First Guests at Wine Bar George

Yes, that was us – the first guests on the first full opening day, Sunday. 11 am. George himself greeted us both coming and going.

The atmosphere was way cool, the food incredible and the wine perfectly paired.

We shared the Skirt Steak (with fingerling potatoes and asparagus) family platter meant to be shared. We ate about half and brought the rest home. Heated up for dinner, it was even more awesome – the flavors all married together.  So tender… we’ll be back for more.

As for wine, I had a glass of Argentinian Malbec and Rich had a California Merlot that reminded me of more of a Cab. I don’t recall the names but I took photos of the bottles, which I will post.

We also shared the Olive Oil Cake. I’d wanted to try that for a long time and it was also amazing!

Our server Jason was simply the best!

We were well-rewarded for the long drive through a deluge of epic rain. This was the kind of Disney magic that dreams are made of and we renewed our Annual Pass.

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Cruising Fever

The last couple of years we lived in Las Vegas, we found ourselves not renewing our Disneyland AP but cruising more frequently instead. Now that we’ve been in Florida for a year and our AP is expiring, we find ourselves focusing more on cruising. In fact, we have 3 cruises booked – all on Princess. Not that we don’t do Disney, but we find ourselves doing Disney Springs and the resorts more often than the parks.

It didn’t help that Rich was in the hospital with a six-week recovery period so we’re scrambling to fit in as much of the parks as we can before the AP expires. But we’re also going to Disneyland this summer so a WDW AP isn’t quite as urgent right now.

Preparing for both trips but mostly to immerse ourselves in the atmosphere, we’ve been watching videos from Fresh Baked Disney and Cruise Tips TV on youtube. And while you’re there, check out some of our travel videos here. I’m still working on setting the channel up – kinda stuck with the CaliFloridian name – like too many of these social media sites these days, you can only change the name again after a certain amount of time. I was only experimenting. I’m also kinda stuck without a custom url – 100 subscribers minimum needed. We had a custom url with our old account but I deleted that one and started over. Ooops! Experimentation shall be punished. 🙂

CaliFloridian

Up before first light today, although I often don’t make it out to the Lanai this early. But if I’m going to get halfway dressed, feed the cats, turn off the alarm, open the blinds and make coffee, I need to start before first light even if I’m quite convertible in bed.

Why bother? This is my favorite time of the day in a Florida. It really is Heavenly.

When we were living in Las Vegas, I often said I’d like to be in Florida for the morning, Las Vegas at night (that’s just as wonderful as Florida in the morning) and California on the weekend.

But yesterday afternoon I realized I’d also like to be in California in the afternoon. Afternoons have been hard for me ever since we first left California. It’s the only place we’ve lived where the weather is consistently walkable (mostly) in the afternoon and I love my afternoon walks.

Working in Silicon Valley I often took a 3:00 walk break, especially because I usually worked until 6:30 (usually to let traffic die down a bit before commuting home).

I truly do love both California and Florida, hence, the many moves back and forth, which makes me a CaliFloridian.

Disneyland Birthday Pixar Fest Pre-Trip Report

In our last post we mentioned we were interviewing pet sitters. Well, the first did not do at all, and on the day the second was scheduled to stop by, Rich wasn’t feeling well so his doctor squeezed him in and he ended up in the hospital for 3 nights, had an operation, and is now recovering, which might take a couple of weeks. So, we cancelled our pet sitter trip to WDW next week.

Yep, if it’s Florida, Rich must be in the hospital. Just about the same time as the last time we were here, 6 years ago. And then we cancelled my birthday trip to Disneyland that year. But then moved back west. So far, it’s feeling like deja vu. I’m really hoping we’ll make it to Disneyland for my birthday this time.

I have mixed feelings about Pixar Fest – while it looks ok, have we heard enough about it already? Every blogger/vlogger thinks they need to cover it. I’d rather experience it for myself, I think.

Anyway, we’re staying at Paradise Pier so I had to grab that photo of the Pixar Pals sign with Paradise Pier in the background. I know, I know, I said we’d never stay there again. Let’s just hope they don’t give us the “Big Kahuna Suite” again. 🙂

We decided against the Premier AP but will be getting 2-day tickets through the hotel and adding MaxPass, although as I’m writing this, I kinda wish we were getting the Premier so we could drop in each day. Because we also need to make some sort of AP decision for WDW – renew the gold, get the silver, or do the Epcot after 4. If no Premier, I think we’ll need 3 days for Disneyland.

The plan so far is pretty loose. But here are the priorities:

Grand Californian:

Napa Rose for birthday dinner
Hearthstone Lounge

Disneyland:

Pirates
It’s a Small World
Peter Pan
Haunted Mansion
Big Thunder
Peek at Star Wars, New Orleans Square, Main Street, Fantasyland

DCA:

Radiator Springs Racers
Luigi’s
Carthay Circle
Golden Vine Winery
Monsters
Toy Story Mania
Soarin
Pixar Pier, Cars Land, Hollywood Land, Grizzly Peak

Wednesday

MCO to LAX, rental car, drive to Paradise Pier, check in
Downtown Disney, Hearthstone Lounge

Thursday

DCA – get MaxPass for Racers

Friday

Disneyland (Premier or 3-day) or the beach if no pass for today, although I really think I want to be inside Disneyland Park on my birthday – I’ve been going there since I was 3 years old
Birthday dinner at Napa Rose

Saturday

Would like to do Disneyland for Date Night but Saturday is a busy day so may pass on that

Sunday

Church and then meet Rich’s aunt for lunch at beach restaurant
Downtown Disney or back to DCA if pass allows for this

Monday

LAX to MCO

Hmmm… writing this down I’m struck by how thin the plan is without an AP or 3-day pass – don’t think a 2-day is going to do it. More planning is required.

 

 

 

 

First Light in Florida

The best reason for living in Florida is waking up before the sun is up, sipping my first cup of coffee out on the Lanai, soaking in the quiet, the pond tranquility, the fascinating, moving clouds, and the many hues displayed in the morning sky. Absolutely breathtaking! It’s like having a mini vacay before daylight.

Being an early riser these days, I often do this alone, but sometimes, like yesterday and this morning before work, Rich joined me. I’ve been snapping pics from my iPhone but I’ve dug out the regular camera and may be taking some photos using it next.

Once the sun was bright enough to blind us, we drove off to the beach and enjoyed a morning walk on the beach and then Rich got our “Margaritaville” beach chairs, and we sat on the beach, enjoying the smell, feel, and sounds of the ocean. Heaven!

Oh yes, and then we opened up the “Director’s Cut” from the latest Coppola shipment, celebrating the California birthday plans Rich has made for me.

 

Hijacking the Flower and Garden Festival

So we were no our way to the Flower and Garden Festival, but not too far from the Florida Turnpike I asked Rich if he’d rather go to the Blues Festival at the Lakeridge Winery. He said yes so we reconfigured Apple Maps, took a short u-turn, and headed for the winery. We noticed many were lugging their chairs for the festival. We had a couple of “Margaritaville” beach chairs in the trunk but weren’t sure we’d stay for the festival – we were mostly interested in the wine tasting, tour, and gift shop.

As soon as I saw the vineyards, I felt at home. I remembered how we used to have lunch at the Symphony Restaurant (delicious!) at Pahrump Valley Winery when we lived in Las Vegas. I remembered the Bay Area wineries in Livermore. I remembered, of course our trips to Napa/Sonoma from the Bay Area. I remembered living near the Oregon wine country in nearby Dundee. I remembered growing up on the California Central Valley vineyards visiting my (step) dad’s sister and brother-in-law’s vineyards twice a year from our home in Southern California.

We did the wine tastings, checked out the gift shop, and then joined the next tour, which starts out with a film about the history of the winery. It’s a family affair and I couldn’t help but notice the similar tight-lip features of father and son and I teared up, thinking about those family resemblances that not all of us experience when we don’t grow up with both sides of the family. I took comfort in knowing the places that were family to me and it always comes down to California being family and why settling into Florida for the long-term is quite challenging.

After our tour, we were hungry so we paid our $5 admission to the festival, bought a couple of tacos for me, a burrito for Rich, and we shared a glass of wine, sitting on a picnic table near the band. It was a fun-filled day with good eats, tasty wine, awesome music, a vineyard, and a nice change from Disney.