We were finally on vacation, officially at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida and this was our first venture without a rental car, so the shuttle bus dropped us off at the hotel. Since we were staying on the grounds our room keys were even souvenirs and allowed us to get into the park earlier and on some rides to get preferential admission. My Bride was all excited and chomping at the bit, but from the time that we booked the trip in January to today, the world changed and the parks had shorter hours. After we unpacked, we wandered around our hotel a bit and we didn’t have any dinner reservations for the first night, as I wasn’t sure how to schedule the time, between luggage pickup, getting onto the hotel shuttle and checking in. We decided to go and check out Universal’s CityWalk. There were two ways to go to the CityWalk from our hotel, we could either walk a path or take one of the many water taxis that connect all of the ground’s hotels with the park. The CityWalk was on both sides of the waterway and at the entrance to the amusement parks. We took one of the water taxis and we had to go through a metal detector, just another sign of the times; and we also had to have a mask on while on the grounds, though there were times when I was a rebel, though when you are at a tourist destination it is rather difficult to find safe havens from people and it must have made it difficult for smokers.
We wandered around the CityWalk which was full of restaurants and shops and basically all geared for families. The restaurants were popular priced with a mix of chains and non-chains locations; later on, I found out that almost every restaurant on the grounds was owned by Universal or were in partnership with them there. There was Sushi and Mexican food, and of course a Margarita at Margaritaville, which sounded very tempting, but we have eaten at a couple of their restaurants elsewhere and we wanted someplace new. We decided to go to a place that we almost went to once on the island of Maui, but opted to go to the Ritz instead, I guess the Raconteur is a bit of a food and wine snob or can be when he gets a chance. We were very tired from all of the day’s activities, but we made it. We went and had dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. a chain that is based on characters from the film Forrest Gump. My Bride had the Shrimp New Orleans, which was grilled shrimp with a “New Orleans sauce,” garlic bread and steamed rice. I had the Lt. Dan’s Surf & Turf, which was Baby Back Ribs, grilled shrimp and French fries; after I was assured that the ribs would fall off the bone, and yes, I am a pain, no matter the restaurant. I also decided on the dish, because I admire all of the dedicated charity work that the actor, who portrayed Lt. Dan has done on his free time.
I contacted another person that I know through Social Media to find out if Florida has a similar law like in Michigan as to whether one can take an unfinished bottle of wine after it has been resealed out of the restaurant. She wasn’t sure, but she checked and found out that it was possible and even sent me a synopsis of the law on a legal site. That made me happy to learn and we took advantage of the ruling to have some wine back in our room, since we had a refrigerator, and in comparison, wine is cheaper than Coke or Pepsi on the grounds of Universal. So, we had a bottle of Fetzer Sundial Chardonnay California 2018. Fetzer Vineyards maintains a large selection of varietal wines from California and they were early pioneers in sustainable practices. The family originally bought a ranch in the Redwood Valley in 1958 and eventually converted the barn into a winery and they had their first commercial vintage in 1968. They were also the first winery to run entirely on renewable energy, and they also produce the organic wine label Bonterra which is vinified at Fetzer. In 1992 the Fetzer family sold the winery and label to the Chilean wine corporation Concha y Toro. In 1999, they moved to a facility in Mendocino County, but almost all of the wines that they produce carry the California appellation. This wine was fermented in Stainless Steel with a mix of new French and American oak which allowed completed malolactic fermentation. For an affordable wine, it offered a nice mix of toast and buttery finish and paired quite nicely with our meals, not to mention it was nice back in the room as well. I am glad to say that my Bride was able to sleep the night through and was ready for a couple of days of magical adventure.