Let the magic begin…..

After three flights, 28 hours travelling we collected the hire car and after a short drive we arrived at our hotel at 2am (Florida time) on Friday 3rd May.
 The boys were fantastic and didn’t complain once about all the travel, given they have never travelled more than a 3 or 4 hour stretch at any one time this was a real accomplishment. Most adults I know would struggle with this trip. Our hotel, the La Quinta Orlando near convention centre. This hotel has proved to be excellent located halfway between the airport and Disney World.

After sleeping in until about noon it was off to Cracker Barrel for a very late breakfast. Everyone agreed that Cracker Barrel was a good place to eat and everyone enjoyed their food. After breakfast it was off to DownTown Disney to get this disney adventure underway. We wandered around and checked out all the store, boys were fascinated with the Lego sculptures. It amazes me that this is my third trip here and still I find new stuff to do and see. We found a BBQ place nearby for dinner, it was okay but there are plenty of better places in States for BBQ but it did its job and filled a hole.

Magic Kingdom was our first park and this proved to be a ver long day as we stayed until the last parade and fireworks (watched these from the car-park, everyone exhausted) The bigger boys rode thunder mountain no less than fout times and said it got better each time, Jai went on a few smaller rides.

We had prime position for the afternoon parade and this up to its usual great standard. I found a table to watch the evening events and Jai sleep for a couple of hours while the boys go around the other rides and shared a cookies and cream ice-cream with Pop. I enjoyed the rest myself as we had walked miles around the park.  Hotdogs all round for dinner except for me I went with the mini corn dogs (Like mini dagwood dog without stick)

Another quieter day with lazy bekkie at Cracker Barrel before retuning to hotel for an afternoon around the pool. We decided on mini golf to finish off the day, fortunately there is a great course right behind the hotel. Pirate Cove proved to be a testing course with a lots of interesting pirate facts at each hole. A few hours fun had putting and laughing before a very good dinner at Tony Roma’s also located within walking distance from the hotel.

My favourite disney park was the next destination. We started our Animal Kingdom adventure with the Safari through the animal reserve, they boys loved this and the animals were all out and about as it was cooler and early in the morning. 

Jai was fascinated with the nile crocodiles and liked the elephants and giraffe’s who came right up to the jeep. After the safari concluded they boys set off to conquer everest for the first of five times while Jai Pop and I headed to the snakes and spiders area, Jai loves all these creepy crawlies. He picked out a safari suit to bring home to wear when he catches lizards at home, he had the shirt on most of the day. We met up again for the ‘It’s Tough to be a Bug’ 4D show, it was great as usual, they boys loved it especially when bugs all left the building… Jai finally plucked up his courage and did the dinosaur ride with the boys, it was a bit scary but he loved it.

  

As one day blurs with another today we went to Disney’s Blizzard Beach where there was lots of fun in the sun while the oldies rested up in the shade. After a minor dispute with Jai over wearing the life jacket. I won that round in record time and he was in the water having a ball within five minutes…and was overheard asking Pop if he could get a life jacket to take home as we were leaving the park. We decided to rough it for dinner on the way home so headed to the biggest and most unique Macdonald’s in the world (the sign said so). Burgers for everyone a few pics of a squirrel getting drive through (eating a chip in the car-park) and it was home to bed….phew. Surprisingly everyone is holding up well and the pace hasn’t slackened yet. Boys just had a Skype session with Sarah re-living and comparing their disney experiences  After getting a few tips from Sarah on the ‘must do’s’ for tomorrow’s park we signed of and they headed to bed. Jai has booked in a Skype session with Charlie tomorrow so he can tell him what rides he went on.

Off we go again…

On Thursday 2 May we are heading off on another adventure. The purpose of this trip is to take Ian’s three grandsons to DisneyWorld in Florida. Kayden is 13, Blake 11 and Jai is 7 perfect ages for such an adventure. During the two 18 day trip we will visit the big apple, NYC and Las Vegas.

Trip Info so far:
18 days travel
Flying United Airlines all legs of trips (Avg ticket $1500) Booked through expedia.com.au
Staying LaQuinta Inn Florida ($60 per night) and New York ($130) Booked directly on LQ site

 

A little further north and the Big Apple

Sarah and my favourite
 Cracker Barrel breakfast

After the disney experience it was time for a whole new experience …driving. Obviously the 1000s of miles I have navigated while Ian has driven over here paid off. Driving on right felt as natural as driving at home it is funny how easily one can adapt when immersed in experiences. We set off from the Avis rental agency at the Hilton Hotel at downtown disney, all very smooth and within minutes we were on the interstate (I90) and headed north to Charleston South Carolina. We had a break at first Cracker Barrel we came across and my eggs in a basket were sensational and really hit the spot.

One of many stately homes Charelston

The drive was uneventful apart from driving through some of the heaviest rain I have ever seen when we were about 80 miles from Charleston, of course it was on the section of road that was two way traffic (used to that as that all we have at home) fortunately I was able stick to the tailgate of a semi ahead, if he made a mistake I was going to be making the same one as he was all I could see. Eventually the rain cleared and we found ourselves in Charleston at about 6pm just time to find a hotel and get some rest.

The following morning we headed into downtown to the Charleston City Markets to take a carriage ride around Charleston with Old South Carriage Tours. This was the best 90 minutes of the day we were able to hear about the history, the homes and Charleston in general. Charleston is a place certainly worthy of more time to explore, such a rich history but also a pretty place to visit.

After our tour and with more storms threatening we headed for our next over night stop at Dunn North Carolina, this was just a stopover so we didn’t explore further than to have dinner at the Brass Lantern Steak house this was good but as usual the serves are way too big, could have fed a family off my plate.

The next planned tour was the plantation of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello Plantation near Charlotte North Carolina. This was an outstanding tour made even more special by our guide that took us through the house and provided us with so much information about this amazing man. This man was so forward thinking, an early adopter and in his words ‘a farmer’. He may have been;

  • Representative to House of Burgesses from Albemarle County – 1769-1776
  • Delegate to Continental Congress – 1775-1776 and 1783-1784
  • Appointed Minister to negotiate treaties with Barbary States and various European nations – 1784
  • Member of Virginia House of Delegates – 1776-1779
  • Governor of Virginia – 1779-1781
  • Minister Plenipotentiary to France – 1785-1789
  • US Secretary of State – September 26, 1789 – December 31, 1793
  • Vice President of the United States – March 4, 1797 – March 4, 1801
  • President of the United States – March 4, 1801 – March 4, 1809

Not to mention writing Declaration of Independence but whenever asked for his occupation he always listed farmer.

We checked in to our hotel nearby with score of 2 for 2 on great tour to give us a snapshot of life in the south. 

Day four of our little road trip found us in the Amish district in Pennsylvania we took a little drive around the district, up and down the lanes and saw many of the Amish people going about their business. This is my third visit here and it gets prettier every time. We stayed in Lancaster and just a few yards down the road we booked for a tour of the farms, an Amish home and a couple of their Amish business run from farms.  The tour was very informative and provided a great insight to the lives of the Amish and how they assimilate with ‘the english’ the name Amish give to everyone that is not Amish. We made some purchases at the two businesses and really enjoyed the tour of the farm and the house, although seen one farm see them all. 

Now the last two hours of the drive into Newark to return the car, then catch train from Newark airport to Penn Station Manhattan.  The train ride was okay and Penn station is as always hot and crowed and confusing but never the less we found our way out grabbed a cab and were checked into the Chelsea Savoy on corner 23rd and 7th Ave by about 6pm. The kids had checked in earlier and had already been to Outback steak house (just up street) for lunch. We decided we too would go there for our dinner which was good. A good night sleep was in order. We made a leisurely start to the day headed to Macy’s just a few blocks away for a browse and then off to to pick up Hop on Hop off bus ticket, we decided to take the downtown loop for the rest of the day. This was okay although it kept raining on us and guide was less than informative. 

Day two we had tickets to a Yankees versus Texas Rangers baseball game at Yankee stadium. We were meeting up with others at the game. Before we headed to the game we spent the morning in Macy’s and generally wandering around.

At midday it was time to get the subway system worked out and get to the game. After one false start I now have the subway sort and it is definitely the best way to get around.

We arrived at Yankees Stadium 30 minutes after leaving our hotel. The stadium is unbelievable and we have nothing that compares to how well they handle big crowds. Food and drink and bathroom facilities are plentiful and there is little waiting at anytime.

The game was great and we had the best seats. Yes we had hotdogs, fries covered in cheese and ice-cream out of little baseball caps. The trip home was uneventful after we waited for about 20 minutes for the crowds to clear in the subway station. The subway trains are so clean they leave ours for dead. Our stations are cleaner but their carriages are spotless. There is a subway station on almost every corner block.

Our last day in New York we did the Brooklyn loop on our hop on hop off tour took a walk through central park and visited the underground Apple store. As everyone going separate ways Saturday we had dinner at a great BBQ place near our hotel Hill Country BBQ. Sarah and Dan heading home tomorrow, Charlie and Megan headed to San Francisco and LA before heading home in a few days. We on the other hand are embarking on another road trip to take in one of the main purposes of the trip taking mum to Niagara Falls.


Where the magic happens…. Disney

Our time in Vegas had come to an end Chris and Sam headed back to Hawaii for a couple of days before heading home. Mum and I left for Orlando at 5pm after one last buffet lunch with Charlie and Megan at the Paris Paris.

Charlie, Megan, Sarah and Dan were due to fly overnight and arrive at 10am. We all met again at the Royal Caribbean Resort and were delight that we had been upgraded to a beach view room complete with hammocks (no time to try them and Charlie couldn’t get in it anyway). 
Sarah Dan mum and I headed out to Epcot around 3pm for a look at this park, the Disney World shuttle buses make getting around a breeze.  Mum and I walked as long as were could and decided to head home about 6pm before the rains came. Dan and Sare got soaked waiting to get their pictures taken with some character and came home looking like drowned rats.  After a short nap (well Charlie and Megs had a long nap) we decided to walk over to the main resort building for late dinner (9.30pm).  Everyone pretty tired by this time.  
Day 2 we set off to Magic Kingdom Park, mum and I decided to head out later in the day so we could stick it through to the end and the fireworks. We were able to get a really great viewing area for the Disney Character parade, although it was really hot at the time of the parade, thankfully it cooled down a bit later on. The others that had set off early to the park then went home in middle of the the day for sleeps. They all appeared back in time for the parade and the final show of the night. We located an excellent viewing area at about 5.30 pm and set up to wait it out until the fireworks the others joined us later and took advantage of the great spot we had secured.

It was decided (not sure who’s bright idea it was) to go to the Animal Kingdom park at opening at 9am so that we could do the animals safari ride while the animals were still active in the cooler hours. This was as great this time as it was last time. Everyone enjoyed this and we saw loads of animals. Then it was time to do the ‘ It tough to be a bug’ 3D show this too was every good as I remember and the first timers were surprised by the interactive parts of this attraction.

Mum and I then took in the Lion King show before heading home for a well earned rest. The other finished some of the rides and headed home via the water park where they swam for awhile.
Everyone getting pretty tired by this time but we were all keen for a steak dinner so we headed to Downtown Disney to locate a restaurent meal of some description, everyone done with burger, chicken strips and fries. After survy a couple of the information staff Sarah established that Paridso was the place to eat, this we did after a half hour wait for the table. The food was good and everyone enjoyed their meal. The salad dressing was a highlight although if you asked Charlie it would have been his filet mignon.
Day 4 saw Mum and I headed to the Hilton near Downtown Disney to collect our rental car and set to New York (more on that later).  The others had their final park to see which was the Universal Studios, this I think may have been their favourite park with Animal Kingdom a close second. All in all everyone enjoyed the Disney World experience but everyone looking forward easier days ahead with little or NO walking.


 Dan drove Sarah, Megs and Charlie to Miami where they checked into the Fontainebleau for the next few days of lots of relaxing and swimming planned before they fly to New York.