Stepping out a step up to Walt Disney World’s Boardwalk Villas!

The Inn view at the Walt Disney World Boardwalk Villas
The Inn view at the Walt Disney World Boardwalk Villas

DD and Mama D went to Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida once more but this time around they stepped it up a notch and stayed at the Boardwalk Villas. Oh my goodness! You should have seen the look on our face when we saw the view we had! We couldn’t have asked for anything better. Room 5061 on the 5th floor was perfect. It was close to the elevators and transport. On top of renting in a deluxe villa, we spent a whole week and had the most relaxing stay ever. For those who’ve been to Walt Disney World know how stressful it can sometimes be with long waits and a lot of walking.

SO nice to see Flowers and green tress in January
The river and flowers at Adventureland in Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom

Staying at Boardwalk meant having the boat taxis to Hollywood Studios and Epcot right at our doorstep; we were fortunate enough to have a room close to the elevators and the boat launch but still did a lot of walking in the parks which was fine for me but a little harder on Mama D but at the end of the week her feet were much better. Being January, the buses were never full and we never had to wait long and always had a seat in both boats and buses.

A fancy egret posing in front of the super expensive art gallery
I swear this egret insisted we took a picture of her

Our studio had everything we needed and the sofa bed was comfortable. Our room was facing the Inn and we could see the Epcot sphere, the fireworks at 9pm and the Beach Club Resort across the lake. We could hear the boat honks but it was not too bad with the balcony door closed. We had some cool weather so we didn’t use the balcony much.

DD and Mama D in front of the tree of life at alt Disney World Animal Kingdom
DD and Mama D in front of the tree of life at Walt Disney World Animal Kingdom

We were privileged to try the new Magical wrist band that replaces the card and we liked it. We loved to be able to reserve three fast passes the night before; we could have reserved way more in advance but we preferred just going day by day depending on the attractions left to do and some we might want to revisit.

Hollywood Studios' Twilight Zone Tower of Terror keeping an eye out for future victims...
The employee at Hollywood Studios’ Twilight Zone Tower of Terror keeping an eye out for future victims…

Among the new attractions we tried for the first time after 4 visits together was The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios which we visited twice; we totally loved it! With 2 Gravols I had no problem. Being fans of the Twilight Zone episodes it was a real treat. Dami and I will have to watch the episodes that inspired the ride; We have the full 156 complete episode box set.  As a souvenir I bought a bell, a towel and a Do Not Disturb magnet.

DD's memorable face during the Expedition Everest ride at Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom
DD’s memorable face during the Expedition Everest ride at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom

For the first time in HS, we did Star Tours. I think I might have done it when I was by myself in 2009 but I am not sure. Even with the motion sickness pills this one was a little too much for me. I read that the new ride with 3-D glasses causes more motion sickness. Another Gravol ride at Animal Kingdom was The Expedition Everest that I hated because it was too much for motion sickness even with Gravols; I bought the picture they take of you because I said I would never ride this one again.I let Mama D ride by herself on a few rides like Primeval Whirl at Animal Kingdom and Mission Space at Epcot.

Mama D on her way to Mission Space at Epcot
Mama D on her way to Mission Space at Epcot

At Magic Kingdom we did The Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and this one was fun and made me laugh, it was my top limit without the Gravols kind of like Dinosaur at AK. We actually were supposed to have a Gravol Day, riding only attractions that trigger motion sickness but we ended up scattering those attractions and I just had to have a few days where I had to pop the pills and feel drowsy for a few hours.

Big Fish at The Seas pavilion at Epcot
Big Fish at The Seas pavilion at Epcot

We used our park hopper quite a few times: it’s always nice to have the option and the freedom. We had a Resort Day where we visited some of the Resorts: Beach Club, Fort Wilderness and Polynesian. It made for a really nice day. We visited Epcot many times and unfortunately we could not finish our ride at Ellen’s, Universe of Energy because the ride broke down. We took the Behind the Seeds Tour and didn’t learn much more than we already knew but we got to taste some fresh cucumbers; considering the price we paid, each slice cost 10$… Unfortunately the new Snow White attraction wasn’t ready so we’ll have something to look forward to in 2015! Dami said that next year he definitely wants to go and I think he’ll like it.

Walt Disney World Fantasia Mini Golf
The last hole at Walt Disney World Fantasia Mini Golf

In our welcome package we used the free mini golf coupons. We loved the Fantasia mini golf! It took us about 45 minutes and it was fun. We took a boat to Swan and Dolphin and walked from there although we could have easily walked from Boardwalk. We also used  the free 100 points coupon that we redeemed for a card at the arcade and played bowling again (last year we played bowling at the Port Orlean’s, Riverside Arcade). Mama D got some sour candies from the crane and we gave our card with the 15 remaining points to a mother and made her happy. It’s not much but it’s the better than just throwing it out.

The Walt Disney World Boardwalk Resort Frontage
The Walt Disney World Boardwalk Resort Frontage

Mama D and I agreed that Boardwalk was a nice step up from Port Orleans Riverside. We loved the ambiance, the boats, the shops, the restaurants and the General Store right at your doorstep. We will definitely go back and are again so grateful to Mr. Walt Disney and his family for having created such a place for us to visit year after year. Thank you! And thanks for reading!

Christmas on Cape Breton Island

The Spruce Cabin at the Big Hill Retreat near Baddeck on Cape Breton Island is one of our favorite getaways. The peace and calm of the secluded cabin during the Christmas Holidays was amazing!
The Log Cabin at the Big Hill Retreat near Baddeck on Cape Breton Island is one of our favorite getaways. The peace and calm of the secluded cabin during the Christmas Holidays was amazing!

These days it seems the stores start playing Christmas music right after Halloween and in Canada as the days get longer in November and December we all start to feel the cabin fever that results from being buried under snow and ice with wind chills that constantly remind us that the only place worth on Earth would be on the dark side of Mars which is not even on Earth and besides it’s probably warmer than New Brunswick this time of year.

It’s not always possible to have a family Christmas what with our families spread all over the country so the next best thing is always going for a nice cozy stay in a cabin to celebrate the season. You know the kind of idyllic place we dream about: a wood cabin in the remote back woods where the closest town is miles away and only birds and creatures dare dwell in the ghostly snow scape.

The view from the cabin. Total silence. Birds drift past. Snow muffles the trees. A sleepy serene moment.
The view from the cabin. Total silence. Birds drift past. Snow muffles the trees. A sleepy serene moment.

We decided to take a visit, or should I say “re-visit”, to Cape Breton Island, because it is one of favorite places to be no matter what the season and we know that Big Hill Retreat is our favorite spot on the island. Cape Breton Island is the jewel that lies North of Nova Scotia and the cozy Log Cabin near Baddeck, Big Hill Retreat, is a place we love to be.

We booked for a week so we could celebrate Christmas and New Years at the cabin and when I say all of us that includes Jasper and Alaska our Burmese cats who were enjoying their 5th Christmas with us. I think they are really learning to love the cabin and we are so fortunate that it is pet friendly.

We brought all our gifts and a small tree, hung our stockings and decorated the cabin with some garlands and Christmas cards. It was so beautiful!
We brought all our gifts and a small tree, hung our stockings and decorated the cabin with some garlands and Christmas cards. It was so beautiful!

Although we had been planning our trip for months when it came down to leaving we were in for a bit of a surprise, but not really a surprise since it’s winter in Atlantic Canada: a major snow storm, ice storm, freezing rain mix was in the forecast on the days we were scheduled to be in Cape Breton Island and this what one of those events the Weather Network likes to call a “SnowPocalypse” or a “FreezleBomb” or a “PolarMolarParkaPounder”.

We packed our food, clothing and cats into the car and set out onto highway conditions that could be called trecherous but we were determined to make it to the cabin no matter what the conditions were. It took us 7 hours to drive from Moncton to Baddeck, the roads were icy, snow covered and downright horrible. My knuckles were white, the cats knuckles were white, and the odd time we saw another car daring to risk the ride I swear I saw every driver wearing the same white knuckles.

There's nothing like waking up after a snowfall to go out into fresh powder and hike a trail around the property.
There’s nothing like waking up after a snowfall to go out into fresh powder and hike a trail around the property.

Because of the slow drive we were so relieved to arrive at Big Hill Road: ahhhh finally home sweet home. I turned to look at Jasper and Alaska in their cage and they  seemed to understand that we had made an amazing and quite perilous journey for this Christmas Vacation, they both smiled at me I’m sure.

We had brought a hot stone cooker to try it out for our Christmas vacation and it was awesome! Cooking shrimps and chicken with our homemade sauces was amazing, better than a fondue and we had a great supper even with the power failure!
We had brought a hot stone cooker to try it out for our Christmas vacation and it was awesome! Cooking shrimps and chicken with our homemade sauces was amazing, better than a fondue and we had a great supper even with the power failure!

It’s so amazing to be able to go out on to the snowshoe trails around the property. There are animal tracks and bird tracks throughout the forest and when we visit in Winter it is great to see the difference of the trails compared to walking them during the summer!

Speaking of snow trails…make sure you have good snow tires or a 4 x 4 if you are planning to visit Big Hill Retreat during the Winter. We have winter tires but we still couldn’t make it up the hill. I wish we had studded tires or chains or a four wheel drive. Luckily we were able to call from the bottom of the hill where our car was stuck and arrange a ride with Linda in the four wheel drive and transferred all our supplies and Christmas gifts and cats to the four by four and were given a lift up to the cabin.

On our walk along the trail we stopped for a rest and picnic and I built a miniature snowman and we had a little candle and made a private Christmas ceremony. We went back every day to see our snowman!
On our walk along the trail we stopped for a rest and picnic and I built a miniature snowman and we had a little candle and made a private Christmas ceremony. We went back every day to see our snowman!

We brought our Turkey for our Christmas dinner and wouldn’t you know it the power was cut off because of the storms and we had preheated the oven but with no power what were we going to do? Luckily there was the barbecue outside and we lit it up and got the Christmas turkey outside on the barby! It was funny seeing the snow falling and the Cape Breton Highlands spread out in the distance while we barbecued a big fat turkey outside sending delicious smells across the lands!

We always bring some healthy bird seeds for the local birds. They come every day to the deck of the cabin and we sit and have our morning hot beverage while the cats watch out the windows and make growling noises at them
We always bring some healthy bird seeds for the local birds. They come every day to the deck of the cabin and we sit and have our morning hot beverage while the cats watch out the windows and make growling noises at them

The weather kept us close to the cabin but in fact it was a real pleasure to stay around the cabin every day. We woke up and fed the birds, had a hot beverage on the deck, had a leisurely breakfast, played a game of Ticket to Ride, went snow-shoeing, came back, played more games, played with the cats…it was totally relaxing! What a great Christmas!

The weather was mild enough for us to enjoy an outdoor picnic during our snow shoe trek along the trails of the Big Hill Retreat.
The weather was mild enough for us to enjoy an outdoor picnic during our snow shoe trek along the trails of the Big Hill Retreat.