Monthly Archives: March 2013

North To Alaska Part 1

AnchorageThere are a lot of people who have said that a trip to Alaska will change your life. Now, I know they are referring to experiencing the majestic beauty of our 50th state, snow-capped Mt. McKinley, Denali’s population of amazing animals, glaciers, whales and more. I did greatly enjoy all those things, but not to such an extent that I’d rush right back there anytime soon. The major life changing experience I had was how much the trip depleted my bank account. But don’t get me wrong. I am very glad I went. It’s a trip I had always wanted to take and one that I did enjoy very much.

I’ll be posting about my trip to Alaska in several parts over the coming weeks. Part 1 is about the first leg of this 10-day cruise-tour which started in the city of Anchorage.

Though Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska, it’s not the capital. (The capital is Juneau.) Over 40% of the population of the whole state lives in Anchorage. More than 60 glaciers, 6 mountain ranges, 300 miles of wilderness trails, and the nation’s 3rd largest state park are all around Anchorage. There’s even a salmon stream downtown!

TEDDY’s RATING: 

http://captaincook.com/

Hotel Captain Cook          Teddy-robe

We arrived around 11pm and it was still light outside. For this first night, we stayed at the Hotel Captain Cook, a very nice, nautical-themed upscale hotel. Unfortunately, arriving that late meant that no restaurants were open. So, room service was the only option for any food. Chicken pot pie for a midnight snack?

The next morning we wandered around town, stopped at the Anchorage Farmer’s Market and then visited the Anchorage Museum.

TEDDY’s RATING: 

http://www.anchoragemuseum.org/

Anchorage Museum          Anchorage Museum

Opened in 1968, the Anchorage Museum has a great collection of artifacts and exhibits about the unique history and culture of Alaska and its people. We spent several hours in there and didn’t even see all the museum had to offer.

Anchorage Museum          Teddy at Anchorage Museum

TEDDY’s RATING: 

http://www.flyrusts.com/

Rust's          Rust's

After a quick early dinner, it was time for our flight-seeing “safari” over the city. A bus came to the hotel to pick us up and take us to Rust’s Flying Service. I was a little apprehensive about flying in such a small aircraft, but it was a fantastic experience.

Rusts Flightseeing          Mountains

The half hour tour took us over Anchorage, the Chugach Mountain range and Cook Inlet. Unfortunately, there weren’t any sheep, bears or moose in sight during our flight. But it was very picturesque and the pilot, Andy, very entertaining and knowledgeable. And you wouldn’t believe how smooth a floatplane’s takeoff and landing are. I highly recommend this type of sightseeing tour, in Alaska or anywhere.

Early to bed that night for the next day we were to begin our cruise-tour, starting at Mt. McKinley.

Dates of Visit:  June 2011

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:  http://ilovebritishtv.com

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Take in the view at the Bayfront Inn

Bayfront Inn sign

TEDDY’s RATING: 

I had intended for my next four-day weekend getaway to be on Marco Island, Florida. Now, Marco Island is a lovely place, but after some research, I found that there was much more to do in nearby Naples. (I’ll be writing about all those fun activities in weeks to come.) And I also found I could book a really nice hotel in Naples at an affordable price. That hotel was the Bayfront Inn on 5th Avenue.

Bayfront RoomThe luxury bay view room indeed had a wonderful view of the bay. The pillow-top beds were very comfortable. (Premium luxury rooms have Sleep Number beds.) And the huge shower was great.

There’s complimentary on-site parking, even a small parking garage. There’s a lovely heated pool and spa, although the pool seemed rather cold to me. And the Bayfront Inn is within walking distance of touristy Tin City and the upscale shops of 5th Avenue. This 5th Avenue is similar to its namesake in New York City with many posh restaurants and quirky, fun stores.

The Bayfront Inn is less than a mile from the beach. They have a 12 slip marinaBayfront Pool where you can dock your own boat or charter or rent one. The Naples Trolley Tour has a pickup/drop off point on site and you can catch a water shuttle right outside the hotel. Segway, kayak and bicycle rentals are also available.

The restaurant, The Bambu Tropical Grille, is a covered and open-aired dining area where you can sit by the marina and grab a bite to eat or sip your favorite tropical drink. And in my opinion, they make those drinks nice and strong.

Bayfront ViewI do have to say there were a few negatives at the Bayfront Inn, dropping the rating down from 5 to 4 paws. The landline phone was not working, but the front desk did send someone up to repair it right away. And unfortunately, there are a few little things that bothered me that are out of the hotel’s control. The Bayfront Inn is located on a major roadway, so there was a lot of noisy traffic. And the hotel is directly in the flight path of Naples Municipal Airport. Also, though it’s great that there’s weekend entertainment down near the marina, the music was quite loud and could be heard even though the windows were closed on our 4th floor room.

But overall, the Bayfront is a great place and I would stay there again. The staff was very friendly and attentive. The room was clean and comfortable and the location centrally located to all there is to see and do in Naples.

Dates of Visit:  June 2010 & March 2011

http://www.bayfrontinnnaples.com/

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:  http://ilovebritishtv.com

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

Kick up your heels at Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant

Exterior

TEDDY’s RATING: 

For quite a few years now, I’ve been in love with Celtic music – Irish, Scottish, even Canadian bands like The Chieftans, Solas, Altan, Leahy, Off Kilter, The Corrs and the Celtic rock band, Enter the Haggis.

Irish dancersWhat does this have to do with travel and food? Well, Raglan Road is an authentic Irish pub in Downtown Disney where you can enjoy a traditional Irish meal and be entertained by traditional Irish dancers and musicians. Two of my favorite things: great music and great food.

Raglan Road was constructed using salvaged pieces of Irish taverns and churches. The four bars are each over 130 years old. All of this adds to the authentic atmosphere and charm of Raglan Road.

Now, the Irish aren’t that famous for their culinary creations, but Raglan Road’s updated menu of old world favorites is definitely worth tasting. And there are a lot of choices on that menu. Master Chef Kevin Dundon has taken classic Irish dishes and pumped them up with a contemporary flair. It’s more Sod the Stewthan corned beef and cabbage. The menu includes Shepherd’s Pie, Fish and Chips, chicken and wild mushroom pie, bangers and mash, beef stew and several lamb and seafood options. For dessert try the amazing Strawberry and Apple crumble, the bread and butter pudding, Triful Sinful or the Black Forest Kiss.

I couldn’t decide between the Shepherd’s Pie and the Stew. I opted for the stew because the pie contains lamb, which I’m not that crazy about. But I am going to try the Shepherd’s Pie next time for sure. The stew was full of beef, carrots and potatoes and flavored with a hint of Guinness. For dessert, the crumble with vanilla ice cream was quite delicious.

Irish DancerAnd don’t forget the libations – beer, wine, specialty drinks and a wide variety of whiskeys. You can even have flights of beer or whiskey, a great way to try new flavors. I had Jay’Gail Sangria which was a blend of Magners Cider, Peach Schnapps, fruit liqueurs and juices. Yummy. With dessert, I asked for an iced Bailey’s coffee, not on the menu, but they made it for me. Also, yummy.

The service was exceptional. Our waiter, Todd, was very knowledgeable about the different beer offerings as well as the dinner menu. Our food arrived piping hot and very quickly.

Of course, since Raglan Road is part of the Walt Disney World Resort, you can expect high prices. But I think the delicious food is well worth it, plus you get free entertainment. There’s live music and Irish folk dancers “river dancing” seven nights a week. I think the price is quite reasonable for dinner and a show.

Date of Visit:  February 2013

http://www.raglanroad.com/

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:  http://ilovebritishtv.com

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Brook’s Gourmet Burgers & Dogs

ExteriorTEDDY’s RATING: 

Naples, Florida is a very affluent city. You expect to see lots of high-end shops and expensive restaurants on every street. And mostly you do. But there are a few small places where you can dress very casually and enjoy a burger and a beer. One such place is Brook’s Gourmet Burgers & Dogs.

InteriorWhen Todd Brooks moved his family to Naples from Kansas City he was looking for a location for his new restaurant that was small and personal, a place where he could get to know his customers. He found that in Lindburgers, a Naples landmark restaurant for over 25 years. Brooks renovated the building a bit, created a menu of 20 unique burger and hot dog options, and Brook’s Gourmet Burgers & Dogs was born.

The menu includes all beef hot dogs, Black Angus beef burgers, as well as turkey, bison and chicken burgers. With unusual combinations like Todd’s Way – bacon, three cheeses and a fried Western Burgeregg; Greek – onion, feta cheese, kalamata olives, green peppers and Greek dressing; Farm – barbecued pulled pork, fried egg and cheddar cheese; and the Reuben Burger, which is a Reuben on a burger, of course, you’re sure to find something to your liking.

I’ve read that the menu used to include a Twice Baked Potato Burger and The Donut Burger where two glazed donuts replace the bun. Yikes! Those two weren’t on the menu when I was there. I tried the Western Burger – onion ring, cheddar cheese, bacon and barbeque sauce. Delicious and overwhelming!

The portions were huge and the prices reflect that. The service was exceptional, very friendly staff.

Dates of Visit:  January 2013

http://www.naplesburgers.com/

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:  http://ilovebritishtv.com

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

Porkie’s Original BBQ – It’s Smokin’

Exterior

TEDDY’s RATING: 

There’s a lot of competition out there when it comes to barbecue restaurants. You’ve got your major chains like Smoky Bones and Sonny’s and the up and comers like 4 Rivers. So how does a small, single location survive? Well, Porkie’s Original BBQ in Apopka, Florida must be doing something right because they’re still open and thriving.

InteriorThey seem to distinguish themselves from the Big Guys by using oak and hickory wood and slow smoking their meats on their 20-foot BBQ pit. They also have 6 sauces, all original recipes and made from scratch. Owners Steve and Mike started Porkie’s back in 2002 after traveling the southern states in search of the “perfect BBQ flavor.” That flavor is getting rave review from locals. They’ve been voted “Best BBQ” in Central Florida. (However, I don’t know where that title comes from!)  And apparently comedian Dennis Miller is a huge fan of the place and recorded a radio commercial for Porkie’s.   That’s totally awesome!

The menu includes pork, chicken and beef which can be served pulled, sliced, chopped or chipped. You can get platters, combos or “samiches.” Side dishes include baked beans, potato salad, collard greens, green beans, garlic toast, macaroni & cheese and dirty taters. I had the Pig Dip, thickly sliced smoked pork on Cuban bread and served with au jus. It was good, Pig Dipas were the dirty taters which are cubed red potatoes sautéed in onion and garlic. And supposedly their Monster Ribeye Samich is something worth trying.

Sometimes Porkie’s features some experimental dishes using very unusual meats like bison and beaver. When I visited, they had samples of bison chili. (I don’t like chili, so it wasn’t for me.)

Another thing that makes Porkie’s unique is that every Thursday night they host a local biker’s night. This weekly event sometimes draws several hundred bikers to the restaurant.

Porkie’s Original BBQ is a casual, family friendly restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating. It’s open Mondays through Saturdays for lunch and dinner. Catering is available.

Dates of Visit:  January 2013

http://www.porkiesapopka.com/

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:  http://ilovebritishtv.com

Categories: Eat, Florida | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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