To Siesta Key…And Beyond Tour 2017 – Day Ten April 20th 2017

For the love of all that is holy, will this stay at the beach never end? At the time, I had no such feelings. Now, trying to make the same notes for the sixth day in a row somehow different is driving me insane. This must be how Coldplay feel every time they start a new album!

This is, I suppose, why normal folks don’t write trip reports for beach holidays.

Today, an alien space craft landed on our roof and shared with me the secret of time travel. Or not. Maybe instead my notes look just like yesterday’s.

But wait, what’s this. They say I was awake at 5.15. It turns out my phone rang at that time with a call from an 0151 number. Being pretty sure that nobody in Liverpool needed me that desperately I declined the call and went back to sleep until 8.15. A bagel and a brew were taken on board and Dad and I of course went to the supermarket. Today’s shopping list included lunch, a sun hat for Mum and some cold sore cream. Whilst in the pharmacy an elderly Floridian chap asked me to help him pick out the correct dental floss. This wasn’t due to him admiring my stunning dentistry, rather a symptom of his lack of sight. I put on my best Hugh Grant impression, as I feel compelled to do whenever I’m speaking to Americans, and got him what he needed.

Once back home we loaded up for the beach, crossed the road and dug in for the day, with another stiff breeze threatening our brollies.

Hey, look there’s Ryan!

Sitting, resting, reading, lazing, sunbathing and chilling were just a few of the activities undertaken until 12.30 when I walked back to the house to pick up lunch. In a radical departure from earlier days I had a salad and not a sandwich. It had walnuts and cranberries in it and was really exotic. A few days on the beach and I think I’m Peter Ustinov.

As had happened every day so far, just after lunch the direction of the wind turned 180 degrees. You could set your watch by it. So we had to move the umbrellas and dig them in again pointing the other way. Such a hectic day!

Drastic measures were being taken to tan the bits that needed tanning but cover the bits which had already been burned to a frazzle. Louise had sellotaped a couple of brillo pads to her nipples to prevent further burning.

I read a lot in the afternoon and ate an unfortunate amount of crisps. By doing so I made friends with this chap who by the end of the afternoon was pretty much tame and sat on my knee. Oh hey, there’s Ryan again.

He liked crisps almost as much as I do.

By 4pm the burn was becoming too much and we wandered back to the house. The rule is that no matter how early we leave the beach to get ready, the departure time will still be the same. The time taken for readying expands to fill the time available.

During the readying we heard a large bang from our bathroom. It turned out that Louise had fallen in the shower bruising things unmentionable here. Add that to her burnt boobs, cold sore and the cut on her foot that she picked up from the door as she had entered the bathroom and she was entering the territory of having to be put down to prevent any further suffering.

Tonight’s dinner was to be at an Olive Garden, at which we pointed the sat nav now and set off. Twenty minutes later we arrived at South Tamiami Trail. Our wait for a table was to be twenty minutes, but they softened the blow with a half price voucher for the bar.

Louise had a red wine, Dad a G&T and sodas for everyone else.

Once seated we browsed the familiar menu whilst we waited for the salad and garlic bread. Our server had asked if anyone wanted soup. After ten minutes of laughter and scathing sarcasm she understood that we preferred the salad. To be honest salad and bread sticks are the main reason we come here.

Our server noticed that all the bread had gone before she had finished putting the basket down on the table so she went and got some more. I can confirm I ate too many of them for my own good.

I then had Steak Gorgonzola Alfredo

Emily & Mum had Lasagna. This is pretty much Emily’s favourite food on the planet.

Louise had her “usual” of four cheese Ziti but this time with meatballs.

You may notice it was meatball singular.

Dad had Chicken Marsala.

Everything was superb as it always tends to be here.

As we were getting into our eating stride by this stage of the trip, desserts were done too.

Emily & I had Tiramisu but I’m sure CVS do a cream for that.

Mum had Apple Pie Thing (that’s what my notes say!)

Dad and Louise had chocolate cake.

They were all as good as they look.

With more wine, two lattes and a cappuccino we were confirmed as greedy gits and asked to pay just £135 plus tip for all of that.

We wandered across the parking lot to a nearby Publix for, you guessed it, bits. I noted another potion was acquired and Dad bought a white toothpaste as he didn’t like the blue one he was using. It was only after checking out that we pointed out that one was blue too.

Back to the car now and we drove to Siesta Key village and parked up for a wander around the shops. We didn’t go for a drink anywhere as our bodies could not accept any form of food or drink at this stage and Emily had left her ID at the house.

We were back home at 9.30 and asleep just after 10 with a bit more reading done.

Till the next time…..


La Nouba by Cirque Du Soleil



Universal Orlando Ticket Discounts!

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 Ten

Day Ten – 5th September

I know that we have a track record over the years of declaring a day a rest day and then spending it doing things not even close to resting. However, today was to be one of those rest days and frankly we needed it. The two days at Universal had been hard on the legs (and stomach) and we were all feeling it.

You can tell this was a real rest day as there’s no sign of a photograph until this evening when food appears. All of this is trip report writer’s code to suggest that today may be short and a bit unexciting, in sharp contrast to all the other days which require a seat belt and a Diazpam to survive.

Now, having said all that, with you all prepared for tales of us lounging around doing not a lot, I found myself awake at 4am. This was solely due to my illness and it was probably my body’s way of protecting me from drifting away into a cold related coma in my sleep, such was the level of my maladay. Looking back at this day now, from some months away, it is hard to remember how I felt but judging by the unrepeatable description of my state in my trip report notes, I was one poorly boy.

What is even more indescribable is whatever madness took me at this time to attack my work emails on the villa’s PC. Having deleted a few thousand emails that I didn’t need to get in the first place I staggered back to bed for a couple of hours, waking again around 9am.

Despite being at death’s door we did a trip to the supermarket to restock the fridge and cupboards with high sugar foods and vein clogging fare. You have to feed a cold you know.

On the way back we called in at the local CVS Pharmacy to see if anyone had found a cure for the cold recently. They hadn’t but I spent a silly amount on various treatments to make me feel like I was at least putting up a decent fight.

Back at the villa we all swam, read and relaxed in varying degrees. It was hot of course, which felt great when like me you had a fever not seen since a Saturday Night in 1977.

Have I mentioned my illness enough yet?

For lunch we feasted upon sandwiches from Publix which I’m sure were very tasty for those with a working sense of taste, or smell.

Readying began around 3pm and we made our way to The Commons to get Emily no doubt many, many hours later. Today she was on Traditions, the renowned “sheep dipping” into Disney culture for all new Cast Members. Anyway, she wasn’t back yet, so we went over to Premium Outlet Malls which is literally a few minutes away from her apartment.

We shopped for a bit. Yes that’s right, I am ill and we’re shopping. What fresh hell is this?

Something happened which occurs about as regularly as Halley’s Comet. I bought, or should I say, I was bought a pair of jeans. It was my birthday present from Mum and Dad. They were even “a label” which all my jeans are, however normally that label is George.

We browsed about four thousand other shops before Emily was ready so we went to pick her up and brought her across to the Mall. She needed some stuff for upcoming training so after a quick Starbucks we split off into three groups, Louise, Emily and I were one, Nana and Grandad another and Rebecca and Sarah the last. We shopped at great speed trying to pin point very precise items of clothing in the vast open spaces of the huge department stores. Having secured the work related stuff Emily needed we got her a new pair of converse too as her existing ones were held together by hope and spit.

We had arranged to meet up with everyone at 8.30 as we would need to leave at that time to get across to Beaches and Cream for our reservation. How we were all looking forward to our Kitchen Sink or whatever else we may decide to have.

Once in the car, I set up the Sat Nav, typed in Beach Club and off we went, in the dark, in a foreign country. Those last two things are an excuse for me not thinking anything was odd about the back streets and dodgy areas we were being taken through. By the time we reached our destination it was very clear that we weren’t in Disney anymore and our chances of getting to our reservation in time were slim. I never did figure out how the Sat Nav which had been so reliable for years had decided that the Beach Club was on some residential street about forty minutes from Lake Buena Vista. I put it in the glove box for a while to think about what it had done.

We found our way to Crossroads at around the time of our reservation and being about ten minutes from Beaches and Cream we may have had a chance of still making it. However, there was gridlock, no doubt with folks heading to Downtown Disney so we abandoned all hope and made a Plan B. With us being where we were we decided upon Olive Garden.

Surprisingly we were seated immediately and, oh look, some photos….

That was worth waiting for I think you will agree.

We perused the menus and spirits were high despite the crap journey, horrible traffic, my impending death from a blocked nose and having been shopping.

I cannot explain this photo.

We opted for the salad and bread sticks with Sarah going for the soup option instead.

We ordered –

Me – Gorgonzola Steak Thingy

Louise – Some sort of Cheese Ziti

Emily & Sarah – Lasgane

Rebecca – Stuffed Something (I am King of Trip Report note making)

Grandad – Chicken and Shrimp

Nana – Rosemary Chicken

Desserts were not possible and with wines, beers, special lemonades and my expensive Diet Cokes we paid $175 including a generous tip.

We dropped Emily off home and headed for the villa getting back at around 11. I was still ill.

Till the next time…..