Our trip was a last-minute, spur-of-the-moment thing, resulting in our flights being less than traveler-friendly.
There was no meal plan for last week if you missed it. Instead, we traveled to sunny Florida to spend time together as a family, fully utilizing the spring break. So, it is time for yet another visit to the sunshine state!
- The outbound flight to Orlando had a stop-over in Miami, turning a 3-hour flight into a 7-hour trip.
- The homebound flight left Orlando at 6.40 am, meaning we had to get the entire family up at 3 am to be ready for the airport shuttle at 3.30 am.
Nevertheless, we made it to Florida and had a blast.
My wife had booked us in for both Disney Magic Kingdom and Universal. We love spending time in Universal Studios, visiting the fantastic Harry Potter-themed sections and other excellent attractions and rides in both parks.
We managed to stay at the same Universal hotel as last year, so it was straightforward to navigate the facilities, shuttle to Universal Studio, and the pool.
The only significant change was that both amusement parks had removed the mask mandate, making the experience a lot more fun. We can finally breathe, and we can see the pure enjoyment in other people’s faces too. Such a relief and incredible change.
A Disney Experience
The problem with staying at a Universal Studios hotel is that they do not offer shuttle buses to Disney parks. Why would they?
Instead, we booked an Uber, a great experience, and an extremely friendly driver. Our youngest daughter left her little backpack in his car, but he kindly dropped it off at our hotel two days later. So, yes, I gave him a five-star rating.
While the Disney Magic Kingdom has a magical feel, and we get to see the iconic characters, it is not our preferred amusement park. It just felt too cramped and was bloody expensive.
To be brutally honest, we were apprehensive about the ‘wokeness’ of Disney and if any of this would impact our experience negatively. It did not. Thankfully, we did not encounter any ‘woke’ outbreaks, and people seemed to have an enjoyable time.
Of course, we expect to pay top dollar for merchandise, but even the food was expensive. We ended up paying $250 for an ok dinner. Disney does not offer the refill drinks cups that Universal has either, leaving families to buy bottled water and other refreshments. Everything aims to make money as if the park tickets aren’t expensive enough.
That said, we had a magical day at Disney. We tried many rides, bought too much merchandise, and saw the famous fireworks by the castle from the crowded main street. It was a good day with the family.
Back to Gringotts
The most significant moment of our trip back to Universal was walking through the wall into Diagon Alley and being greeted by the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. While Universal Studios has a lot more to offer than “just” Harry Potter, it is evident that the Harry Potter land is one of the biggest attractions.
I’m personally impressed with the entire setup of Universal’s areas, from superhero ally, Jurassic Park, King Kong, and the traditional Universal movie sets. The details that have gone into creating the rides, and the friendliness of the staff, are top class.
We must’ve tried the Escape from Gringotts ride at least five times, ridden Hagrid’s motorcycle four times, and flown around with Harry Potter in broomsticks another six times, all during our three-day stay. Oh, and we rode the Hogwart’s Express three times.
The kids love hanging out in the magical Diagon Ally, where they can use their wands to make things move, drink butterbeer, and marvel over the merchandise.
I wanted to try both the Hulk and the new Velociraptor rides, but the Viking felt they were too fast and heart-stopping. I was not planning on being the odd person riding alone.
The Viking family can highly recommend Universal Studios. However, we want to try Disney Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, as we don’t think the Magical Kingdom was a great representation of the Disney adventures.
Healthier Eating again
After a week of shitty fast food, we are craving better food, so I can’t wait to get back into my kitchen and heat the Traeger again to cook healthier meals.
I’m going traditional Guinness beef stew this week, lemon chicken dish, and my favorite Pho.
With a family of five, it can be challenging at times to find dinners that every person enjoys. I have been reasonably successful to date, although some dishes look much better than they taste.
But, I’m also spicing up my Viking lentil stew this week, replacing the Kielbasa and potatoes with shrimps. Hopefully, it’ll be an excellent option for midweek dinner.
Lastly, I’m attempting a Persian meatball dish and will serve it with fresh pita bread, some salad, and garlic paste. I’m sure it will not taste 100% authentic, but it will still give us a feel for delicious international flavors.
Fire up the Traeger. Ready your Dutch oven. Go shopping, and let’s start cooking—another Sunday in the Kitchen with music on the magical Demerbox and wonderful aromas filling the room.
|Monday||Grilled homemade sweet potato rolls with ham, salami, and pepperoni melts||Oven-baked whole chicken with lemon-flavored orzi|
|Tuesday||Mini pizza; cheese and pepperoni||Guinness beef stew with baby potatoes|
|Wednesday||Toasted bagel with turkey salad||Vietnamese Pho with shaved beef|
|Thursday||Mini pizza; cheese and pepperoni||Persian meatballs with pita bread, lettuce, and garlic sauce … Koofteh Rizeh|
|Friday||Pigs in a blanket with homemade honey-mustard sauce||Eating out – getting ready for spring break|
One day, I might get so organized that I will link the meals below to my recipes. We can only live in hope!
Have a fantastic week, my friends. I hope you enjoy these meal plans. It is so much easier to make food in advance, although you need to invest several hours in preparing the meals during the weekend.
Stay in touch with me through social media!