Funky Bananas Diner

Bananas Diner


After taking in a show at the Orlando Fringe Festival, I thought it appropriate to take in a meal at Bananas Diner, near downtown Orlando. Why was it appropriate? Well, the shows at the Fringe Festival and the atmosphere at Bananas are kind of the same: funky, off-the-wall, unusual to say the least.

Bananas DineBananas calls itself a “modern American diner.” I don’t know if I would say that. They do have a lot of comfort food on their menu like burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, soups, ribs, chicken and waffles and their ever-changing macaroni and cheese which is different based on seasonal ingredients. They also have breakfast all day which includes biscuits and gravy, pancakes, waffles, eggs benedict, omelets, even Spam and eggs and their unique stuffed French toast coated with Rice Crispies and stuffed with strawberries and cream cheese.

The décor isn’t your traditional diner décor. Mainly because this place is owned and operated by drag queens. Yep, drag queens. (Another reason why it was appropriate to visit there after the Fringe.) The walls are decorated with huge poster-size photos of “women.” They even have drag shows at different French Toasttimes throughout the week and late night on weekends, the “girls” are servers. We were there on a Saturday afternoon and our server (not a drag queen) wasn’t that great. It wasn’t very busy in there, yet it took a long time to get the food. The waiter was friendly at first, but then became kind of aloof, which was odd.

I had the chicken and waffles which was good, but the chicken wasn’t very tender. Bananas is supposed to have amazing milk shakes, but that day they only had strawberry ice cream, so choices were very limited. You are also supposed to get complimentary cotton candy at the end of your meal. We were not offered any.  We’re giving this 3 paws instead of 2 only because of its uniqueness.

Bananas Diner is open Monday through Thursday 9am-12 midnight and Friday and Saturday 24 hours closing at midnight on Sunday.

Dates of Visit:  May 2013

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:

Categories: Eat, Florida | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Orlando Fringe Festival

Orlando Fringe Festival


The Orlando Fringe Festival has been held for 22 years now and I have never been before. Just another event in Orlando I had yet to discover. But now that I have, I definitely plan to return. Come to find out, the Orlando Fringe is the longest running Fringe Festival in the US.

Posters of ShowsMore than 20 years ago, I visited the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. I loved it. Plays, performances, comedy acts, you name it, they had it, and lots and lots of it. (So, why did I not attend the Orlando Fringe Festival in all this time? I’ll never know!)

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival started in 1947 when a group of performers, who were not part of the official Edinburgh International Festival, decided to put on their own performances in empty store fronts, basements, anywhere they could find space. They were staged “on the Fringe” and the idea was a huge success, now making the Edinburgh Fringe Festival the largest festival in the world.

The 14-day festival in Orlando, like in Scotland, offers all types of performances for all types of ages, and all of it uncensored. So, keep that in mind when choosing shows. They do have ratings Shakespeare Centeron each. In the beginning, the festival took place in empty storefronts, but now it takes place in lovely Loch Haven Park, utilizing the Shakespeare Center and other buildings.

Since this was my first year going to the Fringe, I chose two performances to see out of the hundreds offered. Like in Edinburgh, you kind of have to make your choices based on limited descriptions of each. (In Scotland, I made my choices based on titles, some of which had nothing to do with the actual content of the show.) I was, however, able to find more info about each online.

Jett Backpack

Jett Backpack and the Battle at the End of the Universe:

The Earth has been kidnapped and it’s up to dashing Jett Backpack and his crew to save the day! This comedy sci-fi play had fun costumes and props and over the top B-movie acting that made it quite entertaining. I also liked the references to Star Trek and Star Wars, including the pre-show audio of William Shatner singing David Bowie’s “Major Tom,” an all-time classic.

The Mud Flappers Variety Hour:

They billed themselves as “an entire hour of music, comedy and vaudevillian antics, combining music and sketch comedy into a spectacular never before seen on stage or screen.”  Okay. Why not give it a go? I watched their music video online and really liked their sound and I wasn’t disappointed by the music. Plus, I Mud Flappersliked the fact that they were a local band from Lake Mary, Florida. The variety part, short films and sketches, were not as great, but some of them were clever and amusing. And there was some unexpected full frontal male nudity. One of the lead singers came out wearing only shoes, socks, a bow tie and his banjo, and strummed a song about liking to sing in the nude. And the banjo revealed more than it concealed. This is why they rate the shows. They really are uncensored.

Ticket prices ranged from free to about $11.00, all of it going to the performers. (The Fringe itself makes money from selling mandatory Fringe buttons to each patron.)

I wonder what next year’s Fringe will offer. I’m anxious to find out and will definitely check out more performances.

Dates of Visit:  May 2013

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:

Categories: Florida, Play | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pure Naples: Into the Sunset

Teddy on Sunset Cruise


One of the great things about Florida is that you can watch the sun rise in the east over the ocean in the morning and then drive a few hours across the state to watch the sun set in the west over the Gulf of Mexico.

While in Naples, Florida earlier this year, we took a wonderful sunset cruise on Pure Naples’ Double Sunshine.

Sunset cruise          Sunset cruise

Departing out of Naples’ historic Tin City, this 90 minutes, fully-narrated tour sailed out through Naples Bay into the Gulf of Mexico. Throughout the cruise, the tour guide pointed out all the stately homes in the area. Now, the tour has been criticized by some because the narration is mostly about the huge, luxurious homes that are along the bay, but that’s what Naples is all about, luxury. I found some of the back stories about the houses quite interesting. And our tour guide was very entertaining and knowledgeable.

Sunset cruise          Sunset cruise

Sunset cruise          Sunset cruise

The cruise culminated with the lovely sunset over the ocean. When there are more clouds in the sky, the sunsets are even more gorgeous, but this one was beautiful nonetheless.

Sunset cruise         Sunset cruise

In addition to the sunset cruise, Pure Naples also offers several other types of tours: Dolphin watching, sightseeing and kid’s scavenger hunt cruises.

Tours depart daily at different hours. Check their website for times and tour pricing. Bathrooms and cash refreshments are available on board.

Dates of Visit: January 2013

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:

Categories: Florida, Play | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tavern on the Bay

Teddy at Tavern on the Bay


If you’re a sports fan, you’ll love Tavern on the Bay. But even if you’re not, and I’m not, I still had a good time there.

Tavern on the Bay says that they are the only waterfront sports bar in Naples. They have 13 plasma TVs and Southwest Florida’s largest big screen HD TV at over 130 inches! Puts you right in the game, I guess! They also claim to have Naples’ best Happy Hour from 3pm to 7pm Monday through Friday.

It’s a great location, right on the bay. And is accessible by boat. We sat outside on the patio so we could watch the sunset. We ordered the sliders. The portions were huge, big enough to share. We got the BBQ pork, meatball, Cuban and All-American burger. They all were quite tasty.  They also have chicken wings, flat bread pizzas, burgers, salads, sandwiches and other entrees.

Tavern on the Bay          Sliders

They have a large selection of signature drinks including the Soco Hurricane, which I got (pineapple juice, sour mix, grenadine and Bacardi Rum). It was good, but I not as potent as I would have thought. I also tried their frozen Mudslide (vanilla whipped vodka, Kahlua and Bailey’s) and again, not that potent. Still both tasted good. Some of their their signature drinks are: Neapolitan Cosmo, Grand Slam Margarita, Classic Mojito, Blueberry Brain Freeze, Frozen Chocolate Razz and the Tavern Rum Bucket.

Soco Hurricane          Mudslide

Tavern on the Bay has gotten mixed reviews online. But I thought it was pretty good. And if you’re a sports fan, you’ll probably enjoy it even more.

Dates of Visit:  January 2013

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:

Categories: Eat, Florida | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cigar City Brewing

Cigar City Brewery with Teddy


I don’t drink beer. But while on a business trip last month, a colleague wanted to go, begged to go, to Cigar City Brewery after dinner one night. The rest of us in the party tagged along to see what all the fuss was about.

Cigar City Brewery is located in Tampa, Florida. They believe that “beer should reflect the environment.” So, they’ve taken classic beer styles and have crafted flavors that create a “state of mind in liquid form” to reflect the essence of Florida.

Cigar City BrewsUsing local ingredients whenever possible, their beers may incorporate tropical fruits or be aged in cigar box cedar. (Tampa was once the world’s largest cigar producer.) To Cigar City Brewing, beer is more than beer. It’s a labor of love for the product, the people who make it, and the state of Florida.

The names of their beers also reflect the brewery’s sense of humor. Here are a few: Jai Alai, Florida Cracker White Ale, Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Brown Ale, Puppy’s Breath Robust Porter, Patio Tools Irish Stout, Peaches & Cream Lager, Right Side Up Pineapple Lager and S’mores Brown Ale.

I do like hard ciders and Cigar City Brewing had a nice cider with a hint of apple that I did enjoy.

While they do have food in their pub, others online have not rated the food very highly. But you go to Cigar City Brewery for the beer, not the food.

Not all beers are available every day, so check their website, Facebook page or Twitter to see what’s on tap. There are also weekly tours and tastings. You can find the dates and times of the brewery tours on the website as well.

Dates of Visit:  May 2013

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:

Categories: Eat, Florida | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rib City-No knife required

Rib City with Teddy


I usually don’t like to write about chain restaurants, but in this case, I just have to. While researching a trip to Naples, Florida, I saw mention of Rib City and thought about giving it a try. They claim that “if you have to pick up a knife to eat our baby back ribs, then we’ll pick up your meal.”

We got there after lunch and before dinner, so there was a shift change and there was only one waitress on duty. She was super friendly and apologized several times for taking so much time. But the food came out promptly and piping hot.

Rib CityI ordered the baby back ribs platter which came with two sides, cole slaw and French fries. I like sweet, creamy cole slaw and this did not disappoint. I also like sweet barbeque sauce and again, I was not disappointed. Considering these were lunch-sized portions, they were huge. Plenty of food, and very good food. For dessert, the waitress recommended the coconut cream pie. Again, wonderful. Super huge and delicious.

The menu includes all the traditional barbeque options: pork, beef, ribs (baby Rib Citybacks and St. Louis), chicken and turkey. Sauces: Sweet, Tangy, Hot or Carolina Mustard. Sides: French fries, corn on the cob, cole slaw, baked beans, apple sauce. Desserts: Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake, Key Lime Pie, Southern Pecan Pie, Coconut Cream Pie, Chocolate Chocolate Mania.

Rib City started out as a small family-style barbecue in 1989 in Fort Myers, Florida. They branched out into nearby Cape Coral and several other Florida cities. They now have locations in Colorado, Utah, Missouri, Tennessee and Illinois.

Dates of Visit:  January 2013

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:

Categories: Eat, Florida | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Wild Ride at Corey Billie’s

Corey Billie's sign


I’ve lived in Florida for over 30 years and I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to go on an airboat ride. I have always wanted to, but just never got around to it. What an absolute blast it was!

While visiting southwest Florida, just 15 minutes from Naples, we found Corey Billie’s Airboat Rides.

Airboat ride          Airboat ride

The 45 minute ride took us through Corey Billie’s 200-acre private piece of the Everglades which is surrounded by Collier Seminole State Park, National Wildlife Refuge and Panther Preserve.

Captain Dan          Teddy on airboat

Our guide, Captain Dan, piloted the airboat through a type of racecourse around the swampland, sometimes fast, sometimes slow, sometimes up to 60 miles per hour. And at the end, spun the boat around over 360 degrees!

Airboat ride          Birds

Throughout the ride, Dan pointed out different plants, birds and animals, including several huge alligators. He was very knowledgeable about the surroundings and had an excellent sense of humor.

Alligator    Baby alligator

And if you’re brave enough, you can even hold a baby alligator at the end of your tour.

I’d definitely do this again. There are airboat places all over Florida, many of them down south in the Everglades, but there are a few closer to my home in Central Florida as well.

Dates of Visit:  January 2013

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:

Categories: Florida, Play | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

North To Alaska Part 6

Breaching calf

The last part of our Alaska adventure took us to three ports:  Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan.

Skagway          Skagawy


The first port was Skagway, home of the great Klondike Gold Rush of 1898 when thousands of prospectors came to find their fortunes. Many of the buildings here look like they might have back in those Gold Rush days.

          Teddy at Red Onion          Teddy in Skagway

It was an overcast and windy day. We just strolled around town, went to the Klondike Museum and had lunch at the Red Onion Saloon. The Red Onion is a bar, restaurant and brothel museum.

Juneau          Sea lions


The second port was Juneau, Alaska’s state capitol. We started our day early because we were on a whale watching tour. On the bus going down to Auk Bay where we would catch the boat, we drove by Mendenhall Glacier, one of the few glaciers you can get to by car. But we were there to see whales. And did we ever see whales!

Whale watching

It was a beautiful, clear day and we were so fortunate to see so many whales, including a calf who seemed so happy he breached like 5 or 6 times. We were told that is very rare. What was also rare was seeing a pod of five humpback whales feeding. They usually feed alone. Next to seeing the majesty of Mt. McKinley, seeing the whales was my favorite part of the Alaska vacation.



The third port was Ketchikan, Salmon Capital of the World and home of the world’s largest collection of standing totem poles.

Ketchikan          Creek Street

It was a normal rainy, drizzling day in Ketchikan. We walked around town and went to the Visitor’s Center, did some shopping at the Creek Street shops. Then, before heading back to the ship, we had what was supposed to be the best clam chowder in the world. Though it was good, I found it quite peppery.

Vancouver          Rioting crowds

The cruise ended in Vancouver, Canada, where we stayed an extra day. And what a day it was! That was when the Vancouver Canucks lost the NHL Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins. Riots broke out in the streets! And we were there to witness it. What a way to end our Alaska vacation!


Dates of Visit:  June  2011

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:

Categories: Play, Sleep | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

North To Alaska Part 5

Teddy and Glacier


Cruising through Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve was like being on another planet. It’s 3.3 million acres of mountains, glaciers, fjords and even temperate rainforest and is the highlight of Alaska’s Inside Passage. And while there are no roads through this National Park, more than 430,000 people visit it each year, many on cruise ships like us.

Margerie Glacier          Vista

It was a beautiful, silent, clear, bright day. The cruise ship was able to get very close to the glaciers, one of which was the Margerie Glacier. Margerie Glacier is one of Alaska’s most photographed features and one of the most active glaciers in the park. The silence was broken by the sounds of “calving,” when large chunks of ice break off the glacier into the water.

Vista with Ship          Vista with ship

Ship and Gull          Vista

More than 240 species of birds make their homes in Glacier Bay National Park. Other wildlife includes humpback whales, sea lions, harbor seals and sometimes black bears and grizzly bears. Although we didn’t see any bears, there were quite a few sea lions bobbing around and a lot of humpback whale spouts were visible.

Teddy and Glacier          Margerie Glacier

Vista          Vista

Because this is a preserved area, the National Park Service allows only two cruise ships per day inside Glacier Bay. This was a great way to see the area. We ordered room service and watched the calving glaciers from our balcony.

Dates of Visit:  June 2011

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:

Categories: Play | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Breakfast at Blueberry’s

Teddy at Blueberrys


Had it not been for the fact that we couldn’t find Peace, Love and Little Donuts that morning, we probably wouldn’t have gone to Blueberry’s. But even though we didn’t get donuts that day, we had a nice breakfast here.

Pigs in a blanketThis restaurant kind of reminded me of Joey’s Pancakes in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. It’s not a chain restaurant and tries to come across as being “homey.” The breakfast was very good, but not as good as Joey’s. (If you read my post about Joey’s you’ll understand why.) At Joey’s you feel at home. You get your food quickly, but you’re never rushed and the wait staff is extremely friendly. I didn’t find that at Blueberry’s. The service was a bit slow and yet they tried to rush you out.

I had pigs in a blanket, three pancakes with sausages. The pancakes were light and the Pancakes with eggssausage not spicy. There is an extensive menu. In addition to several types of pancakes, they have crepes, waffles, Eggs Benedict, French toast, breakfast sandwiches, skillets and, of course, eggs any way you like them.

For lunch they have sandwiches, salads, chicken grillers, wraps, and burgers and Reubens. The dinner menu includes chicken pot pie, pot roast, meatloaf, pasta dishes, steak, ribs and some all-day breakfast items.

Their website boasts that they were voted “Best Breakfast” in 2012. But they don’t say by whom or where.

Blueberry’s is open 7 days a week, from 7am, but not for dinner on Sunday.

Dates of Visit:  January 2013

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:

Categories: Eat, Florida | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blog at