Thursday, October 02, 2014

09/12 - 09/26 - Back to the Sunshine State

After that - for the most parts - crappy summer it was good to know that we've some vacation ahead in sunny and warm Florida, our third time in the Sunshine State btw...

We stayed at the Double Tree by Hilton at SeaWorld which's a perfect choice as it's close to the airport, the shopping malls and attractions. As always we arrived with nearly empty suitcases and in the first two days we went to the outlets to do some shopping at the Outlets...

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Double Tree by Hilton at SeaWorld

Some cool Converse

As we've been to Orlando before and have already seen stuff like SeaWorld, Gatorland, Kennedy Space Center etc. we decided to make an extended visit (with a pass for multiple days) to the Universal Studios and Adventure Island Park, a good decision... especially on those hot days... cool rides on the rollercoasters and the inside the 3D simulators combined with some amazing shows gave us a fantastic time.

Adventure Island - Zonko's

Adventure Island - Hogwarts

Adventure Island - Jurassic Park

Adventure Island - Hulk rollercoaster

Universal Studios

Universal Studios - Rockit rollercoaster

Universal Studios- Gringotts Bank

Universal Studios - Simpsons

Universal Studios - Simpsons

Universal Studios

Universal Studios - Betty Boop

As we both watch all those different CSI stuff we also spent a visit to the CSI experience which was really fun... we cracked the case with all our criminological experience based on tons of episodes... ;-)

When you check in, you will supervised to solve one of their 3 crimes... collecting information and evidences at the crime scene itself and investigating it afterward in the different labs. At the very end your report will be presented to your boss and it'll show if you made it or not...

CSI Experience

CSI Experience - cracking the case

Another funny thing's Ripley's Believe it or not with dozens of curiosities that he has collected all around the world... not one of the must sees but interesting anyhow. Shrunken heads, Madonna's golden panties, double headed sheeps, pictures made of toast, ketchup and mustard paintings... nothing's too crazy to find its way there... believe it or not!

Ripley's Believe it or not!

Ripley's Believe it or not!

Ripley's Believe it or not!

Ripley's Believe it or not!

As we missed it last time (and due to the fact that we saw a few gators at Gatorland) we also made an airboat tour which you can find in the whole area.

We took one which's not too far away from the hotel and finally we made a good choice. We booked a 30 minutes tour and ended up with cruising around for 1 hour... not too bad...

We saw a lot of big birds, in most cases herons... and of course: alligators! Unfortunately not the really big ones but a lot of baby gators and also an approx. 2 year old which was already longer than one meter... all in all a great experience which I really recommend. The most difficult thing is just to choose the "right" provider because if you trust their ads, they all offer the best experience... ;-)

Airboat tour

Airboat tour

Airboat tour

Airboat tour

Airboat tour - 2 yo. gator

Airboat tour - 2 yo. gator

Airboat tour - baby gators

During our time we also had the chance to go to a BBQ competition, the Smokin' Pig Fest BBQ in Lake City, but that will be another full report on the blog.

Some excellent Q with a lot of good teams 

Robby Royal from Rescue Smokers and myself at the Smokin' Pig Fest BBQ

I didn't make arrangements to meet with local cigar guys beside one. I planned to meet Bill who lives approx. 2 hours away whom I know from Instagram. Unfortunately he'd some personal issues for the day that we'd fixed, so our appointment failed.

Coincidentally it happened that another guy, Scottie, whom I know from several cigar boards was in town due to his job and he asked me to meet for a cigar. So we did and we spent a great time at the Corona Cigar Lounge on Sand Lake Rd., met for the first time but it felt like we've met many times before. Thx again for the Upmann M46 that I really enjoyed!

The cigar lounge itself is really nice place, just forget all that NC's that they've on their shelves... the selection of Single Malts is really amazing, much better than in many places I've been to before. They also have some really fancy stuff like some old Macallans... if you've enough stupid money, feel free to to spend 2'000 or more bucks for a dram of those...

Corona Cigar Lounge - Upmann Magnum 46, pre -2005

Scottie at Corona Cigar Lounge

Corona Cigar Lounge - Upmann Magnum 46 and Lagavulin 12yo.

Corona Cigar Lounge - El Rey del Mundo Petit Torpedo ER France

Talking about cigars and drinks... besides the stuff I'd together with Scottie I also smoked some nice sticks during those two weeks and had some nice beers that I bought there... interesting to see that the most stuff I saw in the liquor store just across the street from the hotel had a nice range of IPA's which's my preferred beer (even though I'm getting more and more into Stouts recently), therefore I picked up some Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA, some Founders Centennial IPA and to get some variety I decided for some Pumpkin Wheat from Shock Top (later I also had their Honeycrisp Apple Wheat). Especially the last two sound a little bit fancy but they're tasty and went also well with cigars...

Hoyo de Monterrey Short Hoyo Corona, Partagas Series du Connaisseur No. 1, Quintero Favoritos

Founders Centennial IPA, Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat

Shock Top Honeycrisp Apple Wheat

Last but not least I wanna spend a few words on the food. Of course we'd to eat every day but it wasn't BBQ every day... but nevertheless we tried a few BBQ joints in town, found some good and some bad ones.

We've been to Bubbalous Bodacious BBQ during our last stay in Orlando and went there again but the food was terrible. Grey and dry brisket, dry and tasteless Pulled Pork, horrible beans and a desastrous coleslaw... you should definitely avoid this place, latest reviews tell you the same.

But there's also good Q: Smokey Bones served perfect ribs and some delicious PP, I didn't try their famous wings but heard some good comments... Sonny's BBQ... another example how Q should be... the BBQ platter really rocked, everything on the point, smokey and juicy. Even the breast piece of the chicken quarter was not dried out. That's how I like it...

If you're looking for a good burger, you should maybe spent a visit to Red Robin on I-Drive... their new "The Southern Charm" burger really rocked the taste buds.

Pulled Pork and Ribs at Smokey Bones

BBQ Platter at Sonny's BBQ

The Southern Charm Burger at Red Robin

All in all we'd two wonderful weeks, the weather was  good all the time with some showers in the night and one afternoon with some rain... it felt good to have at least two full weeks of summer.