Out-Of-The-Way Find at Disney World

Mexican Food at Picabu Taqueria

We have a secret when eating at Walt Disney World. Hidden in the lower level of the Dolphin Hotel in the Boardwalk resort area is the Picabu Taqueria. Looking like a snack bar – fast food venue the Taqueria custom builds some of the best tacos you’ll find anywhere. Featuring grilled skirt steak, fresh fish, pork carnitas and Adobo chicken with a large selection of add-ins in either hard or soft taco shells. Three large tacos for around $10.00 and well worth every penny. They also offer Burritos and Bowls. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Open for both lunch and dinner you do have to seek this place out. The Dolphin is easily reached from the Boardwalk area and is only a short walk from the second entrance at Epcot or a walk down a canal from Disney Studios. Come in the main doors at the lower level of the hotel and take the hall to the left.

If you are a guest at a Disney resort you will have to bring cash or a credit card as the Swan and Dolphin are not part of the Magic Band system.

 

 

Advertisements

Our Travel Books

Want to keep those travel photos where they will be safe and easy to access years from now? Have concerns about recollecting details of that great vacation? Want to remember names and addresses of favorite restaurants that you can recommend? We have an answer that fits our concerns perfectly.

After each trip we take time to compose a book about the trip. We’ve discovered these are good alternatives to boring our friends and relatives with a slide show. If guests seem interested, it is easy to pass around our trip books. We also look forward to sharing them with our grandchildren and refreshing our memories as time goes by.

There are a number of services that allow you to create a custom designed book from your own photographs and have it professionally printed and mailed back to you. People use these services to create wedding albums, family photo albums, special occasion records and unique gift items. While we have created books for a number of reasons, our favorite is to keep a record of our travels.

The process is simple and easy. You create an online account, upload photographs to the online project site and use the website to pick your format, design each page and add copy. These services also offer numerous styles to pick from and decorative accents you can add to the pages. When you finish, simply order, pay and expect a finished book to come in the mail in a few days.

Probably the largest of these services is Shutterfly but you should also look into Blurb and Snapfish along with services within popular photo software like Apple’s Photo.

 

 

 

Frequent Flyer Programs

It’s been forty years since I earned my first airline “mile”. These industry programs became almost universal over a few years and were pretty simple to understand. Fly a mile and earn a mile and after accumulating a specific number of miles get a free ticket. There were a number of subtle variations like if you didn’t earn any miles over two years your mileage would be forfeit. Some allowed you to use small amounts to upgrade to first class on a paid ticket and many started programs with affiliated airlines.

Some added shopping and restaurant programs to encourage you to accumulate more miles and most started awarding bonus miles for getting and using their branded credit cards. Years ago business travelers like me benefitted the most because we were logging constant miles and while our employers paid for the tickets we got to use the free ticket awards.

Well things always change. Our first realization came about five years ago when a roundtrip flight to Australia only earned 5,000 miles instead of the 20,000 that we flew. It seemed we had bought a discount ticket and the seat code had a Z in it (American Airlines).

Isn’t it surprising how one company makes a change and all the rest follow. Between one and two years ago miles stopped being miles traveled but became a calculation based on the price of the ticket (that partial award based on the seat code also can still apply, please refer to the fine print).

Because most of these frequent flyer programs have evolved into complex constructs bringing together a number of businesses, with lawyers involved, the airlines have to be very specific regarding the rules of their award programs. Now the fine print covering the earning of miles looks more like an insurance policy than a marketing promotion.

To provide information on some of these programs the following descriptions have been copied from the program web sites of each airline:

Delta

For Delta-marketed (flight numbers that include the “DL” airline code) or Delta-ticketed (featuring a ticket number beginning with “006”) flights, SkyMiles Members will earn miles based on ticket price, at the rate of 5 miles per U.S. Dollar (USD) spent, including base fare and carrier-imposed surcharges, but excluding government-imposed taxes and fees.

United

United MileagePlus members will earn MileagePlus award miles based on the fare at 5 miles per dollar value and MileagePlus status for the following flights, with some exclusions as listed at the bottom of this page.

Flights operated by United and United Express, and

Flights operated by a Star AllianceTM or MileagePlus partner airline for tickets issued by United (ticket number starting with “016”)

Tickets containing Basic Economy (N) fares are eligible to receive award miles based on fare at 5 miles per fare dollar and MileagePlus status, but will not receive any Premier qualifying credit.

American

American Award miles are awarded based on ticket price (includes base fare plus carrier-imposed fees, but excludes government-imposed taxes and fees). The more you spend, and the higher your elite status level, the more you earn.

(Includes US Airways flights)

AAdvantage® member – 5 miles/U.S. dollar

Gold member – 7 miles/U.S. dollar (40% bonus)

Platinum member – 8 miles/U.S. dollar (60% bonus)

Platinum Pro member – 9 miles/U.S. dollar (80% bonus)

Executive Platinum member – 11 miles/U.S. dollar (120% bonus)

Southwest

Southwest Earn When You Fly

The amount and type of fare you choose determines how many points you earn. Now you have another reason to go for that Business Select® Fare.

Business Select® Points Earned per dollar            12

Anytime 10 Pts Per Dollar

Wanna Get Away® 6 Pts Per Dollar

JetBlue

JetBlue True Blue Program. No blackout dates on JetBlue operated flights. Use points for any seat, any time1See Terms and Conditions seating footnote. Earn at least 6 points per eligible dollar when you book on jetblue.com2See Terms and Conditions earning footnote. Points don’t expire. Earn and share points together with Family Pooling

 

 

Savannah, Georgia’s Grand Lady

Jack Leigh’s 1993 image titled “Midnight.”

 

If Charleston is a Southern Belle than Savannah is the South’s Grande Dame. The city is built close upon the deltas of the Wilmington and Savannah Rivers at the confluence of the Savannah River and Little Back River. Traditionally, the culture of Savannah is rooted in the coastal “low country” just like its’ sister city of Charleston a hundred miles to the north.

Savannah Map from 1818

The city of Savannah, Georgia was laid out by James Oglethorpe in 1733 around four open squares. Each square was surrounded by four residential (“tything”) blocks and four civic (“trust”) blocks. Once the four wards were developed in the mid-1730s, two additional wards were laid out and the city grew out from this plan. Almost three hundred years later it is those squares (http://www.savannah.com/savannahs-historic-squares/) that make Savannah so unique and attractive.

East River Street

James Oglethorpe was a British soldier, Member of Parliament, and philanthropist, as well as the founder of the colony of Georgia. As a social reformer, he hoped to resettle Britain’s poor in the New World. Savannah was the beginning of his Georgia colony. The charter allocated each family a city plot to build a house on along with a larger garden plot outside the settlement proper and an additional large farm plot farther out into the countryside. The inner city design was originally intended to allow for defense from the Spanish to the south and the native tribes around the area.

The SCAD Theatre

Today it doesn’t matter if the plan was a result of genius or luck or centuries of dedication, Savannah is one of the world’s most beautiful, walkable and livable cities. It is home to SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) which is a dominant force in the culture of the city. Be sure to make time to visit their gallery and museum and ShopSCAD .

Savannah is also one of America’s most historic cities having played major roles in the colonization of America, the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. It is also known for food, ghosts (there are dozens of haunting legends as well as tours) and a vibrant lifestyle. When people think of this city they usually think of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, the birdgirl statue, cemeteries and grand steepled churches.

The Fountain in Forsythe Park

The last time we visited Savannah was a year ago in August, during the heat of summer. We came back in November and the weather and temperatures were glorious. We spent most of our time touring on foot, taking time for frequent stops to shop and snack. While walking along the river late one afternoon we decided, for old times sake, to stop into The Charte House for happy hour. In addition to good happy hour drink prices and snacks we were pleasantly surprised with an order of fried green tomatoes, some of the best we have ever had.

Crystal Beer Parlor

While strolling around the outskirts of the historic district we stopped for lunch at Crystal Beer Parlor, a local treasure on West Jones Street. Located in a former grocery store the “Crystal” is Savannah’s oldest restaurant, dating back to 1933. Its’ menu features solid American fare and an extensive beer list including a nice selection of local brews.

Market Square

On a previous visit to Savannah we took a walking “Famous & Secret East Side Food Tour” which was the most fun we’d had for lunch in a long time. We started at Smith Brothers Butcher Shop  and visited a half dozen spots for everything from tea and sweets to gyros. One of the stops was at Angel’s Barbeque, which had garnered a reputation for some of the best barbecue and homemade sauces in Savannah. We enjoyed delicious pulled pork sandwiches. I’m glad we stopped at that time as the owners, Andrew and Alieen Trice, have now sold the building and retired. To some this amounts to a tragedy.

If you are spending a day doing a walking tour of the city, a popular lunch idea is to stop by Smith Brothers Butcher Shop and order a sandwich to-go or pick up some items for a picnic in one of Savannah’s many squares.

For an introduction to the flavors of the city one should consider a number of dishes that the city is known for like low country boil, Shrimp and grits, Crab Savannah, oyster roast, crab cakes, beans n rice or red beans, fried green tomatoes and for dessert look for Georgia Peach Pie or cobbler, pecan pie and pralines or gophers.

Some must have treats in this historic city are legendary Leopold’s Ice Cream , Savannah’s Candy Kitchen for pralines or gophers, Southbound Brewing Company  for a tour and samples and one of Savannah’s popular and eclectic coffee shops.

 

 

Cat & Wine Café in Charleston

Pounce

On a recent trip to Charleston, while walking down Meeting Street on our way back to our B&B, we passed an interesting café. It was after dark and the large front windows glowed with a view of an attractive “living room” furnished with overstuffed chairs, sofas, plenty of pillows and cats. There were a number of people enjoying beverages and petting the cats and, I admit, we had never seen anything like it before.

The café’s name is Pounce and it’s described as a pet adoption service. You purchase a ticket for either a half hour or hour stay. The admission includes a beverage (coffee, wine, beer or soft drink), pastries and sweets and “cat time” in a living room setting. It is best to call ahead as peak periods require a reservation.

We are not “pet people” but, based on reviews, this seems to be a good idea. Maybe if you visit Charleston you can have a glass of Merlot and take home a companion?

Pounce

283 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401

(843) 212-5500

Hours: 11AM–7PM

Historic Charleston, South Carolina

A Southern Road Trip Part One: Charleston

We started our November road trip in Charleston, South Carolina with a stay at the Barksdale House Inn, a beautiful bed and breakfast located on George Street in the historic district. It has been a number of years (actually a few decades) since we last visited and, while it is hard to believe that a city, which is over two and a half centuries old, can change a lot in that time, it really has.

The restaurant scene here has simply exploded. A wide range of culinary styles are offered with special emphasis on the “Low Country” recipes of the region. Seafood is featured in Southern dishes like shrimp and grits, oyster stew and she-crab soup. We stopped into Pearlz for happy hour at the bar and ended up turning it into dinner. Afterwards, walking back to the B&B, we finished the night by picking up pralines at Savannah’s Candy Kitchen of Charleston. The next day we sampled and purchased cookies from Byrd’s Famous Cookies and also stopped for lattes at a local coffee shop of which Charleston has more than a few.

There are a large number of high-end retailers that have moved onto King Street creating a unique shopping venue in the historic district. Another mecca for tourists and visiting shoppers is the city market on East Market Street. The market stretches for a number of blocks east from Meeting Street with both indoor and open-air buildings. Stalls include local food sellers, crafts, jewelry, art and a limited amount of clothing. There are also a number of stalls featuring traditional Gullah hand-woven sweet-grass baskets which are unique to the region.

The Gullah are the descendants of African slaves of various ethnic groups who live in the Low-Country regions of Georgia and South Carolina, in both the Coastal Plain and on the Sea Islands. They developed a Creole

language, the Gullah language, and a culture rich in African influences which makes them distinctive among African Americans.

Other big draws to Charleston are the Colonial and Federalist architecture and the revolutionary and civil war historic sites. Good ways to see the town are with narrated horse-drawn carriage tours operated by several different companies or walking tours which can be self-guided or with a tour company.

A B&B In Charleston, South Carolina

Barksdale House Inn is  a comfortable B&B in a historic house built in 1778 located in the heart of old town Charleston, SC. This Inn offers 14 rooms with private baths, complimentary breakfast, newspaper, free wireless internet access and off-street parking. We visited Charleston, South Carolina recently and really enjoyed our stay at this B&B.The rooms are beautifully decorated, the bed we had was comfortable and the shower had plenty of hot water. The staff is friendly and efficient and on weekdays they put out a really nice continental breakfast (on weekends they offer a full breakfast) and an afternoon tea each day for their guests. They also allow you to leave your car parked at the B&B until 2:00 pm on the day you check out which allows more time for shopping and sightseeing.