We originally planned a luxury cruise with friends for last month but going with toddlers didn't seem like the right time or thing to do. After thinking things over we decided to do a road trip to Disney World.
We'll be driving from Boston to Philadelphia PA first. Greg and I have only briefly stopped at the Reading Terminal Market so I'm looking forward to exploring more of the city and all of its amazing sights.
From Philadelphia, we'll be heading to Raleigh NC. We'll split up from our friends for a little while and spent time with our families who live in the area.
After Raleigh, we continue driving to Savannah GA. In Savannah, we'll explore the historic district, river street, and more.
From Savannah, we'll head to Orlando FL. Before checking into Disney World, we'll spend some time in the Disney Springs area with friends who live in the area.
***Sprinkles of Pixie Dust falling on us*** We had reservations at Disney's Yacht Club on the Club Level and we received a call this week saying that our rooms will still be under renovation during our visit. We were given the option to move to either Boulder Ridge, The Grand Floridian, or The Polynesian Hotels. We selected the Grand Floridian for our stay and can't be more excited!! During our stay, we'll be visiting the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and the Animal Kingdom. Along with our tickets, we purchased the Disney Deluxe Dining option. The signature restaurants we've decided on are Jiko, California Grill, and The Boathouse.
After a busy few days at Disney World, we'll start making our way home. We'll be driving from Orlando to Hilton Head NC for a relaxing day on the beach.
From Hilton Head, Greg and I will make a straight shot home while our friends will make one more stop in Washington DC.
Stay tuned for hotel reviews, restaurant reviews, tips, and more!
For my birthday my friend booked an appointment for a massage at the Mandara Spa at Disney World. I opted for the first time of the day so that Greg and I could spend the rest of the day together. Greg and I both drove over to the Dolphin hotel and valeted the car (which was validated by the spa). I checked in and a staff member showed me around the spa. Once inside you will find a men's and women's changing room with lockers, showers, steam rooms, and other amenities. The next area is a relaxing area for before treatments. I sat back and relaxed with a nice cup of coconut hibiscus tea. My masseuse welcomed me and showed me to my room where I enjoyed a light Balinese massage. After my massage, I was given a complimentary glass of champagne and shown to another relaxation area.
To continue the celebration my husband booked us a cabana by the pool at the Waldorf. The staff showed us to our assigned cabana, showed us the stocked fridge, menus, and helped settle us in.
The cabana was relaxing and I loved being able to get some shade since it was a hot and sunny day. There were a few things that I feel could be improved upon. The first thing is that the fridge comes with complimentary soda and 2 bottles of water. Once you drink those waters the staff bring you tap water. For the price of the cabana, I feel like bottled waters should be given throughout the day. A staff member asked us when we would like to receive our fruit plate. I don't know if he didn't tell anyone or what happened but 11:30 a.m. came and went and we ended up having to ask someone else about it after 12:00 p.m.
The poolside restaurant staff are wonderful. The server was always coming by the cabana area for drink and food orders. For lunch, we enjoyed a couple of different cocktails, the Asian salad with shrimp, the edamame, and the peel and eat shrimp. The drinks and food are pricey but we couldn't complain.
We made it inside the hotel to relax before dinner right before a pretty strong rain shower.
Room 925 is a Disney View Suite with a large king bedroom, living room, and dining area. The four of us went to check out our room and wait for the luggage before heading out to an early dinner. The room was very clean and mostly kept up. The living room couch was a little sad looking and could use a replacement. The view was terrific and let us watch multiple fireworks from the park during our stay.
Our friends dropped us off at the Waldorf before heading home for the night and we made plans to get together again tomorrow. After unpacking some of our belongings we decided to take a sunset stroll along the golf course. The weather cooled down slightly, the golf course was empty, and we had a relaxing stroll with plenty of spots for pictures.
To end the night we enjoyed a glass of wine on our balcony and watched the fireworks from Disney World.
We were supposed to be on our way to Ireland tomorrow but unfortunately, life had a different idea for us. Our plan was to visit Dublin, Northern Ireland, and then hike Wicklow Way. Sadly this trip has now been pushed off until October.
6 weeks ago I went to the podiatrist for some foot pain I've been struggling with and the response I got was quite unexpected. I assumed I had plantar fasciitis or a pulled tendon. The X-rays showed that I actually broke one of my sesamoid bones. My Dr. suggested a short walker boot for 2 weeks and then to try sneakers. When I switched to sneakers and still had pain I was put back in the boot for another 2 weeks. Last week I went back and the X-rays still confirm the break. Needless to say, I'm back in the boot. My Dr. did come up with a game plan to try and get me through the hike but with no guarantees. I haven't been able to work out for 7 weeks, I've been in this boot for 6 weeks, and I can't imagine trying to hike 5-8 miles a day in a couple weeks from now. In addition to my foot not being a 100% healed, walking in this boot has affected my knees, hips, and back. When I'm out of the boot for a little while I end up in a good amount of pain the next day.
The lemons didn't easily turn into lemonade but we have found a brighter side to the story. We were able to (at a cost) change our flights, change our hotels, and thanks to Hillwalk Tours change our hiking plans. Considering we already had the time off and in need of some R&R, we decided to go on a relaxing road trip.
We'll be loading up the car and heading south to Florida. Our first destination in Florida will be Orlando so we can visit friends, say hi to Mikey, and relax at one of our favorite hotels. Our second destination will be Savannah Georgia for unique sites and southern hospitality. Our final stop will be in Washington D.C. for either a view of the mall or a museum as well as a nice dinner.
We're grateful for these opportunities and can't wait to share our adventures!
Sorry for the lack of pictures today but most of them include the kids and I don't want to share them without permission from the parents.
In the morning we enjoyed breakfast in Coastal Kitchen (this becomes our routine) and then enjoyed some time outside on the deck. We pulled into Port Canaveral around noon time and met Ricardo (the concierge) inside of the Wonderland restaurant for our priority disembarking.
We had great timing and a bus was outside waiting to take us to the car rental agency. Our driver did warn us that the agency closes early and therefore if we dropped the car off in the early to late evening we would have to take a cab back to the ship. We picked up our minivan (which pained all of us), picked out car seats and wiped them down as best as possible, then headed to Disney Springs. We were meeting up with friends who live in the area so we were looking forward to a fun afternoon! We decided to valet the car upon arriving. It's just easiest option with all the adults, kids, and stuff we needed. Our first stop was to Blaze pizza. Blaze pizza is allergen friendly, kid friendly, offers fresh ingredients, and tasty. Onto dessert! We walked over to Sprinkles and went inside for some A.C. instead of using the cupcake ATM. I ordered my usual vegan red velvet and it was delicious!
Our friends arrived and we met them in front of Raglan Road. We decided to visit the Disney Stores first and search for some toys for the boys. I ended up buying a plush Pua from Moana as well as a Stitch bubble blower. The kids then discovered the water spouting area and played in the cool water for a while. Greg ended up having to go and buy some towels since we didn't think this one through real well.
Time for the adults to play a bit and that meant heading to the Margarita dock. Unfortunately, the Margaritas weren't as good as I remembered (too tart and bitter). I actually had a sore throat from the drink.
For dinner we went to Frontera by Rick Bayless. We were seated at a long table and started out with chips and salsa. Our server was friendly, knowledgeable about allergies, and didn't rush us. My carne asada tacos were very good and everyone else at the table enjoyed their dishes.
After our meal we said our goodbyes in hopes of seeing each other again soon. A few minutes later and our car was being pulled around to us.
On our last day in Florida we spent the first part of the day relaxing at the resort. We opted to walk over to the Hilton for breakfast. We ordered coffee and fruit and noticed the differences between the two properties. We both agreed that the Waldorf seems to be maintained better.
We then walked around the property, enjoyed the pool area, and opted for room service when it was lunch time. The Waldorf room service is top notch. The staff are warm, understand food allergies, and set a lovely table.
In the afternoon we had plans to meet up with friends in Oviedo FL. We stopped at a Whole Foods just up the highway from us to buy flowers for our friends. We sat in a good amount of traffic but finally made it to their house. We were able to spend some time chatting and enjoying a cocktail at their house before heading out for dinner.
We met another person at Carmel Kitchen in Winter Park. We were seated right away and had a nice table surrounded by their wine cabinets. We all ordered drinks (sangria, wine, and Stella Artois). Greg ordered the Seafood Risotto while I ordered the Moroccan Chicken. Both of our entrees were very good. The surprise of the night was how my friend thoroughly enjoyed Polenta and White Bean Ragout. My friend doesn't go vegetarian very often and she loved this dish!
After dinner we drove back to the Waldorf Astoria Orlando and got packed for our long ride home.
Today was all about relaxing! We slept in and eventually made it down to the Peacock Alley for some coffee and fruit.
After breakfast we decided to spend the day by the pool. We were greeted right away by the pool staff even though they were helping some one else. We found a couple of chairs with an umbrella and the staff put covers and towels on them for us.
A little while later we decided it was 5 'o clock somewhere and we ordered a round of drinks. We both enjoyed the Preserved Bulleit. When it came time for lunch we were still enjoying our time by the pool so we ordered from Aquamarine. We started with Shrimp Cocktail and then I enjoyed the Asian Chop Salad with Shrimp and Greg enjoyed the Tuna Tacos.
In the late afternoon we decided to head to Disney Springs earlier than our reservation time at Morimoto Asia. We did a little shopping for friends and family. We bought some toys, some vinyl dolls for Greg to paint, and some Guinness Glaze. While we were shopping inside Raglan Road we decided to enjoy a drink and watch the singers and dancers.
Finally it was time for our dinner at Morimoto Asia. We had a reservation booked through Molly for the Omakase. When booking the Omakase you need to email or call for a reservation, provide your information, and then leave a 50% deposit. Our experience was amazing however it didn't start out that way.
We we arrived at the restaurant the first check in desk didn't have our reservation. The second check-in desk didn't have our reservation either. 10 min later and only a small apology we finally got seated. However now the staff didn't know about my allergies and I had to explain them to our waiter. Sadly the restaurant doesn't offer a sake or wine pairing but our sake flight was a generous pour.
The next small disappointment was when I was given a Dirty hand towel. Our waiter was very busy so it took a few minutes to get his attention but it was finally replaced. Our waiter was very fun. Chef Yuhi Fujinaga's and Chef Alex were wonderful to us. All of the dishes we received were beautiful, innovative without being to flashy, a perfect balance of flavor profiles, and abundant in portions. Our Omakase included:
Gooey duck, Oysters Caviar and Uni, Skipjack, Clam, Snapper, Another sushi (can't remember which), Smoked raw fish (can't remember which one), Lobster soup, Braised fish, Scallop and Peeking duck, Yellowtail rice stone bowl, Wagyu beef, Yuzu palate cleanser , and Matcha panna cotta, My dessert wasn't originally planned. there was a miscommunication about my allergy to the pastry chef. I was given the panna cotta but then our waiter and I spoke up about my allergy. I was then given Strawberry sorbet, watermelon soda, and boba. Unfortunately it was sweet upon sweet, upon sweet.
This meal has surpassed all of our other Omakase experiences (Morimoto NYC, Nobu, Oishii, O Ya, and Zuma Miami). We would go back and do it again in a heartbeat.
Day 5 - Miami
Today we got to sleep in a bit since we wanted to miss the rush hour traffic heading south. Once we were ready we called down to the Valet and had our car brought around. We decided to get some breakfast on the road so to Starbucks we went! I ordered my usual Iced Green Tea unsweetened and the pumpkin bread (which is dairy free).
Back on the road we made the drive down to Miami. Our first stop was Wynwood Walls. We were enjoying the warm weather and loved seeing some new pieces in the area. Sadly a store that we visited last year didn't offer many unique items this time around.
For lunch we went next door to KYU. We were seated right away even though we didn't have a reservation. We ordered a couple cocktails and took a few minutes to peruse the menu. Our waitress was nice, unobtrusive, and was cautious with my allergy. For our meal we ordered the Thai style cripsy pork "guy", Tuna tataki, Shishito peppers, and the Thai fried rice stone pot with king crab. Everything we ordered was outstanding. Each dish was beautifully presented, and had some many different layers of flavor.
After lunch we fought traffic to visit Little Havana. Our next stop was to visit the Romero Britto gallery's (one of my favorite artists of today). Romero Britto also happened to be out front of his gallery as we were entering. We enjoyed a couple of drinks outside and just relaxed for a while. Our last stop in Miami was to The Bazaar. We loved this restaurant last year and had high hopes for this visit. We received an offer from the manager to book our next reservation directly through him (via Tripadvisor). The Bazaar was in fact our main reason for driving down to Miami for the day from Orlando. Unfortunately we were utterly let down.
We were seated right away but we ended up being next to a staff door to outside area. The door was constantly being slammed closed. Our waiter was friendly but more definitely more rehearsed and not personable. We would hear the same speech given to the tables around us. I was completely disappointed that on this visit I was given a dairy free menu. This is one of my pet peeves. In a high end restaurant items should be made to order (just like they were last year). The coconut rice we loved last year apparently now contains dairy. The waiter seemed perturbed but did ask the chef to make it dairy free.
After a very long wait we ordered the Japanese tacos, Jamón Ibérico de Bellota 'Fermin, Oysters with caviar, Coconut rice, Potatoes sofrito, and King crab. There was no guidance from our waiter, no suggestions, no mention to pair drinks. Rather than making an experience for their guests the restaurant seems very streamlined now. During our meal we had to ask for another drink and he never asked how we were doing. The items we ordered were just okay. The coconut rice was watery, the oysters were just salty without other notes, and the king crab ruined my taste buds by the addition of tarragon. The highlight of the evening was a man named Dobie Charles. Dobie made us our complimentary Caipirinha with liquid nitrogen. Dobie has a great smile, loads of personality, and entertained us and those around us including the staff. $360.00 later we left feeling lackluster.
We definitely won't be returning again. We will go ahead and try one of the many other restaurants in the area.
After dinner it was time for the long ride back to Miami. It was a good day but definitely no the day we had hoped for.
Day 4 - Tampa and St Petersburg
This morning we got up and ready and left the hotel and headed west. We stopped at Starbucks along the way for coffee and breakfast.
Our first stop of the day was Wat Mongkolrata Temple in Tampa. We only wandered around the exterior property and took some photos. From there we drove to St Petersburg to visit the Dali Museum. During the short drive I happened to see a billboard for the museum and I was ecstatic! Not only would we be viewing works by Dali but there just happened to be a Frida Kahlo exhibit!
We entered the museum and decided to visit the Frida Kaho exhibit first. Not only was the exhibit about her art but also her life. We were deeply moved by the artwork, photographs, and pieces in her own words. While the exhibit was simple in design the combined pieces flooded us with a variety of emotions.
The works by Salvador Dali made us emotional, curious, amazed, and excited. We were truly inspired by the depth, thoughtfulness, and level of detail in each piece. Later on that evening we had a spirited conversation about how he painted, how amazing his brain worked, and what would took away from it for our own paintings.
Finally we visited the garden and the gift shop. The day was beautiful and the weather perfect for wandering around the maze.
Driving to St Pete Beach we hit a good amount of traffic. We tried to go to a restaurant recommended by my brother in law however the parking was very limited. We drove a little further down the road and decided to try The Salty Rim. We opted to sit on their deck with the beautiful scenery. The staff were all really friendly and helpful. Our drinks were also very good. The portions are huge! We ordered Conch fritters, grouper bites, fish and chips, and sesame seared tuna steak. Everything was good well and was delicious.
Luckily the ride back to Orlando is very pretty because we hit rush hour traffic! A while later and we arrived back to the Waldorf Astoria Orlando. Sadly my friend had to head back home since she was working the next two days.
After she left we decided to sit down in the lounge (Peacock Alley) and enjoy a few rounds of Manhattan's along with some snacks. We ended our evening back up in our room relaxing with a nice bottle of red wine.