30 December, 2009

Day 4/Part 2 .... Animal Kingdom morning and POFQ break

Ohhhh do you think I can actually finish a whole entire day in 24 hours? We'll see!

After leaving Tusker House, the logical thing to do was head towards the Safari.  The park had just barely opened so I knew there shouldn't be too long of a line there.  After waiting 10 mins in a '20 minute standby' line, we were boarding our jeep!  Asked for the front row and the CM gladly let us on line.  I really enjoy this ride, even if it's just to drive around and see animals! Plus it lets me practice my photography on moving targets lol I think we finally got a decent glimpse of the lions too.

The driver did the typical spiel and was fun with the whole gang.  Even wished me a happy birthday a few times and kept asking over the microphone if the Birthday Girl got her photo or not! haha!

We continued through Africa and headed over to the Pangani Forest Exploration Trails.  All I really wanted to see were the gorillas.  They seriously amaze me and I could sit and watch them for long periods of time.  Definitely some of the coolest animals out there! We were lucky and found a few close to the viewing area who were just hanging out....

Up next on the agenda was finding some water.  It was HOT...like REALLLLLY hot that day in AK.  I knew we'd definitely be going back for a rest around lunch.  Used a snack credit at the Harambe Fruit Market and headed towards the Tree of Life.

We wandered around the Discovery Island Trails for a little bit and made some more friends.. lol

By now we were both getting really hot and cranky.  I had to do some convincing but mom finally agreed to go back to the hotel and relax and rest for a little bit.  There was no need for us to both be hot, cranky, and tired...we'd both just end up making each other miserable!  So we headed back to the buses and were soon on our way back to POFQ for a few hours.

While on the bus I saw that people were asking about the crowds...

Tweet Update, 12:07 PM Sep 29th: Crowds def picking up. CM at epcot yest said predictions that this week & next week will be much busier than rest of sept....f&w + ddp boo    

Back at POFQ I noticed my tummy was grumbling a little bit.  Before heading back to the room we stopped in Sassagoula to see what they had for lunch.  Now I've been hearing about these muffaletta sandwiches so I decided to try em.

This was pretty tasty! It had melted cheese, ham, pepperoni or salami, and an olive spread.  It was slightly too salty, and I had to take out some ham, but I would definitely order this again.  Not sure how authentic it is to the real ones in the Big Easy but I enjoyed it. I also had a choice about what side I wanted, so I chose the pasta salad which was just ehhh. Pretty sure I didn't eat much of that at all.

Mom wasn't too hungry but wanted a snack so she used my dessert option and got ice cream in a cup.  She either got butter pecan or chocolate.....really don't remember which!  I think she ate the whole thing though.

The Breakdown:
Fuze Green Tea: $?
Muffaletta w/Pasta Side: $8.09
Single Scoop Cone: $2.69
DDP: 1 CS/TS Credit

After our 'lunch' we headed back to the room.  Pretty sure I napped for a little bit and mom watched tv/napped.  It felt so good to be laying down in air condition! Whew!

Okie... I'll continue with the last part of day 4 tonight! Getting there slowly but surely :)

Day 4, Part 1... AK and Breakfast at Tusker House

Morning everyone!  Finally starting to bust out these reports! Hopefully I can get one more out today.

Today (Sept 29) was our AK day with breakfast at Tusker House... so we were up and out pretty early.

Tweet Update, 7:22 AM Sep 29th:  Waiting for a bus to ak for breakfast with donald. Bus stop is empty so I'm guessing we just missed the bus...boo!

It was probably the longest time we had to wait for a bus, but still wasn't more than 15 mins.  When we got to AK, they were already letting people with ADRs into the park.  The CM had a clipboard but wasn't checking anyone.  These two poor girls apparently thought that they could just walk up for the ADR and the CM politely told them that there are no walk ups.  They looked defeated! They trekked all the way to AK and couldn't even get in.  Sad, lol.

I wish I had more time to take in AK when it was pretty empty.  It was beautiful but we were so hungry that we didn't even stop for any photos.  We went up to the hostess stand, gave our name, and were quickly told to wait in line to be seated.  We bypassed the group photo and were quickly brought to our table. 

Our waitress was friendly, although she disappeared for a few times throughout the meal.  Nothing horrible though.  She brought us out their fabulous juice (which I can NOT remember what was in it!) and then took our drink order and explained the buffet. 

Mom and I headed up to get food while she brought us the drinks.  The selection of food was decent but I wasn't blown away, as you can see by my plate...

The ham was fresh and moist, and the waffle was the usual yummy Mickey waffle all over property.  Potatoes were cooked well and crispy...The ham and cheese fritatta was just ok.  The beef bobtie quiche was also good, but not great. 

I also tried the bread pudding and it was a little too dry for me but I didnt want to put the vanilla sauce on it.  Mom ate all the pecans and crunchy stuff on top and enjoyed it!  She enjoyed breakfast here, I think mainly because she ate a million Mickey waffles and fruit!
Oh...the one thing that was really crappy about Tusker House? Their COFFEE!!! They serve the gross Nescafe stuff and I couldn't even drink it.  Vile!

Tweet Update, 8:37 AM Sep 29th: Only problem with tusker house? Crappy nescafe coffee!

When the waitress came by once I asked her where in the park I can get real brewed coffee but I don't think she understood me well.  She's the only CM we encountered that didn't joke and laugh about the crappy coffee that's sold around the parks!

So we had finished eating and still hadn't had any characters come around.  I saw a few walking around but every time they came to our room, they would do a few tables and then walk out for their breaks. 

Tweet Update, 9:02 AM Sep 29th: Tusker house was decent. Waiting for the characters...none came by yet..hmph! Donald was in the room and walked out!

While waiting I noticed the cool ceiling decorations 

Finally The Mouse walked into the room! Score!

And Mr. Duck was right behind him...

Tweet Update, 9:07 AM Sep 29th: Yay just got mickey and donald...daisy and goofy are in the room

After waiting a few more minutes and making sure the bill was paid, Goofy made his way over to our table

Daisy was also there and of course right when she was supposed to come to our table, she went on a break.  We decided not to wait anymore and headed out into the park. 

So overall review? Tusker House was good, nothing amazing.  Crystal Palace was much better by far.  The character interaction was pretty much the same as CP, but a little more rushed.  They would come and take a photo with me but some started walking away before my mom could get a pic with them.  She wanted photos too!  You have to somehow plan to be in their starting room if you have the first ADR of the day.  We were towards the back of the restaurant so it took them a long time to get to us. 

I would probably eat here again though.  Definitely if I had kids with me.  It was cute and I liked how the characters were all dressed for their safari.  Service was friendly as well.  Now if only they could fix that gross coffee!!

The Breakdown:
2 Adult Buffet:  $41.98
OOP: tip

OK...if I don't end it here and get ready for work, I'll be REALLY late! I'll try to add another piece when I'm at work today :)

29 December, 2009

Sept '09 Trip Report, Day3/Part 3..Epcot, DTD, POFQ

Alright...I'm determined to finish the TR before my trip in NINE DAYS if it kills me! Here's a short and quick ending to our Day 3...

Last I left you, mom and I had just finished a fabulous lunch at Tutto and had just walked out of the restaurant. 

Umm... I think I had tape worm or something this afternoon.  Or the Food & Wine bug attacked me and I was determined to at least try a few things even if my stomach exploded. 

We decided to head back to POFQ and take a little rest but wanted to see a few things along the way so we headed in the direction of Mexico. 

first stop along the way was the Germany Bierline at F&W.  I was craving a good yummy beer and what better place, right?  I quickly ran over and got a Spaten Oktoberfest ($8) and we continued on our way.  I'm pretty sure we wandered a little bit into the store and looked at all of the Hummel's.  My grandmother used to be a HUGE Hummel collector and when she passed away, I was able to keep a few of them.  There were a few really cute Disney Hummel's but they were definitely out of my price range. :( 

Forward with our journey, I walked past the Australia kiosk by the Africa Outpost and the smell of the lamb chops stopped me dead in my tracks.  I'm half Greek...we love our lamb! I quickly ran over there too while mom sat on a bench waiting and grabbed a chop using a snack credit. 

Grilled Lamb Chop, Red Wine Sauce, Murray River Sea Salt $5.50

 Headed over to mom and relaxed for a few minutes.  The lamb chop was delicious!! Slightly fatty but nothing horrible.  Cooked perfectly medium and had great flavor.  I really don't see or remember any red wine sauce though.  They could have used slightly more seasoning but I was still happy.
We continued on our way, skipped China for now (I think..at least I have no photos of it), and quickly stopped by Norway for a few minutes.  I've actually never been in the Stave church so we went inside to take a peek.  Cute little museum in there!  The woodwork on the outside though is what was really interesting though!

We stopped in the store to look around and I yet again fell in love with sweaters that I couldn't afford.  Also saw a pair of Helly Hanson snow boots that I LOVED but again, didn't feel like parting with that kind of money at the time. 

Heading by Mexico, I wanted to go check out the new tequila bar so mom and I ventured in.  I also knew that she'd enjoy the theming inside, which she did.  We wandered for a little bit, watched the glass maker at work, and then took a peek into the tequila bar.  Definitely have added it to my list of things I have to do in January!

And of course we couldn't leave Mexico without a ride with the Three Caballeros!! Granted the line was only 5 minutes long or we would have definitely bypassed it!

After Mexico we decided to head back to the buses to POFQ... got on a bus fairly quickly and we in the room in no time. 

Tweet Update, 4:15 PM Sep 28th: Back at pofq from epcot for a bit...I need to be hungrier for food and wine but was able to try lamb in melbourne and spaten in munich..yum

As we were sitting in the room, we decided that our 8pm ADR at Teppan Edo was too late for mom so I put out a call to all my tweeters..

Tweet Update, 5:03 PM Sep 28th:  Thinking about canceling teppan edo for 8pm... For 4 people...anyone want it?   

Sadly no one took it so i called and cancelled.  Instead of heading back to Epcot, mom and I wanted to go check out Downtown Disney for a little bit.  I haven't been there in AGES so I didnt even really remember what it looked like. 

Sadly don't have any photos for the rest of the night though but we headed over to the dock at POFQ and took a leisurely boat ride over to DTD.  I wanted to definitely go to the World of Disney and grab a few souvenirs for myself and friends so we headed that way first.  Luckily I also had my Birthday Fun Card so I had a bunch of money to burn through! :)

We ended up getting 3 mugs (mine, my friends, moms friend), a frame for the house, and a photo album. 

Then we wanted a 2009 Christmas ornament so we headed over to the Christmas store and bought one as well as a reusable shopping bag. 

By now it was about 6:30pm and mom was getting a little hungry.  I had NO idea what mom would like to eat at DTD so we wandered a little bit.  I think she was getting tired and cranky though because NOTHING appealed to her.  AT ALL! :(  I was trying for Earl of Sandwich or Wolfgangs but she wasn't having it.  Ugh.  So we headed back to the boat to get back to POFQ and eat at Sassagoula.  The boat ride was fun since the captain kept making fun of me for my bday.  :) 

Back at POFQ, I reeeeallly wasn't hungry and mom never eats too much so we actually split one CS meal. 

I got a Powerade, Banana (for the morning snack), and a Personalized Cheese Pizza with side salad.  All for one CS credit.  Nothing really to review here.  The pizza wasn't as good as our arrival day, but it was still decent.  I stole a slice from mom and ate the side salad.  The salad was fresh but OMG the dressing was sooooo gross.  I kinda ruined the salad with it.  I grabbed the french dressing and THOUGHT I had mixed it enough in the package but when i tried to pour it on the salad, only the greasy oil poured out.  Needless to say I was skeeved out so didn't eat much of it. 

We then called it an early night and headed back to the room. :)

23 December, 2009

Sept '09 Trip Report, Day3/Part2..Lunch at Tutto

OK! I'm back! And I'm going to get a TR in if it kills me today.  The trip details are starting to get fuzzy and it's making me upset!

So I left you guys off on a beautiful Epcot morning...and mom and I were just making our way around the world showcase and were heading to Italy for lunch at Tutto.

Our reservation was for 1pm and looking at our receipt as well as my tweet, I believe we were there right on time.  We were seated right next to the tiny 'patio' area closest to the outside tables.  It was a slightly tiny two person table but not too bad.  Our waitress was Rena and she was delightful. She was very friendly and always made sure that we had everything we needed and that our glasses (mom had a soda, I had iced tea....both $3) were full. 

To start off, they brought a basket of different types of bread and breadsticks, along with a plate of olive oil and a tiny bowl of olives.  Yummy start!

For appetizers, I started off with my usual... Prosciutto di Parma - Prosciutto ham, seasonal melon $16

I'm pretty sure I can be considered a prosciutto snob.  I can live on good prosciutto for the rest of my life.  I might be bloated from salt overload, but it's a risk I'd take.  I know a lot of people hate it since it's so salty...but if you find quality prosciutto, it's not as salty as most.  Growing up with all these great Italian deli's in my area, I've had my share of the good and bad.  This prosciutto?  Perfect!  Yes, it's very expensive for an appetizer, but even if I was paying OOP, I'd order it.  Freshly sliced, not too fatty, not too salty.  The melon was perfectly ripe and a great compliment to the meat.  I'm definitely glad my mom doesn't eat it...more for me!

The melon is hiding under there somewhere...

Mom chose the "Bufala" Mozzarella - tomatoes, basil and Tuscan olive oil $12
Not sure why Bufala is in quotes but it's made from water buffalo milk instead of cow.  It's softer/creamier than cow mozzarella.  This didn't disappoint either.

I forgot to take an 'after' photo but after, the waitress came by and supplied us with olive oil to drizzle over the whole plate.  This was delicious as well.  Perfectly fresh mozz and the olive oil was a perfect compliment.  The tomatoes could have been slightly riper but I know they weren't in season any more. 

Needless to say, both our plates were completely bare by the time they came to clean the table!

Mom was excited when she saw filet of sole on the menu.  It's her favorite fish so she ordered that... Sogliola in Tecia - saute breaded filet of Sole, lemon, caper relish $24

She LOVED this! Didn't eat the greens or anything but pretty sure she ate every last bite of the fish.  It smelled actually good to me, and I hate seafood.  I didn't smell the typical seafood smell.  She said it was very light and had a perfect lemon flavor. 

I couldn't really make up my mind so asked for a pasta recommendation.  Rena suggested the Casarecci - Cavatelli pasta, sweet sausage ragu, tomatoes, pecorino romano $21

YUM! I devoured every last bite of this too.  Cavatelli, if made wrong, can be way too heavy and pastey.  This was fairly light and not horribly filling.  The sauce wasn't too heavy either and the sausage flavor really stood out in the dish.  I sopped up every last drop of sauce with some crusty Italian bread at the end.  Ok...must stop talking about it..my mouth is watering!

I think it was around here when I tweeted about 'part' of my Tutto experience...

Tweet Update, 1:31 PM Sep 28th: It must be a requirement that if you're a male waiter at tutto...you must be beautiful lol   

I'm sorry to all the guys reading this (Scott!) but it's true.  There ratio of good looking men to not-so-good-looking men in there was staggering.  Obviously I wasn't complaining...haha!  And pretty sure Scott has been making fun of me ever since whenever I mention Tutto!

We were pretty much stuffed to the gills after eating every last bite of both appetizers and entrees but of course we couldn't turn down yummy Italian desserts, right?

I ordered the Cannoli - crisp pastry filled with sweet ricotta, chocolate and candied orange $6.50.  The allears menu says it's $12 but not on my receipt!

This was a fairly decent cannoli.  Not the best I've ever had but it ranked up there.  Again, I'm pretty picky with my Italian food! The cannolis are definitely filled with cream to order and aren't just sitting around getting soggy.  Bonus points for that!

Mom chose the Copetta Sotto Bosco - berries, zabaglione cream gelato and chocolate sauce $14

She did make a slight change though and asked for the dark chocolate gelato instead of the zabaglione gelato. 

The berries were all very fresh and ripe, and the chocolate gelato went well with all of them.  I forget what berries were included but definitely strawberries, raspberries, bananas (?) and possibly blueberries?

Oh! Before they brought out the normal desserts... I heard a slight commotion behind me.  A few of the waiters all got together and sang 'Happy Birthday' to me in Italian.  Very cute! They also presented me with this yummy dessert:

It was chocolate mouse in a chocolate shell with raspberry drizzle.  Not too heavy or sweet..just right!

I think I can confidently say that Tutto was the second best meal after Citricos.  I loved every single thing about it and wouldn't change a thing.  The service was great, as well as the food.  Liked it so much that you'll be seeing it again in this TR at some point, haha!  Yes, it's expensive but they use quality ingredients and I think it's worth it.

The Breakdown:
Iced Tea: $3
Soda:  $3
Prosciutto: $16
Bufala Mozz: $12
Casarecci: $21
Sogliola: $24
Cannoli: $6.50
Copetta Sottobosco: $14
Subtotal: $99.50
Tax: $6.47
Total before tip: $105.97

We paid the bill, thanked everyone, and made our way back out into the gorgeous Florida weather.

Of course we had to stop for a few minutes and enjoy the view!

Alrighty...gotta stop here for a bit, time to head home from work!! :woohoo:

22 December, 2009

I think I've lost my mind!

So I think I have seriously gone crazy today....  I was talking to a friend who has run the NYC Marathon and he mentioned that he wants to do a biathlon and triathlon, plus a few more halfs in 2010.

Well all day today we've been emailing each other links to races and bi's and tri's.  And I actually REALLY want to do these! I haven't even ran in a complete half marathon yet, I'm delusional!

Here's the list so far: (green is registered... red is tentative)
Jan 9th:  Disney Half Marathon
March 21: NYC Half Marathon (it's a lotto, cross your fingers for us!)
Apr 3rd:  NYC 13.1 Race Series
May 14-15: New York Ragnar Relay
Jun 27: Boston 13.1 Race Series
Sept 19th: Philadelphia Rock n Roll Half Marathon

PLUS my friend has 90% convinced me to sign up for a bi and a few tri sprints.  WHAT have I done to myself!?!?!?!

21 December, 2009

Sept '09 Trippie...Day 3/Part 1... Beautiful Morning at Epcot!

So I can proudly say that we put the worst of trip behind us.  Everything from here on out went fairly well. 

We woke up bright and early Monday morning and realized we never bought a banana so my mom can take her medication in the morning.  Half asleep and still in my PJ's, I wasn't sure what time Sassagoula opened.  I think the first time I stumbled out there it was about 5:45am.  Closed. Figures! Headed back over there at 6am and by 6:03, I had purchased a banana using a snack credit.  I know it's only 99 cents or something but we ended up with so many snack credits by the end of the trip!

Breakfast today was at the Wave, which I was really looking forward to. 

Tweet Update, 7:37 AM Sep 28th:  Heading to breakfast at the wave...then off to epcot!

Mom and I got ready and headed to the bus stop for the MK.  When we got there we heard a family ask the bus driver about going to Chef Mickey's.  He said he'd see what he can do about dropping them directly off at the Contemporary...sweet!  Sure enough, after dropping a few people off at MK, we got door to door service right to the Contemp.  This day was already looking up! 

Tweet Update, 8:34 AM Sep 28th:  Bus driver was awesome and took a few families right to the contemporary instead of having us take the monorail from mk

The new updates to the Contemporary are BEAUTIFUL!  I can't wait to get a chance to stay here one day.  It's just what I thought it should look like.  Dark wood, modern, etc. 

We headed over to the Wave and found it was pretty empty! Maybe 10-15 tables were seated.  We were shown to our seats right away and Lisa was our server.  Just what we needed after our Kona fiasco! Lisa went above and beyond a few times and I couldn't thank her enough.  I was in desperate need of some good coffee and the Wave didn't disappoint.  Mom ordered at tea as her drink. 

When Lisa found out it was my birthday, she brought out a cinnamon danish with the drinks.  It was delicious but too sweet for me so early in the morning! We only had a few bites. 

For my meal I had the American - two eggs (over medium for me!) with breakfast potatoes and choice of bacon, pork sausage or chicken sausage $11.99.  I chose the chicken sausage since I've never actually had it out before. 
The eggs were cooked perfectly.  I HATE when any part of the white is runny.  But I LOVE runny egg yolks.  The potatoes were very good as well, perfectly seasoned.  The chicken sausage I wasn't too thrilled with, but it wasn't bad.  Just not my favorite.  If it was more well done I might have liked it better.  I'd rather some really good bacon!

Mom chose the BYO Omelette - $11.49.  I don't see it on any menu but it's on the receipt! I don't even think it was on the menu that they gave us.  Mom saw the feta cheese scrambled eggs but hates scrambled eggs.  They gladly made her a feta and tomato omelette, with potatoes. 

Mom loved it.  Perfectly cooked, and enough feta.  Some places jip you on the cheese! 

We both forgot that we didn't really want the biscuits, although they were good.  I just like dipping real toast into the egg yolks, and mom just likes toast better.  So we asked if we can get a side of rye toast and Lisa gladly brought some over free of charge. 

We quickly ate our breakfast and asked for the bill.  When Lisa came to bring it over, she also gave me a signed birthday card from the whole staff at the Wave.  SO cute!

The breakdown:
BYO Omelette:  $11.49
Tea:  $2.19
American w/Chk Saus:  $11.99
Organic Columbian Coffee: $2.19
Total before tip: $29.68
DDP credits used: 2
OOP: tip

Would we eat there again? DEFINITELY!  I loved it and it was nice and relaxing.  We actually had breakfast there again on our last day.  The service was amazing, the decor was beautiful...couldn't ask for much more. 

On our way out we stopped in the bar area and I was in heaven.  It was a beautiful bar with TV's to watch sports, etc.  On the sides was a little lounge area with couches, etc.  Perfect place to go without the kids after a long day in the parks! Sadly I didn't take any photos though :(

We made our way upstairs to the monorail and walked right on to head to the TTC and then switched to get to Epcot.  After getting into the park, we took a few photos with Photopass and took in everything.

We decided to start our day by going counterclockwise starting with the Character Spot.  A quick check for the wait and noticed it was only 20 mins but the line seemed a little less than that.  We decided to suck it up and got on line. 

I know some people don't like the character spot but it's a great way to knock out the Fab 5 quickly and painlessly. 

After meeting all our faves, we headed out towards Nemo.  I know some people don't like the ride but I think it's adorable!! It's also a great ride to test out your dark ride photo skills.  Not impossible to take photos, but not the easiest either. 
We then spent some time admiring all our swimming friends.  Don't think I got any decent photos though...I can also sit and watch the manatee's all day.  They're so cute and graceful even though they're HUGE!

We decided to skip the Land Pavillion and kept on going.  Mom wouldn't go on Soarin' and the only other thing we liked is Living with the Land.  Since that wasn't running, we saved some time and went right to Journey Into Imagination to get my Figment fix.  I really think that was the last time I willingly ride this ride.  It sucks.  I'm sorry!! Totally miss Dreamfinder!! I will go on it though in January just to show my newbie friend Figment.  Mom was NOT a fan either.  She said 'never again!' after the skunk smell!

We browsed around in the store for a bit because I needed to start using my Birthday Gift Card and wanted some Figment memorabilia, and I found some! Found the cutest little Figment plush magnet thing.  He's about 4 inches tall and has magnets on his hands and feet.  He's now clinging on for dear life on my cabinet at work.  Let me tell you...so many people have walked by and gone 'OMG! Figment!'.  Here...I'll take a pic with my blackberry and post it on here lol
After my little purchase, we continued on our way. 

It was 11:15am by then and I wanted to see the Voices of Liberty before we had to go to lunch.  We walked into the World Showcase and saw some of the food booths for Food and Wine.  Could not WAIT to try them!  Unfortunately I didn't try nearly as many as I wanted though.  We walked a little bit just to see some of the booths and then decided to head to the boats and take a boat over to the other side. 

A lovely Happy Birthday wish from the boat captain, and we disembarked on the other side of the lake.  Walked right in to the American Pavilion and grabbed a seat next to this really nice older couple.  It was their first time at Epcot and they wanted to see the American Adventure.  We told them about Voices of Liberty and how they were one of my all time favorite things to see while at Disney.  After waiting only a few minutes, the singers came out and wowed the couple (as well as mom and I)...

After it was over, the couple thanked us for convincing them to stay and listen.  We then all headed into the theater to watch the show. 

This show seriously makes me get all teary eyed every single time.  I have the Golden Dream song on my iPod and LOVE it!

We were starting to get hungry (wow...finally!) so we took our time heading over to Italy.  When we got there we were greeted by Sergio! The kid that he had picked was hilarious. 

I think this is a cute shot even though there's a shoulder in my way!

Tweet Update, 1:00 PM Sep 28th:  Fabulous gorgeous day at epcot. Got teary eyes listening to voices of liberty. Now enjoying lunch at tutto italia

Ok, time to take a break...Up next? Our fabulous lunch at Tutto!