Friday 30th September
Another early rise which was a shock as we had been so active over the last few days!!
Some frantic phone checking was fruitless in the search for news of park reopenings at Universal. We were checking out today but if they were to open up we could still use a day of Front of Line to get Islands of Adventure done.
We got on with our packing hoping things would be clearer soon.
We like this hotel a lot, but frankly, at this point, we were both very much over the sight of the inside of this hotel room.
We were both showered and dressed by 8.30 and there was still nothing being said on any of the Universal social networks about the parks today so we had little choice but to check out and go and eat. We got a coffee from the market in the lobby and I paid a visit to reception to query a double charge on my credit card. At check-in, they had seemingly had issues trying to pre-auth my card for charging and had run it twice. Both times had worked it seemed.
I was reassured that would all be refunded automatically (we hadn’t charged anything) minus the frankly offensive parking charges and off I went. It may not astonish you to learn that neither charge was refunded and it took a good deal of faff, chasing and emailing to get that done once back home.
We left at 8.40ish and got the cases into the car before pointing it at Hash House a Go Go. If we couldn’t go and have some theme park fun we would go and eat dangerous amounts of calories instead. As we drove out of the hotel past the car park entrance for the theme parks we saw team members there with barricades up, preventing anyone from entering. This was as good a sign as any that they would be shut today. Why they could not put this out in an update seemed odd.
The car park looked empty and we were seated immediately.
There’s an unwritten rule that when having a ridiculous American breakfast you have to order two drinks, one hot and one cold so we did that in the shape of coffees and juices, mine Cranberry and Louise, Orange.
We both went for the French Toast.
It was magnificent and ridiculous all at the same time.
I just couldn’t fit those pieces of orange in though.
In the absence of any information from Universal, we decided to head to Disney Springs to get our gift shopping completed. The sat nav took us off the I4 a junction later than I might have chosen and we had an agonising ten-minute wait at some traffic lights waiting to U-Turn into Lime Garage. It was 10.10 and the queue to go through security was huge. Clearly, everyone was stir-crazy and with no parks to visit, here they were.
We started in World of Disney, which was unsurprisingly busy. We picked up a good number of gifts and moved on to the Co-Op Marketplace and Trend-D where more spending happened. Freddie’s latest obsession was Darth Vader so we got him a full costume. With Halloween approaching this would be his costume of choice for Trick or Treating in. Here is a glimpse into that future with Dougie taking on the role of Baby Yoda.
We walked all the way over to the M&M store for M&M addict Tom back home. Louise took a call from the care home and some family members who had been to see Mary. The juxtaposition of the blue skies and holiday activities versus what was going on back home was incredibly odd.
We were done shopping, so we walked back to Lime and pointed the car at the Dolphin, our final resort for this trip.
I self-parked and we checked in to find our room ready. We made our way up to room 1644W and dumped the cases and changed into pool attire. Our first impressions of the resort were very good.
I figured out where to get towels from and we did some hardcore relaxing by the pool, helped by a bucket of alcohol each.
We did very little until around 5pm when we went back to the room to get ready for dinner. Yes, we were hungry again despite that breakfast.
We were out by 7pm with no firm dinner plans. We wandered across to the Swan with nowhere in mind and stumbled across Il Mulino.
There was no wait to be seated and we were served by a chap called Howie, who was from the Wirral. Turns out he had done the Cultural Representative Programme about 18 years ago and never gone home, after marrying an American.
He looked after us excellently.
There was a phenomenal bread service to start, with some eggplant salad thing to dip stuff into. I appreciate this write-up is not one to trouble the food critics at The Times.
Louise started with Meat Balls.
I was busy devouring my starter, the Rice Balls, which was one of the best things to have ever been in my mouth.
You will already know that Louise had a “cheesy pasta thing”, but this one was exceptional.
If ever a photo did not do justice to a plate of food this next one is it.
I had the Tenderloin, which was not a condition for which CVS might supply an ointment, instead, probably the best steak I had ever eaten. It was stupidly expensive for a tightwad like me, but I really, really enjoyed it.
All in all, this was one of our best-ever meals in Florida. In all our years of visiting, this place had never once been on our radar and it goes to show that sometimes, despite all the planning and research, you just come across somewhere that is a delight. We would be back.
The bill was $205 including a good tip so this is not a cheap place to go, but as a treat, it was very much worth it.
Despite being fuller than a full thing, we soldiered on to Jellyrolls, resisting the huge temptation to just go to bed. We found an empty table, set up a tab and enjoyed the show. We hadn’t been for years and it was great to be back. We managed a very enjoyable hour before the desire to sleep was victorious. The last song we watched was If I Had A Million Dollars by Bare Naked Ladies, and if I did, I would eat at Il Mulino every night and then pop into Jellyrolls I think.
We even managed an episode of Dahmer back in the room before passing out.
Till the next time…..