Sunday, September 27, 2009 - Friday, October 2, 2009
Ahhh...two weeks at 'home'. This trip was a bit 'broken up', both in traveling to and staying at home. Jill left on Sunday for Orlando, out of Binghamton via Dulles. She was teaching a class for HCPro, and needed to be there on Monday morning for the start of class. United Airlines messed up though, and left her luggage on the turnstile in DC instead of transferring it on to MCO like they should have!! That meant that Jill had to search out a store, at 1:00 in the morning mind you, to purchase clothes for the next morning. She was able to find a Wal-Mart, and her luggage finally arrived at the hotel on Monday afternoon.
The first part of the trip was spent at the Homewood Suites on I-Drive, which gave us the ability to explore that area of Orlando. I followed Jill down on Wednesday, flying for the first time out of Ithaca and on Continental Airlines through Newark. Both proved adequate, and gave us yet another travel option out of Upstate New York to points beyond. Arriving in Orlando, I grabbed the Mears shuttle to the hotel. That night, we grabbed a quick bite at the Publix and hung out in the room.
On Thursday, with more teaching to be done on Jill's part, I wandered to Downtown Orlando to scope out the stadiums and new arena, and then went to the Florida Mall for a bit. I hung out at the hotel in the afternoon, and that night Jill and I went out for a bite to eat. Always looking to try out new 'options', we found Cantina Laredo at 8000 Via Dellagio Way, which was in the Dr. Phillips area of Orlando (and a short drive from the hotel). A definite keeper! Jill had chicken enchiladas, and I had a platter which had chicken mole enchilada, Enchilada Veracruz and spinach enchilada with ranchera sauce. Washed it all down with a few Dos Equis.
Friday rolled around, and Jill taught a half day of class. When she was done, we headed out to Universal Studios with a quick stop at Chik-Fil-A for lunch! Yummy chicken sandwiches! Afterwards to Universal where we toured around both parks until they closed, as well as the shops in CityWalk. We had won free seven day passes to Universal earlier in the year in a Super Bowl contest, and this was the first chance we had to use them, although it was our second time to Universal in less than a month since we were here with Mike a few weeks back.
Friday night, Jill and I headed to the first place we ever had dinner together in Orlando, our first 'dinner date' if you will at 'home'. The Colorado Fondue Company is a small privately owned (no chain here!) fondue restaurant north of downtown Orlando near UCF. They were doing a special this night called the "Summer of Love", where we shared an appetizer and meal, as well as dessert. We both had salads, and shared a bottle of wine.
Saturday was a 'sleep in' day for us, and considering the week before we deserved it! Around noon we went back over to Universal to take advantage of our free passes again. Being that it was lunchtime when we got there, we decided to try out the "Best Theme Park Restaurant" for the past six years, Mythos. We weren't disappointed that's for sure! I had a burger and Jill had a chicken sandwich. We walked both parks, and for the second day in a row even did a market study which ended up putting a total of $30 (Universal dollars that is) in our pockets.
Saturday night we continued our quest to find 'new' places to eat in Orlando, and found yet another gem!! Cafe Tu Tu Tango is annually voted one of the best restaurants in Orlando, and it was proven to us on this night as to why! Great atmosphere, great food, a definite keeper! We shared a couple of pitchers of Sangria, as well as three tapas dishes. All of the food was really good!
On Sunday, we slept in again (hey, gotta take advantage of it when we can ya know??) and then it was off to Universal...again...and probably for the last time for quite a while. We had lunch at Finnegan's Bar and Grill and wandered the park some more, but realized that we had 'done' it all. For the second day in a row though, we did one of those 'customer surveys' and scored ourselves some more Universal Bucks! Woot!
After leaving Universal, we treked up I-Drive to Old Town and walked around. I had never been here, and it was a good 'another thing we haven't done' thing to do to waste some time. By then it was time for dinner, so we went back to the hotel and dropped the car off and then walked over to Pointe Orlando. There were quite a few restaurants there, and we finally settled on Taverna Opa , a Greek restaurant that was, yet again, another hit!! The food was great, alcohol as well, dancing on the tables, throwing of the napkins, fire tipped swords! Wow! Another keeper!
Monday finally brought us 'home'! We checked out of the Homewood Suites on I-Drive and made our way to property. All-Star Sports was our homebase for this trip, as it has been on many other trips - affordable and convenient, just the way we like it!
This week, we were on the 'Disney Dining Plan', which afforded us more food than one person could probably consume in a week! (but we were going to try!). It also gave us the opportunity to try some new places to eat. Our first 'new place' was the Crystal Palace. Yeah, I know, we've been there before, but never for dinner!! Dinner was as good as the breakfast is, served buffet style with the characters walking around to all of the tables.
Tuesday night, our 'new' restaurant was 'The Wave' in the Contemporary Resort. Very good food, okay atmosphere, but even with a late reservation there were still quite a few kids in there - not exactly condusive for a nice, quiet dinner. None the less, the wine and food was very good, so that balanced it out (a little bit).
Wednesday took us to a restaurant that we had been wanting to try for a long time - the 'Coral Reef' in Epcot. Situated along a giant aquarium that everyone can see from their tables, this too was a good choice for dinner. The food and service were both excellent, and I'm sure we'll find ourselves back here someday!
On Thursday night, we hadn't made any reservations, so we went to the Earl of Sandwich for dinner, and to use up more of our dining credits!
Friday was our last day in Orlando, and we topped off our trip with the breakfast buffet at Chef Mickey's! Food was very good, and as a bonus, we had Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Pluto all visited us as well!
We left for the airport after wandering through the Magic Kingdom one last time, with my flight aboard Continental (flight 8669 from Newark 9:05PM to Ithaca 10:25PM, seat 9C) leaving early afternoon and Jill's aboard United leaving a couple of hours later. I landed in Ithaca, grabbed the car, and drove back to Binghamton, pulling into the airport just at Jill's plane was arriving there! Talk about timing!