Sunday, December 22, 2013

Carnival Dream Cruise, Day 2: Nassau

We woke up pretty early - the only downside of the first day of vacation is that your body hasn't quite caught onto the idea yet!  It was also the end of Daylight Savings Time, so we fell back an hour the night before.

As we were getting ready, we were pulling into Nassau.  I took a few pictures from our balcony as we pulled in.

As you can see, there were already a number of ships in port today.  We were scheduled to be there from 8am until 2pm.  My family used to travel to Paradise Island about every other year growing up, so I'm fairly familiar with the area.  Because of the limited time, we opted to do some exploring on our own versus doing an official excursion.  It was Geoff's first time to Nassau.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Carnival Dream Cruise: Day 1

The first week in November brought about our long-awaited vacation.  The first actual vacation we've taken since moving to Florida.  Up until now, all of our travel was family/wedding related.  We were looking forward to getting away and relaxing!

I had done a lot of research on cruises that leave from Florida over the summer, and we finally settled on the Carnival Dream in August.  There were two main reasons this cruise won; first, it left from Port Canaveral - yes, we drove 30 minutes and hopped on a cruise.  Second, we got a fantastic deal on a balcony stateroom for being Florida residents.  

We left Saturday, November 2, and returned November 9.  It was an Eastern Caribbean and we stopped at Nassau, St Thomas, & St Martin.

Now that all the details are out of the way, I'll start the adventure!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Epcot Food & Wine Festival - Booth Reviews from 10/26/13

On October 26, I met my Mom up at Epcot for a little Food & Wine craziness.  My standard advice is to avoid attending Food & Wine Festival on weekends if at all possible.  If you must attend, get there as soon as the World Showcase opens (11am, but some booths open a little early) and try to wrap up the Food & Wine portion of your day by 2pm or so.

I got to the park around 10am and my Mom met me about noon.  I did a little exploring on my own and right before 11am, headed over to the World Showcase.  Now, today was also one of the first weekends we had that the weather was comfortable and gorgeous...which meant I was really expecting a lot of crowds.  So I went in with a plan of attack: since I only had one day, I wrote down some of the new things that I wanted to try.  I really didn't want to just go back to my favorites they have every year and be unable to try anything new since I was filled up.  As I did last year, I'll also rate each dish on a scale of 1-5.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Catching Up: How I Let Almost 5 Months Slip By Without Any Posts

I think it's safe to say I'm not meant to be a professional blogger.  In any event, I know we have family from up North that reads this to see what we've been up to, so I'll post every now and then with a recap of whatever time has gone by.

My last post was from back in June when we went to see the new Simpsons area at Universal.  I'll start my recap from May, since I left that out of my last recap.  While we've been busy, a lot of what we've been up to has been pretty mundane stuff - hanging out with friends, visiting family, etc.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Review/New at Universal: Simpsons & Transformers

This past weekend Geoff and I were planning on heading to the Magic Kingdom...until we discovered that his pass is now blacked out until August.  So we went to Universal instead (where my Seasonal is still good to go!)

The last time we went, we didn't really do many rides at the Universal Studios area, so we made that our plan for the day.  We got there shortly after the park opened...old habits die hard I guess! I was a little concerned when we walked in and saw Despicable Me had a 40 minute wait.  I shouldn't have been though, once we walked to the back the waits were essentially non-existant.  We hopped on the Mummy (which was AWESOME) and started wandering when we saw Transformers was open!  And only had a 10 minute wait.  So we hopped in line.  10 minutes was really just the time it took to walk through the queue!  They had just opened it up for the day, we really lucked out!
Entrance to the ride.

The verdict?  It was great!  It was really well done.  It's in the same style as Spiderman at Islands of Adventure.  I was amazed that we were moving down the "road" when I thought we couldn't go anywhere...until I realized it was the 3D effect.  Haha...oops!  About half way through we lost the effects and audio.  It started up again before the end, so we didn't go on again.  It's the risk you take when the ride is in soft opening, so I wasn't too upset.

Friday, May 3, 2013

I'm a bad blogger...

Oh hey there... Sorry to have abandoned my blog.  I promise to do a better job!  I guess I'll do a brief recap of what we've been up to.

For anyone who doesn't know, I lost my job in January.  Womp womp, too bad, so sad.  In all honesty, it was a blessing in disguise.  I was in a position that wasn't really something I cared to be doing and I was super stressed.  By the end of February, I found a position that I think puts me in a better place - at least my state of mind!  In brief, I'm now doing a sort of sales and procurement mix.  I like it a lot.  I like the company, I like the people I work with - and yes, I go into an actual office everyday, which is great for my need of routine.  I've been there for about 10 weeks now and so far, it's going really well.  Hopefully that keeps up!  I also had a chance to visit with Betsy back in January, which I might not have gotten to otherwise.  Totally worth it!

I'll do my best to recap the past few months now.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Drinking Around the World: An Epcot Adventure

Whenever you have a group of adults who talk about Epcot, eventually drinking around the World comes up.  Clearly, we are no different and decided to give it a try.  So for some history on how it came about; last month, friends of ours, James & Crystal, suggested we give it a try - it was on James' Bucket List.  Since I really can't drink that much, I offered to be the Designated Driver.  We originally scheduled it for February 2, but since my parents have a timeshare at Orange Lake that was being used and had an extra bed the following weekend, we rescheduled to February 9.  This worked out well, because even if I was sober and able to drive all the way back home - it was still a long day and a 15 minute drive is better than an hour!


We got to Epcot about 11:30 in the morning and headed straight for lunch.  We had discussed a strategy and decided Mexico should be first then double back to the UK, so I suggested Cantina de San Angel for lunch.  It's one of my favorite places to stop around the World Showcase for lunch, so I was a happy camper.  We finished up just after noon, so we had a good 9 hours to hit 11 countries. Once we had food in our bellies, our first stop was to Cava del Tequila.  Since this was our first stop, and I love their Blood Orange Margaritas, this was the only place I joined with a drink as well.  Crystal joined me with a Blood Orange Margarita.  As usual, it was delicious.

Blood Orange Margarita
James & Geoff both had Classic Margaritas, but Geoff's was made with Mezcal instead of tequila.  They both look the same, so I'll just include the one picture.

Classic Margarita

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Disney Dining Review: Tutto Gusto

I think this is the first time I'm repeating a restaurant!  When my parents and I checked out the new Test Track, we also grabbed lunch at Epcot.  My Dad had never been to Tutto Gusto and I was certain he would love it - wine, cheese & meat? What's not to love?

The menu has also changed since the last time I was there.  The big thing is that they moved to pre-selected plates rather than a la carte.  I'd like to see it still be a la carte, if given a choice.  And the items I had last time are no longer on the menu. They gave us the menu for Tutto Italia, which we put aside.  I discovered after we got back that at least the polenta is a side you can order from Tutto Italia, so we could have gotten it at Tutto Gusto if we wanted.

I didn't take many pictures, so I'll apologize in advance.  We got there just before noon and there wasn't a problem getting a table (Tutto Gusto is first come, first serve - no reservations.)  It's fairly dark in there and I had trouble getting a cell phone signal inside, so if you're trying to get in contact with someone, be aware of that.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Who wants to hear my thoughts on the new Test Track?

A few weeks ago, I met my parents up at Epcot.  Our number one thing to do?  The new Test Track of course!

We got in line at 9:30am, the wait time said 60 minutes, so we waited it out.  Shouldn't be too bad.  Of course, that assumes that the wait time is accurate.  While we were in line (which went way out of the queue) the wait time went up to 80 minutes.  Still not bad.

Of course, since I'm telling you about the wait, it was clearly not accurate.  We wound up waiting close to 2 hours instead.

My parents had done Test Track back in December, but did it with a Fastpass.  They said with the FP, the options when you design your car are very limited, which is partly why we decided to wait it out in the normal line.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Dining Review: Be Our Guest

One of the things I have been anxious to do is to check out Be Our Guest.  My Mom and I finally were able to get that chance this past week.  Be Our Guest is located in New Fantasyland and when you enter, you're transported into the Beast's Castle (which you can see high above you as you cross the bridge.)

The line wasn't nearly as bad as when Geoff and I went in December.  We waited about 15-20 minutes to place our order.  As you walk in, you're split into two lines.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Dining Review: Contempo Cafe

Also prior to the Holidays (I know, I've been slacking) Geoff and I went up to the Magic Kingdom.  Our original plan was to eat at Be Our Guest in New Fantasyland, but when we arrived, we were told the wait would be over an hour.  And well, we didn't want to wait that long.

So we grabbed a LeFou's brew (I love Apple Juice and sweet things, so I like it) and walked over to the Contemporary for lunch instead.  We had eaten at Contempo Cafe a few years ago when we were down for Food & Wine Festival and enjoyed it, so we decided to try it again.

Contempo Cafe is located on the same level and right next door to Chef Mickey's.  So it's loud.  And the monorail runs right over your head (who can resist that?!)  You place your order on a touch-screen kiosk, pick up any desserts/chips/drinks you want, and then head to the cashier.  Once you pay, you'll receive a buzzer that will go off when your food is ready.  Of course, there's nothing telling you that this is the process, so you tend to get a lot of confused people waiting around the pick up window.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dining Review: Grand Floridian Cafe

Probably one of the best things about Disney is that it is almost exactly half-way between us and my parents. Which means it's the perfect spot to meet my Mom for lunch.  Before the Holidays, we did just that.  We decided to meet at the Grand Floridian Cafe and check out the Holiday decorations at the Grand Floridian.

The Grand Floridian Cafe is tucked in the back left corner of the main building of the Resort.  Like the rest of the Resort, it has Victorian decor.  We stumbled over this particular dining location a number of years ago when we were looking for a late breakfast.  It's a good little find.  It's usually not too busy, so it's easy to get a reservation and it stays fairly low-key and quiet.

We checked in about 5 minutes early, and were given a buzzer.  Not too much later, it was going off and we were directed to our table.  We were seated fairly close to the front in the middle of the room.  Personally, I like the back of the restaurant and against a window, but we're not terribly picky.  Our waitress was very nice and attentive, no complaints there.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Dining Review: Roaring Forks - Cupcakes

Geoff's parents visited for the Holidays and while they were here, we decided to head up to Disney.  And because we're not totally crazy, we didn't actually go into the Parks.  Rather, we had lunch at Kona (which I didn't take pictures of, sorry!) and then explored the Magic Kingdom resorts to look at their Christmas decorations.  It was great, we got a little Disney Magic without the insane crowds!

Grand Floridian Lobby
Our tour eventually led us to Wilderness Lodge, where we decided it was time for a sweet snack!  Geoff's Dad shares my sweet tooth, so it wasn't like I had to twist anyone's arm.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

How I know I married the right person

Geoff: "You look cute tonight."

Me: "Ugh, my hair is frizzy."

Geoff: "Maybe I like frizzy haired ladies."

Me: "Did you like the teacher from the Magic School Bus?"

Geoff: "I was just thinking the same thing!"

...we're a match made in nerdy heaven...