Portofino Club in January 2014

Discussion in 'Universal Studios Trip Reports' started by bumbershoot, Mar 18, 2014.

  1. bumbershoot

    bumbershoot DIS Veteran

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    Hey there. :)

    This Universal-based report started at WDW. The report for that part is here, along with a lot of talking about running. And a LOT of talk about me and DS being sick. I mean, that report has mention of us being ill in its title.

    This trip was a continuation. In case you don't want to read the linked report, rundown.

    Got to town Jan 4
    By Jan 6 I was sick
    Jan 8 went to WDW Marathon Weekend Expo, sick.
    Jan 9 DS and I ran the 5K very slowly as I was...sick.
    Jan 10 DS ran his Mickey Mile, slowly because the weather had changed by about 40 degrees from the night before.
    Jan 11 I ran my very first Half Marathon. Sick as a dog but I thought I was getting better. I was wrong wrong could not have been more wrong.
    Jan 11 I got back from the Half and found out that while my aunt was watching DS, he had gotten the nasty bug as well.

    Jan 13 we went to Daytona for nearly a week with anticipation of seeing my extended family including the aunt who watched DS while I ran... They were sick. We were sick. They sat at home, we sat at a hotel...all sick.
    Jan 17 we had dinner with them.
    Jan 18 we left Daytona and headed down 95 and west on 528 to get my husband and hit...Universal!

    Oh, and we were still sick.


    I can tell...you're very very excited to be reading this! You might be feeling a little sneezy just thinking of it. I can understand; it was a virulent little, hmm, virus.


    I think I took some pretty pictures, so let's focus most on those, though all but the first will have to wait until at least tomorrow.



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  3. Heluvsme

    Heluvsme DIS Veteran

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    Followed you over, and I love the Universal board!
     
  4. Mikkimús

    Mikkimús Mouseketeer

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    Just finished reading your first part of the report, looking forward to read more.
    Hope that you started to feel better:goodvibes
     
  5. bumbershoot

    bumbershoot DIS Veteran

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    Yay for readers! :goodvibes



    We did complicated car things. This isn't new for us, but it was made SO much worse because of how ill I was. I had nearly no voice and by this time Eamon had nearly no hearing....what a rotten combo!

    Took the initial rental car (GREAT rate for 2 weeks, I mean astonishingly good rate from Alamo) to Portofino. Left it in the porte cochere while we checked in; I can't remember if our room was ready or not, but for at least a little bit we left our bags with Bell Services, checked out the Club lounge really quickly (needed some coffee and we needed some snacks), and headed back out to the car.

    Got out to the airport, turned in the car (lost Eamon's Crocs glasses at some point in here, sadness), went on into the airport to wait for Robert. He hadn't been with us for the last two weeks because his workplace objects to month-long vacations. Silly workplace. And this was supposed to be our big last "because we CAN" randomly timed trip during the school year; we homeschool, but DS is now in the YMCA's Dance Company which follows the school year. Sadness. (so this illness was made all the worse emotionally because we weren't having fun during the last big blowout trip)

    Robert finally arrived and when he saw me he kind of freaked out. Seems I'd lost (he estimates) about 10 lbs in that 2 weeks. I had noticed that my *small* pants were hanging on me, and I was feeling rather bony. I guess I didn't look that great; he supports me in slowly and nicely losing another 10 so I can be totally happy, but to lose it THAT fast didn't result in a nice appearance. Not to mention the circles under the eyes and really low energy from just not wanting to eat and not remembering to force myself to eat.

    We headed to National to snag a rental car for the day and went on back!


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    Sadly, almost everything left to say is...we spent 8 nights at Portofino Club Level, and Eamon and I went into the parks for *part* of only 3 days. The rest of the time was spent desperately trying to heal up while taking all sorts of things, continuing to drink disgusting coconut water kefir probiotics from Whole Foods, trying to eat, and encouraging poor Robert to have some fun.

    Although Club level felt like a huge waste (so dang expensive), it really saved us. We normally would only have considered it to be snacks, but because E and I had such tiny appetites, it really worked for us. We got Sal's pizza and salad a few times, and ate in the parks a few times when we were there, but really, for me especially, the light food offerings in the Lounge were perfect.

    The Club TMs were great. Most of them had had this plague that E & I had, and many had been to the doctor, so they could tell me what they had been diagnosed with (random virus) AND what to expect. I tried to keep away from everyone, to not breathe on food, etc, but since almost everyone else had this thing, at a certain point I just said "eh forget it" and did what I needed to do.

    In the evenings, the TMs quickly realized that I was wiped out and quietly freaking out, and that giving me a really full glass of wine was a GOOD thing. Couple nights the main bartender would give me a nice full glass to drink in the lounge and then a "go cup" with a lid on it (the plastic cups they have for waters, or milk).

    During E's "I think he's getting better" times, he made a friend (and they were sick in different ways...seriously, we were NOT alone in illness).

    We got to watch the last two playoff football games, which was fun for Robert.


    Just having a place to go sit for a little bit especially in the early afternoon when no one else was there, was nice. Even the wonderful Portofino rooms get tiny after awhile, when people are sick. Sigh.
     
  6. bumbershoot

    bumbershoot DIS Veteran

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    The first full day at Universal we got out early and returned the car to Four Points Sheraton down the street. Then we walked back (we had some energy) to Citywalk.


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    This is the 4Points.

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    They have a minigolf place, which is kind of cool.

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    I took the above picture at 19 minutes after the hour, and we soon started walking.

    Took this one at 29 minutes after.

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    30 minutes after the hour:

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    39 minutes after the hour:

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    41:

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    44:

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    And at 47 minutes after the hour we were up the escalators and in the main area to get over to Citywalk.

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    The weather was changing every 2 seconds. We were dressed for sunny but brisk weather, and first we would be fine, then cold, then sweaty, then fine again...it was so weird.

    So that was our walk from Four Points to Citywalk. We found out another evening that they tend to keep a towncar there, and he charged the same as a taxi. Useful.
     
  7. Heluvsme

    Heluvsme DIS Veteran

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    Your pictures are great! Portofino looks lovely!!!

    I'm so sorry you and Eamon were still so sick. The TM's sound like they were really trying to take care of you. And, I can see what you're saying about Club Level.. on the one hand you paid extra and didn't get to take full advantage, but at the same time... they were taking care of you and it met your needs. I hope for the 3 days you were able to visit the parks you had a good time.

    I think this just means you need a DO-OVER!!!! Any excuse, right? :thumbsup2
     
  8. bumbershoot

    bumbershoot DIS Veteran

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    I think we took that bug that everyone had and amped it up by a million. Traveling, surrounded by other germs, tired, etc...crazy.

    Do-overs...well, we have Universal APs that we'll keep as long as the renewal price is low. Right now the renewal price is lower than buying most few-day tickets, so as long as we make it for even a short trip out there once a year we're good. We do have some non-Disney plans in the Fall and DH has just requested that we spend a couple days at Universal, so it'll be good.
     
  9. bumbershoot

    bumbershoot DIS Veteran

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    We like Despicable Me. Despite having our Express Passes, we got there at a time just after a ride stop and reopening, and the lines were absolutely packed. Even the EP line took ages. So I had a chance to look around. And I was trying to ignore the "football football football" talk all around me even in my own family. Every time DS and DH spotted a Seahawks bit of clothing, they were off! :)


    Speakers:

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    Fun pants, and shoe coverings that lets the TMs wear whatever shoes they want but still look like they are wearing Dr Nefario's (?) boots.

    The TMs said the pants are polyester and were nice and warm on days like Jan 19th, but were broiling on normal days!

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    Ew.

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    Ew Ew.

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    The Yellow Cab near the Transformers "nest" just seems funny.

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    The State of Diagon Alley back in late January...

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  10. bumbershoot

    bumbershoot DIS Veteran

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    Simpsons.


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    So I should back up. From wiki, "The shorts became a part of The Tracey Ullman Show on April 19, 1987". This was while I was still in high school. We used to LOVE the Tracy Ullman show, and watched it at home. :) The series started 2 years later, when I was in my 3rd year of university. This is amazing to me. I know I watched it for a few years, but eventually I just stopped. I'm actually shocked it's still on. What else can they possibly write about? :) I have the same question about South Park.

    Anyway, although I don't watch the show anymore, I find the sight gags of this expanded area of Universal to be amusing. If a bit insulting. Hmm, sort of like the show itself.

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    I was, indeed, just browsing.

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  11. Mommy2PrincessAbby

    Mommy2PrincessAbby DIS Veteran

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    Random question... We are returning our car to 4pts when we switch to the darkside... I've looked at google maps, but it so hard to tell, how bad will the walk be back to RPR? Should I cab it, or is it okay?

    Sorry! Needed to read further! Take the town car or cab, got it! Lol

    And need to add... So sorry you guys were so sick! I remember DL reports of your and all the buggies you guys have picked up on past trips :(
     
  12. wiigirl

    wiigirl DIS Veteran

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    Following along! :)
     
  13. bumbershoot

    bumbershoot DIS Veteran

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    We definitely need to do something about our immune systems, that's for sure.


    The walk was a decent amount. Doable. But especially if you're going right back to the *resort* and not CityWalk, just pay someone to drive you.

    Later in the week we rented a car from them for a day and it took absolutely forever for the rental process. I had done it online, but the employee there (it's all signed for Alamo but I think you can rent National, too...you can definitely drop off National there) was missing for the first 10 minutes, then just SO slow for the rest. The guys in front of me were from South Africa and were really funny; they were goofing with her and teasing and being sarcastic, and she took everything they said completely literally. They joked about getting a different color car, and she actually took a minute to see...when they realized she had taken that at face value they were quick to tell her they were joking, but they kept on saying sarcastic, jokey things... The line was out the door by the time I got to the counter, and those guys were the only ones in front of me when I got there! So if you RENT from there, go early if there's an appointment or timeframe involved.
     
  14. bumbershoot

    bumbershoot DIS Veteran

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    I love the pin designers at Universal....


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    We did have a little bit of sun on our trip!

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    I just love the attention to detail!


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    So fun, and that's the entrance to the shortcut around the Seuss area.

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    Until just now I didn't realize they had Boddington's at the pub in Hogsmeade. Yum!

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    Not just pictures of the (back of the) entrance to Hogsmeade, but pictures of the construction.

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    The Starbucks is coming! The Starbucks is coming!

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    Fairly certain I take a picture of this locker area every time. It's just so cute.

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    I want a staircase like this someday.

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  15. bumbershoot

    bumbershoot DIS Veteran

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    This day was very slow. E was really exhausted. So was I. This illness had very weird components that didn't just hit us, but I think maybe it hit us more than others. I love using homeopathy, and in finding just the right remedy for the person, you have to ask all sorts of questions. Those questions include emotions and just everything about that illness at that moment.

    One of the most difficult parts of this illness was the nighttime emotional breakdowns. And the inability to really communicate. I had that to an extent, but I'm the grownup so I had to force myself to figure out what I needed, how I felt, and if I needed to bother anyone with my whining. Since the kiddo is still young, he doesn't yet have all the inner fortitude to feel like utter junk and maybe not share it with the world. So he would wake in the middle of the night and cry and moan and thrash...and not tell us what was wrong or what we could DO for him. Since I was so wiped out, I wasn't being all that graceful about it, which caused some tension between me and healthy&fine DH. Harumph. Our daytimes were more tired than they would have been if we could have had uninterrupted sleep.

    So this is a big reason why I don't remember the "and then we did this" stuff, even more so than usual!


    The kidlet wanted Lombards for their cheese tortellini and pesto sauce, so we went on over. I decided to try this vegetarian quinoa/portobello dish they had. It would have tasted much better if I didn't have to SEE it. It wasn't the tastiest looking item of food I've ever seen. Here. Here's a nice closeup of it. :scared:

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    It did taste better than it looked.

    But lunch got all interrupted first by a massive rainstorm that caused the lobby to fill with all sorts of teens from Brazil (and their tourgroup had given them the CUTEST jackets ever for a Disney/Universal trip, along with adorable backpacks) and other people. Then once that had died down and our food was finally there, E took a few bites and simply had to go back to the room. He was wiped out. We got the server as quickly as we could (not so quick) and got some to-go boxes, paid, and headed towards "home". Poor kid.

    Since he was so tired, we had to keep stopping. This enabled me to take these pictures from inside the giftshop at Shrek.

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    Looks like the rest of the 21st was spent relaxing, probably sleeping.


    The Club lounge was nice for us grownups, though I think we actually went there as a family only twice. They had to slowly work out that Robert and I were part of the same group, LOL.

    Breakfasts...I had oatmeal, tasty pastries that were no doubt utterly evil, but by this time I had some sense of taste and hunger back and just wanted calories. Coffee, of course. Fruit, nice cut up fruit. (that sometimes pays for Club level on its own!) Bottles of water.

    Afternoons...more coffee, bottles of water...snacks like smartpop and granola bars.

    Evenings...ONE night they had a vegetarian "entree" though I can't remember what it was, but other than that it was sliced veggies (like zucchini) with some ranch dressing, some crackers, some cheese. And wine. Wine wine wine.

    Dessert...cookies. The rest of the stuff didn't look appetizing or i figured was made with gelatin. So...cookies. And some decaf coffee.


    We went to Sal's I think two times and picked up to-go from there once or twice. We were NOT forgotten this time, so that was fabulous. They changed their physical layout a bit which I liked. The pizza, however, tasted different on this trip, even to not-sick DH.


    I did have my Richter's veggie burger one day while R&E got pizza at the "deli" somewhat nearby in NYC. The "deli" had no problem at all with me bringing my veggie burger in there, which was nice of them.


    Had my usual Rock Cake (mmm) and coffee. Frozen Butterbeer made me cry again; the brain freezes just won't stop. I think I have a tooth situation or something, because that never happened before (persistent brain freeze even when being super-careful drinking them). Guess I need to make a dentist appointment? Anyway, rock cake with coffee is WAY better...


    That's all the food I can think of right now.


    There are no pictures from the 22nd. I believe this was the day Robert went out and did a solo day at the parks, while E and I lazed around and watched...The Life of PI. This was not my idea! E asked to turn on the TV and he found that and was fascinated. So we lay around all cuddly, watching that very long and odd movie. Poor E.


    If we had it to do over again, after the Half I would have just cancelled Daytona and Universal and just gone HOME. What we would have saved on the Portofino stay would easily have gotten us back out there for the cruise 2 weeks later, and we would have had our OWN healthcare providers. The licensure for FL naturopaths is so restrictive that it seems all they do is nutritional supplements. No kids allowed at the one in Orlando, and it's a 2 hour intake about foods you eat. It was SO hard to note have access to our own people.

    But not even once while I was there in the middle of it did I think "let's just bag it and go home". It's not like I thought it and rejected it...I literally did not think about it at all. Just trudged along. Crazy.

    Pictures will continue with the 23rd.
     
  16. mrsabbott

    mrsabbott DIS Veteran

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    I didn't read your Disney portion of your trip report, so you may have mentioned it there.. But I get the feeling you are vegetarian! So am I! So are the kids, although the older two are such picky eaters when it comes to veggies! My younger two eat pretty good though! Hubs is a meat eater still.

    Anyhow, I am happy to hear about the veggie options at the parks! :) I am sorry that you guys were so sick though!
     
  17. bumbershoot

    bumbershoot DIS Veteran

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    Yes we are vegetarian. I have been since I was 19, DH changed over (after being on a macrobiotic-without-fish diet a year or two prior for health reasons but couldn't sustain that) in his late 20s (before we met), and DS has never had meat.

    FYI the potato leek soup at the Three Broomsticks is vegetarian. And almost always tasty! (one time during our trips it was off and they easily helped me out with different foods since it tasted so bad)
     
  18. bumbershoot

    bumbershoot DIS Veteran

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    On the 23rd we wanted to get a little sunshine. But it was cold. So we bundled up and went in search of somewhere relaxing. Apparently I didn't take a picture of it, but the big sign in the piazza with maps etc on it has the arrow pointed the WRONG way for the Hillside pool. It seems to indicate that it's up with the main pool and the Villa pool. Weird. We finally found it, though.


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    Sadly a massive, bright green, grasshopper showed itself and freaked out the kidlet, so we had to go. (it was really big. I'm not posting the picture of it because of the freakout factor possibilities)


    We walked up the hill from the pool which got us to the porte cochere (where the cars pull up) again, and E posed "happily" in the cute little car model thingy.

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    What the air lacked in warmth it made up in prettiness!

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    We still have never seen the cinematic spectacular or whatever it's called, except from our room on this trip which had a brilliant view of the fireworks portion of it.

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  19. bumbershoot

    bumbershoot DIS Veteran

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    We were at Universal during the big Harry Potter celebration thing. Given our natures and especially how E and I felt, we had decided ahead of time that we were just going to go about our business and not do any of the events that they were having. I had some envy moments when I thought about how I could have booked a special package to give us special passes, but right now I can't even remember what those things looked like, so...no biggie.

    But the point was, we had booked this trip before that was announced, and we weren't going to drive ourselves batty trying to do any of it.

    On the day that they released the podcast talking more about the event, we watched it. We saw that "Neville", the "Weasley" twins, and "Luna" would be there. Eamon was fascinated by how different Evanna Lynch (Luna) looked from when she was in HP.



    The 24th showed up, we were feeling a bit better though still totally exhausted, and slowly headed out to IOA.


    Seriously, the sky was mocking us with its beauty.

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    And I do adore the entrance to IOA, always making us stop and sit and wait for the music I like to come on before we enter.

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    Seuss, Mythos, and the Jurassic discovery center in one viewfinder!

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    I think E managed a few turns on Hippogriff today, so we waited for him. It was also probably this day that he finally went on Dragon Challenge. I do insist on going with him because the idea of him being on it alone freaks me out. Honestly I get really dramatic and full of dread, and I'm not afraid of him having a great time and an excellent ride on it, but rather being alone if something dreadful happened. See what I am saying without me saying it "out loud". I just don't want him to be alone. If.

    I used to love coasters, but during that period of my life they hadn't yet made coasters like Dragon Challenge. I grew up with the Bay Area's Marriott's Great America and the Demon coaster, which was quite enough of a coaster, thank you very much! So I didnt much like the Dragon Challenge thing. I *think* he had me on it twice...even if it was just the once, it did not set well with me. Gah.


    Anyway, at some point we went on back behind Three Broomsticks for rock cakes and beverages of our choice.

    I was going to get some cash out and was going to use the "Gringott's" ATM in the little entranceway between the main area of Hogsmeade and the seating area we were in. I was idly looking that way, watching others get money out. Lots and lots of grown adults wearing Hogwarts robes that day. A surprising number of them were Slytherin, too. I mean robes, scarves, etc, to show their Slytherin colors.

    So I'm just looking that way, and then Eamon started saying "it's her...her...it's HER"....

    And I focus. And...

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    Hold up.

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    Nuh uh!!!

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    Uh huh!

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    Oh Evanna Lynch was too sweet! We tried to be really polite about asking for the picture, because it seemed she was just trying to get some lunch. She said "of course" in her adorable little voice (why do I think her high little voice is cute, but my high little voice is silly?) and put her arm around my back and we smiled and Robert took the picture.

    She looked at Eamon and said "he's like a little Weasley, isn't he?" and we laughed. Because he is. :)

    We should have said to her "you were perfect as Luna and we loved your performance" but instead we said "Luna is our favorite"...augh. That's a compliment to JK, not to EL. We just were starstruck, I guess. :rolleyes2

    We thanked her, she thanked us, and she went along with her family or handlers (the men in the background in that picture).


    And when I saw that picture I was reminded again at how PINK I am. I am not "white", I am pink. And my hair is definitely NOT blonde at all anymore. And maybe I'm a little too excited in that picture. Embarrassing.

    But if Ms Lynch is reading this...thank you for being so kind and gracious and posing with us. And, um, if you caught the plague afterwards, I'm sorry. :worried:
     
  20. mrsabbott

    mrsabbott DIS Veteran

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    Loving your report so far! And now, Hubs and I have decided we must get a rock cake and coffee when we are there! And I will try the soup for sure!
     
  21. bumbershoot

    bumbershoot DIS Veteran

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    I hope you like those treats as much as I do. The rock cake is like a big scone with turbinado sugar on it. Send one adult to get them from the candy shop while the other gets the coffee at Three Broomsticks, and meet out in back. Sit at a table outside and peer over the railing to see if you see the big turtles that live out there. :)
     

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