairly pleasant drive, we arrive at Target to do our shopping for provisions we'll need for the next couple weeks. As much as we didn't want this Chevy Impala, it actually is a pretty good car. The only problem with it is the gas mileage but that shouldn't be too big an issue as we should only have to put a few bucks in, hopefully. The car has just about every feature imaginable and drives pretty well for an American car. But I still want my damn convertible. I'm in Florida dammit!

3:45 PM - We arrive at our resort, the Holiday Inn Orange Lake Resort. This is our third time here and we obviously like it to keep coming back. There is a huge lineup at the check in desk but they are so efficient we are checked in and given our keys in just minutes. We arrive at our townhouse which backs right onto the golf course. It's the exact same floor plan that we've had in the past here, which is fantastic. We really are comfortable here.

I get some decent wi-fi finally and upload yesterday's blog. Finally get to check up on the last week of hockey and read some Emails that I had been ignoring.  I see that it is now mathematically assured that no Canadian teams will make the NHL playoffs. That thud you just heard was all the executives at Rogers hurling themselves off the top of a tall building. I bet they are excited as heck thinking about the ratings they will get from a Florida/St. Louis Stanley Cup Final. Dozens of hockey fans will tune in.

My next order of internet business is to tweet Alamo and Priceline and see if either of them is interested in helping me out. To be clear, I'm not blaming Priceline at all, there isn't anything they could have done. Actually I probably should have phoned them from the rental counter, I know that they are big on making sure their clients get what they want but it didn't occur to me at the time.

Alamo did respond to my tweet and ask for more details, which I have provided. We will see what they are willing to do.

7:00 PM - After a nice dinner of chicken and bacon-wrapped asparagus (no we did NOT have enough bacon on the cruise!!!), we are unwinding before beginning the Disney portion of our trip. Tomorrow morning, we are off to the Magic Kingdom! Very exciting.

8:00 PM - If Tracey ever gets out of the jet-tub that she's been in for about 2 hours, I'm going to recommend we go and explore the resort a bit to see what we might have forgotten or what might be new in the 3 years since we've been here, and then get to bed at a reasonable hour. Disney fun begins early tomorrow!!

Tomorrow, the Magic Kingdom and Wrestlemania. Quite a combination.

Vaction Blog VI: I don't know how it gets much better that this

Friday, April 1st

10:00 AM – Up at a reasonable hour and off to breakfast. We are not even in port yet, so we are still not seeing anything but water from our balcony. Breakfast is good as always, what a high quality buffet this is. Really well done.

11:00 AM – Back in the room and now we can see the Bahamas. All we can really see at this point is the port and surrounding areas but man do they ever look nice.

12:50 PM – Off the ship to meet with our tour group. We are whisked away on a boat ride of around 20 minutes where we pass by some of the huge houses owned by some of the richest mega-celebrities imaginable; BeyoncĂ© and Jay-Z (man did he ever out-punt his coverage when he married her), Michael Jordan, and Oprah herself.

Oh, and we also go by Eddie Murphy’s island. Yes, Beverly Hills Cop 1-4 paid for an entire island.

At one point today, a fly lands on my arm. Why would I mention that in my blog? Because we have been gone a week and that is the first insect OF ANY KIND that I have seen. We took all the necessary precautions to avoid the Zika virus and never saw a single mosquito or anything else. Not one. We could have been dancing naked covered in honey and not had to worry about getting Zika.

We arrive at the island where our excursion is happening and it’s gorgeous. Lots of white sand, nice water, and lots of lounge chairs to sit in as well. Our particular excursion doesn’t need any of these things but maybe we’ll have a bit of time to lounge after our event is over.

What is the event I’ve been teasing for a couple days? This.

Best kiss I’ve had in years. Soft and tender, yet wet and fishy. Best of all, I’m told she is single.

So that’s our big event this cruise, a fully interactive experience with Sea Lions. What a bunch of incredible animals. So smart, so friendly, and so magnificent. We are in the water with another Sea Lion named Maggie for 20-25 minutes where she prances around, does a bunch of tricks, and splashes the heck out of Tracey J

After the Sea Lion encounter is done we have about a half hour to enjoy the sun and sand before the boat returns to take us back to our cruise ship. Tracey remarks on the colour of the water, which she calls “the greatest colour on Earth”. I think she’s right. It makes all the other amazing water we’ve seen in the Caribbean look like swamp water.

I can’t describe this colour of blue, except to say that if Paradise were a colour, this is what I’d imagine it to look like.

How could this trip get any better?

5:10 PM - We get back to the ship, now completely intending to come back and take a bigger bite of the Bahamas someday. We have time to shower the sand off of us and then get dressed for our last dinner of the cruise, back at our favorite haunt, the Manhattan Room.

6:00 PM – We get a table right up front for the show, which features the exact same group we saw last time we were here, but they are doing an entirely different set. This time, it’s all 70’s soul. The show is short, only about 20 minutes, but they are really good and it’s nice to hear some live music while we eat. Tracey and I order the exact same appetizer and same entrĂ©e tonight, which works out well because both should pair nicely with the wine we brought, the other Pinot Noir from Hartford Court. You may recall I said that the last one (which we opened early in the cruise) was going to get a really high number when I did my wine blog report. Well, honey, this one absolutely blew it away. Not to spoil the review for those of you who also read my wine blog, but something tells me this one might put every wine we’ve ever had to shame. It’s that good. Tracey’s first question of me was “how can we get more of this????”.  Good thing I’ve got a connection or two.

In fact it was so good we asked them to bring us a third wine glass so we could pour a sample to take to the wine bar and let Richard, their wine steward and our newest wine buddy, have a taste. Turns out he doesn’t like Pinot Noir.

 But he liked THIS one!

We bid our farewell to a really good wine steward, and a really nice wine bar, and head back to the room to get ready to disembark tomorrow. We are both devastated to be leaving, which would make sense if our vacation was over….but for chrissake we are on our way to an incredible resort in Orlando for two weeks in our Happy Place! It goes to show how fantastic this week has been that we are actually sad to be going to Disney World! LOL.

I fell in love three times today. Once with that saucy little Sea Lion above. Secondly with the water of the Bahamas. Third with the wine I just mentioned. Three times in one day seems like a little bit piggish to me but I’ll live with it.

8:00 PM – Back to the room where I am writing this blog; not going to be able to upload it until tomorrow as I’ve gone WAYYYYYYYYY over budget in my internet expenses. The only downside to cruising in the middle of nowhere is that internet access is incredible poor and ridiculously expensive. I won’t be back online until we get into our resort tomorrow night. We always set detailed budgets when we go on trips like this to try to keep things in line; that doesn’t usually work out all that well. Luckily for us, we are in a position where our budgets are “let’s try to stick to X”, more that “we can ONLY spend X” on a particular thing. So far this trip, we are pretty much on budget. It helps when your food spend some days is pretty close to 0.

While I’m writing the blog, Tracey is opening up our last bottle of wine; the second bottle of the Hartford Court Chardonnay that we brought. Wine blog readers may remember that I said this was the best white wine I’ve ever tasted when I first reviewed it. So now, tonight, after just tasting the (spoiler) best red wine I’ve ever had, I’m now about to taste another bottle of my 97-point rated white. Boy my life is really rough.

We certainly did a great job of estimating our beverage consumption on this trip. As I mentioned, we are leaving here with 0 bottles of wine, and there is one can of Diet Coke left which I will have with tomorrow’s breakfast. And no bottled water left either. We can actually leave here with one suitcase less than we came with!

Time to pack up most of our stuff and then get to bed, we are going to be walking off the ship early tomorrow and starting the next leg of our journey, the drive from Miami to Orlando.