Sunday, June 13, 2010

Getting cheap flights with V Australia

Chris and I are planning a destination wedding for March next year. If you're a follower of my blog it should come as no suprise to you when I say we're getting married at Disney World in Florida.

Plans are going great, and I will make sure to post many pictures and stories of our travels while we're over there.

We've just booked our flights for the trip, and we got an awesome price! From Sydney to Orlando return we're paying $1243 per person. At the moment you can't even get that price to go from Sydney to Los Angeles with V Australia, so we were very happy with it.

I'm now trying to encourage my guests to book their flights with this great offer, as many have expressed an interest in taking the same flight from Sydney. However many are reporting that they are unable to find these cheap flights.

So, what follows below, is my attempt at step by step instructions so our guests can get cheap flights to the states. - They might even help those who are looking for flights around the same time!

1. Go to

2.On the left hand side under find flights select Sydney as the departure and Orlando (MCO) as the destination.

3.For the dates I’ve found that 22/02/11 and 4/03/11 work really well, however when you press find flights it shows you all of the available days, and how much for each flight. So you can select what works best. I’ve just done the search and it shows $648 on the 22nd, and $598 on the 4th – total of $1246 return.

4.Now here’s the tricky part. We have booked our flights leaving Sydney on the 22nd, however when we arrive in Los Angeles we’ve arranged to catch the connecting flight the following morning. You don’t need to do this, however we’ve decided that we don’t want to be flying through the night, so this works best for us.

5.To do this though, you have to call to book your flights. Usually it costs more to book flights by phone, then what it does online. So you need to explain to whoever is on the phone that you’ve found the flights online, however you want to do a one night stopover in LA. Tell them how much the flights are you’ve found, and they should be able to find a similarly priced flight.

6. You’ll need to pay by credit card, so have it ready, they may also ask for passport numbers but this isn’t needed right now.

7.If this doesn’t pan out, Delta are currently offering cheap flights, and I believe so are United.

Good luck!

Disneyland Resort 2009

Due to how cheap the flights were at the time, the fact that half of Chris' family lives over there, and I LURVE Disneyland, we decided to go back again. In May 2009 we boarded another plane back over to the US, and this time we took my 15 year old brother with us.

I didn't write up a full blown trip report for this trip like I did the last one, but I did do a food report, because I know that the good folks on love to see food pics. So this post is all about the food we ate at Disneyland.

If you're interested in finding out more information about anything Disney, I highly recommend the disboards.

So let's get started.

Day 1 – Lunch at Naples

We didn’t have a reservation, but it was early for lunch, so we were seated right away. Service was quick and friendly, with drink top ups offered regularly, which is a big plus in my books.

The complimentary sour dough came out and was served with olive oil and herbs. It was really nice.

I ordered the Pollo Panini - Roasted chicken with caramelized onions, fontina, and mustard dressing. $13.95

It was nice, but not as good as I was hoping. It was huge though, so I only managed to eat half of it, plus I had trouble holding it. It’s a slippery sucker!

Chris had the Spinaci Insalate - Baby spinach, pancetta, goat cheese and candied pecans tossed in a light balsamic dressing. $12.50

He said it was really good, but a bit vinegary. It was also apparently enough to fill him up!

Hayden, my brother had the Pizza Pancetta E Ananas - Roasted fresh pineapple, crispy pancetta, tomato sauce and mozzarella. $16.95/$26.95/$43.95

$16.95 one pictured. This was awesome!! We each stole a slice, plus went back and ordered it as a take away for dinner one night. Highly recommended!

All in all, we were pretty happy with our meals. We will most likely eat here again… If given the chance.

Day 2 – Lunch at Carnation Café

We had a reservation, but I got the times a little mixed up, so we were there about 20 minutes early. We spent the time looking around the shops, but a lot of people who “appeared” to be walk-ups were seated almost immediately. I didn’t mind, but if we could have been seated earlier it would have been nice.

To begin with the service was great, then it was almost like our waiter went to lunch himself or something, because after our meals were brought to us we didn’t see him again. No drink top ups, no checking if everything was alright or anything.

Oscar did swing by at one stage though to make sure we were happy.

I naturally got the Loaded Baked Potato Soup – Creamy, hearty potato-cheese soup, with chives, bacon, sour cream, Cheddar and Jack cheese. Bowl $5.49, Cup $3.29

Bowl pictured. Oh my God so good! The chunks of potato in it are so yummy, and the flavour of it is something not to be missed!

Chris got The Chicken Pot Pie – it’s not on the menu because I think it was a special or something.

Very tasty, and the pastry was just the right amount of crisp! The salad that it came with was also very nice, and the raspberry vinaigrette was just right. He got some weird looks from people at the neighbouring tables though, and one even had to ask "Why are you putting ketchup on your pie?" Don't American's put sauce on their savoury pies!?!?! It's the only way to eat them!

Hayden got the Café Steak Melt - Grilled beef slices, melted pepper-Jack cheese and caramelized onion on grilled sourdough. With potato salad, green salad or fresh fruit. $10.99

He said it was very peppery, but mustn’t have been too bad, as he is still talking about how good it was!

Dinner at Steakhouse 55.

Sorry, no photos. I know! What was I thinking???

We were late to our reservation, but it was the last seating of the night, so we went straight in. Service here was really good, they were quick and friendly and checked up on us. They were also very knowledgeable and were able to answer any questions we had about the menu.

We each had a different steak, and each of us thought our steak was one of the best – if not in Chris’ opinion THE Best steak we’d had.

I had the filet mignon. Chris had the Bone in Rib-eye, and Hayden had the New York Steak. For sides I had a type of macaroni and cheese that’s not on the menu. It was really nice, but really rich. Chris had Steamed Asparagus Spears, Hollandaise $7, and Hayden had the Classic Baked Potato $7. Neither of them really ate their sides, and only got them because they thought they were part of the meal, however you are charged separately for your sides a it's A la Carte. We probably wouldn’t worry about sides next time, but would happily eat here again. Even though it is pretty expensive.

Day 3 – Dinner at ESPN Zone.

Once again no photos! I really need to work on this.

Service here was really good.

I had the Baby Back Ribs - A full slab of slowly roasted ribs basted with barbecue sauce, served with french fries. $23.99
They were really yummy and really filling. Usually I find there’s not much meat to be had on ribs, but these ones had quite a bit. I couldn’t eat them all.

Chris had the Shrimp Scampi and Penne - Shrimp, tomato, garlic, and wine sauce with parmesan cheese. $16.99
He said it was really good and hit the spot, it was just what he was in the mood for.

Hayden had the Angus New York Strip - Charbroiled, served with a baked potato or mashed potatoes topped with bacon, cheddar cheese, and chives. Choice of garlic butter or blue cheese butter. $25.99
My brother is only 15, so his comments tend not to vary too much. This came under the heading of “Good” which I translate as just right. I don’t think he had any meals that he didn’t like, which is saying a bit, because he is a very picky eater.

I really liked it here, and I think we’ll try and go here again… If given the chance.

Day 4 – Dinner at Blue Bayou.

We’ve eaten here before, and mainly come for the atmosphere. I don’t think there’s enough on the menu.

Service was pretty good, but nothing great. We had a late sitting, and felt a little rushed.

I had the Isla-Cruces Crab Cakes - Succulent pan-seared Crab Cakes, topped with her-citrus beurre blanc and mango slaw. With blue Bayou potatoes and seasonal vegetables. $30.99

It was nice, but I don’t think it was really what I was in the mood for. Eating a little of everything off the plate each time I took a bite was the way to go though, the flavours all just went together really well. I had it with the Gumbo, which I found to be a lot spicier this time around.
Chris had the Bayou Surf & Turf - A succulent, sweet petite lobster tail from the Pacific Northwest, paired with an expertly broiled filet mignon, sauce bearnaise. With Blue Bayou potatoes and seasonal vegetables. $39.99

It was really good. The Filet Mignon didn’t quite compare to the steak from Steakhouse 55, but must have been pretty close. The lobster was lovely! I made sure to snavel some of it too.

Hayden had the Five-Pepper Roast New York - Seasoned with the Chef's signature pepper rub blend, then slow roasted over rock salt. With Blue Bayou potatoes and seasonal vegetables. $33.99

I didn’t get any photos of it, but he said it was pretty good. Not sure what this translates as, but I think he enjoyed it. Hayden also had the gumbo, but didn’t like it.

One day I’ll be smart enough to just get a starter and a dessert. One day…

Now just because we like them, here are some photos from Pooh Corner.

I had one of the Mickey Apples. I wish I hadn’t, it was so sickening. Next time I’ll be smart and get a chocolate covered strawberry like Hayden did…

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Shoal Bay - August 2009

For my sister’s birthday last year, my mum and I took her for a weekend in Shoal Bay. It was August, so it was cold, so we knew we wouldn’t be spending much time by the beach. So we weren’t too fussed with our location, knowing that we’d have a car and could pretty much get anywhere.

We stumbled on the Shoal Bay Beach Club Apartments, found that they were reasonably priced, could fit us comfortably and not in a bad location. We arrived quite late, and had to buzz to be let in; we were met by the owner who cheerfully checked us in, even though we possibly woke him. He ran through a few things with the hotel, and gave us our room keys.

Our room was two bedrooms, with a full kitchen, large lounge/dining room, and a narrow, but long balcony. We were pleasantly surprised with how modern and clean everything was. If I hadn’t known better I probably would have assumed that it was only recently built.

Don't mind the date on these photos, I couldn't be bothered setting it when I replaced the batteries.

We hit they hay in preparation for a long day full of pampering, shopping and eating.
We woke up bright and early in the morning, and headed into town to have breakfast at the Sandyfoot Cafe. I knew my limits and only had a small meal, while my sister and mum tucked in – and of course couldn’t finish their meals. It was a good breakfast though.

Next we headed over to Nelsons Bay for a little bit of shopping. I tried the fairy Floss ice cream from Baskin and Robins, it was awesome, so I bought a take home tub of it. We shopped around for a bit, but didn’t really find anything.

We dropped back to the hotel to store my ice cream and then headed over to Salamander Bay; we all had appointments booked in at the Body & Soul Day Spa. We got there a little early so we stopped in at the Salamander Bay Shopping Centre for some lunch. We just grabbed some quick counter service meals from the food court, nothing special, but filling enough. I think I had Chinese.

There was some pretty good shopping here, nothing out of this World, but we all bought a little something we couldn’t pass up.
There was also a little shop – out of the shopping centre – that we thought was great. It was called Bay Living, it had beautiful stuff, and at great prices. Mum picked up a beautiful cupboard with a mirror in the back of it, very nice. It was half price or something too, so it was a bargain! Unfortunately it was huge, and we’d walked quite a way from the car. We managed to find a trolley though, and half balanced it on top, and struggled our way back to the car.

By this time it was Day Spa time!!

Mum and I were both booked in for the “Anti Ageing Stress Buster” which is a 120 minute treatment which included an Oxygen Therapy Facial, followed by a 30 minute Swedish Massage, Scalp Massage and finished with a relaxing Foot Massage. I also had an eyelash tint done.

The girls here were great! I was so relaxed the whole time, the girls were very professional and while they give you a list of recommended items for you to purchase, they definitely don’t push or pressure you. They also give you some complimentary tea while you’re waiting.

I didn’t buy any of the recommended items, but I did buy some mineral foundation. Personally I probably wouldn’t get the Oxy-Facial again; it just didn’t have that much effect on my skin.

Mum however looked great. It really plumped out her skin.

We headed back to our hotel for the afternoon, and spent a bit of time in the gym.

That night we had a reservation at the Rock Lobster (yes like the song, but not related!). It’s a lovely seafood restaurant in Nelsons Bay. They must have changed the menu since we were there, because for a starter I had prosciutto wrapped lobster, and my main was a chicken dish and I can’t find either on there.

The lobster was amazing! There was some sort of sauce drizzled over it, and the three flavours of the lobster, prosciutto and this sauce were beautiful! A perfect mix. I also really enjoyed the chicken dish, however I will admit I should have asked for the lobster to be served as a main, as it was really that good.

I also had chocolate soufflé for dessert, and it was outrageously good! Have you ever had a glass of Milo (chocolate milk for those not in the know) where you’ve got mainly Milo and maybe a couple of drops of milk to moisten it up? And it’s like this rich, chocolatey goo? Well that’s what this was like, plus it was warm, and had strawberries and cream on the side. I ended up cutting the strawberries up into little pieces and mixing the whole lot in together. Awesome, just awesome.
The soufflé is still on the menu. I highly recommend it.
The service here always seems warm and friendly, and another bonus for it is that it is Celiac friendly. This is a restaurant that we will continue to return to, every time we’re in the area.
We headed back to the hotel feeling uncomfortably full.

The following morning we headed back to Nelson’s Bay for breakfast. I can’t find the name of the cafe, but it’s in the same complex as Rock Lobster, and seemed extremely popular. Most tables had people sitting at them, and the wait staff seemed run off their feet.

I’m not really a breakfast fan, but the food here was good. The service was slow, but that could have been due to the amount of people there. I got a milkshake when we ordered our meals, and I could have finished it three times over before the food got there. I ordered another one when the food got there, and I’d finished eating before it came back. I hate that, I need to have a drink with my meal, and never managed to do that while here...
We also managed to get in a brief stint of whale watching. *giggle*
After that we said goodbye to Shoal Bay and started the trip home.
Extra photos of our trip.

This really is a beautiful part of the world.

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