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…..

Best Of Orlando Banner

Undercover Tourist Banner

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

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…..

 

 

 

 

Is It Because I Is Back?

Hello? Is this thing on?

My body is back in the UK, but my mind is yet to accept this. Mentally I am still in the technicolour wonderland with a warmer climate where every meal is a brush with a cardiac arrest and the amount of money spent doesn’t count as dollars aren’t real money. I do quite like it you know!!

It always blows my mind that within a few short hours you go from wandering around a baking hot Disney Springs (don’t we all do that before going to the airport?) to landing in an ever grey Manchester.

I am avoiding reality for now. I haven’t dared go anywhere near the scales and I refuse to admit to myself that I have to work for a living again on Tuesday. I’m not dressed yet and I sit here in my dressing gown eating something between breakfast, lunch and supper watching people go past our window doing grown up things like jogging, walking their dogs and generally engaging with the world in a way in which I simply cannot right now.

Sigh.

We had a blast. We narrowly avoided a visit to a medical facility which is the exception rather than the norm for one of our trips, although we came close a couple of times. Instead, we spent more time in pharmacies than theme parks and if anyone needs a cream or potion for any ailment on earth, give me shout as we’ll have it.

That feeling of being at home over there gets stronger with every visit. I know after the amount of times we’ve been that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, but the feeling is strong.

I won’t steal any more of my own thunder as I need to get on with a trip report. I have made the token gesture of downloading all the photos to my laptop and getting them up on photobucket ready for inclusion but beyond that, the fog of jet lag and the fact that I am struggling to see the laptop over my stomach have restricted my progress…well, progress indicates that something is actually happening, which it isn’t yet.

I will say that we and especially Emily and I realised that we didn’t have enough time at Disney. We knew that before we went I think, and it was intentional that the trip would be different, but there was a feeling of being slightly robbed of time there as we inevitably missed out on some stuff that we love. As fantastic as our time at Universal and Siesta Key was, as soon as we got to the Beach Club there was a strong feeling of belonging, peace of mind and joy that reaffirmed what we probably already knew. Any future visits will be WDW centric. Still, moaning about that after almost three weeks over there seems churlish.

I feel confusingly knackered and refreshed in equal measure. Mentally it always does me the world of good I think, but physically I feel close to a hundred years old right now, not helped by gigging last night on seven hours sleep out of the previous 48 hours.

So I shall leave it there for today. I will commit to day one being ready for next Sunday as if I write it down here I will have to crack on despite my working week looking grim. Thanks to all of you that followed our trip online in real-time and hopefully I can keep your interest for the trip report to come. Oh and discussions for our next trip started before we got home….but hey, what’s new?

Till the next time….

Looking For An Oasis In This Blur

My God life is busy right now. It’s an expected symptom of both Louise and I working long hours I suppose, but with the hustle and bustle of Christmas, during which Louise had one day off, and everything else that goes on in real life we are dizzy at the moment.

I know Louise is feeling it especially. In her job as district nurse she’s working like a mad woman. Eleven or twelve visits a day leaves little time for lunch or sensible thought and in the odd few hours that she’s at home a vegetative state is required to give her body the chance to recover. I’m not too different to be honest although I am grateful that my job doesn’t involve things that ooze puss, discharge or any of the other bodily fluids she tells me all about.

There are DIY decorating projects half-finished all around the house and I really should be doing one of those now, but to be frank I’m just too tired. Louise has been working all weekend so I’ve been on tidying, washing and soon to be ironing duty and still haven’t done the other stuff I should have, like take all the xmas crap to the tip…yep, that’s how far behind we are. I also had Mustard’s first gig of 2017 last night and as much as I really enjoy my hobby, a late night at my age takes about three days to recover from.

So it is safe to say that we are all gazing longingly at the upcoming holiday in April. It is a hazy mirage seen through the whirling dervish of reality. We can almost make it out now but there is still a long way to travel before we can luxuriate in its sunny, relaxed loveliness. As much as I have moaned a bit about the lack of time we have planned in theme parks, right now, that week on Siesta Key Beach is looking pretty good. I may be bored out of my mind on day three but I plan to sleep for the first two beach days anyway.

As weekends go, I’ve had better then. There’s been pretty much zero relaxation time and this was reduced even further yesterday when I had to take an unexpected trip to the opticians. I had allowed myself a lie in until at least 9.30, with the dogs joining me once Louise left for work, as they normally do, for what I thought would be the useful peaceful lie on the bed. I must have drifted off to sleep as when I woke up and wandered to get my glasses from their usual resting spot on the radiator cover I stood on something that I didn’t recognise. With a puppy in the house it was a change for that not to be liquid or at least soft but on closer inspection I couldn’t believe what I was seeing…and not because I didn’t have my glasses on.

What I picked up were the mangled remains of what were my spectacles. In disbelief I plotted Bean’s death for a good few minutes and then proceeded to pointlessly wave them in front of her face whilst swearing a lot. Her confused expression and wagging tail suggested she wasn’t clear on the message I was trying to get over.

glasses

So my plans of a tip run and some decorating evaporated and I ended up having to do the unimaginable and drive into actual town on a Saturday and go to a shop. Having only had my glasses for a few months, the optician could quickly re-order what I needed. It was slightly less easy to hand over the huge sums of cash necessary for them to do that. They will be ready next week and in the meantime I am wearing my old pair. They are a fractional improvement on total blindness.

So life is a bit of a blur for me for more than one reason right now. I either need it to speed up a little more, like fast forwarding the adverts, until we hit April 10th or it would be nice to be a little less busy for a bit so we can all catch our breath. I’m off to the next task now….

Till the next time…..

Blow By Blow….

Now that all the changes and faffing are done (hopefully) and the dust has settled on all the re-arranging of stuff for our next holiday, I thought I’d share our my (weirdly over thought and scarily detailed) plans with you for our trip even though it’s not until next April. Yes, I know that’s a long way away, but sharing this stuff makes the trip seem closer and reality a little further away, plus, with your combined expertise and knowledge, dear reader, you can point out any glaring errors or omissions. Your opinions are more than welcome, as long as I agree with them, otherwise you’ll just get yourself banned!!  That’s how the internet works, right?

This is all still pretty loose. Well, when I say loose, I of course know where we are eating most days and which parks we’ll be in for the Orlando time, but loose as in each second is not yet accounted for. It is bound to change a few times between now and departure date as I see and remember stuff we have to do….

Day One

We fly out of Manchester courtesy of Mr Branson at around 12.45. I have yet to experience a flight that actually left the ground at the time advertised so let’s say we’ll be airborne sometime in the early afternoon. Once home, myself Louise and Emily will drop off Nana and Grandad at the Holiday Inn Across from Universal (official title, not a description) and head off to check in at the Royal Pacific Resort. Once checked in and short pants adorned we shall collect some grandparents and head out to the Outback. It’s become a tradition that this is our eatery of choice for this first night. It became so as we stayed around Formosa Gardens for quite a few years in a row and it was convenient. A few Bloomin’ Onions and Cheesey Fries later and it’s become a must do.

With us staying quite some distance from Formosa of course, I’ve substituted it for one on I Drive, trusting that the quality will remain regardless of location. With full bellies we shall retire to a fitful sleep, ready for the early rising which is of course inevitable.

Day Two

With us no doubt being awake before it gets light we shall make best use of this by using the early hours access to the Potter stuff. With the grandparents “off site” they may have to wait at City Walk with a coffee until the muggles are admitted. We have five days here so at some point they’ll be able to do the Potter stuff they are allowed to go on. Heart conditions permitting!

Dinner is planned at Cowfish on City Walk. We tried this for the first time on our last trip and it was excellent. I intend to repeat my choice from that trip too with a

The Cowfish Has Offically Left The Building (A.K.A. The Hunka, Hunka)

Full-pound beef burger, creamy peanut butter, fried bananas, applewood bacon, brioche bun. Choice of side. (Make it a SINGLE HUNKA LOVE, half-pound beef burger for $13)

I will not be making use of the $13 option!

Day Three

Today is the tired day. The journey, the early morning wake up and a day in a theme park mean that this is always down as a rest day for us. We shall spend it by the pool at RPR but we shall make the effort to get across to the new Toothsome Chocolate Factory for lunch, which may just be made up of milk shake and pie. We are on holiday!

Dinner is pencilled in for Celebration. We usually do the Market Street Cafe but I have been warned that a change of ownership has not gone well so we may look elsewhere in Celebration. The main thing we want to do is meet Otis again, who we bumped into and fell in love with last year.

img_4298_zpsju4qwtzj

img_4301_zpske7dd5gt

Should time and energy allow we may pop to Disney Springs for a look and a wander (but no spending, unless it’s food).

Day Four

Refreshed and revitalised we shall tackle Universal Studios today. A train ride across to IOA may come into play should we be done early before heading off for dinner at the Teak Neighbourhood Grill. It’s very much a favourite of ours and we’re much closer to it than we normally are so it cannot be missed.

Day Five

It’s our last full day at Universal so we shall mop up any stuff we haven’t done or want to do again, no doubt with a bit more pooling too. The plan for dinner is a Disney one and assuming the ADR Gods are smiling upon us when the time comes, O’hana is the plan. We haven’t been since the girls were very small and that was for a breakfast. We did dinner there back in 2003 I think, so I think we’re due a visit.

Day Six

Our first move and it sees us pack up and head for the beach. We check into Siesta Key, here…
final siesta

and relax. We plan to do the beach, food and some cocktails and beer over the next week. Should we, by any chance get bored of days here…

We always have the option of popping to Busch Gardens for a bit of theme park action.

Day Seven

Beach! Food and alcohol for dinner.

Day Eight

Beach! Food and alcohol for dinner.

Day Nine

A radical change today as golf is on the plan for me and my Dad as we leave the ladies to do the beach. The two courses currently contending for our custom are Rosedale Golf Club and Palms at Forest Lakes. Whichever presents the lesser chance of me losing a dozen golf balls in water will get the nod.  I have planned to drive out for dinner to the nearest Applebees. Again, a firm fave and we don’t have time to fit it in during our Orlando time.

Day Ten

Beach! Food and alcohol for dinner.

Day Eleven

Beach! Again, a drive out for dinner to the local Olive Garden. A perennial treat for us. Nothing fancy, just great food, great value and Emily’s favourite Lasagne on the planet. The bread sticks and salad are as addictive as crack cocaine ( I would imagine!).

Day Twelve

Beach! Food and alcohol for dinner.

Day Thirteen

We leave Siesta Key and head back to Orlando. The plan says Epcot from whatever time we get there and at some point we will check into All Star Sports (Nana and Grandad) and Beach Club (the rest of us) for our final few days and whistle stop tour of the Disney parks. We’ve done the resting, now some proper theme park days!

Dinner is tentatively planned for Beaches & Cream and the night will be spent watching some duelling pianos at Jellyrolls.

Day Fourteen

Hangovers permitting, an earlyish start to get to Animal Kingdom and hopefully we will have enough stamina to make it all the way to the new night-time stuff too. Either way, Louise, Emily and I will all want to ride Everest in the dark.

We always seem to end up having lunch at Yak & Yeti, hopefully leaving enough room for a late dinner at Sanaa, ADR permitting. The bread starter thing is a thing of beauty and delight.

Day Fifteen

Hollywood Studios today for another park day. I’m hopeful of catching Fantasmic so it could be a long day and we may pop out late afternoon to eat at Bahama Breeze before heading back into the park for the show.

Day Sixteen

Where else, but Magic Kingdom to end the holiday. It isn’t everyone’s favourite but it’s the symbol of everything Disney and my tradition is to fight back the tears as we walk out of the park for the last time each trip. Emily does less well at the fighting part!

Dinner may very well be at the end of the boat trip across to Fort Wilderness at Trail’s End, which is too becoming something of a habit/tradition, but we’ll see how the day goes.

Day Seventeen

We have a full day in Orlando as our flight isn’t until around 8pm so I would imagine we’ll be doing our normal last-minute shopping at Disney Springs for gifts, souvenirs and those last few thousand calories before heading off to the airport, long pants and an enormous sulk.

As things change, I shall keep you updated of course!

Till the next time……

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…..