We woke up at 5:00 while it really was 4:00 and we should feel like it was 23:00 the day before. In short we just had our first daylight saving time switch of this year. The next one will be the next weekend.
At exactly 5:00 I started the car fully loaded with 2 almost empty cabin suitcases and 2 (you can say 3) suitcases with a total weight of 43,8 kilogram according to our suitcase scale.
Only 20 minutes later we parked our car in the parking garage we’ve reserved last week en 10 minutes later we dropped off our baggage. At 5:45 we were at gate A04 where had the pleasure to meet a colleague on his way back home to Japan!
Exactly on time everyone was sitting on the right seat and we left Germany behind to visit France. In less than 10 minutes we are both feeling lucky that we need to leave this country behind fast. Nothing is clear, everything is written or announced in France (on an international airport) and most people are not polite.
It took 45 minutes from airplane 1 to airplane 2 and I guess that we walked a couple kilometer too. But with still plenty of time left we waited at the gate before the boarding would start. And too bad our stay in France took a bit longer due to a technical check but only 45 minutes later as expected the plane was on the runway!
The flight itself was one of the better ones we’ve had so far. We both had a glass of champagne and we watched some movies we didn’t see before and we both are of the opinion that White House Down is a better movie as we expected. And at the end we had an amazing look at Miami.
After arriving at Miami Airport with a delay of 30 minutes we speeded to customs but there were already some other flights before us which meant we needed to wait about 45 minutes, not to bad and our suitcases we’re already waiting for us. We looked forward to a shower but after walking 20 minutes and riding a people-mover tot the rental car facility we knew it would take some time before a would have left the airport. And indeed about 2:15 hour later we left the airport in a brand new Infinity QX70 3.7l. Too bad the drive was only 20 minutes and our hotel has valet parking only so I couldn’t try all the options yet.
Speaking about the hotel it’s in Miami South Beach in between Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive. Checking in was a pleasure with champagne, checking out the room was even better. We have a huge bed, a huge balcony and an even bigger bathroom with 4 sections. The shower is amazing…. After the shower someone knocked on our door and brought us a complimentary bottle of wine as a gift because we are platinum members. And if you remember that we stay in this hotel for points we’ve collected with other hotel stays this made it even better.
Since we still hadn’t had a proper evening meal we walked south on Ocean Drive to checkout some places to eat. In the end we went for Finnegan’s Way where we both had a tiny cocktail and something to eat before we went back to the hotel.
Back in our hotel we went to the balcony from where I post our first blog of this trip!
As expected we woke up a bit early this morning, to be exact somewhere close after 4:00 o’clock. From out of our bed we watched a movie on one of the two televisions in our room and we fell a sleep a couple of times again for some minutes but sleeping isn’t what our bodies liked to do. So at 5:30 I decided to call our little nephew with FaceTime and we had a lot of fun playing peek-a-boo with him. At 6:30 we finally left our bed to get dressed and get something to drink and eat at the Starbucks to have breakfast on the beach waiting for the sunrise.
We took some great pictures walked through the water and watched a lot of sportive people jogging over the beach. Some of them looking more interesting as other people. After a short walk over the beach we walked back to our hotel over Collins Ave.
After arriving in the hotel we went directly to the pool for a swim and to work on our tan! The pool has 4 windows on the bottom where you can look through from the hotel bar which is a neat photo opportunity.
Close to 10:00 we went back to our room to shower and get prepared for the first shopping tour of this vacation! And not even 100 meter away from the hotel entrance I hurt my toe by slipping on some concrete colored mud. It was bleeding o we went back to the hotel for some bandages. In the beginning everything went fine but after about 3 blocks the bandages couldn’t stop the blood from leaking through anymore so we went to the nearest CVS Pharmacy for a “Repair Sanders toe ASAP kit”.
After cleaning and applying we went back on our way to the Tommy Hilfiger Store at Collins Ave but before we went to the Victoria Secrets store for Danielle. At Tommy Hilfiger we spender over 2 hours to shop for the winter collections which was already on SALE. We end up with some great discounts and 2 Rugby striped tote bags. It was fun shopping there since it was a beautiful store with a small garden to walk through different buildings.
After this major shopping we both were read for something to eat and we knew there should be Johnny Rockets nearby. And since we were both looking forward to a burger and a milkshake this was the place to go to. Danielle ordered the “Route 66″ and I went for the “Miami”. The milkshakes we picked were also different Danielle is a chocolate addict and got herself a Dark Chocolate Shake made with Ghirardelli® Chocolate and I ordered the Big Apple Shake made with an actual slice of apple pie.
After lunch we rolled back to out hotel via the Miami branch of Dash, the shop from the Kardashian Sisters. Back at the hotel it was already 16:00 hour but we decided to enjoy the beach club from our hotel til 18:00 hour. After sunbathing for an hour we got some food at the Wallgreens for the evening.
After this last shopping we went to the hotel where we enjoyed the hotel and later in the evening the hotel bar. Tonight will be the last blog post from Miami because early tomorrow morning we’ll drive towards Key West.
Go Key West…
Today was our 2nd full day here in Florida and we were going to drive from Miami South Beach all the way down south to Key West. We woke up not as early as yesterday but still at 05.30. We showered and packed the last things and at 06:30 we checked out at the hotel and picked up our car from the valet parking. Next thing to do was getting breakfast at Starbucks. And as soon as we got that, we left for Key West a little before 7 o’clock.
The trip to Key West is only 270 kilometer, but TomTom told us it was going to take us about 4 hours to get there. As soon as we left Miami behind us the highway was not that busy anymore and before we knew it we were at Key Largo. The views were amazing and shortly after Key Largo we made a quick stop to search for a GeoCache, which we found. Our first find in Florida.
After this stop Danielle took over de wheel and drove the next part. We drove over the famous “7 Mile Bridge” and again the views were phenomenal. We stopped again for 2 easy GeoCaches, number 2 and 3 in Florida. And after finding those caches we were almost in Key West. Key West is a nice town with typical architecture.
We arrived at our hotel, the Crowne Plaza Key West La Concha, at 11:15 and unfortunately our room was not ready yet. We stored our luggage and went for some sightseeing in Key West. Because our hotel is directly on Duval Street, which is the most important street of Key West, we can reach everything by foot.
We both wanted to see the “Southernmost Point” of the U.S.A. but before we got that we had lunch at the Southernmost Beach Cafe & Bar. We got a table with a view over the beautiful beach and ocean. We both had a Tropical grilled chicken sandwich with a delicious cocktail.
After lunch we visited the monument for “Southernmost Point” of the U.S.A. We waited in line to get a picture taken. After this we walked back over Duval Street to our hotel to check in.
We need to wait a bit at check-inn but everything went well. After Sander asked we got a free upgrade to a junior suite, which is very nice and spacious. You could as well say it’s huge…
After having checked out our room and installed every charger for our iDevices we went out for a walk to the 0 mile marker of the US Highway 1. Here was a GeoCache which we found and after having made some pictures at both the begin & the end marker we walked along Duval Street before we went to the pool in our hotel. During the 45 minutes we spend in the sun Glenn made us aware of Mallory Square which should be a good place to see the sunset.
Within 15 minutes we went upstairs, changed our clothes and we left the hotel and walked to the square. After having a Key Lime Pie we went to the Bistro which had some tables with an amazing view on the sunset. We ordered cocktails, sliders and chips to make the 30 minutes wait better. We had a really amazing via and we made some nice pictures too.
From there we left to Sloppy Joe’s a famous bar on Duval Street for another cocktail and after we had finished that one we went back to our hotel. We are both a bit tired after waking up early, driving for about 4 hours, multiple GeoCaches, a lot of walking, some food and a couple cocktails but this day in Key West was the best day of the trip so far, let’s hope it continues this way.
Yesterday we did a lot and therefore we had a good night sleep. Sander woke up about 5:30 and about one hour later Danielle woke up. Today we were driving from Key West to the Orlando area, which is about an 8-hour drive.
While Sander was getting breakfast at the on-property Starbucks Danielle took a shower and packed our stuff together. At about 8 o’clock we got our car from the valet-parking clerk and left for a long trip up north.
Short after we left Key West Danielle took over and drove all the way to Miami. There is only one way to get from Key West to Miami and that is over the Highway A1A, which is mostly one lane only and can get very boring. But the views were again beautiful and during the ride we stopped to make pictures from F18′s flying which took-off from the local base.
After this visit our next stop was de Aventura Mall north of Miami. This mall is a typical USA-Mall with anchor stores like Macy’s and Bloomingdales. As soon as we entered the mall we’d like it. We got ourselves a directory and looked for the Tommy Hilfiger store. In all of the USA there are only 5 flagship-stores of Tommy Hilfiger, all the other stores are Outlet stores. In those so-called flagship stores they sell mostly the european line of Tommy Hilfiger for USA-prices. The staff in this shop was very nice and we got ourselves some nice new clothing.
The time went by quickly and before we knew it, it was already 4 o’clock and we decided to hit the road and eat something on the way to Orlando. We hit rush-hour on the highway around Miami but as soon as we drove on the Florida Turnpike it was not so busy anymore and we could drive closer to the happiest place on earth without any delays.
With 1,5 hours of driving to go we got something to eat at a so-called Service Plaza. We ordered sandwiches at Earl of Sandwich and got a full tank of gas for the last 80 Miles to Orlando. We got 19,07 gallon (72,6 liter) of Shell V-Power (Octane 93) for 3,809$/gallon (1,01$/liter). This is compared to gas in Europe a lot cheaper because it equals 0,74€/liter where as the regular gas in Germany costs 1,51€/liter. In addition we’ve also checked the gas mileage of our car which is 18,8 Miles/Gallon which compares to 8 Kilometer/Liter.
Danielle drove us to Orlando and at about 8:15 we arrived at our hotel for the rest of our stay in Orlando, the Staybridge Suites Lake Buena Vista. We have a 1-bedroom suite. This property is recently renovated and the rooms look very good and modern. We took a quick plunge in the hotels pool and went back to our hotel room, because it was a long day.
Epcot: International Food & Wine Festival
Today we woke up and we knew this was going to be a full day of Disney. After a quick breakfast at the hotel we left for Epcot. As soon as we arrived at Epcot the first thing we needed to do was getting our tickets to enter the parks. Sander got his premium annual pass and Danielle upgraded her 21-ultimate-ticket also towards a premium annual pass. After getting the passes we headed for the photo services to get our PhotoPass+. And after that our day at Epcot could finally begin.
The first thing we did in Epcot was visiting Base21, the Siemens VIP Center in the attraction Spaceship Earth which is sponsored by Siemens. The lady at the reception desk still recognized us after we visited Base21 during our previous visits. We looked a bit around and drank something before we entered Spaceship Earth through the VIP entrance.
Unfortunately Testtrack was down due to technical problems so we decided to go to The Land. We passed the Character Spot and visited Mickey, Goofy and Minnie here. After that we got Fastpasses for Soarin’ and did the attraction Living with the Land. We walked to the other side of Future World and did the orange (more-intense-version) of Mission Space and our mission to Mars was again successful.
At the time-schedule we saw that Duffy had a meet ‘n greet at the entrance of a World Showcase so we decided to pay him a visit and we got some nice pictures together with him in his Halloween costume. He looked very cute. After visiting the Duffy shop we started walking around at World Showcase.
Always during this time of the year there is the International Food & Wine a Festival in Epcot. A lot of countries from all over the world are in Epcot to let the guests taste some of the countries typical food. Sander started in Argentina with some steak and Danielle got noodles and shrimp in a China. We walked further through World Showcase and got ourselves sushi at Japan and Hoegaarden white beer in Belgium. Meanwhile we got some photos with our Photopass+ taken, there were a lot of characters in the park today.
As we completed our round through World Showcase we went back to Future World where Testtrack was still down so we visited The Seas with Nemo and friends. Then Testtrack was finally working again so we got a Fastpass and entered the single riders line. In 5 minutes we designed our own car and were on the track. We did the single riders line two times and after that it was time to get some food so we went back to The Land and ate at Sunshine Seasons. At 17:30 our Fastpasses for Testtrack were valid and after that we walked directly to Soarin’ with our other Fastpasses. Soarin’ is great and always will be great.
We walked back to World Showcase for the American Adventure and soon after that we found ourselves some nice spots for Illuminations: Reflections of Earth at the German Pavilion. We waited for almost an hour, but this show is so worth it. We enjoyed the show and Sander made some beautiful pictures.
After the show the park closed and we walked to the exit and drove to the nearest Wall-mart to buy some stuff for in our Suite. We got our groceries, saw how somebody was arrested and Sander was asked for his ID for the 2nd time today, I guess he looks very young…
Now we are back at our hotel and writing the blog.
A little bit of water…
Our first lazy morning! We can now officially say hat the jet-lag is over, we both woke up after 7:00 o’clock. From there we had a lazy start with an in-room breakfast with the items we bought at the wall-mart yesterday. Around 10:00 o’clock we left the hotel for some fun in the water at Disney’s Blizzard Beach.
We found 2 seats at Melt Away Bay half in the shades and from there we left for a couple of rounds in the lazy-river. We were fully relaxed and after having a quick bite and some whats-app conversations we went back to our hotel.
After having fretted up we went towards the Mall at Millenia. Here we went shopping at Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, Victoria Secret, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s but the most important was the late lunch/early dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. And yes, we finished with 2 delicious cheesecake slides.
From there on we went to our first Outlet shopping at the Premium Outlets on the International Drive. But we left soon because it wasn’t that we expected. At our favorite store the Tommy Hilfiger it was a big mess and the clothing wasn’t nice and a lot of sizes were missing. So after we decided to leave we went towards the Florida Mall where Danielle was successful at the Macy’s. Here we also had the best deal of the day with a 30§ shirt with 60% regular discount with another 10% foreigner discount. In total the shirt costed $10,80.
After all this shopping we were a bit hungry so we decided to go to the food court. Here we did the full tour and at 6 restaurants we got samples. At the end we had eaten enough and we left the Mall to go back to our hotel. But before we parked our car we stopped at the Steak ‘n Shake, just across the street from our hotel, for a delicious shake.
And that’s it for today.
Rainy day with a surprising end…
We woke up later as expected and due to the rain we had a slow start too. But around 11:00 we had everything prepared and went for shopping and a movie towards the Altamonte Mall in Altamonte Springs.
After arriving we first bought the movie tickets for the 13:40 Gravity 3D movie at the AMC. So we had enough time to shop and eat something before. We were successful at the Abercrombie & Fitch before we had lunch at the Food Café. We both went for teriyaki from the Japanese counter.
Then it was time for the movie which was a good choice. And we are sure it’s not the last movie we have seen during this vacation. After the movie we shopped a bit more at Hollister before we went to Celebration. Here we wandered a bit before we had something to eat at the Chick-Fil-A. It was as delicious as usual.
From there we had the idea to visit the Magic Kingdom to see the Main Street Electrical Parade since the weather should become a lot better during the evening. At the moment we entered the Ticket & Transportation Center to park our car we saw a sign with he park opening hours which mentioned 1:00 o’clock. We bought said jokingly we could stay till tomorrow…
We needed to take the boat to the entrance from the Magic Kingdom since the monorail was down due to a technical problem. When we entered the park we already saw that the crowd was less as expected so we started with some rides before the first Main Street Electrical Parade. After visiting the Hall of Presidents we went on Haunted Mansion and at 20:10 we found some front-row places for the MSEP. We still had a bit of rain before the first float came bit as soon as we made the first picture it was dry. After the parade we watched Wishes, which is still an amazing firework spectacular.
After Wishes most people left the park and there were almost no waiting lines for the rides left. We didn’t knew where to start with but picked out Space Mountain to get a Fast Pass and from there we waked towards the new Fantasyland which has become huge and, although not finished yet, really beautiful. Here we went on the Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid with a 5 minute wait. After the right we got to take a picture with Ariel in her Grotto before we walked towards the park hub to watch the second MSEP and take some more pictures.
And then it was only 10:40 so we had plenty of time for some additional rides. We started with Space mountain where we had the Fast Pass. The next ride we went on was Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin followed by Jungle Cruise, Big Thunder Mountain, It’s a Small World & The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Then we want to add some pictures to our PhotoPass and visited the Princess Fairytale Hall and Tinker Bell Magical Nook. And we ended this day at 0:40 with a visited to Pirates of the Caribbean which was opened again after a technical problem.
We left Magic Kingdom with the Monorail and Danielle drove us back to the hotel. At 01:45 we stepped through the door of our hotel where I we first finished this blog before we went to bed for a well deserved night of sleep. And because we are lucky it’s the second time we have a night with an extra hour this year…
After we got back to the hotel room yesterday in the middle of the night because we spent the whole evening in Magic Kingdom we woke up a little later this morning. A little advantage for us was the change to Daylight Savings Time, which meant we got one hour of extra sleep!
Today we planned to go to the Hollywood Studios, because this was going to be the least crowded of all parks today. Danielle drove us to the Film parking lot and at about 11:30 we arrived at the Studios.
First we checked the waiting-times-board we walked to the Tower of Terror to get ourselves some Fast Passes. Next stop was the Rock ‘n Roller Coaster. The wait was longer as expected due to technical problems. Later on this day it would be closed because of this. We also did the Great Movie Ride and Star Tours.
Because we have the Photopass+ we wanted to get some pictures taken with characters so we went to the Art of Disney Animation building and we got some nice pictures with Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope, Minnie in her so-called “bedazzled” dress and Mr. Incredible & Frozone.
We had Fast Passes for Star Tours but unfortunately we were to late and Sander could not get in anymore. Slowly we walked to Sunset Boulevard and watched the people while having something to drink.
About 90 minutes before Fantasmic! would begin we could get into the amphitheatre and we got ourselves some great seats. While waiting we talked to some strangers from Pennsylvania (Grandmother, Daughter & Grandchild) next to us. They wanted to see Illuminations also this evening so we decided that they could drive with us so they did not had to use the Disney transportation.
Fantasmic! was as expected amazing as was the warm-up entertainment before the show. In comparison to Fantasmic! 3 years ago we think they added some extra fireworks, but that made the show even more amazing!
As the show ended we wanted to leave the park as soon as possible to be in time for Illuminations. Everything went pretty smooth and soon we were at the car and drove together with our “guests” to Epcot where we were able to park close to the entrance en we were more then on time for Illuminations. As we entered the park we said goodbye to Grandmother Rosanne, her daughter (too difficult name) and granddaughter Bridget and we were heading to get something to eat. We ate something simple in China and went to our favourite spot in Germany to see Illuminations.
Sander took again some beautiful photos of the show we both really love. We even saw the Wishes fireworks in the background.
On our way home we stopped at Walmart to do some groceries and headed for our hotel. It was a very nice day and we are really enjoying out time here in Florida.
Finally we’ve adjusted to all time changes! So we woke up after 8:00 in the morning and at about 10:00 we were in our SUV searching for a GeoCache near the hotel. But we were not lucky due to too much audience. From there we drove towards Animal Kingdom, the last of the 4 major Walt Disney World parks we’d liked to visit during this trip.
At around 11:00 we had our car parked at Dinosaur 37 (lot and lane on the parking place) from where we took the parking lot tram to the entrance. After the bag check we were in the park and on our way to get a FastPass for the Kilimanjaro Safari before we went on for Expedition Everest.
After a short wait we were at the gates to enter the roller coaster train when suddenly the ride was stopped due to technical issues. We needed to leave the ride and got a FastPass for Expedition Everest which we can use till the 15th of November. From here we walked towards the Safari entrance to be on a ride along many animals.
After the safari it was already time to go to Tusker House where we had a reservation for 13:05 for a character lunch. During a character lunch selected Disney characters come to your table for pictures. In Tusker House the characters are ready to go on a safari.
After finishing our lunch we went on to Dinosaur, an amazing ride where you travel 65 million years back in time to get a dinosaur back to the current time. I can tell you that is a bumpy ride. But before we got even close to the ride I saw a sign for Nemo the Musical and without having to wait we walked in the theater and had good seats. I left a bit earlier since I forgot my sunglasses at the restaurant and wanted to pick them up before the parade which started at 15.45. As always I was lucky, they found my glasses and 20 minutes later we were both watching the Mickey’s Jamming Jungle parade.
And then finally we went to Dinosaur, it was a walk-on so in less than 10 minutes we had waited, did the ride and got our on-ride picture stored on our PhotoPass+ account. In the mean-time it was already 4:35 and we decided to go for at least one ride on Expedition Everest. In the end Danielle went on 3 times, and I went on 4 times before it was 17:00 and the park closed. So although we started late we could still do a lot of rides. The other ones we have saved for another day.
After the parks we went on for some shopping, at least the plan as to only look for stuff and not to buy something. But as all of you probably know that’s not what I’m good at. So we ended up with buying something at the Tommy Hilfiger @ Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores, the 7-for-all-mankind @ Premium Outlets on Vineland Avenue and the Levi’s @ Premium Outlets on Vineland Avenue.
From all this hard ‘work’ we got hungry, or at least we generated an appetite so we decided to grab some sushi for take-out at the Kobe’s Steakhouse near our hotel.
After a couple of days in de Walt Disney World parks it was time to relax a day.
We started the day with a short good-morning-run around our hotel and after that we decided to get a Starbucks and drive to the Florida Mall at the Orange Blossom Trial. Sander got a Caramel Brûlée Frapuccino and I got a Salted Caramel Mocha to go. What’s great to see is that he mall and every store in it is already getting ready for the holiday season. I guess we have already heard all of the well-known christmas twice…
At the Florida Mall we parked at Macy’s and visited a lot of stores in this Mall like Michael Kors, Victoria’s Secret and Lush. After a couple of hours in the mall we drove to The Loop to have a late lunch/early dinner at BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse. It was happy hour so Sander got a reduced in price Pumpkin Ale beer and 2!!! mini deep pan pizza (BBQ Chicken & Bacon Cheeseburger). I ordered a Shrimp Pasta. The food was really good but also came in very large portions.
After lunch we found some Geocaches at The Loop and then it was time for some dessert. In the open-air mall there is a Ben & Jerry’s Scoopshop and we got ourselves waffle cones with different sorts of ice cream like Milk & Cookies, AmeriCone Dream, Pumpkin Cheesecake and Sweet Cream & Cookies. You all can imagine it was delicious.
Before we went back to our hotel we visited Downtown Disney where we found a Dumbo t-shirt for me and an Epcot-Pin for Sander which is exclusively for annual pass holders.
We enjoyed this relaxing day and tomorrow we are off to the parks again.
A day in the Studios…
Today we wanted to do spend the whole day at the Hollywood Studios. We started the day early because we’d liked to ride Toy Story Mania at least once this vacation and the average waiting line is about 80 minutes but a FastPass would help us out here. After following our TomTom with an alternative route we ended up on the employee parking lot so we turned around and found a parking spot at one of the first rows at 9:20, 20 minutes after park opening.
we speeded through the entrance, almost ran to Toy Story Mania and got FastPasses for the end of the day (6.10 – 7:10). After grabbing the FastPass we started with all other attractions in the park. We started with the following rides:
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (15 minutes wait)
- Hollywood Tower of Terror (13 minutes wait)
- Studio Backlot Tour (10 minutes wait)
- Indiana Jones (0 minutes wait)
- Star Tours (5 minutes wait)
We then took some time to get some PhotoPass pictures from which one was with Sorcerer Mickey. Afterwards we visited the American Idol Experience and from that we got really hungry. We looked for a restaurant but ended up with getting a Funnel Cake. After the Funnel Cake we went on a Voyage with the Little Mermaid before we got some more cookies.
After this healthy lunch we enjoyed the Beauty and the Beast Live-on stage show (walk-on) which is still an amazing breathtaking show. After the show we visited the exhibit Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream. It’s really interesting to see what his dreams brought to us. From his dreams we went on the Great Movie Ride (15 minutes wait) to see some of the greatest Hollywood movies ever made.
After this ride we had about 1 hour left before we could use our FastPasses for Toy Story Midway Mania, this time we filled with PhotoPass+ photos with characters and scenery in the park. At 6:10 sharp we entered the waiting line and within 10 minutes we were outside again with me (Sander) winning the battle with 149.800 points, Danielle ended with 139.900 points on the 2nd place.
Since a day at a Disney Park must be finished with a nighttime spectacular we rushed ourselves to the Fantasmic! theater and at 635 we still had good seat for the 7:00 show. Just to explain why that is something we are enthusiastic about, normally they advice you to be at the show 70-75 minutes early.
At 7:30 we left the park and got back to our car. After about 10 km of walking today we both hat appetite in a good meal. We ended up at Bahama Breeze where I enjoyed Baby Back Ribs which were delicious. In addition we went to the nearby Super Target, a huge supermarket, to look for some unhealthy food before we went back to our hotel.
It was an awesome day and thanks to TourGuide Mike we were able to do almost every single ride in the park on one day without having to rush all the time.
One ice-cream for two please!
After getting out of bed Danielle went for a run around the hotel area, I stayed in the room because I don’t want to force my knee too much before we will run the Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5k on saturday. After Danielle was back we went to Epcot for a day of relaxing at a theme park.
We started the day with a visit to the Siemens VIP Center, Base 21 bring some gifts to the hostess. After a couple of drinks we left through the SpaceShip Earth ride before we went for Ellen’s Energy, a ride through a nightmare of Ellen Degeneres around the subject Energy. This ride takes about 45 minutes. From there we walked through the Food & Wine Festival Center to grab some free chocolate and look at the merchandising.
And at that point we both felt hungry, I used the MyDisneyExperience App to find and reserve a restaurant for later that afternoon, we selected Via Napolita a restaurant in Italy in the World Showcase. Before we went there we grabbed appetizers at the Food & Wine booths. Danielle went for Black Pepper Shrimp with Sichuan Noodles in China and I went for Zapiekanki (Toasted Mushroom, Caramelized Onion and Cheese Bread with House-made Ketchup) at Poland. We ended up being thirsty and went for a beer at the local Florida booth were we had got a glass of Orlando Brewing, Sun Shade Organic Pale Ale and a glass of Cigar City Brewing Florida Cracker Belgian-style White Ale.
After taking some pictures around the lagoon it was time for dinner and we went towards the Italy pavilion where we were seated within some minutes. We both went for a pizza Danielle got a Funghi combined with an ice-tea and I went for a pepperoni with an Italian beer. We skipped dessert since there was nothing interesting on the menu.
But what is what the title of this blog post when there was no desert yet? Well I read about an on-of-a-kind ice-cream piece somewhere at a Disney World Resort near Epcot. So after some more research we found it was at Beaches and Cream in between the Disney’s Beach Club Resort and the Disney’s Yacht Club Resort which is about one kilometer walking from the restaurant in the Italy Pavilion. So this was our next stop, although we were not sure or we wold really go for this unique ice-cream.
After we arrived at the restaurant we needed to wait a couple of minutes before seating was available. We looked around saw other people with this ice-cream and thought this would be something for us too. Although theirs was already half-finished and the part on top was missing… But we just did it and ordered the world-famous and legendary Kitchen Sink!!!
Afterwards I found out all the ingredients, I’m not sure or I would have ordered this when I knew this upfront. Parts of it where delicious and some parts where not. So I didn’t like the mint chocolate chip ice cream but I love the peanut butter topping.
- ½ cup fudge topping, warmed
- ½ cup butterscotch topping, warmed
- ½ cup peanut butter topping, warmed
- 1 medium banana, sliced in 1/2 –inch slices
- 1 cinnamon spice cupcake (2 ½ x 1 ¼-inch), quartered
- 1 angel food cupcake (3 x 1 ½-inch), quartered
- 2 4-oz. scoops vanilla ice cream
- 2 4-oz. scoops chocolate ice cream
- 2 4-oz. scoops strawberry ice cream
- 1 4-oz. scoop mint chocolate chip ice cream
- 1 4-oz. scoop coffee ice cream
- 3 tablespoons chocolate syrup
- ¼ cup marshmallow crème
- ¼ cup strawberry topping
- ¼ cup pineapple topping
- 1 14-oz can dairy whipped topping
- 1 brownie (6-inch x 6-inch), quartered
- 1 regular-sized (2 ounce) candy bar, quartered
- 4 chocolate cookies with cream filling
- 1 tablespoon sliced toasted almonds
- 1 tablespoon dark and white chocolate shavings
- 1 tablespoon chocolate cookies with cream filling, crushed
- 1 tablespoon chopped jellied orange slices (approximately 2 large slices)
- 1 tablespoon milk chocolate chip morsels
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter chip morsels
- 1 tablespoon chocolate sprinkles
- 1 tablespoon rainbow sprinkles
- ½ cup drained maraschino cherries
After we had our picture taken with them we left the busy park to call it a day.
An early morning tray because we needed to get our runners package at the ESPN World Wide of Sports for the Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5k we are running tomorrow.
Within 15 minutes we both had our bib and our special event pin and we moved on to the merchandise section. Danielle instantly found a new running jacket saying “Every mile is magic”. Afterwards we learned that it was from the new Run Disney collection.
With the first merchandise bought we went on to the expo to get our runners package. It was a bit confusing for us first timers but if you follow the crowd you’ll be at the right place at the end. With our transparent bag and a t-shirt we checkout the expo floor where numerous booths with running merchandise were selling their stuff. There were some really beautiful outfits available although most of it was designed for women. I ended up with a shirt with short sleeves from the Run Disney collection of this year and Danielle went for a full Disney style outfit for the race tomorrow. And before we left we got a free digital photo for usage on Social Media.
After we had seen everything we left and went for something to eat at a Firehouse Sub on the way to the Mall at Millenia. At the Mall at Millennia we browsed to some upscale stores without buying something, yes we can do that! After shopping we went back to our hotel to get something to drink, drop of the new clothes and get our vests.
So why would we need vests in Orlando? We had tickets for THOR: The Dark World, the newest Marvel movie which was released in theatre yesterday. We had our ticket reserved through the Fandango App for the AMC Downtown Disney 24, in the Auditorium 1. Never had a better sound experience. And the movie itself did exceed our expectations. In addition I was lucky enough to find a new better fitting and fully black coloured running short at the new Fit2Run store.
After the movie we wanted to grab some sushi for take-out at the Kobe Japanese Steakhouse along the US192, but the wait was 35 minutes. That is way to long for take-out which make us drive to the Kobe nearer to our hotel. At 21:00 we were done eating and started preparing for tomorrow morning and finishing todays blog. And off course we went to bed early because tomorrow at 6:15 we need to be standing in our starting corral at Animal Kingdom for the start at 7:00!
The longest day…
To begin with this blog post I’ve to say that this was an amazing day, our alarm clock woke us at 4:30 to make sure we were on time for our very first RunDisney event, the Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5k. At 5:05 we were in our car on our way to Animal Kingdom where the event would take place and we arrived at 5:20.
We started with waiting in a line for a picture with Mickey and Minnie before we went to our start corral at 6:40. At 7:00 first the wheelchair participants started, 30 seconds later corral A was on its way and 2 minutes later our corral would start the 5 kilometer run trough the Animal Kingdom. After about 12 minutes we passed the first mile marker and got a pictures with Baloo from Jungle Book.
After we got our picture taken we followed the course and we already overtook a lot of slower running or even walking participants. We passed several Characters and got pictures with King Louie from Jungle Book, Chip and Dale, Donald Duck and Pluto. After the last picture Danielle felt that she became tired but after I told her it was only 500 meters to go she was surprised and we almost sprinted to the finish line. We finished with an effective running time of about 35 minutes. We both had a blast and are already planning the next run and hope that we can subscribe on time for either the Tower of Terror 10-Miler or the Wine & Dine Half marathon.
After we finished we got our medal, a banana and a gift box with all kind of food. From the finish we walked back to our car and went back to our hotel for some refreshing before we went back to the ESPN Wide World of Sports to have a look at the Disney related merchandise.
Afterwards we left the location towards Ellington where Danielle was lucky to find some new Tommy Hilfiger clothing and I got a new Ray-ban Aviator sunglasses with lighter lenses and a silver frame.
Soon it was time to get back in our car towards Richy and Denise in Bradenton. You might remember them from our 2009 trip to Florida, we had a Thanksgiving dinner at their place as guest from Glenn. This time we had a delicious homemade spaghetti from Richy with delicious homemade vanilla ice-cream from Denise, thanks. Time flew by and before we knew it was already 23:30. And yes Richy, next year we’ll make sure we stay over at your place!
At about 1:30 we arrived back home from an event full day and here we are updating our blog again!
Relaxing day with lights…
After we got home late yesterday, we started this day a little slow and stayed on our hotel room until it was about 12:30 and we left for lunch.
We decided to go to Bonefish Grill where they have a Sunday brunch. Sander ordered a filet mignon and I had an Atlantic salmon. After lunch we grabbed quick geocache close to the restaurant and we drove to the Fashion Square Mall in downtown Orlando. The mall was pretty old and there was no atmosphere so we drove to the next “mall” which was Pointe Orlando. We parked the car in the parking garage and went to stores like Tommy Hilfiger Clearance and Victoria’s Secret and got a delicious ice cream at the Ben & Jerry Scoop Shop.
Since last Friday the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights started and we were really looking forward to see it. We arrived at the parking lot of Disney’s Hollywood Studios and we entered the park at about 16:30.
First we visited the American Idol Experience and then we walked towards the Streets of America. The lights were not on yet but is was getting pretty crowded in this area. We found ourselves a nice spot right in the middle and at 18:00 the Christmas music started, the lights started to dance and it started snowing. We directly got in the Christmas mood. We spent the whole evening here enjoying everything and taking lots of pictures. We also got a lot of Photopass photos, even one with Santa Goofy.
At 21:00 the evening in the Streets of America was over and the lights were turned off. We’re definitely coming back this week to make more pictures.
After we left the park we went to Walmart and then it was already time to go back to the hotel. Tomorrow it is going to be a long day again because we are going to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party!!! So expect a later as usual blog post.
Very Merry Christmas…
We woke up today without an alarm lock and went for a swim and relaxed at the pool until 11:30. After that we took a shower and got ready for lunch.
Today we decided to go to Longhorn Steakhouse at the 192. It was very slow at the restaurant but the food was great. We both ordered a Flo’s Filet, Sander with French fries and I with mashed potatoes. The steak was amazing and one of the best we’ve ever had, so we really recommend this place.
We got dessert at Krispy Kreme Donuts on the other side of the road and then we headed for the Magic Kingdom. We drove to the Ticket & Transportation Center and took the Monorail to the Magic Kingdom. We arrived there short before 15:00 and we were lucky to still have great places for the Share a Dream Come True Parade at Town Square. This was probably the last time we saw this parade.
After the parade we took some Photopass Photos and the next thing was meeting Mickey at the Town Square Theater. We both were really surprised because Mickey was really talking to the people and even played pick-a-card with the both of us.
Still flabbergasted from the talking Mickey we walked to the New Fantasyland, particularly the Beauty and the Beast part. At Gaston’s Tavern we bought ourselves a Le Fou’s Brew. The drink is very sweet, but tastes good if you like sweet drinks.
We walked to Pete’s Silly Sideshow to meet with Goofy, Donald, Daisy and Minnie in the circus-outfits. After some short waits we got some nice pictures.
It was almost 18:00 and we went back to the entrance to get out Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Bracelets and a program for that evening. We studied the plan for where to meet with the characters and after we watched the Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party we walked to the Jungle Cruise, which is called Jingle Cruise during the holiday season. We were expecting a lot from this ride, maybe too much, and there was not so much different. But we were happy we did it.
Because it was 19:00 now we started searching for the characters and the first characters were Donald Duck and Scrooge. The waiting line was a little chaotic, but we got some nice pictures. Next characters to visit were Ariel and because of the – we thought – short wait also Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and their princes. Unfortunately the wait was longer than expected and we could not get great spots to watch the Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. We watched it from Frontierland. Luckily at event like this, the parade always comes out twice an evening.
After the parade we walked to The Hub and found ourselves a spot for Celebrate the Magic followed by Holiday Wishes. Both shows were as usual amazing. Afterwards we moved back to Frontierland to get great spots for the second parade of the evening to make some great pictures.
We still had about one hour after the parade to get some more pictures, so we walked to Fantasyland. We got pictures with Minnie, the seven Dwarfs and Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore. Those last four characters were really a great end of a great evening and after meeting with them we moved to the hub for some pictures.
After getting the last pictures from the castle we moved slowly towards the exit (getting more PhotoPass photos) and at about 01:15 we were back at our hotel.
Easy day in Epcot…
Yesterday we had the Christmas party and therefore we slept a little longer this morning. Sander went for a run and already prepared something for the trip home next Saturday.
Shortly after noon we left the hotel for lunch at Outback across the road from the Premium Outlets at Vineland Ave. Sander ordered a Victoria’s filet and I had a grilled salmon with steamed veggies.
After lunch we drove to Epcot and it was really slow in the park. Quickly we had some Photopass pictures in front of Spaceship Earth and one with Pluto.
For every attraction except Soarin’ and Test Track the waiting times were minimal like 5-15 minutes. We got a Fastpasses for Test Track and after we designed our cars we did the attraction through the single rider line ending up next to each other on the front row of the car.
After Test Track we got some more Photopass pictures with Duffy, Donald, Mulan, Alice, Jasmin & Aladdin and Belle. Before the we had to get ready for Illuminations we did Journey a Into Imagination with Figment, Captain EO, Soarin’ and again Test Track with our Fastpasses.
At the end of a relaxing day we enjoyed Illuminations for the third time this vacation and it still is amazing.
Before we went to the hotel we grabbed a quick late night snack at the Chick-fil-a at the SR535 near to our hotel. At the hotel we watched some tv and wrote the blog.
Shopping in Miami…
Today was the usual one day bad weather we have during our vacation, at least we hope it stays to one day only with still two days to go. Usually we go out shopping in the local indoor malls but we’ve done this already and have pretty much seen everything. So we decided to drive to a somewhat bigger mall in Miami about 220 miles from our hotel, that’s about 350 kilometer.
The destination was the Aventura Mall where one of the bigger Macy’s stores is located as well as one of the 2 Tommy Hilfiger Anchor stores in Florida. To make the trip worth it we got a 50$ gift card from the Tommy Hilfiger Anchor stores in Miami due to a complaint I filed in the first week of our vacation which we needed to pick-up.
Yes we know that’s about the same amount of dollars we would spend on the roundtrip Lake Buena Vista – Miami – Lake Buena Vista so where are the benefits? Well besides the in general 25-40% lower prices compared to Europe we got a 10% off on our entire purchase as a returning customer and there was an action with 25% off of every woven shirt and blouse in the store.
We woke up early to make sure we would leave on time and at exactly 8:00 we drove to the 7eleven across the street to fill the car with gas. At the first Starbucks along the route with stopped to get coffee and a small breakfast. From there Danielle took over the steering wheel and drove without a single stop to the latest stop of the turnpike Florida while Sander was surfing, sending whatsapps, sending mails and gaming on his 2 phones and iPad. After the driver change we arrived at the Aventura Mall at 11:30 and we went straight to the Tommy Hilfiger Store.
Shopping was as amazing as the last time, we got helped some great new items and Danielle was really lucky since the first items from the brand new women’s holiday collection arrived today. After a solid 2 hours we left the store and saved $244,75 together with the gift card this was $294,75, in Euros that would be about €220, so I think the trip was well worth it since the gas costed $63,79.
After the shopping we where hungry and we decided to visit the Grand Lux Cafe, this was a deception. It should be the better version to the Cheesecake Factory and we think it can be but we where just unlucky wight the table we got and our server. The Kobe Burger we picked was delicious. The server already knew his service wasn’t the best and he already apologized a couple of times when handing over the bill, so this was a first time for me tipping clearly less than what is usual in the States.
After lunch we walked through this huge mall but except for checking out the new iPad Mini with the Retina screen and the faster processor, checking out the Macy’s we only bought something at the Victoria Secret. And then it was time for his to drive back to our hom…hotel.
As soon as we were back in the Greater Orlando area we decided to go to a pizza place Yelp suggested, we ended up by a very small New York style pizza place where we ordered a MEDIUM-sized pizza with two different toppings. One side had Hawaii and the other half was BBQ Chicken.
After having this one finished we drove the last 20 minutes to our hotel where Danielle checked out our luggage situation. We might not need a 3rd suitcase this time but that is something we will figure out on friday evening after we have bought a new suitcase since one of our suitcases is in a bad state and might not make it back to Europe without falling apart.
The weather forecast for today was good again and we had many things to do in mind. We started with getting up early and at about 10:30 we left the hotel towards Animal Kingdom. We still had FastPasses left over from our first visit during this vacation, we wanted to have some additional PhotoPass pictures and we wanted to ride the Kali River Rapids…
After parking the car at Dinosaur 37 we walked towards the park entrance. In the park we first got our picture taken with Dug and Russell from the Disney Movie UP and Winnie the Pooh and Tigger before we went for the rides. We started with a FastPass for Dinosaur and from there we walked towards the Expedition Everest to utilise our FastPass.
From there we walked towards the Kali River Rapids, the ride where you might get wet but will get soaked! Danielle wasn’t sure about going on but I insisted that might not turn out good for me since Danielle is usually the lucky one and comes out of the ride without a dry spot, but I took the gamble. The wait time listed was 40 minutes but in the end it was a walk-on so no time for a second thought and we went on. I guess the pictures do speak for itself and I can tell you it wasn’t pretty for me…
After exiting the ride we went tot Dinosaur and then it was time to leave Animal Kingdom for the very last time during this vacation, on our way to the exit we got some additional PhotoPass pictures. From there we drove back to the hotel because Danielle wanted to change her clothes, I wonder why…
After a quick-lunch at the Chick-fil-a we went to the Premium Outlets at the Vineland Avenue to look for a new suitcase. After checking out all the shops we ended found a lightweight suitcase at The Luggage Factory. We didn’t buy a new suitcase to take an extra one back home but because one of our suitcases is over its lifetime and might not survive the flight back home in one piece and that is a risk we didn’t want to take.
Finally done with shopping for this trip we went back to Walt Disney World to see the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at the Disney’s Hollywood Studio’s. But that wasn’t the best idea since the park closed at the time we arrived. At the moment we found out I changed the directions and we went to Epcot to see Illuminations for the last time during this vacation.
But before it was 9:00 we went to Duffy in Christmas outfit since the pictures we took yesterday with our own camera where not focussed due to wrong camera settings. Afterwards it already got fresh so Danielle walked all the way back to the car, parked at Create 42 at the end of the lane to get our vests, in the meantime I took a flight to Mars with Mission:Space and at the time I arrived back on earth Danielle entered Epcot again.
Danielle got a Salted Caramel Mocha at the Fountain View (Starbucks), I got a Funnel Cake at the American Adventure, we went on the Maelstrom in Norway, we took the Gran Fiesta Tour in Mexico and then we went to our favourite spot to watch Illumination in Germany. And while waiting Danielle got herself a Glühwein to stay warm, I got a glass of beer and we shared a Pretzel.
Soon it was time for the most beautiful firework shows we have ever seen and I got some nice shots again. After the show we left the park, probably for the last time during this vacation, without saying anything. This is such a great park with an amazing atmosphere we can’t go back.
Back in our hotel we needed to start preparing our suitcases for the flight back since we can check inn tomorrow and we’d like to fly back with 2 suitcases only to save 75$. After about 1,5 hour we were done with 2 somewhat heavy carry-on suitcases and 2 suitcases which are exactly 23 kilo, the allowed weight.
And not only in the parks, it is the last real vacation day before we go home. So what did we want to do? We had 2 theme-parks where we didn’t ‘say goodbye’ too the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. After the usual lazy start it was about 11:00 when we left the room with half packed suitcase towards Magic Kingdom.
We parked at Aladdin 42 and walked to the Monorail Station from where we went straight to the Magic Kingdom. After arriving we first had a coffee at the Main Street Bakery (Starbucks), Danielle went for a Cherry Jubilee Mocha and I went for a White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino. And we went on towards Splash Mountain to get a FastPass.
After we had a FastPass in our hands for only 45 minutes later we went to Tom Sawyer Island which is only accessible by a raft over the Rivers of America. We walked over the Island, through a fortress, crossed a barrel bridge, escaped to the escape tunnel and almost lost our balance in one of the caves before we headed back to Frontierland.
Here we used our FastPass for Splash Mountain and we came out almost dry only a couple drops hit us. But unfortunately no nice on-ride picture because someone in front of us had his hands in between the camera and my face., it made the picture a bit prettier though.
From Frontierland we took the Walt Disney Railroad to drive towards Fantasyland where we visited Philharmagic, a 3D show starring Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse. After this show we walked towards Tomorrowland where we visited the Carrousel of Progress, Monsters Inc. the Laughing Factory and the PeopleMover. And then it started to rain…
Because of the rain we left the park and went to BJ’s Restaurant and Brewery. Danielle went for the Scampi Pasta and I went for Mashed Potatoes and a half rack of baby back pork ribs. Both dishes were delicious and from there we left at 17:30 towards Disney’s Hollywood Studios while it was still raining. Danielle wanted to see the American Idol Finale show from today and found out it started at 18:00. This made me drive a little bit faster and after parking we almost ran from our car, parked on the parking lot which is the furthest away from the entrance, towards the show. And at just before they closed the doors we entered the studio.
After the show we walked in the direction of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights when we saw that Star Tours – The Adventure Continue had a 10 minute wait only. In the end it was a walk-on and after leaving the ride it was almost dry. We entered the Streets of America but a lot of displays were broken due to the rain, this will be fixed as soon as it’s dry but after seeing it in its full glory this wasn’t really magical. After a couple of PhotoPass pictures we left and went towards the Hollywood Tower hotel for the last attraction of our vacation.
But instead of waiting 20 minutes we left the Tower of Terror in less than 15 minutes and so we had time left for the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster before we left the park.
Back in the hotel we packed the last things in our suitcases, wrote the last blog from the USA, and watched some television since we need to leave early tomorrow o catch our first plane out of three on our way back home.
And back home…
On this 21st day of our vacation it’s time to go back home. Our first flights leaves at 11:50 from Orlando International Airport towards Detroit. Since both of our suitcases where a bit overweight we decided to leave as soon as we were done showering and packing the last couple items. At 8:40 we left the Staybridge Suites in Lake Buena Vista and headed to the airport with avoiding the toll-roads.
At 9:25 we dropped of our SUV at Alamo and as expect no additional costs and at 9:30 we were already dropping of our luggage at the Delta Check-out. And both our suitcases were 3 pounds to heavy (about 1,5 kilo) and we needed to re-pack our stuff, which we did and we managed to get even more stuff in our carry-on items, both suitcases almost exploded but it all fitted in.
After having a small bite at the gate the plane left almost on time and from the air we had some nice views over the Florida coast line. And before I forget we had complimentary 30 minutes WiFi in our flight towards Detroit and Delta started with allowing usage of electronics from gate to gate! About 2 hours later we arrived in terminal A at Detroit and we walked towards our next gate. During the walk we discovered the Detroit City Mug at the Starbucks but our carry-ons where already full…
But I didn’t want to leave it there and decided to re-pack our stuff again and we managed to find enough place for a mug! So I walked back and brought us something to eat before we board, at that time it was already 15:00 and before we would get something to eat in the plane it would take at least a couple of hours. The flight to Amsterdam was pretty good the entertainment system was amazing and we both watched some cool movies The Internship (Danielle), Jobs (Sander), Planes (Danielle), Now you see me (Sander) , The Watch (Danielle) and a part from Armageddon (Danielle) and Iron Man 3 (Sander). The food wasn’t bad either, we both went for the chicken. After only 6 hours and 50 minutes we already arrived at Schiphol Amsterdam.
In Amsterdam we had to wait for about 2 hours before we could board our third and last plane back home. The plane was in the new KLM design which was nice and gave you some the feeling that you have more space. But the best thing was the breakfast, 2 sandwiches and something to drink. The sandwich was really delicious.
We landed at 9:15 at the Nürnberger airport, at 9:25 we had our suitcases, at 9:28 we passed through customs without any question asked, at 9:35 we found our car back and minutes later I was already racing the Autobahn! At exactly 10:00 we drove into our parking garage.
That leaves us to a last word of thanks to every reader of our blog, thanks for leaving comments, thanks to Richie and Denise for inviting us over and many thanks to our neighbours for taking care of our mailbox! From now on we will stop bothering you with daily FaceBook updates and sharing overloads with pictures!