My husband's company was voted the best place to work in the US in its size category. As a reward, the company invited the department my husband works for and another department (nearly everyone, it seemed) to hang out in Orlando for the weekend. What's fun is, my husband's team is half-remote, meaning they work out of state and so had to fly in, where we only had to drive up. So my husband got to meet the New Guy on his team and such. Kinda cool.
The company paid for 2 nights at the Portifino Bay hotel, which is all done in an Italian style. Their main central courtyard has fake Vespas sitting all over and lots of outdoor seating. There's a little marina, which is very quaint, and ducks therein, who come up to the "dock" to be fed in the evening. I wanted to slap the parents of the child who decided to run around chasing the ducks after a serene scene of lots of people feeding bunches of the ducks. Really, what's wrong with people? Is it so hard go say "Billy, no!" and take him somewhere more appropriate to run around? /Sigh. There were 3 pools, none of which we used, and one that showed movies on a screen in the evening for the kids. Very cool. I liked the hotel a lot, but the Royal Pacific is more to my liking as it has sentimental value and I think the decor is more my style. I think the Portifino is a "nicer" hotel, but is not my favorite of the two. We never got to have a gellato at the "gelloteria" downstairs, but we had some very nice pastries there.
Friday, the company gave everyone a half day and we drove up. We got there around 6, just as the dinner was starting, but went to our room to...relax a bit... and change clothes before going downstairs. We did the dinner reception, which was quite nice, better than I thought it would be. It had bunches of carving stations and the food was good: ceasar salad, roast turkey, roast beef, tortillini with either marinara or pesto, and a dessert and coffee bar with lots of fruits and marshmallows to dip in hot dark chocolate. Plus free drinks, of which I had several Baileys on the rocks. We spent about 2 hours there, just talking to people Dave worked with and making sure to say at least "hello" to everyone. It was nice, but hot. The weather was predicted to be in the 60s at night and 80s during the day. It was in the upper 70s or low 80s at night and 90s during the day. It was baking hot. There was a DJ and mostly just little kids danced. Same with the face painting - but I don't think adults are meant to engage in that.
Saturday we got tickets to the theme parks on the company for one day to both major parks. We've been to Universal and Islands lots of times. In fact, our passes just expired a couple of weeks ago. We could use our room key to "fast pass" the rides, meaning we never had to stand on line. There's a separate fast pass line, which includes people who used the little ticket booth to buy a fast pass to that particular ride. You get the ticket 2 hours in advance, do something else, then come back and get in the fast pass line. Its good but not nearly as convenient as using your room key instead. We did the parks super fast that way. We went over to Islands first and rode the Hulk (coaster) and Spiderman (an amazing ride), but then left there to go to the other park and ride a few things. We hit Shrek (which is a show, not a ride), then the Mummy ride (a coaster), the new Simpsons ride (which is pretty cool and in the style of Spiderman), and saw the T2 show to get in from the sun. We also had lunch in that park, which was hot dogs and chili fries, per Dave's tummy's request. We drank lots of water but it was mega hot and we both got a little sun, ruining my very even tan. :( It was still only 1pm by the time we left that park and went back to Islands. There, we rode Cat in the Hat (ride), and watched the fountain for awhile. The fountain is just a fountain, stone fountain, but it has a microphone inside and speakers. Kids will come up and the fountain will ask a question or squirt the kid with water and whatnot. Its the same things everytime, but different voices and levels of smart-alleck. We love to sit there and just chill, but they need an ice cream shop nearby. The kids always get soaked, complain they're cold or wet, then try to taunt the fountain into squirting them. the fountain refuses, of course, and goads the kids into trying again. Its good fun. We got turned around as there were walls where the walk through usually is because they're building a Harry Potter area (open in 2010). I don't think we rode anything else there, just walked a little and ate ice cream. The sun beat us both to death and we went back to the hotel to shower and cool off by watching some TV - Con Air was on.
Saturday evening I had booked us massages, so we went down to the hotel's spa and did that. Good massages which were over too fast (they always are) and they put us in the same room, which surprised us. Then we changed and took the ferry boat over to City Walk (the little area for shopping and dining and clubbing outside Universal) and had dinner and many margaritas at Margaritaville. There was a live band playing and a DJ in between sets. It was fun and the food and drinks were good. I could have stayed longer but I think we were a little too close to the band and the music was quite loud, so Dave was ready to go. After 90 min there, not one Jimmy Buffett song, which was odd to me. Upon standing, the room pulled a tilt-a-whirl on me and I realized my tasty drinks were alcoholic and had an effect. I knew I had a buzz, but it didn't hit until I stood. A moment later, I had my bearings and we dipped back to the boat and the hotel.
Sunday we slept in and drove home. On the drive home, we encountered two amazing assholes on the Turnpike. Around mile marker 183 and about to the West Palm toll plaza, there were two cars being excessively reckless. I was stunned. When I tried to call highway patrol (*FHP from your cell phone), Dave discouraged me, stating we'd have to pull over and make a report and they'd get away. I disagreed, but did hang up, frustrated that this was just going to continue to occur without punishment. There were two cars: a green Honda Civic, license plate L813MA, and a black Nissan Maxima, license plate 547KAA. The two cars would pull up alongside one another on the 2 lane highway and slow down enough to be matching their speeds (thus slowing down everyone else too) and hand some piece of paper from the driver of one car to the passenger of another. This happened THREE times. If you know of how I can report this kind of bullshit, please do comment to my blog. Its dangerous and reckless and there's no reason for it.
Oh, and also on Saturday, I bought an awesome pair of sunglasses by Maui Jim. I'm generally an Oakley-only girl, but it was at the Oakley store that I bought them, so I think I'm alright on that front. They're amazing -the layers let in just the right amount of light indoors or out and you don't squint as you step outside as they seem to adjust for you. They're fantastic.
All in all, a very good weekend. I'm quite glad the company footed the bill and it allowed us some alone time to just have fun together. Thanks to my parents for watching the boy while we were away.
Back to the work week now, I suppose. /sigh