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We usually don't do too much for the 4th of July but my family was going to be up in Portland Maine so we joined in on the fun!
We had a reservation at the pet-friendly Hilton Garden Inn Portland Airport hotel. Check-in was friendly and easy. We met up with the rest of our group and enjoyed a couple of cocktails on the patio and chatted with another guest. Our room was clean and in a good location however it did have a bit of a mildew smell. My parent's room on the 2nd floor was fine but my sister's room had a similar smell so I don't know if it's just older air conditioners or something about the 1st floor.
For dinner, we drove and parked in town and decided to eat at Solo Italiano. We ordered a bunch of plates and ate family style. The octopus could have been a little more charred for my taste but everything else was delicious. Our steak dish was the highlight thanks to the tenderness and flavor.
The next morning we went into town for breakfast. We ordered juices from Blake Orchard Juicery. Then I made my way to The Holy Donut for a couple of vegan donuts!
After breakfast, we met up with my parents and went for a ride to Portland Head Lighthouse. On the way back to Portland we stopped into the hotel to check out of our room and move our stuff into my parent's room so we could hang out for a couple more hours. In Portland, we did some shopping and enjoyed lunch at the Flatbread Company. Their patio has great views and is pet-friendly! My vegan pizza and lemonade were definitely satisfying!
After lunch, the three of us hopped in the car and made our way home!
Monday morning we packed up our belongings and left Bar Harbor early to try and avoid some of the holiday traffic home.
We quietly left our room and made our way into the garage where we loaded up our car for the 1000 mile drive home. Leaving Hilton Head was a combination of small highways, and unlit low country roads. Before we got to the highway we had 4 deer (all at different times) try to run in front of our car. Needless to say we were a little shaken and happy to see the highway.
Unfortunately, the rest of the day was pretty boring. We spent 17 hours in the car, sat in tons of traffic around New York City, and finally construction on the Mass Pike before arriving back into the Boston area.
My awesome parents brought Fred to our house so we didn't have another stop. We ordered Chinese food to meet us at our house when we arrived. Finally, we settled in and got to enjoy the Game of Thrones finale!
We received text messages that our rooms were ready. We had 4419 and 4420. Our rooms had a large entryway, 2 queen beds, a couch, a chair, as well as a dining area. The bathrooms differed between our rooms. The sinks were just outside the bathroom in our room while the entire toilet and shower area was large and tiled. For views, we could see the resort itself, the Polynesian Resort, as well as the Magic Kingdom! Our rooms were right next door to the lounge and while this was convenient it definitely was noisy as well. There were loud guests in the lounge after 10 pm, there was staff entering a closet right outside our room, and the movies on the lawn was right outside our balconies.
In the end, these were great rooms and they were kept immaculately. The downside to staying at the Grand Floridian Resort was there weren't any special touches. We didn't really receive any towel animals, for our 20th anniversary we only received buttons (previous trips we were given pictures or cards), and other than the lounge staff everyone else seemed to just get their job done.
We sat at a table by the pool and Barry greeted us right away! Before we ordered Barry asked for Jose to come over to help me with my allergen ordering. We ordered cocktails, lobster sliders, and burgers. My lobster slider was chopped up lobster, mayo, and fennel on a gluten free dairy free bun. Accompanying my dish was house cooked chips. After eating we enjoyed the main pool as well as the kid's splash area. All of my pictures of these areas have my friends kids in them so I can't share them but it's a wonderful spot. The pool is large and warm, there are plenty of chairs, plenty of umbrellas, lifeguards nearby, towels, and the splash area is a blast for small kids!
On Friday morning, we had plans to go to Epcot for the day but that didn't happen. Our friend ended up with a stomach bug or food poisoning and didn't get much sleep as a result. We decided to let him hang in bed and we'd take the kids to the pool for the day.
The first step was to head to the concierge and cancel our dinner plans at the Boathouse and to make dinner plans locally at Narcoosee's. Once that was finished we swam in the main pool for a while. This was actually what we all needed. The sun was shining, the pool was warm, and there was a light breeze!
A little while later we packed up our stuff and headed to the splash pad area. Our friend was feeling a little better and so we all asked Barry for some menus. We basically ordered the same exact thing as the day before and it was just as good. I also appreciated Jose stopping by our table again to make sure I was enjoying my dairy free lunch. Very thoughtful!
When it was time for the kids to nap Greg and I headed to Disney Springs. We spent some time browsing for souvenirs for family members. I found the cutest Tinkerbell cup for my mom (a tradition I keep every time we go to Disney World).
Our main reason for visiting Disney Springs though was to shop at Sprinkles Cupcakes. A few days ago I ordered 6 of their special Game of Thrones cupcakes and 2 vegan red velvet cupcakes. We skipped the main line and went to the pickup counter and within a minute had our cupcakes in hand and headed back to the Grand Floridian Resort.
For dinner, we crossed the resort to Narcoosee's. When we checked in for our reservation we ended up having a short wait due to our need to use the stroller and have a faster paced meal. Once seated at our table our server came over with waters and took our drink order. My starter of poached and chilled shrimp was good but definitely not as good as the dish I had at Jiko. Two of us ordered the scallops for our entree and both of us agreed that they could have used a little more cook on them. We all agreed nothing was bad at Narcoosee's but we wouldn't return.
The next post will be about our drive and overnight stay in Hilton Head NC.
After using the gym of our hotel we got ready to continue driving south. We didn't really make too many exciting stops along the way because we were looking forward to spending time with family.
We arrived at Elon University and my cousin showed us around her dorm and the campus. We were happy to help her move some stuff to storage since she's heading back home this month after finals.
We were getting hungry and we decided to try Simply Thai for dinner. We checked in with the host and shown to a table. I was glad we were eating early because the restaurant got very busy while we were there.
Our starter was the lettuce wrap which was delicious and had a good kick from spices. The three of us then ordered sushi for our entrees. Everything was fresh and for the most part really good. The downfall to the meal was the sashimi summer roll. Inside rice paper was 3 kinds of fish, mango, and avocado. Unfortunately, the rolls were in a soup spoon filled with ponzu & mustard sauce. If I didn't drain the sauce, the rolls would have been soggy and I would have eaten a week's worth of sodium. With that being said I would return to this restaurant next time we're in the area.