To Siesta Key…And Beyond Tour 2017 – Day Nine April 19th 2017

Sooooo…another beach day to write about……O…K……this week at the beach is truly testing my ability to make very similar days sound different. You’d think after all these years of stretching the same half a dozen gags over all these trip reports I’d be fine. Let’s see how we go.

We were up early at around 7am. We had arranged to Facetime Rebecca and Louise’s Mum at 12 back home. Having dragged my tired sack of bones from my bed to chat, once that was done I went straight back for a bit. There was no theme park queue to be at the front of after all.

Once up for a second time, guess where I went? Yep, the supermarket. I was picking up the usual stuff for lunch but I also needed a book. I don’t get much time to read in real life but on holiday I tend to devour books at an alarming rate. However, it would appear that the population of Siesta Key are either illiterate or all own Kindles as it took a very long search to find a shop that sold them and then the choice was pretty poor. Having picked up a fairly standard holiday thriller I returned home and got us over to the beach at around 10.30.

There was a lot of wind today, but with all this rich food we were eating, that wasn’t too much of a surprise. After such a strenuous morning we all rested until around 12, avoiding direct sunlight and trying to keep our umbrellas from blowing down the beach. Emily and I went for a wander up the shoreline.

I’m not sure how far we walked but it was the furthest we’d walked since we last saw a theme park.

We encountered some strange and wonderful beasts, native to the area…

These are probably called the orange billed black heads or similar…

This one, probably has a latin name such as hugioscruffygit.

Whereas this creature I think was called something like Mutton As Lamb With Cheesewire Up her Arse.

 

When we reached this it felt like a natural place to stop so we did.

We had a sit down for a few minutes taking in the smell of our skin crisping nicely in the midday sun.

Then we walked all the way back.

Emily resumed her place under her umbrella and I nipped back to the house to get our lunch. We endured doing lots of nothing for the rest of the afternoon. There was literally nothing worthy of a photo or me making a note of it. Some might say that’s an ideal afternoon.

At around 4.45 we headed back to the house and everyone rested and readied whilst I made some notes. As I opened up the camera to look back at our very eventful day, I noticed it had ever so slightly completely broken.  The large LCD display on the back looked like a kaleidoscope. Having experienced a very similar issue at Vero Beach some years ago I diagnosed it as having sand inside it and being irreparable. It did still take photos, as this classic proves.

But clearly a new camera was required.

Once everyone was ready we headed to a Best Buy which I had located online. I left everyone in the car and made a very swift trip inside to pick up the cheapest point and shoot camera I could find. The Canon Powershot was the one I walked out with, having exchanged it for $119. I have to say, the photos from here on in are much better. All these blurry ones weren’t my fault after all!!

We stopped for gas and filled the car with $30. Not actual dollar bills you understand. I swapped that amount for an appropriate liquid. Tonight we were following our sat nav to Applebees.

It was just a five-minute wait to be seated at our table….

and this was done by a young girl with EMO tendencies and an impressive fringe which made me all sorts of nostalgic.

As we perused the menu, drinks were ordered…

Emily had a Blue Long Island Iced Tea…

Louise had a Sangria…

and clearly I now had a camera that worked!!

We shared some Mozzarella Sticks for appetisers…

Then we entree’d as follows….

Me – South Western Steak Salad…

Emily – Burger

Louise – Steak with Garlic Mash and Broccoli

Dad – Chicken and Shrimp

Mum – Who clearly couldn’t wait for me to take my photo….a cheesey chicken thing. I’m sure that’s exactly what it said on the menu..

More cocktails followed and I ordered the Deep Fried Apple Cake thing…

Everyone else said they didn’t want any but I asked for extra spoons and sure enough I had to fight everyone to the death to stop them eating more than me.

The bill was $135 plus tip. Our way home was only interrupted by our daily pharmacy stop, this time at CVS. I didn’t make a note of what we bought other than “more bloody ointments and potions”. Our lovely beach house was beginning to look like a classroom at Hogwarts.

We excelled ourselves tonight by being in bed at 9.30.

Till the next time……

Great Disney Deals

 

Bait and Switch

Despite me boring you all to tears with the blow by blow account of my planning adventures (and I had, believe it or not, edited out a lot of stuff) following last week’s update there were still some twists and turns to go.

The final link in the chain that did not want to get sorted was our Siesta Key booking. I consider myself fairly experienced in this DIY holiday malarkey but even I was stunned and shocked at some of the stuff I have come across.

I had spent a good deal of time on sites like HomeAway, VRBO and even Trip Advisor looking at and enquiring about properties. As I have said before, Siesta Key has very few hotels and even fewer within striking distance of the beach and village so it was always going to be a private rental.

Now, call me old-fashioned but when you see something online that gives you a price once you enter the required information, in this case, dates and number of people, you would expect that to be the price you were going to pay. There are rules about this stuff…believe me, I do it for a living.

However on more than one occasion, including the property I linked to last week, the web site offering that property at a given price then only gave me the option to Enquire Now, despite showing me a detailed breakdown of the costs involved. I waited longer than was ideal for a response and I then got quite a terse reply telling me that the costs would actually be about 30% higher than shown on the web site I had seen the property on. This wasn’t the only time it happened during my planning travels and they typically then tend to send you a link to a different website, managed directly by them where these new prices are shown.

These websites tend to look like something a teenager built in 2003 and haven’t been touched since. They offer no online booking facilities and do indeed give these new prices the tetchy owner is claiming to be correct. I honestly felt guilty for –

a) having insulted them by daring to want to book their property at the (originally) advertised price

b) querying why the price had risen by a good few hundred dollars

It won’t surprise you to know that I walked away from that particular deal without further discussion. I believe the term I’m looking for here is bait and switch.

Anyway, later that night, using a site I had heard much of but had never used, I found a suitable property on AirBnB. Crucially I was able to book there and then at the advertised price and things such as the cancellation terms etc were also clearly shown.

So, after what seems an endless search, seventeen false starts and more stress than it should have caused, here is where we will be staying in Siesta Key.

final siesta

It is a little bit further away from our ideal location than I might have liked, but the more realistic price and extra space clinched it. It is literally steps from the beach and a ten minute walk to the main street of the village where all the food and stuff is. I also remembered a chat I had with a blog reader (Thanks Mark) months ago when I first mentioned Siesta Key about free taxis operating on the island, so if needed we will use those if the walk is just too much our sun soaked bodies.

Finally, surely now, we are all sorted. I have marked the calendar with important dates about the booking of dining and fastpass stuff and I can now start to fill in each day with some plans. You’ll know by now that this starts with our eatery of choice for the day and we work backwards from there. There was a minor crisis when I realised that we simply didn’t have enough days in Orlando to get all our favourites in but I think I’ve resolved that by finding some of the chain restaurants we love, such as Olive Garden and Applebees close to Siesta Key, which frees up a couple of meals for our limited time in Orlando.

With Mum and Dad now coming along, thoughts turn to maybe fitting in a game of golf with my Dad and again that is likely to be somewhere close to Siesta Key as our Orlando time is too precious.

The basis of the plan currently involves the likes of Teak, Cowfish, Market Street Cafe (Celebration), Bahama Breeze, O’hana, Sanaa, Outback, Olive Garden, Applebees and Beaches & Cream. We also somehow have to fit in the new Toothsome Chocolate Factory place at Universal…

Credit to Insidethemagic.net for the image…..

Image credit to themeparktrader.com

I don’t know about you but that’s made me hungry so I’m off to eat something….

Till the next time…..

The Adults Only Tour 2015 – Day Twelve

Day Twelve – 7th September

There’s a very good reason you probably won’t find too many trip reports of beach holidays. The material for such is a little monotonous and uninteresting as I shall now demonstrate.

We were awake around 8am and of course had to pack, ready to check out. With that unpleasantness done, we went down to the free breakfast. It was very nice and buffet style, so I shall let you draw your own conclusions about how that went.

Nicely full, we took our luggage out to the car before making our way down to the beach and more expensive sunbeds.

I can summarise the next few hours in two photos.

As the second one demonstrates, it was very, very hot and few of us were suffering from a little too much sun yesterday.

The rest of the morning meandered away with little or no activity to report, which of course is the sign of a good beach day. Rebecca, Grandad and I ventured into the very rough sea for a little bit, followed by some more lying around. Riveting this isn’t it?

Around lunch time we experienced a very strange rain shower. There were absolutely no clouds and yet we were sprinkled with not unpleasant drizzle. As this rain was persisting a little longer than we wanted it to, Louise suggested that we drive out somewhere for a lunch a little more varied than the burger van fare available on the beach. With that decision made we packed up and decided we’d head back to Orlando after lunch and so we said our goodbyes to Daytona.

We love Daytona and of course Vero. I do find it a bit odd that we have always done beaches on the East coast of Florida rather than the more traditional destinations such as Clearwater and St Pete’s. One of these years we will put that right I expect, but there is always that dilemma of trying something new or sticking with that you know you will enjoy.

We drove aimlessly around Daytona for a bit learning that the eateries featured in our sat nav were now sadly out of date, with many of them now closed. This should not have been too surprising as it hadn’t been updated since we bought it in 2011 (I think).

We ended up on the road out of Daytona back towards Orlando and spotted a large mall, which was called Volussia. As unappealing as that sounded to me, being a mall, it had an Applebees attached to it and so that made our decision to stop an easy one.

As we waited to be seated, perusing the menu, our decision to leave the beach proved to be a good one, as the heavens opened and stayed open for a good few hours.

We had –

Grandad – Shrimp Starter and then Won Ton Tacos

Me – Appetiser Sampler as my entrée, which was made up of Nachos, Mozzarella Sticks and Boneless Wings. I didn’t have a starter as I’m not an animal.

Louise – Same as me, but with Quesadillas instead of wings

Rebecca – Same as me

Sarah – Mozzarella Sticks and then a Fajita Wrap

Nana – Fish and Chips

I must have been hungry as those two photos were all I could manage.

With some Margaritas and a wine or two the bill came to $130 including a tip.

We left and drove west toward Orlando, through the rain, arriving back at 4.50. The plan had been to collect Emily on our way out to Hollywood Studios, but she told us she was knackered after work and just wanted to sleep, so we changed our plans to leave a little later, taking the chance to nip to Publix for more bits, which essentially consisted of wine and high sugar goods.

We left the villa at 7.30, arriving to see the Studios looking glorious in the dark.

Tonight was the final Frozen Firework party thing of the summer and so we made our way up to DJ Chill who was expertly playing other people’s records in front of the Great Movie Ride.

My ability to take a blurred photo knows no bounds.

The girls got their groove on to the “banging tunes” for a bit, whilst Nana and Grandad wandered off to the shops and to get a drink.

After battling their way right to front for more throwing of shapes they returned to us to watch the fireworks.

We enjoyed the fireworks so much I took another blurred photo.

We then battled our way down Sunset Boulevard for the 10pm Fantasmic, stopping in the villains shop on the way for drinks, souvenirs and more crowd battling.

Once inside a very full and busy stadium we took our seats.

Clearly not feeling myself, I agreed to buy Louise some lighty up ear things and after fighting my way to a vendor and all the way back to my seat, imagine my delight when they didn’t work. The joy continued when the show started, as after about a minute it stopped again due to the increasing rain. Our history of rain and Fantasmic is surely now legendary?

We waited a few minutes and the show started up again…..only to stop once more after not long at all. With our patience at full stretch, we stuck it out a little longer and we were rewarded with the rest of the show without interruption.

Here is my traditional eulogy about Disney’s ability to disperse thousands of people via seemingly a couple of trams without fuss, queue or complication. Within minutes of leaving the stadium (after swapping out Louise’s defective ears) we found a tram waiting for us, with no queue at all and we were whisked away to our car and we are on our way on amazingly uncongested roads. In the UK, if you dare to attempt the Trafford Centre at any time other than 2am on a weekday you sit on the car park for forty minutes waiting to get off.

We did witness some truly scary driving from some folks on the way home, with last minute lane switching and the cutting up of other folks, but thankfully my experience, excellent road sense and The Force saw us home safely. I was so busy keeping us safe that I did miss a junction so we took a lovely scenic route home, which was nice. We were home by 11.40 and I managed about a page and a half of my book before my eyes closed.

Till the next time…..

Back Pain, not going back pain and Applebees

Just as I start to think I a recovering from post WDW blues, someone does something which brings all those thoughts and longings back.

applebees

Twitter is a cruel mistress

As much as I do feel honoured that the chap or chapess who runs the Applebees twitter account found me and decided I was worthy of a follow, as I read that email it hurt.

There were two reasons for this.  Firstly it was 4.43am.  I was just about to set off down south to get to Head Office for a couple of days, but secondly and mainly it reminded me that the joys of an Ultimate Trio at an Applebees was so beyond my reach that the pain was tangible.

I suspect it is more likely that Applebees will open up some UK branches before we get to go back.  That’s right, I am declaring right here, as is my annual tradition, that I don’t think we’ll be back next year.  The new house demands attention like a naughty toddler, and more than that, it demands whatever disposable income we are likely to stumble across.

I won’t go on about it, as we all know that isn’t the first time I have been here, so we’ll leave it there and wait and see.  It is Emily’s 18th next July, and she has been less than subtle in declaring where she wants to be for it, but that doesn’t magic up the multiple thousands of pounds required, regardless of the amount of guilt I would feel if we didn’t do something special for her.

In real world matters, Louise’s back is improving, thanks to some physio and lots of medication.  She should be returning to her hospital placement tomorrow which is excellent news.  The physio seems to think that the back problems are caused by a long-standing ankle problem which is forcing Louise to walk in a way that compensates for the pain she feels, and this in turn throws her pelvis and back out of kilter, and leads to her back “going” from time to time.  So the end game is to resolve the ankle thing.

The first step (pun intended) in this process is naturally to throw away the £50 trainers she has had for a few weeks and buy some new ones which will be better suited to her needs.  Smashing.  Should anyone want a pair of black Sketchers that have been worn about six times do let me know.  Best price guaranteed!

With Louise mobile again, I am hopeful that we will tonight complete a long-held ambition to enjoy a night with a Bat Man costume in a darkened room.  This is not a Shades of Grey type reference, more a 50 pounds of Pick n Mix reference as we are heading for the cinema.  Our local Cineworld is still showing the Dark Knight film, despite the fact it has been out since July, and having heard nothing but good things I intend to snack up, settle down and slob out for a couple of hours.

Next week sees me in Manchester, Marlow and London, none of which have an Applebees and this is something I am struggling to come to terms with.

However, my pain is but a low throb compared to the white-hot burning heat of a post WDW depression that @tweetwizzo is feeling right about now, having recently landed back in the UK.  He’ll be starting his trip report soon so look out for it.  At the rate I am getting through mine, not only will he finish his before me, he will probably have had another holiday too.

Mind you, neither of us seem to be enduring a lack of mojo on a scale to compare with Gordon (The_Finkelstein) who hasn’t been seen much since his return back in the early days of summer.  I am thinking of hosting a 24 hour telethon appeal to get him the support he needs in these tough times.

Right, I must go.  The X Factor repeat has come on the telly so I need to go and throw it out of the window.

Till the next time…..