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Old 05-20-2010, 05:40 AM   #1
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An Aussie's Journey. Our final meal before coming home (food porn)....the last post!

TRIP REPORT - QUICK LINKS

California Here We Come
A Brand new Catalina Day - Invasion reality check
Southern Florida - The Sunshine State
Melbourne to Orlando via Melbourne
We're at the World - POR
We're at the World - Day 1 @ MK
We're at the World - Day 2 and the start of a Brand New Day...Breakfast at POR
We're at the World - Day 2 @ Epcot with flowers, margaritas, heat, crowds and a major headache
We're at the World - Day 2 @ Epcot by night and the end of another fishy day
OT - A possible encore visit in October 2010
We're at the World - Day 3 @ MK/Epcot with my MIA extended family
OT - Keeping the Disney Magic ALIVE at home
We're at the World - Day 4 @ Epcot and Hanging around for the Extended family can be fun
We're at the World - Day 4 @ Epcot Around the World Showcase in 8 hours (or so)
We're at the World - Day 4 and We must have taken a wrong turn in Alberquerque - OMG! We're off site!
We're at the World - Day 4 Pasta at POR, more food porn
We're at the World - Day 5 @ AK Breakfast safari with THAT Duck
We're at the World - Day 5 @ AK From Africa to Everest
We're at the World - Day 5 @ DTD and what we got for free..
We're at the World - Day 6 A Tale of Two Resorts Part 1 (A final look around POR)
We're at the World - Day 6 A Tale of Two Resorts Part 2 (BCV - Where everybody knows my name)
We're at the World - Day 6 and what do you mean…you want me to cancel the Wishes Dessert Party?
We're at the World - Day 6 and Wishes Dessert Party (yes, some food porn)
We're at the World - Day 6 and a MK experience for the 'locals'
We're at the World - Day 7 and Cape May - It’s all about the beachwear (no food porn, sorry!)
We're at the World - Day 7 @ DHS – defying gravity, music, motors and lycra mania
We're at the World - Day 7 @ Night – Boardwalk, Iron Chefs and SAB
We're at the World - Day 8 – Presents (2 days late + 2 days early) = 2 for me (and the art of arbitrage)
We're at the World - Day 8 @ Chefs de France, Epcot (yes, more food porn)
We're at the World - Day 8 @ Night - Hurricane Hanna’s and another DisMeet (and presents)!
We're at the World - Day 9 – Four Parks, One World… in One Day! Part 1 (06/25)
We're at the World - Day 9 – Four Parks, One World… in One Day! Part 2 (06/26)
We're at the World - Day 9 – Four Parks, One World… in One Day! Part 3 (06/28)
We're at the World - Day 9 – Four Parks, One World… in One Day! Part 4 (06/30)
We're at the World - Day 9 – Four Parks, One World… in One Day! Part 5 (07/02)
We're at the World - Day 10 – It's our Last Day at the WDW!
We're at the World - Day 10 – It's my birthday and I'll buy if I want to!
We're at the World - Day 10 – An Illuminating Finale!
My WDW Photopass pictures - July 15
My WDW Photopass pictures - July 16
My WDW Photopass pictures - July 17
My WDW Photopass pictures - July 18
My WDW Photopass pictures - July 19
My WDW Photopass pictures - July 22
Day 11 – On our way home, we stopped off in SoCal...for a 10 course Chinese dinner.
Our final meal before coming home.....the last of the food porn and posts!


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Old 05-20-2010, 05:41 AM   #2
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California Here We Come!

Round 1 to DS - Farmer's Market/The Grove

Operation Aussie invasion commenced on the 30th April 2010. We arrived in LAX after a 14.5 hour flight (no thanks to my teleportation device that isn't working and the broken down stargate!!).

Thankfully, US Customs didn't notice the fact that we had hidden mickeys with us for the invasion and let us into the country. Perhaps we might need to declare them as hazardous materials next time.

We picked up our hire car and made a beeline for the Farmer's Market/Grove.

We were going to do DAMAGE to our credit card and singlehandedly fix the US economy. Unfortunately for us (and fortunately for the US), DS put a spanner in the works. For the first time in 7 trips, he didn't get any sleep on the plane - he's finally hit that size where he can no longer stretch out over 2 plane seats to sleep - and was majorly tired. DS fell asleep in the car and when we arrived at the Farmer's Market, we didn't have the heart to wake him out.

So, we had to blunt our attack and head out one at a time with the other partner left in the car with DS. The other spanner in the works was our stomachs. Why do we humans have to eat? Instead of hitting the shops, I went straight to the food stalls. We ended up with a vegetarian pizza, water and some fruit. The food was quickly consumed before any evidence could be taken of our first foray on US soil.




DH then took the opportunity for some reconnaissance and returned with yet another pizza - this time a cheese pizza for DS. I tried to convince DH that there was no point waking DS; but he wouldn't listen to me. DS woke up long enough to gulped that pizza down before I could mount a second argument. And then, with his belly stretched, he flatly refused to get down from the car and we knew we were beat. One point to DS for the first battle at the Farmer's Market.

DH and I headed out for the Residence Inn, Long Beach to regroup. DS slept in the back seat.

Ever the optimist and in hope of a more fulfilling afternoon, I called Gondola Getaways (DH has a US prepaid phone) and booked us in for an afternoon ride along the Naples Canals.

Round 2 is Gone with the Wind. What gondola ride? - Long Beach/Naples Canals

The Residence Inn at Long Beach is located near the Queen Mary and at the end of the 710. For anyone deciding to stay there, you will get lost trying to make your way to the hotel. I was armed with this knowledge off TripAdviser and had downloaded all sorts of maps and instructions on how to get to the Residence Inn. We stayed there 2 nights and probably made 20 trips back and forth. We took the wrong way at least 6 times - and before you draw any incorrect conclusions, I have a great sense of direction and am a good map reader! DH sometimes has problems listening to my instructions .

The hotel is comfortable. We had a studio room with a queen sized bed and a sofa bed for DS to sleep in. The room was a good size and the room rate included breakfast for all of us.

When we arrived at the hotel, DS woke up and had sufficient sleep for us to attack the afternoon! We took the opportunity to head to the Belmont Shore shops, where there was an AT&T shop. 10 minutes for the first hit on the Credit Card!

We then headed to Gondola Getaway for our gondola ride but by the time we got there, there was a breeze blowing (check out the flag)and GG cancelled the cruise!!

I did try to spend tourist dollars but they didn't want to take my money....and who said that the US was in recession? Apparently they had the same breeze the day before and ended up having to rescue 6 gondoliers.

Next time, we shall hit the Long Beach aquarium!

Undaunted by this setback and have car will travel, we found our way to one of the Naples canals and WALKED around. The canals here are beautiful!

And we spent some time just looking into the backyards, rooms and architecture of the homes. For anyone that has been to the Venice Beach canals, I would recommend that you come here as well. The feel is one of an artsy garden community and the homes are gorgeous. Someday, we are coming back and doing that gondola ride!

Round 3 DisBoard winners and we are the grinners! - Seal Beach

Many thanks to DisBoard members zbargainmama and franandaj for recommending visiting Seal Beach and Walt's Wharf! (reference:
http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2406660).

This cute little town was a gem to visit and the food at Walt's Wharf is in our top 3 places that we ate in for this trip. They had barramundi on the menu. For any Aussies reading this, yes...barramundi from Australia. According to the server, the barra had only just flown in that day. Who would have known? We could have flown in the same plane! I know I took a risk ordering it but the server really sold that barramundi and it turned out to be the inspired choice.

The chef teamed it with a zingy mango salsa and it was to die for. I was supposed to share this with DH.

He ordered the oak grilled swordfish tostada.

If you didn't taste or see the barramundi, his dish would have been excellent. It paled into insignificance next to the mango salsa. DH took one taste of my pick and graciously told me to finish it. He didn't have the heart to swap because he felt that I would have been disappointed with his dish (I did take a taste and he was right).
DS ordered fish and chips.


Oh - and for anyone wanting to visit a Californian beach - my vote goes to Seal Beach. Clean, gorgeous white sand and heaps of great suntanned windsurfers!


Chalk this win up to local DisBoard member knowledge!

[Up next - A brand new Catalina Day]
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Old 05-20-2010, 08:11 AM   #3
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Yay! You started your report. I'm afraid I would have been with your DS and been ready for a good nap after that long flight! Sounds like you still had a lovely afternoon Can't wait to see pictures.
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Old 05-20-2010, 01:46 PM   #4
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Yay! I'm glad you're back and that you enjoyed my town! It would be very easy to get lost finding that hotel. The only reason I know it is because I got married at the Coast Hotel and they were building that hotel while I was planning the wedding so I drove past the construction site tons of times, but I'll tell you, finding any of those hotels or restaurants down there was tough the first time!

Can't wait to hear more. I've always wanted to do the Gondola Getaway. Maybe when DP has all her new knees, she can get in the boat.
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Old 05-21-2010, 03:36 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoonerGirl View Post
Yay! You started your report. I'm afraid I would have been with your DS and been ready for a good nap after that long flight! Sounds like you still had a lovely afternoon Can't wait to see pictures.
Fantastic! You're here! Hopefully the pictures are uploaded by the time you're reading this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by franandaj View Post
Yay! I'm glad you're back and that you enjoyed my town! It would be very easy to get lost finding that hotel. The only reason I know it is because I got married at the Coast Hotel and they were building that hotel while I was planning the wedding so I drove past the construction site tons of times, but I'll tell you, finding any of those hotels or restaurants down there was tough the first time!

Can't wait to hear more. I've always wanted to do the Gondola Getaway. Maybe when DP has all her new knees, she can get in the boat.
Alison - thanks again for the recommendations for Long Beach. We had a blast in your town and hope to be able to come back sometime.
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Old 05-21-2010, 04:12 AM   #6
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A brand new Catalina Day - invasion reality check

Months of research.....defeated by reality!

Did you know that there are two Catalina Ferry terminals at Long Beach? One near the Queen Mary and the other in the downtown area. I researched... and worked out that we would be closer to the Queen Mary terminal from the Residence Inn and that the ferry departed earlier out of this terminal than at the Downtown one. We even drove past the building the night before so that we could find it stress-free for the 8 am ferry out. The schedule on-line even gives the dates that the ferry runs out of the QM terminal.

We arrived at about 7.50 am - after getting lost again - and when we got out of the car, we were shocked to find that the QM terminal was CLOSED and not yet operational for the season. All that planning, all the information on their website to the contrary, all the thoughts of getting to the island early so that we could maximise our time....defeated by reality.

We got back in the car and rushed our way to the Downtown terminal...I had no idea how to get to that terminal nor where we were going to park! This invasion was certainly not going according to plan.

We somehow found our way (yup, we got lost on the way) and fortunately made it to the counter by 8.25 am; purchased tickets and got the Catalina Express invasion back on track!
I thought about using the Queen Mary as the base to launch the invasion but given that I only have to look at the waves to get seasick, it was probably for the best. Check out the massive swells in this picture - there is no way I would have survived 2 nights on board!


Driving on the Right side of the road is easy....

Thanks to Sherry E for all the Catalina suggestions (reference: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2406660). We knew that we wanted to hire a golf cart on arrival. We even managed to get the 3 hours for 2 deal from the shop recommended by Sherry!

Australians drive on the Left hand side of the road; so driving in the US has added complications for us. Not that this has ever been a problem for DH or myself - we've certainly driven ourselves in about 15 states without incident.

I don't know if it is the Catalans idea of keeping accidents under control - but the roads that the golf carts are allowed on are mostly all one-way. So for any Aussies reading this - there is no excuse NOT to drive !

Everyone stops at the oddest locations; and they do it suddenly. So, you only need to watch out for traffic ahead and try not to hit any other golf carts. Here I am keeping a safe distance from the cart ahead of me.

Perhaps the sudden stopping has to do with views like this.


We hit the Wrigley Gardens. I think I'm in this picture somewhere (yes, that's me on the balcony up the top).


And the tiling work is reasonably ornate in the memorial. I would hate to be the one having to clean this place.


We also checked out the local flora.


DS is a fish and chip freak; so we chose to eat at Armstrongs. Fish seems to be the order of the day.

DH ordered the fish tortilla, which was the pick of the 3 meals.

I ordered fish with vegetables. Apologies - I was hungry and wolfed down half my meal before thinking about taking pictures.


We made enquiries for more tours after lunch and went on a semi-submersible cruise after lunch

and saw a lot more fish, which we didn't feel like eating after our big lunch. I am only speaking for myself and think that DS was certainly thinking about how to get the fish inside.


I wanted to do a night cruise to see the flying fish - but was advised that the fish hadn't flown in yet. The research said that the fish would be there by May!! Whoever heard of fish that didn't keep to schedule? Another reality check!
So I had to console myself with afternoon tea! That is a chocolate caramel cake, which looks deceptively on the small side for US servings in the picture. But trust me - that tea was served in a HUGE mug.

The boys went for a paddle boat ride in the Avalon Bay whilst I ate and drank.
We followed this with a quick look around Avalon town. This is at the Metropole Hotel. I tried to see if I could get in for one night stay here...but it was a 2 night minimum.


And then we headed out. I might not have gotten to see flying fish - but we saw dolphins on the way back to the mainland (no, there are none in this picture).


Dinner was at a Mexican restaurant near a Target off the I5. I wish I could say that I took pictures but we were starving and by the time we remembered, there was no food left. The food was good but the service left a little bit to be desired. Manuel didn't take to DS, who was a real jumping bean this night, and pretty much left us alone for most of the night.

[Up next Southern Florida - the Sunshine State]
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Old 05-21-2010, 08:17 AM   #7
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I'm enjoying your trip report already. Looks like you made good use of your new camera. Love the pic of DS sleeping in the back seat. What a sweetie.
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Old 05-21-2010, 10:56 AM   #8
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Looks like a great day! I probably would have been one of those stopping suddenly as well - I have a tendency to do that when I see something beautiful that I want to photograph.....
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Old 05-21-2010, 11:01 AM   #9
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Woo hoo! I was so excited when I saw you had started your TR - I just thought of you yesterday and wondered if the trip was over yet!!

I quickly glanced at the photos and descriptions but I want to come back later for a more detailed read. My computer is acting all kinds of crazy at the moment, so I want to let it rest and come back later.

I didn't know you were going to Farmers Market and The Grove (or I forgot if I ever knew). That is literally 3 minutes up the street from me. I am there quite often. I could have wandered up to meet you and say hello!

Yay! You got the 3 hours for the price of 2 golf cart deal!!! Woo hoo!!! And you tried Armstrongs and the Semi-Sub!! Your photos are making me miss Catalina and that golf cart path so much! I have to get back there!!
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Pumpkins, Peppermint, Pastels and...Club 33!!! - (A new chapter begins... Many photos and wacky tales, coming soon to a Trip Report thread near you!)
And for some non-holiday seaside fun in the sun ~~ 2012 Catalina Island/Avalon Trip Report - My Solo Day Trip, in Photos (LOTS of Photos!)- 7/21/12
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Old 05-21-2010, 02:03 PM   #10
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Wow, lovely trip so far!

I have an aunt who lived in Long Beach the whole time I was growing up. Somehow, though, we never went to Catalina. You're making me miss the area!

Thanks for sharing!
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Old 05-21-2010, 05:22 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ms. Shuttergirl View Post
I'm enjoying your trip report already. Looks like you made good use of your new camera. Love the pic of DS sleeping in the back seat. What a sweetie.
The new camera was great! I'm still being a little bit camera shy of posting pics of us on the Boards but think that by the time I hit the World, that I won't be able to avoid it for too much longer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SoonerGirl View Post
Looks like a great day! I probably would have been one of those stopping suddenly as well - I have a tendency to do that when I see something beautiful that I want to photograph.....
Yes - it was a fantastic day. It was just as well that we had the 3 hours with the golf cart instead of 2. We took our time and made heaps of stops to enjoy the scenery.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sherry E View Post
Woo hoo! I was so excited when I saw you had started your TR - I just thought of you yesterday and wondered if the trip was over yet!!

I quickly glanced at the photos and descriptions but I want to come back later for a more detailed read. My computer is acting all kinds of crazy at the moment, so I want to let it rest and come back later.

I didn't know you were going to Farmers Market and The Grove (or I forgot if I ever knew). That is literally 3 minutes up the street from me. I am there quite often. I could have wandered up to meet you and say hello!

Yay! You got the 3 hours for the price of 2 golf cart deal!!! Woo hoo!!! And you tried Armstrongs and the Semi-Sub!! Your photos are making me miss Catalina and that golf cart path so much! I have to get back there!!
Sherry - thanks again for all your tips on Catalina. The boys also hired one of those paddle boats for an hour whilst I enjoyed my tea. We definitely want to make it back there some time, when we can spend the 2 nights there and get inland to see the bison; and eat at Antonio's. We really enjoyed looking at the Catalina Island flora and made sure we found and saw all the Catalina only species at the Garden.
I'll definitely let you know next time I'm in town at the Farmer's Market. Perhaps we could organise a mini-meet then. I don't think I mentioned it this time round

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Originally Posted by cmp1111 View Post
Wow, lovely trip so far!

I have an aunt who lived in Long Beach the whole time I was growing up. Somehow, though, we never went to Catalina. You're making me miss the area!

Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for stopping by. This TR will eventually get on topic at the World...and I hope you'll stop by again to catch up.
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Old 05-21-2010, 07:17 PM   #12
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Southern Florida - the Sunshine State

Flying out of SoCal, we arrived at Miami Airport at 8 pm and headed down towards the Everglades. We stayed at the Travelodge Florida City/Homestead. This hotel is rated No 1 on Trip Adviser for this region and it did not disappoint. For a 2.5 star hotel, we found it to be clean and to contain facilities I would normally associate with a 3.5 star hotel. At a room rate of $75 (inc tax) which included breakfast, we were pleasantly surprised. A late check-in (after 10 pm) did not deter the excellent service of the hotel staff. We were starved and they did their utmost to ring a local pizza place for us to get pizza. Breakfast was also a pleasant surprise - for whilst it was meant to be a continental style breakfast, we found that the hotel stocked waffles, pancakes, meat patties, cheese, oatmeal that we could heat up in the micro or pop into a toaster.

Meeting locals is always fun - The Everglades

I've waited almost all my life to visit the Everglades. I think I fell in love with the concept of the River of Grass since the late 60's/early 70's watching shows like Gentle Ben and Flipper.

I had planned on hitting the Everglades in 2005; but a category 3 storm put paid to this dream and we spent the better part of 1 whole day in a plane waiting for the storm to clear. So, this time round, I moved heaven and earth to get to the Everglades.



I always find that travelling is a good way to learn about other cultures first hand. I also find it really enjoyable to meet the locals. Here are a few that we met in our time at the Everglades. I think it was time well spent and I'm sure we'll remain friends for many years to come.

This guy has such a welcoming smile that you can't help but warm up to him.

And we found out that there was a party happening and we got invited to go spend some time with his friends. I declined to get too friendly...you never really know these days.

This Ahninga just wanted to hang out with us.

But some of the locals had to fly off - I guess we should have called ahead to let them know we were dropping in.

This local was happy to just stay where he was and listen to us. He didn't move very far from this spot at all.


I admit we went a little bit out of way and out on a limb to find the locals....But this tall guy was worth seeking out...he wasn't very talkative, though.


We then made our way to the bustling town of Flamingo.

And looked at the Florida Keys way out in the distance.

Lunch ended up being a scrappy affair. We bought pre-packaged hamburgers at the fish bait store in Flamingo and heated them up in the microwave. Definitely not porn worthy.

In search of more excitement, we went to the Everglades Alligator Farm. The locals here were nice - but after watching them eat, I wouldn't like to be in the same room with them. A couple of them tried to bite their feeder and he came out of the cage needing to buy a new pair of pants.


The highlight of the Aligator Farm was taking an airboat ride.

We drove through scenery like this and at high speed, the driver did a couple of 360 turns.



After the spins and watching the alligator feeding session, it was time to move on.

Is this North of South Beach or South of Miami Beach?... It doesn't matter, the water's fine
All my life I've lived, by the Pacific or Indian Ocean. So the Atlantic Ocean is one of those places where whenever I get to it, I need to swim in it or experience the Ocean to it's fullest.

Here's where we stayed. The Grand Beach Hotel, South Beach. I'm pretty sure it's north of South Beach....or South of Miami Beach.

In any event, the room was fantastic! Here's half the room, with the King Bed.

DS slept in a sofabed in the living room, where the picture was taken from.
We had 2 flat screen TVs and 2 bathrooms.
The hotel is newly opened. It has white carpet, white walls, white linen and white everywhere. Not sure who the interior decorator was...but I'd hate to be here in 2 years time to see the grey!
Views from our room was magnificent.



DH and DS are swimming in the pool.

And we did make it into the Atlantic Ocean!


SoBe - I get it!
On a regular basis, I get hungry. DH has long since learnt that I need to be fed; otherwise, I revert to behaving like a Neanderthal. Sadly, DS is turning out to be the same way.

No matter how much fun we were having in the water, we eventually got dressed and headed to South Beach in search of food. We took a taxi down to Lincoln Road Mall on advise from our concierge. After some doing some damage with our Credit Cards (and yes - I spent a bit of time in the J Crew shop), we found an italian place (TiraMisu) to eat at.

I ordered Carbonara.

DS ordered the Gnocchi.

DH ordered buckwheat spaghetti (!!!) with artichokes and tomatoes.

The gnocchi was the best meal of the night. The Carbonara was average and I didn't like the buckwheat spaghetti.

We spent a bit of time watching the wildlife on Lincoln Road. I lost count of the number of skateboarders; but there was definitely only 1 rollerbladder. It must be a species on the brink of extinction.
The fashionistas will appreciate that we saw Miami high fashion on this night - short shorts. How short were the shorts? They were soooo short that there was no point wearing underwear; even her G string was visible.
I get it now. Miami Vice move aside...Miami beach wear is the new rave.

[Update - DH just read this and told me that he noticed a few girls in short skirts wearing G strings. REALLY?? He tells me now??!!]

Aside from the hotel/beach, the next highlight of Miami would have been breakfast. We found a local hangout just 1 block south of the end of the Lincoln Road Mall. If you ever go, do yourselves a favour and check this place out.

We wanted to take pictures of the empanadas, the pastries, the tortillas and the quiches that were available for breakfast; but the owner wouldn't let us. So, we had to content ourselves with a photo outside. The empanadas were excellent and a steal at about $2 each.

[Up next - Melbourne to Orlando via Melbourne]
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Last edited by PrincessInOz; 05-24-2010 at 04:40 AM.
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Old 05-21-2010, 09:32 PM   #13
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Wow! The view from your hotel room in South Beach is amazing! I have to agree with you though, as nice and clean as that hotel looks now with all it's white decor, it will look quite dingy in a few years time.

I think I spied a photo of you and DS at dinner........
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Old 05-21-2010, 11:09 PM   #14
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Yay for TRs! Your trip looks like fun so far
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Old 05-21-2010, 11:15 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoonerGirl View Post
Wow! The view from your hotel room in South Beach is amazing! I have to agree with you though, as nice and clean as that hotel looks now with all it's white decor, it will look quite dingy in a few years time.

I think I spied a photo of you and DS at dinner........
Yup. I'm going to have to post photos of us pretty soon...

Quote:
Originally Posted by DisneyFirefly View Post
Yay for TRs! Your trip looks like fun so far
Hello Stranger...thanks for popping in.
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