To Siesta Key…And Beyond Tour 2017 – Day Eight April 18th 2017

To Siesta Key…And Beyond Tour 2017 – Day Eight April 18th 2017

For all you theme park fans who love to read trip reports about rides, shows and all the stuff that goes with it, today’s report will mostly be around golf, shopping and food. So….that’s good isn’t it?

Nobody was in any rush to get up today. This party lifestyle was taking its toll. More to the point, everyone was burnt to a crisp and the thought of spending another day lay in the sun was about as appealing as Piers Morgan.

On the plus side, the weather did look to be promising a little relief from the heat with some cloud and lower temperatures so I took an executive decision and, (are you ready?), changed the plan!  The plan had me and Dad down to play golf tomorrow but with sunburn at the forefront of everyone’s mind I pulled it forward by a day, meaning the ladies would be sheltered inside whichever mall I could find to deposit them at.

Cruising the internet like a pro, I quickly found a golf course and a mall close enough to each other to work. Dad did a crazy thing and actually phoned the golf course to book rather than do it online, whilst everyone got ready. These quaint old traditions do need preserving I guess.

We left the house at 10.20 and arrived at the same mall we went to last night to eat at the Cheesecake Factory thirty minutes later. The females rolled from the still moving vehicle before we sped off to Rolling Hills for our 11.20 tee time.  The chap in the pro shop who booked us in probably hadn’t been a Disney cast member earlier in his career. His disposition and cheeriness was that of a Remainer at a UKIP conference. He was so awful to us that Dad emailed a complaint in later, only to find it was the anniversary of his father’s death!!  So we felt great about that, but really he shouldn’t have been working in those circumstances. That could only happen to us….

We were clubbed and buggied up and out on time. My golf took a little while to warm up despite having played as recently as eighteen months ago.  As with most places a man of my standing and good looks goes, leggy birds were not too far away…

and I was watching Dad for tips on how to get the thing to go in the right direction.

I got steadily better, as to be honest, I could not have got any worse, and on the back nine (see how easily I slip into the technical lingo) I managed three pars on the trot. For those non golfers, you should be worshiping me as some form of sporting freak.

Dad was blown away by the value of this offer…

and was seriously considering selling up and moving over here just to take it up. It’s basically £30 a month to play three courses as much as you like, unlimited time on the driving range, a beer with every round of golf and golf lessons. There hasn’t been a better deal since the one we’re definitely going to get from the EU.

To even things up, the golfing Gods restored my incompetence on the final hole so I finished in a blaze of glory with a humbling nine. I think I was getting tired!

I still managed to get round in less than 100, which for your average hacker who plays once a blue moon is almost respectable. If I played more than once a year I’d be dangerous.

We handed our stuff back in and went to have our free lunch which came with the round. It was a very acceptable chicken burger for me and chicken salad for Dad. Thoughts now turned to the absolute financial carnage Louise could have caused in the many hours she had been left unsupervised in the mall. This thought threatened my free lunch escaping so we quickly got into the car and sped back to the mall hoping we had some dollars left for the rest of the trip.

It was a narrow escape. There had been some buying, mainly for Rebecca, and the obligatory large candle that for reasons that escape me, we’d have to now transport around Florida and back over the Atlantic. It could have been much worse as the ladies had spent not an inconsiderable amount of time contemplating how to get a double bed back to the UK for Emily’s room. It was lovely apparently. See what happens when I’m not around to squash their hopes and dreams?

We left the mall as quickly as possible and after all those hours shopping the next thing we had to do was stop at a supermarket to buy stuff.

Two photos there just in case you were not familiar with what a supermarket is….

My notes say we bought bits. I really need to start a business up that specialises in bits. It is a very lucrative industry.

As Louise inevitably visited the pharmacy for some medical apparatus, cream or pill we did not yet carry, I did notice this…

Now I know it is blurry, but it boils down to the fact that you can order your repeat prescriptions via text. In the UK you have to submit, in person, a written document, notarised by your local MP between the times of 9.00 and 9.03 on the third Tuesday of a month beginning with H, and the receptionist can still use it for toilet paper if they don’t like the cut of your jib.

We eventually finished buying bits and headed home. I think it was the nine on the final hole but I felt really rough when we got there. I resorted to lying down for an hour whilst everyone got ready and that seemed to do the trick. It also meant that for once I didn’t have to wait for an age having got ready myself, after being told “I’ll only be five minutes now” by Louise.

Having figured out that the free bus service stopped about six feet from our front door, we wandered there and waited for a few minutes until it turned up.

Dusk is a lovely time in Florida wherever you are it seems.

The bus ride was only a few minutes and after alighting we wandered down Ocean Boulevard to Daiquiri Deck.

We were immediately seated over looking the Boulevard.

Cocktails were ordered by all, except Mum, with this being my first of the trip.

If only I had written down what it was!!

We started things off with a shared Hummus platter and Nachos for appetisers.

Then we all had…

Emily – Chicken Caesar Wrap classily garnished with half a bottle of ketchup.

Louise – Siesta Burger

Dad – Shrimp and Scallops

Me – Ribeye (I am officially shite at taking these photos. In my defence, I have to do it very quickly as everyone is gagging to dig in!)

Mum – Chicken Fajita Wrap

The food was just OK to be honest. The location and cocktails are the main reasons to visit here I think. Whilst we were eating we saw the one and only sight of rain of the holiday (shocking for an August visitor) in a torrential downpour.

It only lasted about ten minutes and was all done by the time we were ready to leave. We had a wander around for a bit and found a bar with a live band so we went in there and had a drink whilst watching.

They were pretty good, despite playing a load of songs we’d never heard of. Having rocked out until the early hours, if early hours means 10.30, we left looking for a bus. Instead we flagged down one of the many free ride services that operate on the island. They are typically golf cart style things with fairy lights and a hippy driver and they are free other than a tip. She delivered us to our door and I gave her ten dollars, having no clue if that was enough or too much.

We were in by 11pm and sleeping within minutes.

Till the next time…..

Great Deals on Theme Park TicketsGreat value Blue Man Tickets

 

To Siesta Key…And Beyond Tour 2017 – Day Seven April 17th 2017

To Siesta Key…And Beyond Tour 2017 – Day Seven April 17th 2017

After all that partying last night and staying up till all hours, understandably we slept in until 9am. I bet you weren’t expecting this rock and roll lifestyle were you?

We all breakfasted in line with our individual desires. My desires were cereal. Yes that’s odd but it’s my business OK? With that done and some clothes added to my silky frame I of course set out for the supermarket with Louise and Mum. Where else?

I stocked up again, bought sandwiches for lunch on the beach (this routine may get overly familiar to you by the time we leave Siesta Key) and paid another piece of their mortgage off.

Louise had no interest in sandwiches, hoagies and snacks. Her attendance was for an ulterior motive. Her so far Frodo like quest for bathing costumes had been fruitless (yes I know we are in Florida, where people attend formal events in a bikini, but none of the four and half thousand we had so far seen had been right) so we now had to visit some of the beach shops to continue the quest.

The one directly across from the supermarket  was huge.

In fact, it was three shops knocked into one. I suspect it was owned by the same people as the supermarket and they had extended purely on our spend with them so far.

Louise looked at stuff and I loitered uncomfortably trying not to look at the thongs and bikini tops. Bored of that I wandered deeper into the shop away from the “women’s things” to more general beach equipment. I bought a beach chair (the house only had four) another umbrella for more shade as we had all of course burnt ourselves yesterday, three beach towels and two wicker mats for the lying upon.

All of that still came nowhere near to the amount Louise spent on two swimsuits. As I paid, in a state of shock, it crossed my mind that I bought my swimming gear sometime around 1989 and in today’s money it would have cost about £5. Sure all the netting inside has perished and they can be a little snug, but there aren’t many pairs of shorts I can buy that wouldn’t be, if you know what I mean!!

We left with the shop owners high-fiving each other and headed back to the house. After a lie down and launching a Go Fund Me page for the rest of the trip, we wandered over to the beach at around 11am. It was less windy today which was ironic as we were all covered up to protect our salmon pink flesh from the raging sun and a bit of breeze would have been very welcome.

You may have missed the news that Dad recently launched his own rap band, MC Denture and the Liver Spots.

Staying in the shade today was everyone’s sole focus and any part of the body found outside of the shade’s protection soon reacted like those vampires in the Twilight films.

I had popped back to the house around 12.30 to pick up the food for lunch.

It may sound hard to believe but I could not finish my sandwich. It was huge. Here’s a picture of huge amounts of meat between my legs.

Of course that didn’t stop me putting away almost a full packet of crisps/chips. One of the major benefits of being an alleged grown up is that I don’t need to finish my sandwich to be allowed to eat the other more interesting snacky stuff.

On a beach the size of a small country, I did find it ironic that we somehow found ourselves within ear shot of the biggest bore in the US. Not only did this group have the ignorance to play music all day, inflicting all sorts of youngster noise upon us, but the one chap who had assumed the role of preacher for the day, spoke literally non-stop, about his favourite subject….himself.

My God he could talk. Dad pondered if he ever took a breath as we entered hour two of his anecdotal diarrhea. Topics included films he had seen and his vital thoughts on each of them and every scene within it, himself, how he spent time in jail before turning his life around, himself, sports, himself, what his companions should do with their lives, education, homes, families, diets oh and yes he talked about himself.

It got to the stage where Dad declared he was going into the sea to drown himself. Before doing so, he did pop over to our friend to ask his advice on the best way to do it.

Emily and Mum took evasive action by late afternoon and went back to the house. Their burnt skin was also a factor in that decision. Louise, Dad and I stayed until 4.30ish before striking camp and heading back too. As we had enough gear to attempt an assault on Mount Everest, the walk back, in silly heat and very soft sand proved to be a struggle. I’m sure you all feel sorry for us!

Showers, after sun and readying took until 6.30 when we set off for…

It was about a half hour drive to the Mall at University Town Center. We parked up and entered to be told of a forty minute wait for a table. We hunkered down for that but only ten minutes later we were called. Apparently someone hadn’t turned up for their reservation and we could have their table. You see, good things happen to us in this country!

We were shown to a lovely booth and began the task of working through the enormous menu. The choice was bamboozling. We declined appetisers as of course we were all aiming for dessert here.

Long Island Ice Teas were ordered for Louise and Emily…

and we ordered…

Me – Steak Tacos

Louise and Emily – Four Cheese Pasta with Chicken

Dad – Chicken Shrimp and Pineapple

Mum – Club Sandwich

All of the above was lovely. However, with all of that nonsense out of the way we could move on to the real reason we were here.  CHEESECAKE……

The choice of cheesecake is, as you might expect, vast. We spent an age looking but as our server returned to take our orders, I still hadn’t settled on what may have been the biggest decision of the trip. In a mild panic, I spat out the name of a cheesecake, with no idea if that was really what I wanted….

It was a Snickers Cheesecake…

Emily and Louise – Banana Cream Cheesecake

Dad had ice cream and Mum had Strawberries. As neither of those were cheesecake, I deemed them unworthy of a photo.

I know that I have said that I have been full previously on this trip so far, and perhaps only with the exception of the Hash House a Go Go extravaganza, this was the fullest I had been. I did force every last crumb of the cheesecake down though. It was a matter of principle.

The bill was $200 including a good tip.

The drive home through a sugar coma felt quicker than the drive there which was welcome as all anyone wanted were looser clothes and bed. The latter happened at 10pm. Yes another late night hedonistic extravaganza.

Till the next time…..

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To Siesta Key…And Beyond Tour 2017 – Day Six April 16th 2017

To Siesta Key…And Beyond Tour 2017 – Day Six April 16th 2017

It can be hard to find the amount of time I’d like to dedicate to writing these things. Considering I have to fit it into the seven free minutes I have each week, the quality of them is just about acceptable but about 50% of what I aspire to. Anyway, over the next few weeks as I cover our time at Siesta Key, I will have an ingenious time-saving plan. I can simply copy and paste the day I’m about to write over and over as we did pretty much the same thing for a week. Stand by for a lot of pictures of sand and blue skies with some food towards the end of each day!

For those who have lost track or didn’t care, today was Sunday. We were to spend it worshiping Louise’s favourite deity, the sun.

We woke up naturally at 8.20 and took a leisurely shower. I suggested that tomorrow we try it one at a time. Breakfast was a very un-Hash House like bagel and a cup of coffee. I was worried that I may waste away to nothing on such meager rations. It had almost been twelve hours since we last visited the supermarket, so that was the first stop of the day for beach essentials. That consisted of lunch in the form of sandwiches and snacks and some tackle for the enjoying of the beach such as lilos and umbrellas. Americans seem allergic to shade but us pasty Brits need all the protection we can get from the merciless sun.

I watched some football on the TV upon returning home until everyone was ready . See how I have learned not to pester folks to be out of the door early every day of the holiday!

We wandered over the road and found a suitable spot on a very spacious and idyllic looking beach. The first job was to blow stuff up.

Twenty minutes, and a couple of cardiac arrests and blackouts later, things were of a suitable size and girth. The fact that nobody used the bloody things for the whole week was hilarious.

Siesta Key beach is as lovely as its awards and reputation suggest.

Our rented house was at the beginning of those tracks in the sand you can see in the picture below.

Over the years Louise has done her best to sample all of life’s ailments, diseases and injuries in the US. I think it is some sort of crusade or comparison to prove the UK’s NHS is better than the US alternative. I have documented all of these, some in more graphic detail than I should. I think we all remember the Vagisil escapade some years ago?

Well, this year I think she has surpassed all previous efforts. She had burnt boobs. This was not as you may assume a result of getting her baps out in the sun around the pool at the Royal Pacific. No, that’s how I burned my boobs. Instead, it was all down to one more example of the very strange things ladies do in the name of fashion. To allow her to wear certain outfits without the support of a bra she had used some nipple covers. Now, men I hear you. What the f*** are nipple covers? They were news to me, but they are a thing.

I always thought they were for the exclusive purpose of preventing breast-feeding mothers from having permanent wet patches. When the girls were very young it wasn’t too uncommon for me to wake up with said nipple cover attached to some part of my body. That’s all part of the magical parental journey.

Now, I have discovered that to prevent “chapel hat pegs” when wearing certain kinds of dresses, these posh elastoplasts are used to keep the bad boys at bay.

Somehow, these had caused some very serious damage to Louise’s puppies and as much as I am making light of this, they looked bloody sore and no fun at all. With this in mind the next few days were a struggle for her to find comfy sunbathing positions or indeed to wear clothes that actually touched the damaged area which drew a few funny looks I can confirm!

Traditionally at this point, Dad will apply a reservoir of factor 50 and then immediately wash it all off in the sea. Today was no different.

We all rested, read and other things beginning with R. It wasn’t too long until lunchtime rolled around and I wandered back to the house to pick up the stuff we’d bought earlier from the fridge. Ryan, on his first outing of the holiday earned his stripes carrying it all back to the beach.

We had pre-made sandwiches which were, as you might expect, huge. As I had been in charge of choosing lunch there was also a good amount of snacky crap, such as huge bags of chips (crisps) and some chocolate brownie things that I can still taste today. I got some beers too and Dad went crazy having about four which is probably more than he drinks the rest of the year!

The afternoon passed without much else to report. We rested and read some more, and as Louise had thrown one seagull a Dorito, our section of the beach looked like a scene from a Hitchcock film.

You can clearly see some lovely birds in that last photo!

That was the ONLY time one of those bloody lilos was used. Literally a waste of breath!

After a tough day of this sort of thing we started to drift back to the house in phases from around 4pm. Showers and readying began. Being our first night we weren’t sure how or where to get the plethora of free transport options to the village so I played safe and ordered an Uber. It took twenty minutes to get to us and about three minutes to take us to our destination. That was Ocean Boulevard, the road that runs through Siesta Key Village and includes many shops, bars and restaurants. Thankfully it now looked a lot less like Magaluf and much more like the sleepy, relaxed location I had researched all those months ago.

We wandered for a bit and ended up choosing The Hub.

With a twenty-minute wait for a table we took to the bar and I had my first beer of the trip.

The ladies had cocktails, apart from Emily who had left her ID at the house and Dad another beer.  Here’s Emily looking very pleased with her Coke.

We were seated and then served by Jazz who I can best describe, in Louis Walsh style as reminding me of a young K D Lang. As the vast amounts of food we were about to order wouldn’t be enough Jazz persuaded us to get some chips and salsa to gorge on whilst we looked at the menu.

We ordered –

Nachos for Lousie and Emily, who clearly thought the chips and salsa were not sufficient.

Me – Ribs

Mum – Chicken Tacos

Dad – Steak & Shrimp

Emily & Louise – Chicken Burrito

Half way through the meal Dad felt very rough and had to escape to the loo. He waited outside for us whilst we finished and I ate his steak. We put it down to too much beer, rich food and sun and he laid off the beer for the rest of the trip and felt a whole lot better for it. If you don’t drink a lot, suddenly drinking can be hazardous.

The bill was $130 plus tip and the food was excellent. We rounded off the night with yet another visit to the supermarket. Dad bought a huge corkscrew for the bottom of his umbrella. This was to bury it deeper into the sand. The beach had been quite breezy today, which was very welcome in the blazing sun, but it did cause some umbrella carnage from time to time.

We of course had to buy some sun screen as the one we had brought with us and used hardly any of was no longer suitable for reasons I can’t explain and we also got some aloe vera for our burnt bits and Louise’s toasty nipples. I think they were a band in the seventies?

We caught the free bus that was parked up outside as we left and we got off a stop early as it was pitch black and we couldn’t tell where we were in the dark. Bed was found at a hedonistic 10pm.

Till the next time…..

 

To Siesta Key…And Beyond Tour 2017 – Day Five April 15th 2017

To Siesta Key…And Beyond Tour 2017 – Day Five April 15th 2017

The first phase of the holiday was ending today. A part of me was saddened by this. After all the planning, waiting and build up I always try to cling onto each moment of the trip as it escapes through my fingers like fine sand.

There was still far more to come than had passed but I am strange like that. Today was moving day, Universal was over and we were heading to Siesta Key. As all we had to do this morning was put the possession explosion that had happened in our room back into our cases there was no mad rush to get up. We lazed in bed until a crazy 9am. It took an hour to pack and just after ten we left RPR for the last time and headed over to get Mum & Dad. More fun and sweating was had with the quart into pint pot game involving the luggage and car. We did find a slightly different configuration which improved things but Dad still had a case on his lap.

Thankfully we only had a ten minute drive this time. We were heading for Hash House a Go Go and a life threatening amount of food. As we entered the car park we noticed it was as packed as my underwear. Thankfully they had complimentary valet parking. So once we had released Dad from his suitcase companion, we handed over the keys and headed in. It’s usually at this point that I imagine the news headlines –

“Stupid Brit Gives Complete Stranger Posing as Valet His Car Keys”.

The lure of food was greater than my worries so I continued onwards.

We were faced with a fifteen minute wait and a tractor.

We were seated just before 11am and began the daunting task of navigating the menu. It is HUGE.

We stalled the waitress by ordering some drinks. Coffees and juice all round and Louise ordered a special Mocha which she declared to be the best she ever had. My nickname is mocha by the way!

I didn’t get a picture as I was too busy choosing food, but here’s one I found online.

We eventually decided upon –

Me, Dad and Emily – Andy’s Fried Chicken Benedict

Andy’s sage fried chicken w/ fresh spinach, hardwood smoked bacon, market tomato, griddled mozzarella, chipotle cream and scrambled eggs.

All Benedicts served on a fresh split biscuit with griddled mashed potatoes

Mum – Tractor Driver Combo with French Toast

Two Eggs w/ bacon sausage or potatoes with 1 HH signature flapjack. Add one buck for HH famous flapjack.With Vanilla Waffle With Griddled french toast

Louise – Portabella Mushroom

Fresh portabello mushroom, roasted red peppers, basil pesto & griddled goat cheese all on a fresh baked wheat bun

As my attempt looked like this….

Here’s a competent photo taken by someone else.

It is hard to describe the food here. I struggle to find a word that captures what I thought about it. It was superb, delicious, huge, different, fun, huge, unique, huge and huge.

Emily threw the towel in with her plate looking untouched. I made a very good effort but couldn’t finish. It was just so full of things that are designed to fill you up. Mash, Fried Chicken, Biscuit and smothered in a delicious spicy sauce. Safe to say this place will be on the plan for every future trip we undertake.

My notes failed to capture how much it cost, but frankly I didn’t care. You have to try this place!

Slightly more of us left at 12.40 than had arrived. Our car was returned to us and noticeably groaned as we inflicted our increased girth upon it. We found ourselves stuck in traffic trying to get onto the I4. I did think that the traffic was much worse in and around Universal and I Drive than it ever is around WDW and Kissimmee. With only one U Turn required (unlike Theresa May…ooh bit of politics….) which was totally the fault of our sat nav and not me, we found the Interstate and headed for Disney Springs. We arrived at 1pm and parked in Lime. That’s one of the new car parks. The theme parks are full of breath taking technology delivering jaw dropping immersive experiences. However, the fact that you can see if a row has a space without driving down it blew our collective minds. We live in exciting times.

Disney Springs is, as we expected, almost unrecognisable from what we first encountered as Disney Village in 1980 and as Downtown Disney in more recent times. We arranged to meet Mum & Dad later and set off to do what I hoped would be browsing.

The D Life, Beauty & The Beast themed shop was lovely.

Next was Sephora. I have no idea what any of the items they sell are but clearly I am almost alone in that as it was packed.

Louise was still searching for some sandals. Not just any sandals. We of course encountered many pairs of such in the many shops we visited, but none ticked the boxes they needed to.

Emily got a couple of sweatshirts which somehow I paid for despite her being 21 and gainfully employed.

It was very hot and we needed some water which we picked up from the Poutine Place. Upon getting to the counter and seeing some food, I almost threw up there and then, my stomach protesting at the thought of me trying to put anything else into it. It was an act of self protection and I applaud it for that.

We entered the vast expanse of World of Disney next and spent days wandering the endless array of Disney merchandise. By some miracle and completely by chance we left via the same doors we came in, which is a first for us. It was time now to meet Mum & Dad and so we headed back to the Lime car park entrance.

With Louise still needing footwear and a swimming costume I googled for a Walmart or Target having had all the posh boutiques at Disney Springs let us down and set off.

Never has the phrase cockpit been more apt.

Louise was slightly excited for a second in case this was the bloke from Sons of Anarchy.

It wasn’t.

The Target google found for me was actually the same one we spent far too much time in last year kitting out Emily for her time working in WDW. The same retail park contained a Ross in which we spent more time than any man should have to endure.

Then we went next door to the large sports store. We spent only a few minutes exploring the huge Dicks. Thankfully, the required sandals were discovered in Dicks. There are specialist web sites for that I believe. OK enough desperate attempts to make innuendos out of Dicks. In Target she also found some shorts.

With all the shopping I could tolerate done we now headed for Siesta Key.

It took just under two hours in total.

The last mile driving down the “front” was slow and tortuous but we eventually got to our house without incident or getting lost.

The house was lovely. Quirky certainly, a little rustic and not your typical polished, clinical new home but it was in keeping with all the other properties in the area.

Emily and I went to find the local supermarket. It was somewhere we would spend many happy hours over the coming week.

We had gone for some “essentials” and left $137 lighter about forty minutes later.

With the shopping packed away thoughts turned to dinner but nobody was really hungry so we stayed in the house and snacked instead watching some TV.

Apparently wine was an essential I forgot to pick up during my first visit to the shop, so I remedied that now with another trip. The drive to the supermarket took me up the main road on which all the bars and restaurants are. I did have a slight worry that I may not have brought us to the most suitable place as it looked tonight like Magaluf or Falaraki. However, this was a Saturday night at the tail end of Spring Break and my slight fears were unfounded as we would find out during our stay.

Upon getting back to the house I was knackered and fell into bed, managing about ten minutes reading before sleep.

Till the next time…..