Tøyen parkrun (Oslo)

After we booked our weekend in Oslo I had a little look for parkruns, knowing that the Nordic countries have a few (there’s 5 in Norway) so I was happy to see that there was one in Oslo, Tøyen parkrun.  As I previously mentioned, we were travelling hand luggage only, and the hotel had breakfast included, so logistically I couldn’t get back after running it in time for breakfast, and also couldn’t pack a load of winter running kit, so I decided I would walk it. It was a 9.30 start, so plenty of time to have breakfast first and make my way there.

Our hotel was on the same street as the train station, and it was only two stops, but I still managed to have a panic about getting on the wrong train and was messaging Andy from the platform (the line split later, so some of them were labelled as going via certain stations, with some of them mentioning the one I needed and some of them not)- I needn’t have worried as they all went there. Once at the station I loaded up google maps and followed directions for the Munch museum as that was in the same park. Maps estimated a 7 min walk (and this was 9.20 so I was a bit worried), but as I came out of the underpass I could see the high viz jackets, bright signs and people meeting- always a relief!

The meeting place was by the big rock/sculpture in the centre of the park- easy to spot from the road.

I was a bit nervous about turning up to walk- I didn’t even have trainers on as I only had my snow boots with me. I had checked the results pages on previous weeks and they had people doing it in 50 mins to 1 hr 15, so I knew the volunteers would be prepared to stand in the cold for that long. The paths were a little slippery in places, but some of them had been gritted, and as there was lots of grass you could usually walk on the grass and avoid the pavements when needed.

The course was a small lap from the middle and then 3 laps around the park. The RD did the run brief in English, and said there was a little hill. They had cancelled the previous week, and he explained that they considered it because of the ice, but that the Norwegians were used to it, so if you were not used to it you should be careful as they didn’t want any injuries. The hill turned out to be a very short steep slope leading from a grassy field back up to the main path (not easy when walking so I imagine super tough when running, especially as you had to do that part 4 times). Before it started I chatted to a couple of tourists- one of them was debuting his 250 shirt and had posted in the parkrun tourist facebook group beforehand- it turned out most of the people I chatted to were from near me- Milton Keynes, Cheshunt and the South-East.

Once we started, I was keeping an eye out for the tail walker (as Andy put it, “you will have to make friends with the person who walks at the back”) but there was someone else walking a little behind me. I wanted to keep warm so I walked quickly where I could. I had opted for trousers, thermal top, jumper and my Run Disney jacket (it’s warm but thin) plus hat and scarf- Andy was bringing my big coat later as is really bulky and I thought it would annoy me while walking. This turned out to be fine because I did get warm but didn’t ever need to take any layers off.

It was so beautiful, so as well as slowing on the icy parts, I took a few photos as I went around. The higher point of the course looked across the city, and in the early morning light it was just stunning. I think the sun appeared on my final lap! There was only one marshal out on the course, but plenty of signs and cones so you couldn’t really go wrong. I said thanks to him in the first lap, but I don’t think he realised I was actually taking part in the parkrun until he saw me the second time around as I wasn’t in running gear. In the middle I was being lapped by all the runners, but by the end I was out there on my own and couldn’t see the tail walker either (they only finished 4 minutes behind me). As I came to the finish and crossed the line, the finish token and timer people were chatting, and one of them said “oh, are you doing the parkrun?” and when I said I was, they said “oh cool”, and beeped the timer and gave me a token- I had my watch in case I needed to show (but of course that’s me being irrational!).

Andy messaged to say he as getting the train when I was going into the final lap, and as I passed the bottom part of the park he was crossing the road so came to the middle to meet me and of course I needed a picture with the frame.

My official time was 51:09 and for my 219th parkrun, 68th event and 5th country. I was really glad to have been able to do it, as it was such a pretty start to the day. As soon as I stopped I got a bit cold so we were glad of the museum close by  to have a look around and warm up (and use the toilets).

I think that is the snowiest parkrun I’ve been to- we have had some lovely frosty mornings, and I have been to Panshanger in the snow- they don’t tend to need to cancel because the paths are all off road so don’t get very icy compared to normal paths in parks.

Have you run a parkrun in the snow or ice? Does your parkrun often cancel in the winter?

Oslo Christmas markets (and museums)

Herts schools have something called an Occasional Day, which it appears neighbouring counties don’t get- basically a day off to be taken when the school wishes (I think historically it was to do with not being at work on Boxing Day so having a day off in lieu of that?)- usually ours gets added onto the summer holidays but this year it was on the final Friday in November (the last time this happened we went to Copenhagen for the weekend)- as we love a Christmas market of course we had to book something. The original plan was Munich, to see the markets there and then to go to Nuremberg on the Saturday, but Easy Jet cancelled our flights so we decided to head to Oslo instead.

Heavy snow and cold temperatures were predicted so my decision was made- snow-boots it was!

Andy picked me up from work and we went straight to Heathrow – we got dinner in Pret (my favourite) after going through security- this was their vegan Christmas sandwich and it was really tasty with roasted butternut squash, stuffing, cranberry sauce and toasted pecans. So good.

Our flight landed fairly late but it was easy to get the train (the normal commuter trains go from the airport and are cheaper than the express trains). There was so much snow as we were coming into land- just seeing the fir trees laden with snow made me feel so excited!

When I was little we lived in Denmark for a bit and made some of these little heart pouches- I saw lots of them in Oslo and have since downloaded a template so I can have a go at making some more.

Our hotel did breakfast (a really lovely one, with so many vegan or gluten free options) so after we had that we headed out for a wander around the city. After walking into the centre, admiring the central Christmas market and walking down to the water, we got a tram out to the sculpture garden- best to enjoy it in the light! (It was only light from 9.30 to around 3). The city centre had only a dusting of snow, but in the park it was proper deep snow. Honestly, we could not have been there on a better day- the low winter sunlight made everything look even more beautiful.

The light, I just love it.

There were some interesting sculptures too, but mainly I just loved seeing all the snow and trees.

Once back in the city we walked to the castle, saw the changing of the guards, then walked back to the water, as there was a fort there.

We’d got an Oslo pass, which included transport and museum entry (we had ordered them online and just collected them from the tourist information centre in the train station), so we went to the Resistance Museum, which was really interesting.  I had heard a podcast recently about the teachers refusing to  teach the Nazi propaganda, so it was interesting to find out a bit more.

After popping back to the hotel for a cup of tea, we headed out to the Christmas markets in the dark. (We tried to buy something with cash, which was left over from a trip several years ago, and it turned out that in October they got new bank notes so we had to visit a bank to have it converted).

There was a central one, and then one run by the people who herd reindeer (Sami ) with lots of things made from bone, fur and so on. All the markets had these fire pits so you could stand by them to warm up a bit.

We ended up going to Leon for dinner, and had bought a delicious school bun from a bakery to share for dessert. (We have only had these before in the Norway pavilion at Epcot- cardamom buns with vanilla custard and toasted coconut).

Pancakes and fruit for breakfast/ cinnamon bun and school bun/ chia fruit pot at breakfast

On the Saturday after breakfast I got the train a few stops along to the parkrun- I will do a separate post on that. I walked it as I didn’t have space in my hand luggage for trainers and a load of running gear (layers would be needed), and as our hotel did breakfast and Norway is pretty expensive and parkrun doesn’t start until 9.30 if I waited until after running to eat, they wouldn’t be serving any more. A few factors! The Munch Museum with lots of Edvard Munch’s paintings was in the same park as the parkrun, so Andy met me there after, and we had a wander around. It was fairly small, but they are moving to a bigger site. I had only seen his Scream painting before, so it was good to see some others- there were some beautiful ones of the landscape with huge pine trees.

Then it was time to get properly into the Christmas spirit- we got the train to the centre and then a bus out to the open air museum (Norsk Folkemuseum), as it also hosts a huge Christmas market. There were big crowds there- lots of locals going as well as tourists, which is one of the elements of the Germanic Christmas markets that I really love.

The main church had amazing ornate wood carvings all over it

The main square had a huge Christmas tree and loads of stalls around the edge, and then as you walked around the museum (which was huge) there were loads of stalls, food stalls, children dancing, big fire pits to warm up by and so many pretty decorations.

I bought a couple of decorations, although I couldn’t buy marzipan because you had to have an app to buy from that stall.

That pig is made of marzipan- it was huge!

We treated ourselves to a hot chocolate as the temperature was much colder that day.

Near the market were lots of museums, so we visited them afterwards as it was getting dark- the Viking Ship Museum (people had been buried in the ships, a bit like being buried in a pyramid, with lots of artefacts, and they had been discovered 100 or so years ago and preserved), the museum all about Polar Exploration (again, so interesting, and with the actual boat inside the museum as well as lots of exhibits) and a museum about the Kon-Tiki, a raft that crossed the Pacific). We got good value from our Oslo passes, and it was good to have some indoor things to do when it was so cold outside.

By then it was dark so we popped back to the hotel for a tea and to warm up, and then headed out for a final wander around the shops and the Christmas market. There was a big ice skating rink and it seemed everyone there was an expert!

On Sunday we had a fairly early flight so after breakfast we headed straight to the airport. The countryside was covered in snow and as we whizzed past on the train I felt like I was in The Snowman. I’d had a few busy weeks at work and so this just felt like the perfect antidote to all of that- so much fresh air and beautiful scenery. I felt so festive when I got home- time to crack out the Christmas playlist on Spotify!

Have you been to Norway? Do you like going to Christmas markets or museums? 

Off to Brighton again!

After saying how much I preferred running on Mondays, the next week I ran on Tuesday instead because on Monday I was meeting a friend for dinner straight after work.  We went to Bill’s and had a lovely catch up, so it was worth the mixing up of days.

On Tuesday I had a 3 mile run, and Wednesday a 4 mile run (no yoga that week).  I was due to have a late training course on Thursday but it was cancelled at the last minute so I headed home and used the time to catch up on other work bits ahead of our weekend away, because we were (surprise surprise) off to Brighton!

We got the train down on Friday night, and of course I was off to parkrun on Saturday morning.

I had opted for Hove Prom, as it was slightly closer to the hotel, but also I am working on my p-index (it’s at 5 currently, which means I have been to 5 parkruns at least 5 times) and needed to go to Hove Prom to begin getting it to number 6. These little challenges keep me busy!

I was surprised to see rain when I left the hotel as it wasn’t forecast, but thankfully it wasn’t heavy. I got to the seafront with about 10 minutes to spare and kept my hoodie on until the last possible moment- there was a really cold wind.

I started fairly slowly (and somehow ended up in the finish funnel behind some walkers so couldn’t overtake for a bit) but sped up in the cold wind. I had wished I’d brought gloves with me. Anyway I enjoyed it (it’s two laps out and back along the prom, starting in the middle) and when I finished the guy behind me asked the time as he saw me stopping my watch. My time was 27:24 which I was pleased with but very surprised when I got the text through congratulating me on a course pb- for some reason I thought I had run faster there, but when I looked it up it was Preston Park I was thinking of. Time to celebrate!

I met Andy at the Cafe Coho closest to our hotel and enjoyed a delicious breakfast of pancakes, and then headed back for a shower.

After a pop into Bird& Blend to pick up a drink (I went for a snowball latte which is made with their snowball tea- chocolate and coconut- plus vegan marshmallows) we walked along the seafront to Hove. Back in the town we picked up a wrap to share from Pret, and then stopped for tea and cake a bit later. I managed to make a start on Christmas shopping, and we went to the Hotel Chocolat cafe for a drink (although weirdly they would not serve the drink without the cocoa whip, but served it on the side??).

We got a takeaway pizza- this vegan one is soo tasty with pesto and veggies.

I got my race things ready and painted my nails (I love the five-free nail polish) and we had popped to Gail’s to pick up a Christmas bun so had that in the evening too.

On Sunday morning it was such luxury to be able to get up not long before the race started- you had to be in the pens at 9.20am, and our hotel was maybe 10 mins walk. I’d chosen to wear a long sleeved top in the end (my Run Disney one).

The race starts near the pier and you run west along to Hove for just over 2 miles, turn around and run east for 3 and a half miles, past the start line and then turn back and run west again for the final half a mile or so. It’s super fast and flat, but I didn’t think I’d be going for a pb (particularly with getting a course one at parkrun the day before). I really enjoyed it- at one point I was running and thought I saw someone spectating who I followed on instagram, and as I was looking a runner next to me commented “you look relaxed” (which Andy later found hilarious as I am the most un-relaxed person ever)- I replied thanks and that I was enjoying it, and that I liked his tutu (he was wearing a tutu). It was good to hear and it made me think a little more about race motivation. This route is a fab one for a pb (I think all my 10k pb’s have some from this course) but this run is a great reason to visit Brighton for the weekend, and I just love running by the sea and seeing all the crowd support and so on.

My 10k pb is 54:11 (from this time last year) and this year I was around 55:18 but a few years before that I was trying hard to get in under a hour (and my first 10k was 70 mins). Looking at my splits after nearly all my miles were under 9 minutes, so it was nice to see that I was running as this faster speed and feeling more comfortable (it wasn’t easy, but I wasn’t totally wiped out for the day either).

Andy met me at the finish line and had bought an almond croissant for my breakfast, so we headed back to the hotel, made a tea while I had a shower and then I could enjoy breakfast.

After a walk around the town we headed to Leon for lunch- we have our order perfected- two veggie burgers, one portion of waffle fries and one pot of hummus to dip the fries into. So good.

And of course I had to pop to Bird & Blend to get a drink for the train (this time, a classic chai latte).

I chilled out listening to the film podcast on the way home (and may have fallen asleep at a few points too), and then once home it was time to unpack and then watch a bit of TV- such a great weekend.

Look at the gorgeous festive tea tin! (And the Christmas room spray).

Are there races that you like to do again and again? Are you always chasing pb’s or do you run to enjoy them? Dare I ask if you have started your Christmas shopping?

Christmas Disney!

Last year I was very excited when we went to Magic Kingdom on our penultimate day and found some of the Christmas decorations were already up, so this year I wanted to see the again. We had seen hints of the decorations- Disney Springs had big Happy Holidays posters to stand in front of, and Hollywood Studios had Christmas window displays, and after our anniversary dinner we’d seen the beginning of the gingerbread house.

Due to the final Halloween party being on the Friday, it meant to Saturday was the only option for us to see them. We headed to MK for a bit to go on a few rides, have a giant cinnamon roll, and of course admire the decorations.

By chance I had wanted a final go on Jungle Cruise (side note- have you seen the trailer for this yet? Because you know, Disney needs to make a film for every single ride…) as I love their puns. As we were waiting, I noticed that a candy cane had been put over the u, so it said “Jingle Cruise” instead of “Jungle Cruise”. As we moved through the queue it turned out they had made it all Christmas themed- one of the barrels waiting to go on was full of eggnog, and the boats had been re-named.

The jokes on the ride had all changed too- honestly it made my day!

We walked from MK to the Contemporary hotel, as I had seen online that the gingerbread house had been finished. (I follow Disney Parks Blog and Disney Food Blog on Insta and it cheers me up when I am at home to see all the wondrous things that are happening over there…)

It did not disappoint! There were Hidden Mickeys to find as well as characters from Frozen and Small World, plus the shop was open. We bought a pebble (a roof tile) and a peppermint chocolate cookie to take home, and a little ornament (as we stayed in the hotel last year so it seemed like it was allowed…). They even did vegan gingerbread cake- I am really so impressed with all the options now.

Oh, and after that we got the Monorail to Epcot and guess what? In the first shop we went into, they had the aqua ears in stock (my pink ones were packed)- so now I have two sets of Minnie Ears! We’re off to Disneyland Paris in December so I will have to wear them over my hat!

I also got an Olaf mug- inside it says “I like warm hugs” so I feel it will be perfect for warm wintery drinks- as well as a few scented candles. When you are leaving the sunshine behind to come back to dark and cold days, you need these things to make it a little better!

Look- the aqua ears!

I totally love Christmassy things, although I do feel a bit humbug when mince pies appear in September- I want it to be special so it can’t last that long. But a bonus of going to Disney in October half term has been to see the start of their decorations (without the crazy crowds of actual Christmas in Disney), and now it’s a few weeks later and only maybe 5 weeks until Christmas, I feel like I can start to feel a bit festive.

When do you start to feel all festive? At this time I am all over the Christmas snacks but actual decorations at home need to wait until December. I actually saw a tree up in a house today!

A trip to Florida- running, riding, snacks and sunshine

Some of you may know that this time last year the two of us went to Florida for the week, and while we were out there, got married (in the Botanical Gardens), and as luck would have it my half term was a week later than lots, so we managed to score fairly reasonable flights to go back to celebrate our anniversary.

Dole Whip features a fair bit…

We had to connect via Miami (which was super stressful because although we had 2.5 hours, we had to clear immigration, collect our bags, re-drop the bags and then re-go through security- we made it with 10 mins to spare!). But all the stress was worth it when we got to the parks bright and early the next morning! Although I am not a big Halloween fan (I much prefer the Day of the Dead idea) I do love the “fall” decorations, with the autumnal leaves and coloured banners everywhere.

Plus lots of people were going to the not so scary Mickey Halloween parties (you had to get extra tickets for these) so there were lots of costumes and t-shirts to admire.

And all the hotels had pumpkin carving competitions- how amazing is the Moana one?

Pretty much every day we did 2 parks- playing the fast pass system like pros! In the app you can book a certain number each day (and some are higher tiers than others) but once you have tapped in to the ride, you can then log on and get more, so we had different parks each morning to make sure we’d get on all the big rides, and then would go to a different park for the afternoon/evening to see the fireworks show, and book the fast-passes that day.

Any trip to Disney also includes a list of must-eat snacks (more on those later).

I loved my Minnie-Mouse themed Magic Band- these work as your room key, park ticket and fastpass ticket, and as they can be reused I got a patterned one.

I went out for a run around the lake on a couple of mornings- it always looked beautiful as the sun was just coming up.

We stayed in Art of Animation, which is across the lake from Pop Century, and you can run the entire lap (just over a mile for one lap).

Lots of them had very cool “wraps” on the outside- I particularly liked the Olaf one.

Now the Skyliner (the little cable cars) run from there to Epcot and Hollywood Studios so it’s a pretty good location. One day I timed the journey (to compare it to the hotel bus or driving) and it was 18 minutes from the park to our hotel- you had to change at Caribbean Beach but that was maybe a 20m walk from getting off one to getting on the next one). I was a bit sceptical about them, as they have no air-con, but when moving there is a nice breeze coming in through the air vents and they are tinted. When they stopped it was another thing, and I am not sure I’d be happy inside a stopped one in August.

Our block was Little Mermaid themed- even the shower tiles were made to look like Ariel’s grotto!

At this time of year Epcot hosts the Food and Wine festival which is really fantastic.

I love the guacamole from the Mexico place in Epcot

All around the world showcase are extra mini buildings themed to different places (eg the Alps/ Mexico) and each one serves 3 or 4 small dishes (for around $4) and a range of wine, beer and non-alcoholic drinks. You can get a little leaflet with all the menus, and although we heard some people complaining that the portion sizes were small, we shared them and they were pretty good to try- a bit like tapas or something.

Epcot also do Dole Whip during the festival so of course we had one (no float though- boo).

Some of the stands even had little recipes so you could recreate it at home.

I bought a strawberry smoothie as Andy had bought a frozen lemonade with whisky, and my drink came with a mini doughnut in the top!

The other reason we had gone was because the new Star Wars land had opened in Hollywood Studios. Andy is a huge Star Wars fan and he had been really looking forward to it. One evening we went to the Cantina, where they served themed cocktails (mine was a fruity mocktail) and the DJ was the robot from the old Star Tours rides! Pretty fun!

The land was impressively themed, with huge (life size?) models of the various spaceships and lots of extra bits going on. The new ride was also so much fun, although when we first went on it I didn’t realise that the pilots actually controlled the simulator!  Before you went in you were given a little card (pull joystick left to turn left, forward to go down etc) and as you are in there, voices come on saying “left pilot, follow the bus”, buttons light up to launch various things and you can even pull the lever to jump to light speed!

Delicious Mexican bowl of rice, beans, salsa, corn, vegan cheese, guacamole, tomatoes and crunchy tortilla chips

At the end of our first turn I realised that my joystick only went forwards or back, and Andy’s only went left or right- which is why I was having trouble using it! But it was such good fun, we went on it twice more during the holiday (once being engineers- sitting further back and pressing lots of buttons when they flashed, and then being pilots so we swapped so Andy could be on the right and jump to light speed).

Highlights from each park:

Magic Kingdom: Our snacks of choice; Dole Whip float (Dole Whip on pineapple juice), ice-cream cookie sandwich from Main Street, this year with added peanut butter sauce which improves it 100%, and the giant cinnamon roll from Gaston’s Bakery (yes you need to share, and no you don’t need extra icing despite what you read on the internet). So. Good. 

Philharmagic is one of my favourite rides (shows?), the Buzz Lightyear ride is always fun (although not as clever as the Toy Story one in Hollywood Studios), the classics such as Small World and Carousel of Progress will never get old, The Little Mermaid ride is a good gentle one, Haunted Mansion is always funny (and is never busy at other times of year but at Halloween it’s crazy popular!), the Enchanted Tiki room is always quite funny (and right by the Dole Whip stand), Pirates is a classic and I shall never tire of the hilarious/ awful puns on the Jungle Cruise. Andy did persuade me to try the Mine Train ride, because I don’t like drops (I can just about manage the drop on Pirates) but don’t mind fast or side-to-side, but I didn’t enjoy it so I won’t be going on it again! He goes on Space Mountain and sometimes Splash Mountain, but those are the only rides I avoid. I also loved the new fireworks and projection show there, and the park is so pretty at night (I love the Tangled lantern bit).

Hollywood Studios: This is usually the worst park for good snacks, so often when we went there we would eat elsewhere (one morning we went in early for Star Wars, then headed over to Epcot for a late breakfast in Norway), but we did love the vegan Mexican bowl from one of the counter places, and had that a couple of times.

The new Star Wars ride (Smuggler’s Run) was so much fun– I loved it! I’m not a rollercoaster fan, but it’s a fun simulator and the fact that you get to actually control what goes on and work as a team just added to it so much. The Toy Story ride there is just genius (you get whizzed around an arcade and get to throw plates, fire darts, throw hoops and all sorts (with 3D glasses on, not really) and it’s always good for some friendly competition! The Muppets is always a classic, as well as the original Star Wars (Star Tours) and Little Mermaid. The Star Wars fireworks and projection show was brilliant too. I don’t go on Tower of Terror or Rock n Rollercoaster, but as Andy is a single rider it doesn’t take long for him to go on them while I sit in the sunshine or mooch around a shop.

Animal Kingdom: One bakery did a “colossal cinnamon bun” which we shared- it was good, but not as squishy and gooey as the Gaston one.

As for rides, the new Avatar themed rides are brilliant. Last year I was really nervous before going on Flights of Passage, as I didn’t really understand what it was from reading the description. It’s a simulator, but you sit on a sort of bike thing (that is meant to be a dragon- you can feel it breathing and everything), wearing 3D glasses, and are flown around the Avatar land. On one of our goes a kid next to Andy said to his dad “this is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen”- and it is really stunning. It swoops about a bit, and did make my stomach drop but it was just on the OK side for me. The other ride is a gentle boat ride. The whole theming of the land is impressive- in the dark the floor glows.

Andy enjoyed the Everest ride, and we both love the Lion King show, but after getting too wet on the river rapids ride once, we avoid that one.

Epcot: School bread is now one of the top foods to have- from the Norway bakery. It’s the best selling pastry in the park and no wonder- a delicious cardamom spiced bun filled with custard and topped with toasted coconut. It’s so good and not super sweet like a lot of things- we had them for breakfast on a couple of days. We had a few little things from the Food and Wine stands including a carrot cake, a vegan almond and fruit frozen parfait thing, a chai chocolate ice cream shake and of course Dole whip.


Soarin’ was always my favourite ride, but they have changed it from “over California” to “around the world” and added in a load of CGI which it just didn’t need. These places are beautiful without needing fake animals leaping about. Plus it jumps from place to place without any pattern or sense. It’s still a clever ride (you sit in swinging seats and are lifted up in front of a big screen and moved gently as the video moves around the world), but even the music isn’t as good now. I love the Frozen ride- just a log ride really but the animatronics are so clever and life-like, and the movement of the ride fits with the music from the film. The teeny snowmen are so cute too! Lots of in-jokes to be had on Spaceship Earth (even if Judy Dench does say “math” and not “maths”, the Nemo ride is always fun and I love seeing the rescued manatees. There was an interesting exhibition about how Epcot will be changing (something inspired by Moana, and a Mary Poppins something in the UK section). It did make me miss Ellen’s Energy Adventure- so many funny quotes from that ride. Their fireworks show was a stop-gap between Illuminations finishing (sad face- that was my favourite fireworks show ever) and the new one beginning, and it was a bit weird in places,  but had some clever flying glowing dragon kite things.

We popped to Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) on a few occasions- to get an Earl of Sandwich for a late lunch/ early dinner (what is the brunch equivalent?) and to do a spot of shopping, and one day we sped to a park for a couple of fastpasses, and then headed out to some actual shops (Bath & Bodyworks, Skechers, Old Navy and Lululemon) before heading back to another park. We did also go to the race Expo but I will keep the Run Disney bits in another post as this one is already super long!

As it was out wedding anniversary, we had booked dinner on that day at the California Grill, a restaurant at the top of the Contemporary Hotel. It looks down onto Magic Kingdom, and we went fairly early (5.30 I think?) so the sun was beginning to go down to add to the good views. Their menu has a few veggie options anyway, but they also have a separate plant (vegan) menu where you could choose 4 items and have 4 mini-plates, so I did that and had a rather eclectic but delicious meal of a mini tomato calzone, heirloom tomato  salad, creamed spinach and an avocado and sesame sushi roll. It’s all served with their warm sourdough bread and it was such a lovely meal. Afterwards we wandered downstairs to see the construction of the giant gingerbread house in the lobby- it was already looking impressive.

The view as the sun was going down.

We were lucky with the weather- last year was warm in the day and cool at night, but this year was the warmest October in a long time. Driving from the airport we had torrential rain, and then on the Sunday we got stuck in a downpour at Animal Kingdom (while Andy was on Everest, so we had to shelter in separate places and meet up for our Avatar fast-pass once the rain had eased).

(Before and then during the crazy rain). Apart from that, we had sunny and hot days, and it cooled off to more normal levels literally as we were waiting to start the 5K race.

Last year we did the 10k race on the morning we came home, meaning a 3.30am wakeup. This year we did the 5k which was on the Friday, which meant we could enjoy our final day in the parks a little more. Our flight was a bit stressful as we had a connection in Charlotte of 50 minutes-eek! Thankfully a lot of people on the first plane were connecting, and there was no security or immigration to get through, so we basically got off our plane, walked along the corridor to the next section of gates and found ours- they were boarding Group 8 (and we were Group 7) when we got to the gate, but at least we made it before the final call! I’m getting the hang of overnight flights now- I have some aromatherapy spray to put on my neck pillow and eye mask, and basically as soon as the plane has taken off I put all that on, put on my headphones (they are noise cancelling ones) and either listen to a sleep story on calm, or some music, and don’t take my eye mask off until we are close to landing.

As you can see, we packed a lot in the week, and I certainly don’t go on holiday to sit around!  Most days we were doing close to 30,000 steps

Do you prefer active or relaxing holidays? If you have been to Disney, which is your favourite park, and more importantly what is your favourite holiday snack?