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Oh my.

We had reservations to go to Jiko for dinner on Day 1. It’s the higher-end African-themed restaurant at the resort with beautiful decor and fantastic food. Fantastic doesn’t even begin to describe it actually. This was a splurge dinner.

At the start of the dinner, they brought us hot damp facecloths to freshen our hands with, and they smelled like rosewater…nice. We began our meal with 2 shared appetizers: “A Taste of Africa” which was 3 different types of bread (naan, pappadum and flatbreads) with 3 dips (a coriander chili dip, a red spicy dip and a hummus-olive dip. Oh my lord, was this ever delicious… There was also the house bread which came with a special spiced butter – heavenly. Our second appetizer was the Crispy Savannah Rolls which were also good but the breads won this round hands down.

For the main course, I chose the Chermoula Tanglewood Chicken which came with goat cheese mashed potatoes, harissa and preserved lemons. Yum. Chris had the Grilled Berkshire Pork Loin which came with spiced lentil dahl, spinach, and pickled okra. Yum.

The restaurant had a special tea menu, which we enjoyed with dessert. I chose the Organic Rooibos African tea. Chris chose the Chai (duh-he’s a big chai fan). My dessert was the Kenyan coffee ice cream with spiced doughnuts. I thought I died and went to heaven. The ice cream was a highlight of the meal. Chris chose the apple tart with cinnamon ice cream.

Absolutely fantastic. It was pricey – total cost was $135 for both of us, no liquor. But for a special splurge meal, oh so worth it. 🙂

The full menu can be seen here for those interested: http://themouseforless.com/tripplanning/menus/wdw/jiko.shtml

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Our flight to Orlando was smooth and uneventful. We took the Disney Magical Express to the resort and as soon as we walked into the lodge, we knew we made the right the choice (and by “we” I mean “me”). 🙂

The lobby is 3 stories high, with thatched roof,  firepit, african decor, drums and tribal music playing in the background, the lighting was dim. It was awesome. There are a ton of little sofas and chairs all over the lobby to hang out in, by the firepit, or secluded areas just to relax. We saw someone taking a nap on one of the sofas – it was that relaxing. So we checked in and got all our paperwork. Yours truly got a special birthday button 🙂 and you bet your asses I’m going to wear it. Figure it’ll be nice to be wished a happy birthday by a bunch of strangers. LOL

We get to our room (savannah view!) and race to the balcony but our first look was uneventful – some animals in the distance. Then, out of nowhere comes this giraffe sauntering around – that was pretty cool. I also hunted around the room for hidden Mickeys and found some on the shower curtain (see pic below).

We hit the quick service buffet for a light lunch (at the Mara) and were pleasantly surprised at how good it was. I had a falafel pita with spiced couscous (amazing) and Chris has the Mara salad with spiced chicken (also very good). Since the lodge is African-themed, a lot of the food has African and Mediterranean flavours. Score!

After lunch we decided to explore the resort and get our bearings. What we saw was amazing – there are lots of overlooks where you can see all the animals, firepits are everywhere with chairs nearby to enjoy the fire, the pool is quite big and has a cool waterslide. We checked out the restaurants (we already have reservations for Jiko and Boma), both African-themed. Boma is buffet-style and highly recommended, and Jiko is the higher-end one, a la carte. Chris was drooling over the menus posted outside. 🙂 Score!

So as we were exploring the lodge the feeling of tribal vibes were overwhelming. As such, we decided we had to have a tribe name. So we agreed on “Gooneegoogoo”. 🙂

Our dinner is at 7:15pm – I’ll let you know how that goes. Until then, here are some pics you can enjoy of our trip to date. Tomorrow is Epcot FutureWorld, with lunch at the Mexican pavilion and dinner at the Japan pavilion. Pretty sure there will be shopping too…

Giraffe viewed from our balcony

Giraffe viewed from our balcony

View of Boma restaurant during our recon mission

View of Boma restaurant during our recon mission

View of hidden Mickey on shower curtain

View of hidden Mickey on shower curtain

Chris, chillin at the lodge :)

Chris, chillin at the lodge 🙂

Me, chillin at the firepit

Me, chillin at the firepit

Zebras - there were quite a few zebras out

Zebras - there were quite a few zebras out

Rubber ducky, you're the one...

Rubber ducky, you're the one...

Random pic of the lodge - wonder if that's someone's room

Random pic of the lodge - wonder if that's someone's room

Part of the lobby - near the back windows

Part of the lobby - near the back windows

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Yesterday we finalized our itinerary for our Disney trip next week and made all the reservations for the restaurants we wanted to try on our trip:

Sat 24th: Flight lands at 12:37pm. We’re taking the Disney Magical Express to the resort (they pick up our luggage at the baggage claim and bring it to our room so we don’t need to wait for it at the airport). We booked dinner at Jiko, which is located at the resort where we’re staying (Animal Kingdom Lodge). It’s an African-themed restaurant so we’re looking forward to trying some dishes we haven’t had before. Not much else planned for saturday – maybe hang by the pool and explore the resort.

Sun 25th: Epcot FutureWorld. We also booked lunch at the Mexican pavilion (San Angel Inn) which is set in a romantic twilight setting. We went there last time and it was awesome. For supper, last time we tried the Moroccan resto which was really good, but we wanted to try something new, so we booked Tokyo Dining at the Japanese pavilion. Should be good!

Mon 26th: Animal Kingdom

Tue 27th: Hollywood Studios

Wed 28th: Magic Kingdom – this is a small park that can be done in a half-day. Since we have the Cirque du Soleil show at 9pm (Life List item), we figured this park was a good bet so we don’t have too full a day. If we’re not in the mood for this park, we may go back to Animal Kingdom.

Thu 29th: Epcot World Showcase – Food & Wine Festival with Angie & Scott. We’re so looking forward to this – can’t wait to have some good eats!

Fri 30th: Our flight leaves at 1:30pm. We booked breakfast at Boma, another African-themed restaurant at our resort. We figured having a good breakfast to keep us fueled until we get home was a good idea.

A few do-not-miss items on our list: Aerosmith roller coaster, Tower of Terror, Animal Kingdom (it’ll be our first time), the rides at Epcot we had missed the last time and some we really enjoyed (i.e. Mission to Mars), shopping. 🙂

Can’t wait! We’ll take lots of pics.

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I am officially on vacation. 1 week at home, 1 week at Disneyworld. Life is good. 🙂

My plan for the first week is:

  • Horseback riding tomorrow (Life list item!)
  • Loblaws – grocery shopping to pick up ingredients for the recipes I’m planning on trying this week: date nut bread, chicken bouillabaisse, bruschetta with peppers and gorgonzola all from the Back to Basics Barefoot Contessa cookbook (part of Life List item)
  • Finish painting gym room
  • Call to book chimney sweep in time for cold weather wood fires
  • Call to order firewood
  • Buy sneakers for all that walking at Disney

Let’s see if I stick to the plan. 🙂 I’ll try to post some pics of the dishes I make.

Plan for the second week:

Disney! Epcot wine and food festival, fun, Cirque do soleil show, fun, spending the day with Scott&Angie, fun. Can’t wait!

 

EDIT: I’ve actually done everything on the list except for the painting. I think we’ll be skipping that til a free weekend down later in November. Made all the yummy food, had a blast at horseback riding (although I’m in PAIN today!), got sneakers, firewoode is being delivered on Monday, chimney is getting checked on Thursday, and our door is also getting meaured on Thursday. Productive weekend!

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You heard correctly. We finally did it – we lit a fire in the wood fireplace. Well, Ok, Chris lit it but I was nearby (no, not with the fire extinguisher…) – I was making soup and grilled cheeses. You know, fire food. 🙂

It was awesome and it smelled so good!!! Wow – I could get used to this! Chris did amazing – he was all Survivor-ish. So we enjoyed a nice evening with hot chocolate, xmas tree lights and a crackling fire. Very cozy! So proud. 🙂

So that’s the fire part. The ice part was the dusting of snow we had on Saturday. Not very exciting…just a flurry. I wonder if we’ll ever get dumped on like in Mtl…

So we went xmas shopping on Saturday. Went back to Square One and got almost everything done. Well, I should mention that we got lost and went around in circles for about 20 minutes, but when we finally got our bearings, it was very productive. 🙂 ha!

We’re thinking of going back to Disney for our next trip in the spring. If anyone has any recommendations on any of the Disney resorts, please send word. We stayed at the Port Orleans French Quarter last time and it was just Ok.

Gas was at 72.9 today – I see a 69.9 in the near future!! I can’t believe it!!!

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