Thursday, February 27, 2020

Universal Studios Orlando at Christmas time 2019

Universal Studios Orlando at Christmas time 2019

Arrival at the Orlando airport.  I like that the hotel balconies look into the airport.

Cute Santa selfie station at the airport baggage claim!

This Universal hotel is in the holiday spirit.  It is Pacific island themed and the tree is lovely,

 standard gingerbread houses are lovely.

The Spongebob-themed gingerbread is fantastic!  So cute!

So much fun!

Day 1  Drinks by the pool.

We even considered going in...

Boats travel between all the resort hotels and the parks.  We travelled to the Italian-themed area for dinner.  Really perfect.  We sat outside in the square near the tree and people-watched everyone getting on and off the boats.  Celebratory prosecco and pizza.

Nicely decorated indoor tree.

First thing is head for Harry Potter land.  During the two days we rode all the rides (the fancy new Hagrid ride took 90 minutes in line but we rode it twice!), saw the dragon breathe fire over Gringotts, ate in both the 3 Broomsticks and the Leaky Cauldron, saw the wand ceremony in Olivanders, and drank butterbeer 3 ways.
As someone interested in logistics, I had a big issue with the cafe.  Line management was terrible, will avoid and just go to the bar.

9 3/4 platform decked out for the holidays.

Hedwig on Harry's luggage keeps the line interesting.

We rode the Hogwarts express back and forth each day.  Brilliant!

Wow, nighttime castle spectacular was impressive.  I like this better than fireworks.

There is more than Harry Potter to Orlando Studios!  It is a mash-up of so many different franchises.  We are sitting at the Today Show cafe, when the Blues Brothers drive past the Minions ride.  But it all works!

For rides I really enjoyed Men In Black (video game ride), Minions (theater seating with much silliness), King Kong (bus style ride with scary dinos), ET (cute bicycles!  For the first time ever the ride broke down so much we had to climb out on ladders in the middle of the forest) and Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike (totally new and unique rollercoaster).  And watch the safety show in line at Dr. Doom.

Poppy and Branch!

The section devoted to comics is very old-timey, but kind of hilarious.  Marmaduke was never my favorite but I like that they have gone over the top.

The section for very little kids has a Barney store.  Barney!  Does anyone even remember Barney?

But also curious George-yeah!

I've heard the fountain may talk to you?  But it did not talk to us.

The Suess-carousel.  We did not get to Suess land until the very last second-super cute.  I'm impressed because it seems extremely difficult to turn whimsey into life.

And of course the best ride in the park, The Fast and the Furious.  

So it is the middle day 3 and we wander through one of the shops (we did way too much window shopping, many cute things, almost none of which I want in my life).  And E- talks to one of the clerks and figure out there is a scavenger hunt going on!  Of course I'm in!  Get all the stamps and you get a treat....minion xmas ornament!!!  We had a super fun time running around to all the places and they did have lovely trees, each decorated with that stores theme.  

10/10 would do again!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

All the food! France June 2019

All the food! France June 2019

We ate so many lovely things in France!

Our first city, Lille, is right up against Belgium and this patissiere got its name, Meert, from a Belgian.  They have been in business for literally hundreds of years.

Famous waffle

Lemon tartlet

Religious caramel 
Someone made these on the Great British Baking show and I thought yup, never making that at home!  I like ordering things that I will never make myself.

Every drink is fancy.  That is all whipped cream and totally delicious!

A sweet ending after all those treats?  We're not going to say no!

Oh man, take home cakes all looking so good!

Amiens Crepiere 
Wine is fine for most of France, but up in the north they have all apples all the time.  So cidre it is!  It was served by the jug and drunk out of cups.

For some reason it is important to know exactly where the 200ml line is.

This is also the land of galettes.  Think crepe, but made with buckwheat, a nuttier, gluten-free wrapping.  We love them!  I had this classic ham and onion with plenty of cheesy sauce.  We also tried one filled with lamb/veggie kabob.

Look for this sign and you can't go wrong.

At the beach
Once we knew that cidre was the way to go we just ordered the local.  There was quite a variety:  dry to sweet, more or less bubbles, apples or pears.  I found it less fussy than wine and was happy to drink all of them.

Their cappuccino is not as pretty as Meert, but I appreciate the effort.

For some reason glasses, not cups?  No problem.  This was at the beach, sunny but windy, lots of folks on vacation, just hanging out.  Turns out that the cups were the anomaly, maybe a local thing. 

Sadness, we were there on Monday, closed!  The whole area seemed to take Monday as a day to ease back into the week-stores are completely closed or open after lunch.

Can't believe I didn't photograph the galettes and cidre in Bayeux (crepe place just across the street from the tapestry!  Or the macrons (cute little downtown shop)!  Or the grocery store!  I was getting tired near the end.

And then we had to try a McDonalds.  The chicken and goat cheese wrap was not bad.  Not sure why chicken/bacon/onion got its own combo, but it was fine. 

Paul is the go to quick bread stop, often in the train station.

On to England!
We only saw the train station and airport in England, but we really made the most of them.

Yo sushi!  It's a sushi boat restaurant, but on a conveyor.  The place was totally packed.

You can order off a menu as well and we were well pleased with the chicken katsu in the train station :)  This was our last meal before flying home.