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  • Title: Home of Our Laughing Place Travel
    Descriptive info: .. This site will look much better in a browser that supports.. web standards.. , but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.. Set Countdown Timer.. You are here:.. Reviews.. Dining.. Shows.. Attractions.. Resorts.. Parks.. Testimonials.. Other.. Planning Tools.. Dining Guide.. Member Reviews.. Resort Calculator.. OLP WDW Transportation Wiz.. iPhone, iPad & Android Apps.. GPS TWiz HD.. GPS TWiz.. Disney Dining Guide.. Resort Researcher.. TWiz.. Walt Disney World®.. Restaurants.. Disneyland®.. Hotels.. Disneyland® Dining.. Disney Cruise Line®.. Disney Dream.. Disney Fantasy.. Disney Magic.. Disney Wonder.. Adventures by Disney®.. Galapagos Review.. Peru Review.. Wyoming Review.. Costa Rica Review.. Spain Review.. Traveler Reviews.. Book Now!.. Travel Agents.. Mission Statement.. Newsletter Signup.. current information.. weekly checks for auto*magic* discounts.. customized planning.. We will sprinkle pixie dust over all your plans.. Visit Our Laughing Place Travel's profile on Pinterest.. OLP's Video of the Week:.. This text will be replaced.. Enjoy a front row view of the live show,.. Mickey and the Magical Map.. Fantasyland.. ,.. Disneyland Park.. Disneyland Resort.. Snippets from Mickey and the M.. 9/27/2014.. Enjoy a front row view of the live show, Mickey an.. Dapper Dans.. 9/26/2014.. Enjoy the old timey tunes of the Dapper Dans on Ma.. Jiko.. 10/4/2014.. MENU.. Relax as twin wood-burning ovens roar and the soothing, warm colors of an African sunset bring energ.. Grand Floridian Cafe.. 10/2/2014.. Drink in the sweeping views along the veranda that overlooks the courtyard and sparkling pool.. Speci.. Garden Grill Restaurant.. 9/30/2014.. The revamped Garden Grill Restaurant is back to being a family style restaurant.. This is located in.. Fountain View.. 9/27/2014.. Featuring Starbucks® espresso and specialty beverages, along with Artisan sandwiches and house-made.. Cinderella's Royal Table.. 9/26/2014.. Cinderella"s Royal Table is located IN THE CASTLE at the Magic Kingdom.. The theming is impeccable an.. Cantina de San Angel.. 9/25/2014.. Cantina de San Angel is a counter service restaurant located in the World Showcase of the Mexico pav.. Dinner Menu:.. Bongos Cuban Cafe.. 9/23/2014.. Enjoy some Cuban inspired cuisine at Bongos on the West Side of Downtown Disney.. Intermission Food Court.. 9/21/2014.. The All Star Music Resort’s food court offers counter service food outlets with a medley of offering.. The Mara.. 9/15/2014.. PICS.. Theming on the ceiling.. Mama Melrose's Ristorante I.. 9/14/2014.. No sugar added Panna Cotta.. 9/17/2014.. Such an excellent show!.. Member Reviews:.. MAGICAL!!!.. Wendy Michael, from OLP Travel, made our 1st trip to Disneyworld a Magical journey! Wendy planned EVERYTHING! I literally did nothing.. It was the easiest and most magical va.. read more..  ...   and this one in Downtown Disney.. Bongos has a much more extensive menu, and I think the food is good enough.. Georgie Smith.. 9/23/2014.. Great place to eat before.. A lot of days we start and end our day here.. there are choices for everyone and--while the food isn't really anything to write home about--it's solid and it's cheaper than.. Mary Lee.. 9/22/2014.. Loved, Loved, Loved This S.. For as long as i can remember , my favorite Disney show has been Hunchback of Notre Dame, and nothing could touch it.. until I saw Mickey and the Magical Map! The sh.. Ahnalira.. 9/17/2014.. Good Counter Service.. Sometimes I just don't feel like going to a full service restaurant after a long day at the parks.. I want to get the kids fed and into bed.. Mara is a good resort.. Toni.. 9/15/2014.. I Love This Restaurant!.. I love the homey, casual feel.. I don't mind bringing a herd of kids here at all :D I don't know if the food is authentic Italian.. I'm not Italian, but I do know.. Mama Melrose's Ristorante.. Donna.. 9/14/2014.. Our Laughing Place is a Disney vacation planner s turn-key resource.. Everything from.. pictorial articles, member reviews, helpful planning articles, forums, a resort calculator, and transportation wizard to a concierge-style, full service Travel Agency.. is available here at.. We ll help you find your laughing place.. Welcome to.. Our Laughing Place.. com.. , a Disney vacation planning web site brought to you by OLP Travel.. Here you can research all Disney Destinations and plan out your Disney Adventures.. We have reviews, pictures, movies and articles about the many.. restaurants.. hotels.. ,.. theme parks.. shows.. and.. shops.. of the.. Walt Disney World Resort®.. (in Florida), the.. Disneyland® Resort.. (in California) and the.. Our.. OLP Travel Agents.. are all specialists in planning Disney vacations; please.. submit a query.. and let them help you create some Disney magic!.. For the latest.. reviews.. articles.. movies.. 360 VRs.. and pictures see our.. latest and greatest.. page.. More Links:.. travel agents.. |.. Contact us.. Testimonials!.. Disney Traveler Reviews.. home.. latest.. greatest.. submit.. query.. bibbidy.. bobbidyboo.. movie.. clips.. store.. pictures.. all olp.. olp.. site.. feedback.. transport.. wizard.. ©1999 - 2014 ourlaughingplace.. com.. As to Disney Artwork, logos, and properties: (C) Disney.. Ship's Registry: Bahamas.. Website by Laughing Place Communications, LLC.. Laughing Place Communications, LLC DBA: Our Laughing Place Travel.. WA State Seller of Travel.. 236 Shumway Rd, Camano Island, WA 98282.. phone - (724) 222-5970 -.. e-mail: olptravel@ourlaughingplace..

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  • Title: Gateway to Galapagos: Alan & Ahnalira review Adventures By Disney
    Descriptive info: :.. Cruises.. Adventures by Disney.. Adventures by Disney Reviews.. Gateway to the Galapagos.. OLP Travel Reviews.. Grand Canyon.. Ecuador & Galapagos.. Peru.. Wyoming.. Costa Rica.. Spain.. Submit Travel Query.. Adventures by Disney.. Alan and Ahnalira review the.. , an Adventures By Disney tour.. View pictures and videos below in the day to day report:.. Day 1.. 2.. 3.. 4.. 5.. 6-8.. 9.. Please wait while page is loading.. When Alan and I saw the Galapagos Islands adventure offered by Adventures by Disney, we knew immediately we were going to sign up.. To visit the Galapagos Islands and experience the unique Nature there has been on our bucket list for many years.. What we didn't know was that we'd fall in love the culture of Ecuador in the highlands of the Andes Mountains.. As usual, Disney made the adventure even more spectacular for us.. But I get ahead of myself.. Let's start at the beginning; ).. Day 1- Bienvenidos.. TIP: Flights into Quito, Ecuador typically arrive in the evening.. We learned from our past five Adventures by Disney tours that it's a good idea to arrive a day early so that we feel rested for the tour's activities.. As well, Quito is at 9300 ft elevation, and that extra day gave us the time we needed to adjust.. The Adventures by Disney team sets up a wonderful greeting system.. We were met at the airport after clearing Customs and led to our transportation to the hotel.. The next day (because we came in a day early), we found the Adventures by Disney table by the front desk.. Fresh drinks and hot towels awaited tired travelers, and everything we needed to know to get started was available.. We relaxed and spent the day enjoying the beautiful JW Marriott resort.. Click here for pictures.. Day 2 - Middle of the Earth.. It was rise and shine for our first group event - Breakfast! We got to play a get to know each other better game and learn a little about each others' reasons for coming to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.. as well as eat a delicious meal that had both Ecuadorian treats and American favorites!.. Once on the very comfortable Mercedes bus that would be like our home away from home for the next few days, we began the journey to the Ecuadorian Highlands.. Quito is nestled into the Andes at 9300 feet above sea level.. TIP: There is water on the bus.. Always have a bottle in your hand while riding, and keep drinking.. This will help you adjust to the elevation immensely.. We learned all kinds of interesting tidbits while we traveled through the city of Quito and into the mountains.. Eduardo, our local Adventure Guide, was a font of information.. His delivery was well thought out and humorous.. What more could an adventurer want?.. From socio-economic influences to the history of Peru and Spain in Ecuador to Geography, Eduardo was prepared to answer questions.. For example, did you know that Ecuador is approximately the size of Nevada and has 7 live volcanoes? Imagine that!.. Our first stop was Latitude 0 - the equatorial point deemed The Middle of the Earth Once again, my somewhat limited understanding of what the equator is and means was expanded by this fascinating stop.. Here's a short video clip of some of what we learned at the Quitosato Equatorial Sundial:.. Latitude 0 Video.. My mind was stretched!.. Click here for pictures at Latitude 0.. We clambered back into bus, collected our bottles of water and headed down the winding mountain highway to our next stop: Molino San Juan.. Molino San Juan was an operating grain mill for many years but now is a museum.. We were greeted with a fresh beverage and welcomed into the hacienda.. We met the family who ran the mill, learned its history, and served lunch.. But first, a lesson in baking Bizcochos:.. Baking Bizcochos Video.. Click here for pictures of Molino San Juan.. It was only mid-afternoon of the first day, and I am already exclaiming to anyone who will listen that I LOVE this tour! We left the Molino San Juan light of heart and tummy-satisfied for a modest ride on the bus to our Hacienda in the Highlands.. We rode through winding mountain scenery and stopped at a scenic lookout to get some pictures.. Click here for Guides Pix.. Long story short - The Disney Magic happens even when you don't notice it; >).. Journey's end - Hacienda Cuisin.. The Hacienda is a restored Highlands ranch, and much of the original charm is still intact in the beautiful grounds and furnishings.. Every room is unique.. That said, much of cultural infra-structure is also still intact.. While we in the US of A are used to even the most basic dwellings having automatic temperature control inside, this is not the norm in the culture we are visiting.. Rooms are heated either by fireplaces or mobile electric heating units.. In other words, the interior temperatures are the same as the exterior temperatures most of the day.. Fireplaces are lit after dark.. Our room had a fireplace so we were fortunate to be able to get enough warmth in the room to make showering in the unheated bathrooms tolerable.. Just saying.. if you absolutely have to have a warm bathroom, ask for a mobile heater to keep in there all the time;.. Click here for Hacienda Cuisin Pix.. TIP: While Disney filled every moment (almost) with something fun and interesting to do, they also understood that not everyone wants to do everything.. The Adventure Guides were wonderful in accommodating members of the tour who wanted to opt out here and there to do their own thing for awhile.. Our first evening's group activity was a Folkloric dance show followed by dinner.. We were served a local tea and the BEST empanada EVER while we enjoyed the dancing.. Here's a small sample of the show:.. Folkloric Dance Video.. It was a quiet dinner, and everyone was ready for a good night's sleep in preparation for another fun-filled day.. Click here for Dancers and Dinner Pix.. Day 3 - El Mercado.. Another bright and early day.. get used to these; ) Breakfast was from a menu every morning with a simple selection: Eggs and bacon, pancakes, cereal, etc with the usual sides of bread and beverage.. I had fresh fruit with yogurt and no sugar added granola every day and LOVED it.. We had an other very full day planned so we were on the bus and down the road (with water in hand) by 9AM.. First stop: Nanda Manachi.. This musical family invited us into their home to learn more about the traditional music of the Highlands AND how to make and play a flute.. It was fun, fun, fun! Here's a short video clip of the highlights:.. Flute Demo and Lesson (video).. Flute Demo and Lesson Pix.. Our next stop was another home in the Otavalo Valley.. The members of the family were weaving artisans, and they set their home up as a museum, of sorts, to share the Ecuadorian Highlands heritage and culture with us.. The sincerity and passion of the young man who led our tour was heart-touching for me.. They led us through their home, showing us various elements of the culture and demonstrating their own art of weaving and sewing.. As well, we saw their medicinal garden and got to sample uvilla - my new favorite fruit in the entire world! Here is a video clip of some of the highlights:.. Ecuadorian Highlands Culture: Highlights (video).. Ecuadorian Highlands Culture: Highlights (pix).. According to the schedule, we planned to eat lunch here, but there was a kitchen malfunction so our two wonderful Adventure Guides and community liason did some fancy footwork and - voila! - Disney made a little magic as well as a delicious lunch.. If they hadn't told us there was to be a change in plans, I wouldn't have even known.. That's how smoothly it was handled.. After lunch we headed to El Mercado, the Otavala Valley market.. Bargain negotiating was the term of the day, and - for those of us who like to play the game - it was FUN! In fact, I had so much fun it never even crossed my mind to take a picture.. I did bring home some delightful handmade treasures, though.. The bus back to Hacienda Cuisin was filled with happy, tired folks.. but we weren't done yet.. Back at the Hacienda, tables were set up with kites that needed decorating and snacks that needed eating.. The kites were for the next day's activities, and - ready for a nap though we were - decorating that kite happened.. Dinner was a quiet affair for adults while the kids headed off for pizza and a Disney movie.. Adults were invited, and - if we'd had even a modicum of energy left - we would have.. We KNOW where the kids are is where the fun is had.. DAY 4 - Where Condors Soar.. We started the day with a choice: We could hike through a rural community of the Otavala Vally and then hike into a park to a waterfall.. or, we could shop at the entrance of the park until the hikers through the rural community caught up with us and hike into the park to the waterfall.. We'd been traveling mainly on the bus for a few days, and we were ready for some exercise so we opted for the longer hike.. In addition to breathing the fresh, clear air and enjoying the blood pumping through our muscles, we also enjoyed beautiful views and an interesting  ...   tour started, plugged Alan's iPod into the flat screen TV, and watched movies.. This gorgeous, deep tub will be something you look forward to returning to (foreshadowing, here.. ).. Quito is a very clean city (We were told this a a product of washing away volcano dust), and I found the view from our hotel room captivating.. A breakfast buffet was included in our extra night's hotel price, and we had a delightful Peruvian lunch buffet in the hotel for lunch.. It brought back fond memories of our Adventures by Disney tour to.. I love eating my way through cultures:).. Of course, the seating was gracious and comfortable.. The buffet was ample.. This is how we knew we'd arrived at the 'real' equator; ;).. Alan joined the sign with this Coke 0 to show how in alignment he was the moment.. Then, he surfed the equator because that's just how rolls:).. Ahnalira, on the other hand, was more inclined to 'walk the line'.. The courtyard is full of color, like this fountain filled with rose petals.. Whimsical design at the entrance.. Inside, we are greeted by a smile and a fresh, local beverage.. The interior is a gracious blend of home and museum.. Upon completion of the baking demonstration, we moved into the dining room for lunch.. Even the table setting was educational!.. Our meal began with a Quinoa Cheese Soup.. There were two entree options.. This is the chicken.. This is the trout.. looked very fresh!.. I had an vegetarian entree - it was special ordered.. Cauliflower au Gratin.. And YUMMY!.. The regular dessert was chocolate cake and the baked bizcochos from the demonstration with a sauce.. For us, they made a delicious poached Tree Tomato; a fruit local to the Ecuadorian Highlands.. It was delectable! Truly, I think we got the best option;>).. TIP: Not only will you be taking pictures to capture memories of this adventure, the Adventure Guides have cameras, too.. They will capture the moments that surprise and delight you.. For example, here's a picture that Alan took of him and me on the scenic lookout (We look so blissed, don't we?).. Little did we know.. one of our Adventure Guides was 'on it' with his camera.. This turned out to be our favorite picture of the trip!.. The entrance of Hacienda Cuisin.. The design of the exterior buildings was refurbished, but maintained as close to original as possible.. There are several public rooms; one with a tv and one with free wifi.. The grounds are beautiful!.. There are many serene walks to enjoy.. This tree was my favorite spot.. We enjoyed walking to the Establos (stables) and visiting the horses.. They are available for riding - if you can fit it in between tours ;>).. Every room had unique furnishings.. The art throughout Hacienda Cuisin was very interesting.. The much-appreciated fireplace.. The bathroom was adequate and inspired fond memories of the JW Marriot tub.. Here, the dancers prepare for their second dance.. Dinner was served in a building called The Monastery.. There was a lovely mural on the end wall.. Some of the dinner options included: Another version of Quinoa Cheese Soup.. Fish.. Vegetarian Lasagna.. Strudel.. And the no sugar added dessert - An apple stuffed with yogurt and fruit.. It was fascinating watching this fellow carve the flute by measuring sounds.. Then his sisters came out and showed us how to move to flute music.. And then.. more family members played and sang.. What a talented family!.. Our turn to show our stuff.. Just how well did we learn while we watched?.. We did manage to get our flutes made with a 'little' help, but playing wasn't near as easy as it looked.. He did manage, though, to make a sound on the big one:).. Here our guide is telling us about the Shaman Healer of the culture and how all illness is considered an illness of the soul; the shaman helps a person reclaim their happiness.. Here is an example of the various manners of dress in the different communities.. Here is the mother of the family carding the wool.. And a sample of some of their hand embroidery.. In their medicinal garden, we saw the Tree Tomato growing (I had it poached for lunch ;>).. In their backyard, an example of a traditional home.. We hiked along the river, watching folks wash clothes and - occasionally - bathing (brrrrrrrr).. We viewed amazing vistas.. And we watched some local bridge-building.. Joining the rest of our group, we made the rest of the way to water falling.. By this time, Alan and I were ready to sit and bask for a minute.. Ahhhhhhhh.. This is Hacienda Pinsaqui from the backyard.. The fireplaces are HUGE.. again, the only heating source.. Here I am - immersed in color.. And the artists adding a local flair to the artistry.. Our table settings for lunch were very gracious.. This was our lunch menu.. The bread was served with dipping sauce.. Cheese Potato Soup with Avocado garnish.. Excellent!.. This is the chicken entree.. The fish was fresh from the local lake.. My vegetarian entree wasn't on the menu; it was special order.. I think it was probably the best of all;>).. The Raptor Center has its own equatorial sundial.. This is a Buzzard Eagle.. Hawk.. Harpy Eagle.. And, of course, a Condor.. A Falcon landing (during the show).. The owner of the Raptor Center co-starred; ;>).. Cotacachi, the 'Mother' volcano blessed us with the sight of her presence while we were there (oftentimes, she stays hidden in the clouds!).. This was the backdrop view for the stage.. On the way home, we thought we were lucky to see the Cayambe glacier peeking at us (Yes, the ONLY equatorial glacier!).. But we knew we were truly blessed when He made his wholeness visible.. Our tables set for our last dinner at Hacienda Cuisin.. Our welcoming committee at the dock where we embarked for the ship.. The Galapagos Explorer the largest ship cruising the Galapagos.. with only 100 passengers.. This is the only way on and off the ship.. If you have ever cruised a big ship, the rooms are small.. but we found a way to make it work.. The desk serves as dresser and counter as well.. Bathroom.. Shower is adequate (Tub will be waiting at JW Marriot.. The room has a small sitting area - a very good thing.. We found delightful towel art in our room every afternoon.. Here is where all lectures about the next day's activities are held.. Here is the deck for relaxing and enjoying snacks after each island exploration.. Here's Alan working on the deck.. just to show you how it's done.. And the Dining Room.. Every day, breakfast and lunch were served buffet style.. Some of the dishes we enjoyed at full service dinner include: Tomato and Cheese Salad.. Cream of Broccoli Soup.. Turkey with Wasabi Potatoes.. Sugar Free Baked Custard.. The dock at San Cristobel.. Of course, there were sea lions on the dock to say goodbye.. The beginning of the self guided tour.. The last Boobie we saw at the airport.. Final Buffet.. Love all the Disney touches!.. A final toast with our two 'better than any words can describe' Adventure Guides, Chris and Eduardo.. Love you guys!.. And from me and Alan (aka Darwin).. Until we meet again, Lava Lizards!.. Here's a Baby Boobie.. And, this is a baby Frigate.. It's amazing to see them so close up.. A pristine Galapagos Island beach.. Blue-Footed Boobie on the cliff.. they flyers, swimmers, and waddlers.. What a talented bird.. ;>).. Boobie preening.. Boobie checking me out.. Boobie love.. This cactus forest is the only life growing in this lava on the youngest island in the chain.. It will slowly - very slowly - break down the lava to soil.. Conditions were right so we were able to go exploring in this cave.. Riding the Zodiac to Dragon Hill to explore.. This is male frigate letting the world know he is ready to mate.. The trails were generally very easy to manage, but there was always help when needed.. Here we are, enjoying a little shade while we wait for the Zodiac to come pick us up.. Alan says he likes to just 'hang around' :P.. Galapagos Marine Iquanas.. They are everywhere!.. In the most interesting (and funny;>) positions.. They really have an interesting 'look', don't they?.. Land Iguana and Blue-Footed Boobie 'chillin' together.. Alan is an Ig'Wannabe' He likes their lifestyle;>) Here he is, practicing the their desalinization technique.. This is the Land Iquana.. NOT a swimmer.. The landscapes are dramatic.. Think 'Screensaver';>).. Standing on lava, looking at volcano in the distance.. What an interesting face!.. Sweet!.. or, Dulce! (as you'd say in Spanish:).. They are each way more unique looking than I realized.. Just too cute for words!.. Blossoming Prickly Pear.. one of the more 'evolved' plants growing here.. Sea lion sunning on the lava rocks.. Baby Sea Lion.. Did you know Galapagos Sea Lions are members of the Canine family?.. Another baby taking a break.. Sea Turtle or Sea Dragon?.. Sea Turtle in motion.. Male sea turtles have tails.. One of our 'Galapagos Gang' got this underwatner picture of me snorkeling with the turtles.. Is this AMAZING, or what?!.. Perspective at its' finest.. In these waters, a wet suit for snorkeling is imperative!.. The equator gives new meaning to sunshine.. And sunsets.. are beyond amazing!.. Sunset Afterglow.. A whale skeleton found on one of the islands.. Galapagos Tortoise.. These guys look ancient, don't they?.. For such a gentle creature, their expression sure is fierce.. Cool reflection in the drinking hole:).. Serious munching here - very focused!.. Newsletter signup..

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  • Title: OLP Articles: Sacred Valleys & Incan Cities
    Descriptive info: Latest Greatest.. Articles.. Dining with Disney Guide iPhone/iPad Apps.. Sacred Valleys & Incan Cities.. average rating:.. Read Member Reviews.. Submit a review!.. Check out other OLP articles.. Hola! And welcome to Peru through my eyes.. I will go through each day with commentary and pictures.. and sprinkle a few tips here and there like pixie dust.. Enjoy!.. Day 1 - Bienvenidos!.. OK, let's just face it - this is a travel day plain and simple.. Flights from the US to Lima, Peru arrive late in the evening and later.. TIP 1 If you would like a full night to rest and get acclimated into the culture (trust me when I say it is different than the US in Peru), arrive a day early.. Arrival at our hotel was a delightful experience.. Casa Andina has a very elegantly rustic aesthetic, and it felt wonderful after a long day of travel to relax into our spacious room:.. and, by the way, there is free wireless internet in this hotel (which also made us very happy).. We settled in for a full 5 hours of sleep before it was time to get up and head back to the airport and travel to Cusco.. where the real adventure began!.. DAY 2 - An Incan Tapestry.. I heard varying reports on the elevation in Cusco.. the average was approximately 11,200 ft so let's go with that.. No matter where the line is drawn, Cusco is way high in the Andes mountains.. and that's probably why we could get a little free oxygen in the airport.. Good thing, too, because we were on our way to 12,000 ft elevation to visit a weaving cooperative for lunch and a demonstration.. Upwards at about 11,500 ft elevation I started feeling short of breath and fell asleep until we reached our destination.. which I found to be a great solution.. TIP 2 Prepare for high elevations before you leave the US.. Alan and took chlorophyll to strengthen our blood and increase the size of the hemoglobin to hold more oxygen.. You can also contact your doctor for medication to help.. And - even with preparation - bring something for headaches and tummy distress.. Lunch was served family style, with new Peruvian delicacies continually added to the table.. This is Alpaca.. did I mention I travel as vegetarian just because people around the world eat weird meat like this.. After lunch, the demonstration began.. These women maintain the highest standards of their ancestry to create works of original and natural art.. They start with the wool, dyeing it with plants.. They spin the wool into thread.. and create magical designs from their dreams and visions.. Here is a short video clip of the women in action:.. http://www.. olpt.. net/Media/quicktim/Peru2008BackStrapWeaving.. wmv.. And, of course, after all that inspiring creativity we had to get a little shopping time in.. I found a gorgeous Goddess Shawl (foreshadowing here) that you will see me wearing throughout the remainder of the adventure.. and would be wearing still if I didn't live in sunny, central Florida.. I do, however have a picture of Ser Alan sporting a traditional Peruvian hat with some of the weavings behind him.. It was an delicious, inspiring, and happily 'acquiring' way to start our adventure into the Sacred Valley.. We descended to about 9000 ft elevation.. Can you say: Loco ? Our destination Sol y Luna.. What a SWEET retreat!.. Our room was very serene.. and I telly you what - I made really good use of the tubbie.. more on that later.. We've had an hour or so to relax and 'settle' into our sweet bungalows.. and now we are gathering for the evening activities.. The chairs are gathered around the fire.. The stage is cradled in the Andes and illuminated by a beautiful setting sun sky.. and the table is set in anticipation.. We gathered around the fire to share our a little about ourselves (this was really the first opportunity in the itinerary) like our names.. and why we'd come on this particular adventure.. This was truly where the camaraderie started.. Everyone was friendly and eager to laugh together.. We represented a broad spectrum of lifestyles, and here we were joined in a common interest.. It was a very good feeling.. Just one example of this will to good: As we were introducing ourselves, I couldn't help but make a witty quip (All who know me understand), and I shared that - while I came to explore Macchu Picchu - I realized since the purchase of my handwoven shawl fit for a goddess I had really come to become a Peruvian Goddess.. After that, my name in the group - Goddess.. And I have to say.. I liked it!.. We were having a traditional Pachamanca feast.. our dinner would be cooked in buried hot rocks!.. We moved to the pit to watch the chefs prepare.. The stones had been heating over a fire.. They had to be moved, the fire embers carted way, and the stones placed back in the pit.. These guys are moving their hands really fast because those stones are HOT!.. Everything is covered completely with cloth and then buried.. Finally - and my favorite part - we offer a prayer of appreciation and gratitude to Pachamama (Mother Goddess).. That I got to be part of it, made me VERY happy!.. We left our dinner to magically prepare itself in the Earth of Pachamama while we watched the Andean Gods dance for us.. Sun God, Inti.. Earth Goddess, Pachamama.. These were two of the Gods who came forth to dance for us.. The show has a story - all in local language, of course - so I wove my own understanding from the dance.. Here a human comes forth to express appreciation and pray to the Gods (in my story).. They hear her pray.. and send many blessings our way.. It was a beautiful dance, and my heart was filled to overflowing by the music and dance and creativity AND it was time to fill our tummies.. Alan's plate shows the full range of offerings.. and mine the vegetarian.. We both loved all the sauces and many types of potatoes and corn presented.. This evening was a highlight for us on many levels!.. DAY 3 - Inca-Redible.. and it's true.. You'll see.. We started the day with a breakfast buffet that offered both American and Peruvian options.. I quickly fell into the routine of fruit, fresh bread, Farmer's cheese, and Coca tea.. I think I could live in Peru.. It's going to be full day.. First up, river rafting down the Urubamba River.. This is the Spanish name for the river.. The Incan name, we learned from our rafting guide, is Willkamayu which means Sacred River.. Its waters come from Glaciers high in the Andes, and no doubt it is COLD! Hence, the wet suit.. Which is only the beginning our our full regalia.. Good to go, we're off and already the landscape is Inca-redible.. All around us, we saw reminders of the Incan culture.. their brilliance in agriculture.. and building.. This is resting place for Incan runners who carried messages from village to village.. No mortar and - still - these buildings withstand time and earthquakes!.. Up above, watch towers.. And - in between the 'friendly' rapids, we waved to some local farmer taking a break from plowing their fields - with oxen.. Our raft guide shared lots of information about the Incan culture with us - herbs and plants for healing, sacred symbology, and importance of balance int their spirituality: Take care of each other, and always give appreciation for the blessings and bounty bestowed.. And, mostly, about Pachamama, the Mother Goddess who bestows the bounty and blessings.. I felt blessed to be on the river with him.. Lunch took place in the village of Ollantaytambo; this village dates back to the 1200's and you can see how the bottoms of buildings are Incan in design while the tops are more current.. Up high over the village an ancient grainery.. The Incans stored their grains where the cold kept infestation of all kinds at bay.. The streets were too narrow for automated transportation, but just perfect for horses.. We ate our buffet in a private square with a sampling of Peruvian foods.. After lunch, we traipsed (as well as anyone at 9000 ft elevation can traipse) to the Temple nearby.. Since the Incans left no written history, it is all speculation as why the temple was built here.. But it is notable that every December 22nd (Summer Solstice), the light coming through a specific window of temple shines in a particular spot on this mountain at the top between the two dips.. We were climbing the temple stairs as we took this picture.. there are LOTS of temple stairs; most of the group climbed to the top, some of the group stayed behind to shop, and a few of us made it 'most' of the way.. Disney makes it work for everyone.. One last picture to leave you with on this Inca-redible day.. This is how bricks are made in the Sacred Valley.. the happy feet way.. It was an inca-redible day!.. Day 4 - Andean Majesty.. TIP 3: The guides will tell you to drink only bottled water.. and they mean it.. I'll never know if it was because I forgot and brushed my teeth with tap water the night before or if I inadvertently took in some sacred river water while we were rafting or if something I ate was washed with tap water.. all I know for sure I is woke up wishing I hadn't.. First, I tried the complimentary oxygen in the hotel lobby in case it was altitude sickness.. Trooper that I am, I took some nausea medicine.. and climbed in the bus hoping for a quick recovery  ...   didn't have one to take a picture of.. TIP 5: If you have special meal accommodations (Alan and I both maintain a sugar-free diet, and I prefer to be vegetarian), start talking to the guides about it immediately.. This is the one area that, in the four Adventures by Disney tours we taken, attention to detail is inconsistent.. Some guides are very attentive and some only make an effort when reminded.. Oftentimes, there were no snacks that didn't have sugar in them so be sure to bring your own if you have bloodsugar considerations, and oftentimes I had difficulty getting protein (ie cheese) with my vegetarian meals.. Towards the end of the trip, I had to order chicken to maintain bloodsugar balance.. As far as sugar free desserts go, at best expect the guides to make sure the dining staff serves a plate of fruit.. At worst, expect to have to remind the guides at each meal.. Our tip is to just bring your own stash of sugar free treats.. And our tip for any Adventure Guides reading here: A great way to increase your gratuity is to handle special meal accommodations consistently and attentively.. After lunch.. well, we were tired.. At a higher elevation again and after a full morning of activities, all we wanted was a room to rest and regroup.. Fortunately, the hotel in Cusco is a short walk from the restaurant.. Everyone headed to our own territory as soon as we arrived.. We were on our own for the evening, and Alan and Marion and I were happy to relax at the hotel.. We had a wonderful and quiet meal at the hotel restaurant, reliving the highlights of our adventure together.. Day 7 - Cusco Kingdom.. One of the many qualities I appreciate about Adventures By Disney tours is the flexibility.. While every day is filled to the brim with activities, the guides are happy to accommodate those of us who want to veer from the planned schedule.. This was our day for that.. With a good internet connection, we opted to spend the morning at the hotel catching up on a little 'business' while the group explored Sacayhuaman, an Incan fortress.. Cusco was the capital of the Incan world and intentionally built in the shape of a puma (Puma represents the present and Mother Goddess in the Incan cosmology).. The fortress was built as the head of the Puma.. We left the hotel for from Cusco exploration on our own and discovered a city with quite a bit of technology.. quite a juxtaposition to the Sacred Valley and our understanding of what Cusco was in Incan times.. not to mention: How does civilization exist at 11,000+ elevation?! In our part of the world, trees won't even grow at that altitude.. Here's an example of the architecture we saw there.. The bottom is Incan, and the top is Spanish:.. We found an elegant little restaurant (all of the restaurants in Cusco are 'little' by American standards) for lunch.. and the food was exquisite! I had stuffed chicken (Peruvian style) with sweet potatos.. Marion had a vegetarian entree.. And Alan chose a spicy pasta.. All of us raved over the flavors in our particular dish.. Then we cruised the square to do a little shopping before heading back to the hotel to meet up with the group for Plaque Painting.. This is billed as one of the children's activities, but I am a devotee of this activity (there is some form of it on almost every tour we've done).. We were set up with paints and brushes and a painting 'surface' and told to express our experience.. For me, it is an hour of bliss, immersed in color and an oppotunity to create.. Alan chose a symbology designs to decorate his plate:.. and for me it was all about Pacha Mama (She lives in Macchu Picchu).. We gathered for a meal and a game with the White Elephant gifts we purchased at the Pisac market that evening.. It was raucous and so much fun, I forgot to take pictures.. So, you'll just have to go on the tour to find out what this about.. Day 8 - Adios.. It's a day of transitions - flying back to Lima.. While I think all of us were eager to get back to sea level, nobody wanted the adventure to end.. Fortunately for us, we had quite the finale awaiting us in the city.. We were let out of the motorcoach right next to the President's home.. See how that is?.. and taken to the first president's best friend's mansion a block over where we were allowed to explore.. This was the master suite bedroom.. people were smaller in those days, eh?.. Drinks were served and h'or deurves passed while we watched a show in this beautiful courtyard.. The live band was uplifting and delightful with a display of purely Peruvian sounds.. Lunch was served buffet style while the music continued to play.. My plate was vegetarian.. and Alan's included the Chicken Cordon Bleu.. The show continued after lunch, too.. Afterward, we joined in the parlor for coffee and tea and an opportunity to share one more time with each other the highlights of our adventure together.. We visited amazing and remarkable places.. We experienced a culture that expanded our world view.. We explored the 'far reaches'.. but all of it was made more because we were together.. This is the piece of doing an Adventures by Disney tour that is almost impossible to put to words.. I have graduate degrees in Psychology and I did my focus work on Group evolution and development; some would say I know how to 'facilitate' a group.. And I stand in awe with my hat off to the system Disney developed and the attention to bringing the group together as 'family'.. It works every time! We are a month returned from our trip now, and I still bask in the wonder of Macchu Picchu and the remarkable people and places we found in Peru.. Mostly, though, I still feel connected to the folks we traveled with, and on some level I always will.. Together, we made the magic happen.. Member Reviews of "Sacred Valleys & Incan Cities":.. Average Rating:.. Submit a member review!.. excited.. 3/20/2014 by.. Christee Thomas.. Heading to Peru in just a few days and your review has helped me plan for this amazing trip.. I will give a full review of the adventure when I return, but so far by your review it has already started out wonderful.. Read reviews by this author.. Alpacas and Incas abound!.. 1/1/2009 by.. Ser Alan.. This was our third Adventures By Disney tour and it was another great one!.. One tip: this is a high altitude tour, be aware that you will most likely experience effects of altitude sickness.. Personally I had a fierce headache for a few hours after we arrived in the Sacred Valley, others had varying symptoms but suffice it to say I got off easy!.. Once you get past the occasional headache and shortage of breath, this is a fantastic adventure.. I have wanted to see Macchu Picchu for about 20 years now, Adventures By Disney finally made it a trip I could get into.. Its a nice easy flight, 5ish hours from Miami to Lima Peru.. Lima is a pretty tough city (2nd largest in South America!) so you don't spend much time there.. Just one verrry short night, up very early the next morning to catch a plane for Cuzco (11,000 feet!) and a bus ride to the Sacred Valley where we spent the majority of the trip.. Another tip: don't count on internet connection in the Sacred Valley! We got connected the first day, and then it was down until we got back to Cuzco.. Macchu Picchu was everything we could have hoped for, spectacular and awe inspiring.. Shopping in Peru was fantastic, in particular I suggest you take the optional visit to the pottery studio which was fantastic.. Even now as I sip my energy dring out of a cup I bought there, I wish I had bought several more of these beautiful pieces.. Tip: shipping from Peru to the USA is crazy expensive so don't buy anything you can't carry with you back on the plane.. We ended up using the small duffle that Adventures By DIsney gave us to pack our pottery and carry it on the plane.. Shipping quotes I got were in the range of $1000, unbelievably high!!!.. Another really fun shopping excursion was the Alpaca petting zoo where we bought a sweater or two and fed the cute fluffy alpacas on the way back to Cuzco.. As to eating, the food was fascinating and often quite tasty.. Apparently, unbeknownst to me, Peru has an international reputation for great cuisine.. Our expectations were set by the yummy Peruvian chicken we get at TGIF (which can be found in Lima btw).. However, this was not anything we got while actually in Peru! I loved all the different sauces, the yucca dishes were quite nice.. Nobody does potatoes like Peru (2000 varieties I believe they told us) and quinoa is amazing there as well.. Alpaca meat turns out to be a pretty tasty, gamey sort of meat but I never tried the gourmet delicacy of roasted guinea pig!.. The people are delightful, they seem to be a very happy bunch in general and usually quite willing to help out or sell you something.. ALl in all, the trip was fantastic and we are already planning a return to Macchu Picchu in 2012 now that we know our way around -- highly recommended, I'd give it like a 6 out of 5.. ©1999 - 2013 ourlaughingplace.. As to Disney Artwork, logos, and properties: (C) Disney.. Washington Seller of Travel.. 363 N.. Orange Ave, Sanford, FL 32771..

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  • Title: OLP Articles: Quest for the West
    Descriptive info: Quest for the West.. Day 1: Welcome Wyoming.. For me, we officially began this Adventure by Disney when we flew into the Jackson Hole, Wyoming airport.. Located within a national park, the plane approaches the airport by flying over the Teton mountain range.. These mountains -- and the sky surrounding them -- are one of the most magnificent, awe-inspiring sites I've ever seen! (And I've been to Egypt and seen the pyramids.. This approach was worth the adventure all in itself, imho.. Tip #1:.. Have your window open and your camera ready as you fly into Jackson Hole airport.. As usual, we were greeted by one of our friendly Adventures by Disney tour guides who made our transition from the airport to the Wort Hotel in Jackson Hole seamless and fun.. Our second tour guide was waiting at the hotel and -- again -- got us settled with flair and panache.. (Our tour guides, Chris and Chris, were excellent! I will using my thesaurus all through this review to find new words to describe just how good they were.. ) If it can be said that the quality of a tour guide makes or break a tour, then get ready because our Quest for the West is really about experiencing the BEST.. Ah, the Wort Hotel! A little piece of the Old West refurbished to modern elegance.. Our room was delightfully cozy.. and the desk came equipped with a high speed internet connection (There were also a couple of computers in the lobby for guest use).. We had the afternoon to rest, relax, and check our emails.. before our Welcome to Wyoming dinner.. Here I am styling in the lobby while we waited for the event to begin.. while Alan waits graciously (pretending he's the calm and reserved one.. It won't take long for that myth to be shattered.. We began our dinner with a fun getting to know each other better game.. A good idea when you consider these will be our fellow adventurers for the next week.. After introductions, we selected salad and sides (scalloped potatoes, grilled veggies, etc) from a buffet and waiters came around with grilled salmon and steak.. The food was hot, fresh and delicious! And the extra special Disney flair was our live entertainment.. He was GOOD!.. At the end of the evening, the Chris's gave us an overview of the next day and where and when to meet for what.. Stay tuned, and I'll tell you all about it.. Day 2: Teton Pioneer.. Tip #2 Elevation of Jackson Hole is 7200 feet, and we are only going higher throughout the trip.. It's natural to feel out of breath or experience a headache as the body acclimates.. Drinking water.. more water than might seem natural.. is one of the best ways to make the process of elevation acclimation go smoothy.. Jackson Hole is a quaint little Western town, themed throughout with wood sidewalks and wild mountain skyline.. The town center is a park with Majestic elk antler entrances.. We had the morning 'free' to explore (aka shop), and We did! It was amazing to me how many items we didn't know we needed until we saw them in one of the many boutique Western shops that line the streets of Jackson Hole.. We barely made it back in time to meet the group and head over to the Jackson Hole Playhouse for lunch.. Now a themed Western Playhouse with nightly musicals, the building started out as a stable and Livery.. Much of the old structure is still intact, and it has become one of the famous historical sites of the town.. We were there for a special themed lunch, straight from the Good Ole West.. We had buckets of salad and chilled boot glasses.. Singing Cowpokes.. and best of all.. GREAT food.. Alan chose Salmon Tacos.. and I chose Vegetable Quesadillas (There was a vegetarian option on every menu; ).. It was yummy and fun with a touch of Disney magic.. What more could anyone want from a lunch? We traipsed back to the Wort Hotel (a block away) and made a quick change into river rafting attire.. Tip 3: The water temperature is always chilly, and sometimes the air temperature is, too.. Be sure to bring pants and tops that are synthetic and dry quickly to prevent the extended chill of cold, wet cotton on your skin.. We were luckee duckees.. The temperature was an unusual 88 degrees for our water adventure; all I can say is the faeries of the Universe were taking good care of us.. We rode through scenic mountain country until we found our way to the River Rafting entrance where we donned our gear.. For us, it was an 8 mile ride of giggles galore! The rapids were mostly class 2 with one class 3, and it was a great thrill ride.. made the river rafting in Costa Rica seem tame.. Really, all you have to remember is just keep paddling to maintain your balance (alot like Life, n'est-ce pas?.. ) We were a happy, well-exercised group riding back to Jackson Hole for a 'free' evening on the town.. Everyone scattered to find our own unique preference for dinner with plans to meet up in the morning and begin our trek towards Yellowstone National Park.. Day 3: Yellowstone Journey.. We packed up our luggage bright and early, leaving it for an Adventures by Disney fairy to pick up and transfer to the motor coach while we enjoyed breakfast in the hotel restaurant.. Life is good.. Day 1 was so much fun; everyone is in good humor and ready for adventure as we head north to Yellowstone National Park through the Tetons.. Here's Chris, one of our awesome tour guides, taking a picture at a road stop we made.. Is he stalking wildlife?.. Er.. maybe.. Do you notice the absence of foothills to these majestic peaks? That's due to how they were formed.. two of the Earth's plates pushing against each other some 2 billion years ago, creating mountain peaks (The Tetons) and a valley (Jackson Hole).. So, if you want to know exactly where that fault line between two large masses of the Earth's crust is look no further.. It's right here.. Not only is this a major fault line, it was also a route for glaciers many, many years ago.. We headed for Jenny Lake, a remaining glacial lake, to ferry across to a hiking trail into the Tetons.. I know we should have been taking pictures of the beautiful lake as we glided across it, but Alan and I couldn't resist playing the 'self-portrait' game.. you can see me holding the camera in the reflection of my sunglasses.. Once on the other side, we began the hike UP.. And up and up and up.. Through glorious nature.. Past exuberent tour guides (This is Chris,  ...   a jacket in the preparation manual, there's a good reason to follow the advice.. The hike along the canyon took the chill off, of course, but there wasn't any point where I actually felt 'warm'.. I did enjoy hugging this tree, though.. After the hike, we drove over to the other hotel area in Yellowstone Park and had lunch by the lake (think: giant volcanic caldera.. before trundling into the luxury motorcoach for the drive to Brook's Lake Lodge.. We watched a Disney movie and enjoyed the scenery.. Brook's Lake Lodge is at a 9200 ft elevation set back from everywhere.. Needless to say, it is GORGEOUS! From the cozy 'main house' room.. to the comfortable lobby (with free high speed internet; ).. to the majestic fireplaces.. to the serene views filled with a sense of wellbeing.. Brook's Lake Lodge was a great place to be heading!.. Day 6: On the Range.. Brook's Lake Lodge was most definitely the highlight destination for many of us in the group.. Activities ranged from mingling at the bar.. hiking, canoeing, and/or fishing in the nearby lake.. or saddling up for a trail ride.. Horses, of course, were the main event for Alan and me.. After a luscious breakfast (Meals here were excellent! More on that later:) served buffet-style.. We headed towards the barn to join the morning trail ride.. Is it just me or did Alan transmorph into his 'inner' Cowboy while we were sleeping?.. If you are interested in riding horses on the this Adventure by Disney, there are a few things to keep in mind.. First, the wranglers intend to give you a western experience.. There are helmets available, but the wranglers won't be wearing them, and they won't be suggesting the guests (except for children) wear them, either.. Tip #6: Ask for a helmet.. Horses - no matter how wonderful and willing they are - are unpredictable and falls happen even in the most careful of environments.. Be willing to take western where it hasn't gone before.. Most of our group was going, and it took awhile to get everyone mounted.. As I sat in the saddle of my fellow, Holler, I noticed that he wasn't in a very good mood.. Indeed, I would go so far as to say this guy was irritable.. He was refusing my 'requests' and tossing his head.. When he started backing into other horses, I thought, We just aren't 'feeling' each other here, and - I don't know if he's having fun - but I'm not.. Long story short - I asked for a different horse.. Unfortunately, because most of us were riding, there weren't any extra horses.. Some of the wranglers were annoyed with me for disrupting their 'flow'; one of them attempted to 'shame' me into staying on Holler.. But, if I learned anything from the horse riding accident in Belize where I was thrown and fractured two vertebrae, it's to trust my instincts about whether to ride a horse.. or not.. So, I stood my ground (pun intended.. ) and dismounted.. I was disappointed to miss the ride (horses being one of the main reasons I took this tour and all), but I was satisfied with my choice and content to spend some time with horses in the corral while the others rode.. This is where, once again, the tour guides, made Disney magic.. They arranged for me to ride on another horse with the head wrangler after everyone returned.. Much appreciation to Chris and to the Head Wrangler for making it work for me! As I was riding, my wrangler explained to me that the horses were taken off their 'grazing rights' on September 1st.. So, instead of grazing and running as a herd through the night (keeping themselves warm) as they were used to, the horses were contained in a paddock now with significantly less food.. As a result, they were cold, stiff, and hungry when brought out for the first ride.. no wonder Holler was fractious! Tip #7 If you can do this tour before September 1st, the horses will be 'grazed' through the night and much happier about their 'work' in the morning.. It was a happy Disney ending; here I am heading down the trail.. And the pictures our wonderful tour guide, Chris, took for us as momentos.. In addition to glorious settings at Brook's Lake Lodge, we also had glorious meals! Dinner was a main event with elegant settings.. a four course event with items like Elk Chops.. and Vegetarian Crepes on the menu.. As much as Alan enjoyed the appetizers and entrees, I do think this picture portrays exactly how he felt about the sugar-free Chocolate Souffle they made for us.. He's starting in on his second one here.. We could have easily stayed another couple of days at the Lodge.. Between the surroundings, the ambiance, food, and excellent company, we were happy, happy, happy! So, it was with nostalgic sentimental feelings that we joined our group for the Finale, sharing a final evening of laughter and good feelings.. (Note Alan's firm grip on his souffle.. And then the morning of departure came, and we drove back to Jackson Hole and climbed on a plane to fly home.. We left some of our heart in that magical valley.. Happy Trails!.. Member Reviews of "Quest for the West":.. Gotta love a Buffalo Burger!.. 10/3/2007 by.. Quest for the West was our 3rd Adventures By Disney trip and it did not disappoint.. Our tour guides (or Chrises as we called them) were the best yet.. The food varied, (I think my favorite food was the Costa Rica trip), but it was good.. I did have opportunity to try some buffalo burgers (from Montana), river trout was abundant and good (from Idaho), and some excellent Elk chops.. One of my faves was the bison chili at Yellowstone, very tasty! Just remember, Bison is PC for Buffalo.. Brooks Lake Lodge was our last stop and my personal favorite, the food here is wonderful, the scenery is spectacular and they have great Wifi!! Really I could have spent more time here and less time looking at geysers in Yellowstone.. Although, truth be told, once you‘ve paddled the canoe, gone on a hike, a horseback ride and perhaps learned a bit of fly-fishing you‘ve pretty much done all there is to do.. Our group on this trip was primarily composed of couples like ourselves.. Everybody was so friendly that the social aspect of the trip became one of the big pluses of the adventure, we really bonded as a group.. Having seen groups that didn‘t bond as well, I was quite impressed and pleased by this development!.. Once again Adventures By Disney scores a home run, this trip makes me want to try out the sister itinerary, "Southwest Splendors".. but of course thats after we do Peru and Australia..

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  • Title: OLP Articles: Path to Pura Vida
    Descriptive info: Path to Pura Vida.. ADVENTURES BY DISNEY;.. Boy, were we excited! Disney developed a whole new palette of land tours around the world, and we were eager to to sample the Costa Rica eco-tour.. The promotions told us that we would be traveling first class with concierge service every step of the way (Yeah, Baby!) And, when we received our pre-trip documents, we became believers.. Check out the backpacks that came with our papers.. So, backpacks filled and passports in hand, we literally traipsed to the airport for Day One of our adventure, affectionately referred to by Disney as:.. Path to Pura Vida; tico day.. Tico Day is mainly a travel day.. We arrived at the San Jose airport in Costa Rica and were delighted by the VERY short immigration and customs process as well as the guides Disney had set up at every juncture to greet us and send us along the appropriate path.. VERY concierge transition, imho.. At the Marriott Hotel,.. we were greeted by our Adventure Guides, Jayms and Bernal.. who greeted us and got us registered into the hotel.. As you can see, these are a couple of fun-loving adventurers who added all the right ingredients for making our adventure a rich and laughter-filled experience.. After a short description of what to expect and where to go, we were led to our room.. And a delightful room it was! We loved the architecture of the resort with its many lush courtyards.. but, especially, we enjoyed the open-air dining venue surrounded by tropical gardens.. Tired as we were from the rigors of a traveling day, Alan is NEVER too tired to eat.. Eager to sample the local cuisine, we tried Fish Tacos.. and plantains (which you will be seeing on every dish hereafter; ) With plans to meet the rest of our group in the morning, we settled into our rooms for an evening of surfing Spanish TV.. day 2: The Tropic's rainbow.. We were up with the sun and ready for adventure!.. The group gathered for introductions and an overview of the week's travels.. Our guides explained to us that we would be on our way to higher elevations.. Showing us a map, we got a good sense of where our travels would take us in Costa Rica.. We moved to the balcony for a lovely buffet breakfast.. The buffet included both local and more American-style offerings, but once I tasted the ripe, sweet fruit and the traditional Costa Rican fare of Pinto Gallo (seasoned rice and beans) with plantains, I never looked back.. Did I mention how much I like Costa Rican food yet?.. We played an 'ice breaker' game at the table that helped us get to know our fellow adventurers better, and it was apparent to Alan and me that we could look forward to alot of giggles (Yay!).. After breakfast, we climbed into our Mercedes tour bus (which Alan became very fond of as the week progressed).. Alan and I hadn't toured by motorcoach before, and we discovered just how pleasant it can be to sit back and watch the countryside while someone else drives.. Our local guide, Bernal, provided interesting and educational information throughout the journey from San Jose into the Arenal Volcano area.. He filled us in on everything from agricultural practices to political ideologies of the Costa Rican.. I do believe I learned a few things! Our first adventure of the day was the Paz Waterfall Gardens.. Located in the Cloud Rainforest (Yes, this is one of the things I learned.. there are SEVERAL types of rainforest), Paz offered a waterfall hike that descended 1000 feet to the floor of the rainforest as well as a butterfly and hummingbird sanctuary.. First stop, butterflies.. We saw butterflies eating,.. butterflies resting.. butterflies decorating people; ).. and butterflies breaking free of their cocoons.. Yep, we saw LOTS of butterflies.. Little did we know, though, this was just a prelude to the real hike.. While we only traveled a mile or so horizontally to view the waterfalls, we made up for it vertically.. We went down and down and then down some more to where the waterfalls created the clouds (aka mist) that made these rainforests feel like we were walking in clouds.. This picture was taken at about 1000 feet down, and - I telly you what - I needed the walking stick by then.. This was right around when the rain started falling.. Yep, there is a direct relationship between rainforests and rain.. And we got to experience it in a very real way during this adventure.. Our guides handed out ponchos, and the hike continued.. The camera went inside the backpack until we reached the covered area where lunch was served.. another buffet with lots of traditional Costa Rican items.. The Empanadas were the best I've EVER tasted.. And for the folks who wanted more familiar foods, there was pizza and hamburgers.. After lunch, we had a short time to visit the hummingbird garden.. I must have seen at least 50 hummingbirds, and I LOVE hummingbirds! It was a very happy way to end the visit for me:) We climbed back into our motorcoach to finish the drive to the Arenal Volcano.. It was a pleasant ride along winding mountain roads from the Paz Sanctuary to our destination, the Arenal Kioro Hotel at the base of the Arenal Volcano.. After the waterfall hike and tummy-filling lunch, we were grateful to sit back and leave the driving to Fredericko.. We were continually impressed by this mastery of the narrow mountain roads in a BIG Mercedes motorcoach, AND we enjoyed the after lunch nap; ) We arrived at the hotel eager to check into our room.. Lovely, n'est-ce pas?.. and every room looks out on this view:.. A VERY live and active volcano, Arenal spouts a display that looks like red fireworks every night! At least, that is what our guides told us.. We chanced to find ourselves in the midst of a storm that dropped almost 10 inches of rain over the three days we were there and kep the volcano wrapped in blankets of mist.. The above is the clearest view got.. Oh well.. just another reason to go back, I guess.. And we definitely got a full-on understanding of the term rain forest.. The Kioro Dining Room gave us a section of the restaurant for our group and provided us with a most delightful presentation of traditional Costa Rican foods to sample.. It was my favorite meal of the tour, I think.. After dinner a group of local students danced traditional dances of the region for us.. It was a great way to end the day!.. day 3 - the road to arenal.. Morning was a buffet breakfast.. and off we traipsed to zip-line the volcano.. First, we rode a tram over the canopy of the Rain Forest to the zip-line take off point.. Anyone who didn't want to proceed with the activity was invited to ride the tram back to the starting point.. but we were a mighty group of adventurers, and all of us opted for the Line.. Here I am in my gear enjoying the 'overlook' at our starting point.. Yup, we are a longggggg way up, and we are going to ride a series of 7 lines down to the base.. The longest line was 2500 feet, and we traveled between 25 and 30 miles per hour.. See how that is? Safe landing.. Was it scary at first? You betcha! But, once I relaxed into it and started breathing, it was like soaring and I LOVED it! And I really enjoyed the camaraderie that developed as our group cheered and encouraged each other on.. It was one of my highlight experiences, for sure..  ...   the resort.. The room was light and large,.. the view from the balcony amazing.. and the towel animals in our room each day were a delight to behold.. Our luggage was waiting for us, and we used the couple of hours we had before dinner to unpack, take a tubbie, and relax.. We gathered for dinner in the private dining area.. Check out the sunset over the Pacific through the 'open-air' windows.. What a beautiful setting! We ate from a menu for this meal.. Alan and I chose the appetizer salad.. a very interesting Costa Rican interpretation, n'est-ce pas? For our entree, we both selected the Arroz Con Pollo (rice with chicken).. This is another traditional meal, and it was MUY BUENO!.. Alas, the one and only area where Disney fell short of the mark on this tour was in the area of special meal accommodations.. Though we were assured that Diabetic aka sugar-free accommodations would be handled for all of our meals, we were left watching others eat dessert at every meal.. Of course, this isn't an issue when meals are ala carte, but when a tour is 'all-inclusive' then all courses of a meal are included.. Well, long story short, I got over it (after lengthy comments on the comment card; ), but I made my stand and refused to take pictures of the sugar-full desserts.. Sorry, y'all.. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do is my story and I'm sticking to it.. This won't stop us from signing up for more adventures, but we will bring a stash of sugar-free goodies so that we can join in the treat fun.. day 6 - forest of Life.. Morning was personal time at the resort.. Alan and I found a small exercise room and got some good, old fashioned weight training in; then we had two of the BEST massages we've EVER had (and we've had a few; ) at the resort spa.. Lunch was at the restaurant, and - hands down - it was the most delicious lunch of the tour! I had the Costa Rican traditional lunch plate:.. It included rice, beans, plantains, local farmer's cheese, salad, fried egg, and chicken breast.. Alan got Quesadillas which he LOVED, but started eating so fast I couldn't get a picture.. After lunch, we rode our amazing motorcoach into town for a quick bit of shopping.. way too quick! I was just starting to find my way around this delightful little town when it was time to reboard and head to the Mangrove forests for our eco tour.. Climbing into very shallow boats, we traveled the waterways that flow with the tides around the Mangroves.. We saw some amazing wildlife like this Mangrove Hawk that lives ONLY here in the entire world.. And this little baby.. You can't see here, but he is stalking dinner.. We were just ready to head over to see the Caymans and Crocs when the sky opened up (Rainforest, remember?) so we opted to climb into our dry motorcoach and head home to our resort.. The kids were taken to a separate dinner (and I think that was where all the fun was; ) Us adults had a quiet dinner in the restaurant and called it a night.. day 7 - pura vida!.. The last day came (It was inevitable, I guess), and our tourguides promised the best was saved for last.. BEACH DAY! After breakfast, we headed to Manuel Antonio National Park and hiked towards the ocean.. We spotted some very cool creatures, including sloths and a variety of birds.. My favorite, though, was this fella.. Such a sense of wellbeing and peace in his demeanor.. Pura Vida! It was a good long hike in the summer heat and - by the time we reached the ocean - we were VERY ready to jump in!.. As you can see, this was a 'wild' beach.. not a manicured 'citified' beach.. And so it should have come as no surprise to me when I reached for a snack from my backpack that I was IMMEDIATELY surrounded!.. I'm serious.. these guys were within feet of my food in minutes! I had to use my most impressive horse training finger-pointing commands to get them to stop before eating the food OUT OF MY HAND! So, the irony of this story is that we'd just spent the morning hiking the edge of the forest hoping to spot wildlife, and all we ever had to do was take food out of our packs and they would have rushed us.. Even funnier though (and I was in the water when this happened and didn't have my camera available - sorry) was the troupe of monkeys swinging from tree to tree on the beach and sneaking up on peoples' packs to see what goodies they could find.. Watching folks run through the sand to get back to their bags before the monkeys absconded with something was a hoot to watch.. We saw monkeys dropping lots of valuables as they ran back for cover.. After a couple of hours on this beach, we climbed into our trusty motorcoach and went to a more 'civilized' beach for a picnic lunch.. What a view, eh?.. There was a 'live' grill set up for us.. After lunch, we enjoyed the view while the kids played in the waves (Alan included; ) until it was time to return to the resort.. and pack:( We met again for one final dinner, and everyone could feel the air of sadness that we were soon to be leaving our Pura Vida adventure.. After dinner, we gathered and laughed together one more time as we viewed the 'candid' pictures our tour guides took of us during the week.. Day 8 - hasta luego.. Traveling back to the airport in San Jose, the transitions were handled (once again) with Disney thoroughness.. Alan and I were already dreaming and scheming about our next Adventure by Disney.. What we LOVED about our Path to Pura Vida adventure:.. All travel transitions were smooth and flawless.. All expenses (including gratuities) for dining, travel, and excursions were covered in the prepaid cost.. People who love Disney like to be happy, and it was great fun traveling for a week with DisneyKin.. All excursions were well chosen for interest and safety by Disney.. Our tour guides were an excellent combination of knowledge and fun-loving.. In conclusion.. pura vida, baby!.. Member Reviews of "Path to Pura Vida":.. Awesome! Path to a lot of Fun if you ask me!.. 5/6/2007 by.. I have to admit that I was not too sure how our trip on the Path to Pura Vida (in Costa Rica) would turn out.. However, I soon discovered that it was a rollicking good time, hopping from one fun adventure to the next.. The guides were great and so was our group.. My only problem was trying to find enough energy for all the activities, believe me it helps if you are in good shape for this trip! Even the pineapple plantation tour turned out to be great fun, even though my initial reaction to the concept was along the lines of ho-hum.. Now I know what pineapple is supposed to taste like (not sour in other words!) and how to properly select a good pineapple at the grocery store (should be refrigerated and firm and a ilttle greenish!).. But really, everything was fun: splash fights in the river rafts, hikes through butterflies and rainforests, ziplining through rainforest canopy, even driving through the countryside, it was one of the funnest trips I've ever had!.. Overall I give this a lot of thumbs up.. , it was so good that we already booked two more Adventures By Disney trips in the hopes of repeating the magic..

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  • Title: OLP Articles: Fiesta Espana
    Descriptive info: Fiesta Espana.. Our Adventures By Disney Southern Spain tour began officially when we boarded our plane a day early (time ch-ch-changes) in order to arrive in Madrid on the day the tour started.. We were greeted just outside of Customs by one of our tour guides who made us feel 'right to home' with friendly, Spanish accent.. Yes, it's true.. On every Adventures By Disney tour, one of the guides will be native to the region you are touring; ).. He placed us in a van that took us straight to our hotel.. Hotel Preciados is located in the heart of the Madrid Theatre district.. akin to New York City's Broadway.. We ventured out to explore on our own before the scheduled Welcome Dinner and were immediately aware of one big difference between Spain and United States: the streets in downtown Madrid were very narrow.. sometimes so narrow only one car could pass and pedestrians had to hug the wall! At first, we didn't understand why, but as the tour progressed, we realized that Spain has a far-reaching history with many buildings that pre-date the concept of automobiles.. So, rather than logical grids like most American cities use, streets in Spain are designed to 'go around' history.. See how that is?.. I took lots of pictures to show examples of this.. but the second day of the tour, our backpack was 'pick-pocketed' and our camera was the loss we incurred.. Hence, my first.. TIP of the Trip.. : When traveling abroad, be aware that there are cultures with different values and morals (In Spain, they are called Gypsies; ), and -- while it may make total sense to put your backpack on the bench next to you at Disney World -- it might be a better idea to hold your backpack in your lap when touring with an Adventure tour in a different culture.. Long story short, I will be using lots of words in the first two days of this report to attempt to 'paint' pictures for you.. Continuing on.. There we were, hugging the walls of Madrid and looking at menus in another language (imagine that!) with display cases of dead eels.. octopi, and other forms of seafood we didn't recognize.. We quickly realized we were too jet-lagged to be out on our own without a guide and went to the Starbucks on the corner for the Spanish version of a chicken sandwich and a latte.. Then, we scooted back to the safety of our elegant (if somewhat small) hotel room to rest until dinner when we met the rest of our group.. We were a small group, even by Adventures By Disney standards.. There were 10 of us, 12 including the guides, and no kids.. for me, part of the joy of the Costa Rica tour was playing with the children.. This will be interesting, I thought, to compare what it's like with and without children.. There were some differences that I will mention along the way; ultimately, though, what I discovered is that we are all kids at heart.. Anywho, our first 'official' activity was dinner on the first day.. We met in the lobby of the hotel, made brief introductions, and took a short walk to the restaurant (the benefit of a hotel right in the center of where it is happening; ).. Our first Disney surprise was the restaurant itself.. Built over Roman ruins, part of the floor was glass and we could see the 2000+ year old ruins underneath us.. Realizing the width and depth and history in Spain was a re-occurring theme for me on the adventure.. Civilization spanning over 2000 years underneath where we are sitting, walking, eating, talking, etc.. Imagine! Dinner was a series of tapas (aka appetizers) followed by an entree then dessert.. Of course, Alan and I were on the sugar-free plan which, more often than not, was fresh fruit.. I also chose to travel as a vegetarian, knowing that meat around the world is often too exotic for me (foreshadowing, here; ) Happily, Spain knows how to prepare vegetables, and I will have some pictures to prove it later in the report.. First day done, everyone was a little crispy from the flights across the Big Blue so we meandered back to the hotel with plans to meet up early and tour Madrid.. Day 2.. La Gran Ciudad.. The Royal Palace was a just a (metaphoric) hop and a skip away, and we headed there right after breakfast.. Breakfast in Spain.. Don't go looking for pancakes, French toast, or fried potatoes.. It's just not happening.. Instead, what you'll find are cold meats, cheese, bread to wrap around them, and Tortillas (an egg and potato frittata-like presentation) We found Tortillas at every breakfast, served sometimes hot, sometimes cold.. For us Westerners, there was also some kind of egg and hot meat served at every breakfast buffet.. Sweet breads and Flan-like desserts could also be found if sweet is how you eat in the morning time; ).. OK, back to the Royal Palace tour.. Remember back in 6th grade when you were studying the kings and queens of Spain who made history in the years before Isybella sent Christopher Columbus to find a new sea route to the Indies? Well, they ALL lived in this palace of 2800 rooms.. The current king and queen live in the palace when they are in Madrid.. That's a long time; gave me pause for thought.. What I found even more mind expanding is that -- from 1939 to 1985 -- Spain was a dictatorship.. And the dictator lived in the palace, too.. When he died, the Spanish populace turned to Socialism as the basis of their government and re-instated the king and queen.. This palace has seen ALOT! We couldn't take any pictures (no loss for me LOL), because the flashing lights damaged the tapestries and carpets that already hundreds of years old.. There is really one word to describe the palace: Ornate.. Everywhere.. The ceilings are at least 20 feet high, and the chandeliers weigh hundreds of pounds each.. Every room is themed.. One interesting fact I learned: The Spanish kings and queens of old were VERY small.. The chairs and beds looked like children's size from my perspective.. Once the tour of the Palace was finished (which included checking out the display of armor for knights and horses), we climbed into a bus and headed into another part of the city to watch the artisans create masterpieces of tapestry and carpet.. Again, no pictures allowed.. For anyone who does any kind of art involving threads/yarns, this is an incredible demonstration.. They work off vertical looms of string, adding the color horizontally and using a painting to guide their choice of color.. The number of bobbins around each artist indicated to me that they were weaving in 60 - 100 colors on each tapestry - free form.. All I can say is: WOW.. The end products were exquisitely rich in depth and hue and cost thousands of dollars per square meter.. More than the end product, though.. I wanted me one of those looms!.. Lunch was another group activity at a restaurant nearby where we were served tapas, salad, an entree of either swordfish or pork (I had delicious grilled vegetables and quesas aka cheese), and dessert.. Every meal included at least one kind of wine, but Alan and I stayed with coca-light.. We were on our own after lunch.. Naptime! Some folks -- the hearty ones -- went to art museums.. For dinner, we roamed the shopping areas of Madrid until we found a hole-in-the-wall Falafel Bar.. OK, not Spanish food.. but the BEST falafel EVER! Afterward, we even happened upon an ice cream (Helados) stand that had sugar-free (sin azucar ) dark chocolate ice cream.. Life is good!.. Two TIPS for Today:.. Disney makes sure there are bottles of water on every bus ride; snatch up a few for the parts of the day when the bus isn't nearby.. It's very dry in Spain, and the body's need for water - especially after that long flight from the US - is greater than usual.. Spanish people are smaller than US folks in general even today.. If you are going to shop for clothes, plan to go one or two sizes larger.. Day 3 The Enchanted Alacazar.. After a buffet breakfast (of Tortilla and coffee for me; ) at the hotel, we boarded our luxury coach for a short drive through the Spanish countryside to Segovia where the Alcazar (aka castle) Walt Disney used as his inspiration for Sleeping Beauty's castle at Disneyland resides.. Yes, that's right.. we are following in the footsteps of Walt:).. The highways are well-tended, and -- except for the signage in Spanish -- we could have been traveling through the suburbs of any large city.. Our local Adventures by Disney guide explained to us that, since the dictatorship fell in 1985, the country of Spain has been on the fast track to become technologically and commercially in sync with the International world.. Segovia is northwest of Madrid, and we were told to anticipate chilly temperatures as it is nestled in a mountain range.. When we arrived, it was clear to see that parts of this small city of 50,000 had been around a LONG time.. There was a mishmash of different styles on the face of the 'old city' buildings; combining Arabic, Roman, and Medieval stylings.. Again, the roads were narrow and twisting with just enough room for one small car IF we hugged the walls -- which we did on occasion.. It was about a 20 minute walk (up and down) the cobblestone streets of Segovia to the Alcazar.. This fortress/castle is smaller than the Royal Palace, but it is filled with history: Isybella was crowned queen here, married to Ferdinand here (both of them at age 16) which joined the then separate states of Spain into a united country, AND Christopher Columbus made one of his several pleas for financial support here.. Wow! A history vortex, n'est-ce pas?.. Some of us climbed the very steep, circular stairway to the top of that tower, and we had the shaky legs for days to prove it; ) The view was priceless! My favorite aspect was seeing the Medieval town surrounded by a modern city.. Priceless, I tell you.. And you'll just have to take my word.. This picture I 'borrowed' from Wikepedia.. Those of us with back and/or joint injuries were starting to slow down a little as we hiked back from the castle over the cobblestone streets.. Hence my first.. TIP of the Day:.. If you have any kind of back or joint injury, come prepared.. There is a great deal of walking on concrete and cobblestones during this Adventures By Disney tour.. The Adventures By Disney team put together an 'authentic' meal served to the king for our lunch.. Authentic is the key word.. Basically, an entire suckling pig was roasted, brought to the table, and then the owner of the restaurant made a speech before taking a plate and ramming it into the roasted pig to show how tender it was.. Then, he took the plate and threw it at the floor to break it, proving there wasn't in metal in the plate.. The little pig was served in the pieces he carved with the plate.. Alan got a little leg with a hoof on his plate, and one person got an ear.. I was glad I was a vegetarian.. The salad was very good, though.. I asked the Adventures By Disney guides if they did this ceremony when there were children in the group, and they told me that kids get to go off and do a Children's Activity during this meal.. I wished two things: One -- that we'd had some kids in our group  ...   and people to ride the horses to raising cattle and doing special events like weddings and Adventures By Disney.. For us, they were doing an authentic Spanish barbeque, a ceramic painting activity, and a ride around the estate.. First though, we came to quiet courtyard and enjoyed some fresh squeezed orange juice.. Then we moved to the dining room where the barbecue was set up table side.. Of course, there was salad and Gazpacho to start.. Alan said this was the best preparation of meat he had on the tour.. I know I really enjoyed my vegetarian entree.. It was like a Tortilla with vegetables added in a Pesto sauce.. After lunch, we toured the farm to check out different examples of hand-painted tiles.. Then we found ourselves with our own set up to make some tile magic.. This was supposed to be a Children's Activity, but I think I wasn't the only one in the group that wanted to play on the tour and made a point of saying so, and from here on we got to do all of the activities; ) And I was so happy! It turned out that the Children's Activities were the highlights of the trip for me.. There were stencils or we could paint free hand.. Alan went for the stencil.. and I painted free style.. I LOVED this activity! It was with a happy heart that I climbed back onto our motor coach (with my tile in hand; ) to head back to Sevilla and check into our hotel, Abba Triana.. This hotel was quite beautiful.. An atrium lobby.. What a WOW factor, eh?.. Our room was quite spacious.. from the other direction; ).. and the bathroom was very elegant.. And check out this view! When Adventures By Disney says 4 star hotels, they mean it:) We were on our own for the rest of the day and evening.. Some of the group headed over the bridge to sample Sevilla night life, but Alan and I were happy to relax and enjoy the view.. We ate dinner at a buffet in the hotel prepared for our group.. Here's what a Spanish salad bar looks like.. teehee.. Day 7: Golden Sevilla.. Ah, Sevilla! We began our tour of Sevilla walking through the Triana.. the Gypsy Quarters.. At one time, this was the home of all gypsies in Sevilla; now, it's a community with a decidedly artsy feel.. Everywhere, there are hand.. painted tiles and balconies overflowing flowers.. We walked until we reached this landmark.. This is all that is left of a fortress.. that guarded the main thoroughfare into Europe during the Middle Ages.. That's right: before there was Paris, there was Sevilla.. It was Napoleon who swept through Spain about 700 years after Ferdinand and Isybella re-instated a Catholic Spain.. Unlike the Moors who conquered, built, and remained; Napolean conquered, destroyed, and took whatever valuables he could back to France with him.. This fortress was one of the casualties.. If you go into the Triana market nearby, there are areas where you can see the ruins.. I guess you could say, these spires mark the end of another Spanish era; ).. Today, the river has a much more relaxed feel than any major trade thoroughfare could.. Our Adventures By Disney local expert pointed out the city's logo that is written on many structures: No8Sevilla, and it means Sevilla would not let me leave.. He explained that the city was so beloved to Ferdinand, he coined this phrase.. As the day progressed, I found I had to agree with the king.. We headed next to the 1927 World's Fairgrounds to see the Spanish Exhibition Hall.. We were greeted by this fine fellow in the parking lot.. There really is only one word to describe this Exhibition Hall: WOW! One thing I loved:.. the blending of brick and ceramics.. This beautiful use mixed media extends to each of the pavilions.. Each pavilion represents a state of Spain.. the tile map in the center shows the location of the state and, above the pavilion, is the coat of arms for that state.. Here is a closeup of the hand painted tile.. This gives new perspective to our tile-painting activity yesterday, n'est-ce pas?.. From the exhibition hall, we drove over to the bull fighting ring.. Originally, the use of bulls in this activity was used for training horses for the military.. Today, of course, it is 'sport'.. Our local expert told us there is controversy amongst the Spanish these days as to whether or not to maintain bull fighting as a sport of the country.. Some say it is tradition; some say it no longer serves a purpose and is cruel.. Several members of our group bought tickets to attend the fight later that day during our free time.. Alan and I didn't because I thought it wouldn't go over well that I would be cheering for the bull; ).. I happily left the ring for the next stage of our tour: Santa Cruz neighborhood.. We entered through a lovely garden with yet another statue honoring Christopher Columbus.. All I wanted to know was how did they get the lion to the top? Those palm trees are not dwarfs; ) Speaking of trees, this Ficus is over two centuries old; proving the city of Sevilla has history.. The Santa Cruz neighborhood is one of the older areas of Sevilla, and -- again -- the streets are very narrow.. There are many interesting shops and structures to check out, but we were on a mission (staying together as a group:).. Tip of the Day:.. Stay after everyone else leaves to go back to the hotel and continue exploring.. or add a day on to the tour and return on your own.. There is way more to do here than the tour can achieve; ) One thing we did accomplish, though, was the Tapas Trail.. We sampled three different Tapas restaurants to get a 'flavor' (teehee) of this Spanish eating style.. Here are a few examples of what we ordered:.. Paella.. get used to shrimp heads in Spain.. Vegetarian: potato salad and grilled eggplant:.. The Spanish version of Fish and Chips:.. After lunch, some stayed and some headed back to the hotel.. The remainder of the afternoon and evening was free time.. We knew we had an extra day after the tour to return so we chose to rest at the hotel.. Not before finding Don Quixote, though.. This fellow was all decked out in duct tape armor to amuse and delight the visitors.. Day 8: Viva la Feria!.. Yay! I signed up for this Adventures By Disney tour for this day: We're traveling south to Jerez today to visit a world-renowned Andulucian horse farm, Yeguada Cartuja.. I think our tour guides know they'll have to pull me out when it's time to go:P.. First we visited the stallions.. There were long rows of stallions as this is primarily a breeding farm, though they train and host shows.. The stall door for this fine fellow was open, and he was eager to make friends.. Such a gentle guy.. It is a credit to the people here that a stallion is so relaxed.. While he and I shared a moment, Alan and he were exchanging salutations in their own unique styles.. Next, we got to visit the mares and their babies.. This baby was born last night.. Mom is very protective.. This is as close as we came.. The older babies were a different story.. They were as curious about us as we were about them.. We had LOTS of fun here, and the Adventures By Disney tour guides did, indeed, have to pull me away from the babies.. I could have spent the entire day there!.. But we had another tour waiting for us at Tio Pepe where Spanish Sherry is made.. We toured the grounds in a cute little train, getting out to see the various stages of the process.. Lots of casks everywhere we went!.. a glass end to show fermentation.. At the end of the tour, everyone was given either a sample of Sherry or -- for us 'kids' in the group -- grape juice.. It was yummy grape juice, too!.. Then we were on our own for lunch in Jerez.. Alan and I found a pleasant outdoor restaurant and discovered we'd learned enough about the culture to feel confident ordering from the menu.. How cool is that?! It just goes to show, I guess, what a week of immersion in a culture can do for your international confidence; ) Alan chose the Paella.. and I got my new favorite Spanish food, Salmorejo.. We found another Helado stand with a sin azucar flavor, and our life was good:).. We had a little time to rest at the hotel before the Final Dinner.. This is an Adventures By Disney Finale Event.. Everything is done with a flair, including the table settings.. The salad is, once again, beautiful.. I had Potato Soup, while everyone else was served Seafood Paella (aka Octopus).. Tip for the Day:.. Unless you are truly a lover of octopus, eat 'vegetarian' for this meal.. About half the table ended up with the vegetarian entree.. After dinner, we were surprised with another Flamenco show.. These dancers were more polished and 'friendly'.. They gave us a lesson in Flamenco and how to dance from the heart.. It was truly a most delightful way to bring our Spanish adventure to a close.. laughing and dancing together!.. Day 9: Hasta Luego!.. It's departure day.. After breakfast, the Adventures By Disney tour guides helped everyone with their transfers and sent them on their way home, tired and happy.. Except for us.. we stayed an extra day because of flight itineraries and were so glad we did.. We took a taxi back to the Santa Cruz neighborhood and spent the day exploring on our own.. We felt so independent and loved meandering through the narrow streets traipsing in and out of shops at our own pace:) What can I say? Sevilla would not let us leave; ).. Member Reviews of "Fiesta Espana":.. thanks for the review.. 7/9/2007 by.. abby.. Thanks for your terrific report of the Fiesta Espana trip.. We just returned from the same trip a few days ago and had a really wonderful time.. Our trip had 26 people (12 children).. Except for the kids dinner, they didnt really do any separate childrens activities (We went London/Paris last year and there were several) but the kids had a great time too.. Marc and Elizabeth were our guides, loved them.. Sorry about your camera.. We didnt have any problems.. Where are you going next? (I remember your costa rica report).. Viva Espana!.. 7/5/2007 by.. I thoroughly enjoyed this trip, which is saying a lot since I wasn‘t really sure why we picked the Adventure to Spain.. I made full use of my High School Spanish and with my natural lisp I fit right in in no time at all.. The food was not nearly as weird as I thought it would be, although a few things were just too weird for me, in general I found the eatin‘s to be good!.. My big tip is, DO NOT give in to the temptation to eat at Starbucks or any other American eatery.. That was the worst food of the trip, that horrific soggy sandwich at Starbucks right after we got off the plane.. They really don‘t understand how to make American food over there!.. Anyway, I really had a great time.. Wish we‘d spent more time in Cordoba because I really liked that town, but Sevilla was really great too.. Be sure to get in shape for this trip, we are talking some serious hiking up and down hills so be prepared.. I love these Adventures By Disney, can hardly wait til the next one..

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  • Title: OLP Shows:Mickey and the Magical Map in Fantasyland, Disneyland® park
    Descriptive info: Disneyland park.. videos.. member reviews.. Prepare yourself for a magical adventure into the heart of imagination as you join Mickey Mouse on a thrilling, live musical show! With a magical map as your guide, you and Mickey will find yourselves in the middle of fantastic worlds of excitement, color, beloved characters and some favorite songs plus some new, soon to be favorite music as well.. **Showtimes change weekly.. look for up to date show times in park maps distributed at  ...   a front row view of the live show, Mickey and the Magical Map showing in Fantasyland at Disneyland Park.. Loved, Loved, Loved This Show!.. on 9/17/2014.. by.. until I saw Mickey and the Magical Map! The show is GORGEOUS in every way--writing, performance level, stage sets.. you name it--I love it! Highly recommend this as a Must Do! at Disneyland :D.. Read reviews by Ahnalira.. Pictures:.. Stars of the show.. The Main Attraction ; ).. The stage is set.. Magical show!..

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  • Title: OLP Shows:Dapper Dans in Main Street, U.S.A., Disneyland® park
    Descriptive info: Main Street, U.. S.. A.. Barbershop Quartet.. Enjoy the old timey tunes of the Dapper Dans on Main Street in Disneyland park.. Watch the jammin tunes of the Dapper Dans.. These guys are great!.. on 1/14/2012.. I felt like I was onstage with a musical theatre group watching  ...   For me, special moments in the land of Disney usually involve these kinds of street shows.. They are the hidden gems that sparkle unexpectedly as we make our way through the park.. Dapper Dans, you tapped your way into my heart.. Stay tuned for pictures of Dapper Dans..

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  • Title: OLP Dining: Jiko
    Descriptive info: Dining Destinations.. select a Disney Destination:.. Disneyland Resort.. Walt Disney World Resort.. group by:.. --Select--.. Park.. Price.. Resort.. Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge.. Average Member Rating:.. Submit a member review.. OLP Review.. Videos.. Pictures.. Menus.. Restaurants Nearby.. Type: full.. Cuisine: African.. Price Scale: $$$.. Meals Served: D.. Discounts:.. Tables in Wonderland.. Dining Plan(2 points).. Relax as twin wood-burning ovens roar and the soothing, warm colors of an African sunset bring energy to this remarkable restaurant's comfortable setting.. Taste creative American cooking that is a unique blend of multi-cultural influences — from the Mediterranean coast, India and Europe.. Savor seafood, steak, chicken and vegetarian offerings infused with the vibrant flavors and fragrant spices of Africa.. Video Reviews 360 VRs:.. Jiko Review.. The best sugar-free flourless chocolate cake ever!.. OLP Review:.. We are heading for an African adventure at the Animal Kingdom lodge.. For an African ambiance and flavor, Jiko is an excellent choice!.. It is a quietly dusk ambiance.. with twilight birds flying overhead.. and an open hearth kitchen.. We began our meal with an order of African flatbreads and dips.. yummmmmm!.. For appetizers, we chose.. Tomato and cucumber salad with watermelon dressing.. Cream of asparagus soup with hot peppers (my personal favorite!).. and Fresh greens with a buttermilk curry dressing.. Our entrees included.. Beef Tenderloin with macaroni and cheese (Alan raved over this).. Braised lamb shank with couscous in a berber sauce.. and Baked vegetable pilaf with tofu and vegetables.. and for a dessert, a sugarfree birthday torte for Alan (lucky for us he shared.. Our meals averaged $50 per person and included two beverages, an appetizer, an entree, and dessert.. Everyone was pleased with the quality, presentation, and ambiance of our experience.. Indeed, Ahnalira has a new favorite restaurant.. Six OLP thumbs up for Jiko!.. Go Here If You Are Adventurous.. 8/16/2014 by.. The flavors are like from another part of the world! I am an adventurous eater so I enjoyed all the different spice combinations, but I wouldn't recommend this restaurant to someone who only wants to eat what they are familiar with.. I don't drink wine, but my friend said the selection is really good, too.. The decor is really cool! Sunset on the savannah, I think.. Unbelievable no-sugar-added chocolate cake!.. 9/18/2013 by.. Since we have been staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Jambo house, this trip we decided we might as well make the most of the African inspired eateries here.. That had to include a dinner at Jiko s which is the fine dining option for AKL.. Jiko s has delightful ambience, wonderful artwork, and the service is tremendous.. One quick look over the menu will tell you that this place requires an adventuresome spirit! We decided to go for the full meal deal, so I ordered the Taste of Africa appetizer; a sampling of breads -- Lavosh, Papadam, Na an -- and 4 different dips.. I found  ...   all, the price seemed a bit high for the quality of the food ($143 for the two of us, no alcohol included).. Frankly, it was the dessert that swayed me to give this a 4 star rating rather than 3.. I think that the general quality of the food doesn t quite match the price point, at a lower price I would probably give Jiko 5 stars.. This may be at least partially due to the bias of a Westernized palate, so don t be discouraged if you truly do love African flavors and seasonings.. Even so, IMHO, if you are on the dining plan and you are staying at AKL, you must try Jikos at least once if you are the sort of person who likes to try something different.. Best mac n cheese!.. 6/6/2010 by.. Jiko has possibly the most beautiful and pleasant ambience of any restaurant on property, We found the service to be excellent and the chef was very helpful with special food requests.. For my appetizer I had a rather unusual cucuumber, tomato and red onion salad.. This was a really unique and fresh tasting salad with a bit of spicy flavor, possibly from the arugula on top.. For my entree I had a Filet Mignon; unfortunately it wasn't really seared properly so it ended up being a bit on the dry side.. However, the mac and cheese that comes on the side is absolutely fantastic, as good as any I've ever had.. For dessert they made me a special sugarfree chocolate cake.. Overall I give the food a 4.. 2, ambience and service a 4.. 8.. Price is pretty high as you would expect for this type of restaurant.. Unfortunately, I felt like the food just didn't quite live up to the price point which is why I'm only giving Jiko a 4.. However, Jiko is definitely a unique and exotic experience and worth trying at least once :).. Excellent.. 4/13/2007 by.. Kelly.. The breads were really good.. The wine list is amazing.. The waitress said it was the largest collection of South African wines in the country, which I absolutely believe after looking at the size of it.. Our waitress was exceptional as well.. I had the scallops as an entree which were the best quality scallops I've ever had, and living near the ocean i get a great selection of seafood.. EXCELLENT.. 12/22/2006 by Donna.. Jiko is by far the best dining experience in WDW (other than Victoria & Albert’s for special occasions).. Be adventurous and try something you have never eaten before – you will not be disappointed!.. The atmosphere is great, the wait staff is attentive and friendly and I cannot say enough great things about the food.. Try it – you will love it!!!.. Submit a Jiko member review!.. Sample Menu(s):.. 10/4/2014 12:21:25 PM.. 10/4/2014 12:22:42 PM.. Restaurants nearby:.. Boma..

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  • Title: OLP Dining: Grand Floridian Cafe
    Descriptive info: Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.. Cuisine: Contemporary Continental.. Price Scale: $$.. Meals Served: B, L, D.. Annual Pass,.. DVC.. Dining Plan(1 points).. Specialties include wonderful salads, soups, sandwiches and creative entrées for lunch, and steak and fresh seafood for dinner.. Grand Floridian Cafe Lunch Review.. Alan and Ahnalira review the Grand Floridian Cafe during a busy holiday lunch.. Located in the Grand Floridian Resort's main building, the Grand Floridian Cafe offers full service breakfast and lunch.. The atmosphere is light-filled and themed true to the Victorian cafe style.. The breakfast menu features the BEST french toast ever.. ! Perhaps one of the most engaging features of this menu, in the humble opinion of OLP is the turkey sausage found right on the menu.. The lunch menu features Chilean Bass served with a medley of vegetables.. The Ceasar Salad is fresh, crisp, and deliciously garlic flavored.. At a moment's notice, the chef at the Grand Floridian prepared both a no sugar added version of Strawberry Shortcake and a fresh fruit plate.. We ate breakfast (for 2) for less than $30.. 00 and lunch for less than $40.. 00, putting the Grand Floridian Cafe in the $$$ range.. PS reservations weren't necessary but are recommended during crowded times of the year.. OLP gives the Grand Floridian Cafe an excellent triple thumbs up!.. 10/2/2014 by.. I think it's the fresh roses on the table, but I really like being able to order turkey sausage with my Mickey waffle as well!.. I like this restaurant a lot!.. 7/30/2014 by.. Marianne.. I always eat at this restaurant when I come to Disney World.. It isn't the most elegant or extensive menu, but everything on it is always well prepared.. It's my favorite reuben, hand's down, anywhere.. It does get a little crowded (and noisy) at breakfast--hence a 4 instead of 5 rating.. but I do go every trip ;).. Where is my Citrus French Toast?.. 9/27/2013 by.. For our final meal at Disney World, we went for the Grand Floridian Cafe -- I had dreams of Citrus French Toast in my mind as we walked in the door.. Unfortunately, that dish is no longer available and the chef told us that the Waffle was the only thing he could make without sugar.. So I had a very large Mickey Waffle and some turkey sausage  ...   amazing).. unless, of course, it's breakfast.. Breakfast is always a 5.. Best Casual Dinner Service.. 4/24/2009 by.. Jill Greer.. Having just returned from the World, the taste of fresh shrimp and prosciutto penne pasta is still fresh in my mind.. This has to be simply the best and most relaxing dinner we had at a resort.. The service was wonderful and the food was just heavenly.. The shrimp pasta was creamy and seasoned perfectly.. My husband ordered the new york strip; it was so juicy it melted in your mouth and NO it did not need any steak sauce.. Yes, it was that good :).. In short, put the Grand Floridian Cafe on your dinner reservation list; you will not be disappointed.. And don't forget dessert - (the sampler) is simply awesome.. It just keeps getting better!.. 3/2/2008 by.. The Grand Floridian Cafe has really got it goin' on, we stopped in for yet another delightful lunch here and everything we were served was absolutely wonderful.. I love this place for their exceptional Reuben sandwich, but this time I had their Rustic Chicken Sandwich and it was delightful, I really like the ciabatta bread which tasted like it must have been baked that very day! Ahnalira had the Tuscan Grilled Pork Loin salad and was extremely happy.. We started with Tomato-Basil soup and French Onion soup which were both exceptionally good.. Service was excellent as usual and the ambience is extremely pleasant with a great view, What's not to like?! This is perhaps my number one fave on property, overtaking my previous favorite the Kona Cafe.. Dinner Review Grand Floridian Cafe.. 1/11/2007 by.. l shaw.. We ate at the Grand Floridian Cafe on 11\26\06.. We had one of the best meals we've every eaten in Disney World, and the service was incredible- I cannot remember our waiter's name but he had the best personality!! Even though we were on the Dining Plan and the tip is included, we gave him an extra $15.. 00 just for making our meal so enjoyable- We have a trip planned for the end of February and are definately going back to eat at this wonderful restaurant.. Submit a Grand Floridian Cafe member review!.. 10/2/2014 9:12:19 PM.. 1900 Park Fare.. Citricos.. Garden View Lounge - Afternoon Tea.. Gasparilla Grill & Games.. Narcoossee's.. Victoria & Alberts..

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  • Title: OLP Dining: Garden Grill Restaurant
    Descriptive info: The Land.. Epcot.. Cuisine: American.. Meals Served: L, D.. This is located in the recently refurbished The Land pavilion.. Garden Grill Review.. OLP and friends enjoy a character ridden, all you can eat, meal at the Garden Grill Restaurant in The Land, Epcot , Walt Disney World.. Garden Grill.. If you are lookin' for some down-home cookin' after a day of farming (or touring.. E.. pcot), The Garden Grille character meal in the Land Pavilion is waitin' for you; ).. Serving lunch and dinner, the Garden Grill not only revolves to view the theming of The Land attraction underneath its floor, it also serves the food grown there!.. It's down home cookin' served family style.. For crowded times, there is a lovely waiting area that makes you feel.. like you are sitting in a garden.. Once inside, the.. re.. staurant offers both tables.. and booths that revolve slowly around an everchanging landscape of seasons.. For example, there a prairie with storms in the distance.. and a desert.. not to mention a farmhouse with animatronic critturs.. This, in itself is pretty entertaining, dontcha think? But there's more!.. Garden Grill has some of the best character interaction of any character meals we've experienced! Farmer Mickey, Chip, Dale and Pluto.. and you might say, Wow, that's alot of entertainment for one restaurant!.. But, there's more.. dinner; ).. First, comes the fresh warm bread.. along with a tasty, crisp salad.. The main course included, fried catfish, flank steak, turkey, potato casserole, and steamed fresh veggies.. and we got seconds on whatever we wanted:) We were too full for the sugar-free dessert option of vanilla ice cream; we had totally filled up on the delicious main course; ) Lunch is $19.. 99 per adult and $10.. 99 for children between 3 and 9.. Dinner is $24.. 99 for children.. This is not gourmet style food, but there is plenty of it and, with some of the most playful, friendly characters thrown in for good measure, OLP gives Garden Grill the Down Home two snap stamp of approval!.. Holds a Special Place in My Heart.. 8/1/2014 by.. We ve been going here for so many years with family and friends that it--almost--doesn t matter what the food is.. it s SO much about laughing with characters.. who are VERY interactive, by the way (watch our video clip review if you want to see what I am talking about ; ) We have so many memories made here, the food almost doesn t matter.. Speaking of food, they accommodate gluten free quite well.. sugar free or no sugar added not so much.. Keep that in mind, sugar free people, if it matters to you that you get the full meal here.. Because dessert is included in the all-inclusive price.. Just sayin.. Doesn t matter that much to me.. I go for the memories..  ...   $45.. The meal ended up costing about $75 per couple -- its a fixed price meal -- which is not bad for the quality of food, and quantity! Service was fantastic and we had characters coming by our table in a steady, and somewhat dizzying stream.. The only real downside of the Garden Grill was that the seating is sort of a linear arrangement, so it was hard to see much less talk to our friends at the other end of the table.. I think it works best for about 4 people, any more than that is a bit awkward.. 7/29/2013 by.. Tonya.. When my kids were younger- we ate here every trip.. It's been a few years, but let's just say my kids miss this place so much, they made me make reservation for our upcoming trip in Oct.. I can't wait to go back.. I know I always enjoyed it when the kids were little.. The characters come to the table and it's all you care to eat family style.. I'll report back after our trip to give an up dated review!!.. Garden Grill Dinner.. 10/27/2010 by.. Amitaf.. We absolutely LOVED this restaurant.. Eating at this place was a very exciting experience, the characters came to our table quite a few times (Mickey, pluto, chip and dale) the food was very fresh, and the restaurant spins while you eat.. Compared to the Liberty Tavern you sure get your money's worth at the Garden Grill.. BABY FRIENDLY - YUMMY FOOD.. 2/24/2008 by.. Julie J.. Our group of 9, including three infants/toddlers, went to Garden Grill during January 2008 - slow season at Disney! The food was really good - fresh veggies, lots of variety -as much as you want.. PLUS - we had PLENTY of time with the characters, including Mickey, Pluto, and Chip Dale.. We went during lunch and were seated immediately.. The kids' dessert was so cute - a decorate-your-own cupcake with a miniature vanilla cake and little cups of frosting, candies, cherries, etc.. My two-year-old loved it, and the two babies who were a year old seemed to like it, too.. HAVE FUN!.. Submit a Garden Grill Restaurant member review!.. 9/30/2014 12:40:44 PM.. Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.. Biergarten Restaurant.. Boulangerie Patisserie.. Chefs de France Restaurant.. Coral Reef Restaurant.. Electric Umbrella Restaurant.. Fife & Drum Tavern.. Hacienda San Angel (counter).. Italia.. Joy of Tea.. Kaki-Gori.. Katsura Grill.. Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe.. La Hacienda de San Angel.. L'Artisan des Glaces.. Le Cellier Steakhouse.. Liberty Inn.. Lotus Blossom Cafe.. Monsieur Paul.. Nine Dragons Restaurant.. Refreshment Cool Post.. Refreshment Port.. Restaurant Marrakesh.. Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room.. San Angel Inn Restaurante.. Sommerfest.. Spice Road Table.. Storybook Princess Brekkie in Norway.. Sunshine Season Food Fair.. Tangierine Cafe.. Teppan Edo.. Tokyo Dining.. Turkey Leg USA.. Tutto Gusto.. Tutto Italia Ristorante.. Via Napoli.. Yorkshire County Fish Shop..

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