There were thunderstorms this morning, which woke me up several times. I never wake up to anything, so they must have been rather strong. I’ve been a light sleeper on this trip, though, I always am when I travel alone, I wonder if there’s some scientific reason for that. When I’m in a house full of people, I can’t be bothered to move. Perhaps it’s some kind of animal instinct? Lets go with that.
I decided that today, since it was supposed to be the gloomiest day, to go to one of my favorite places, EPCOT. The weather doesn’t have to be nice, I’m always sitting in a restaurant or browsing a shop and spending too much money–both which proved to be the case. I don’t think I’ve ever consumed more calories in a single day in my life. I probably have, I’ve told you before that I should be a competitive eater, but I felt like a particularly successful gorger today. Did you know that gorger is an archaic word for throat. #Obvs because gorge means throat in French. (You knew that, right? Tsk…tsk…) English is a weird language.
It took absolutely forever for a bus to pull up to the resort today. Everybody has been talking about it. It’s not really that busy, I guess a lot of schools had their spring breaks last week. I’ve met a lot of Iowans and people from Arkansas, maybe we’re the only ones here? It’d be like a weird episode of The Twilight Zone.
Finally the bus came and I sat next to this awesome old couple. She was 83 and dressed in a sweater with a hand embroidered kitten and bedecked with sequins. She had terribly dyed red hair and she was rocking it with her purple eyeshadow. He was 85 and told me that the easiest way to get rich is to, and I quote, “Bullshit your way through everything, kid.” I wanted them to adopt me. He said that he got through college by writing papers about how professors should get raises. He also said that every day you should have a glass half filled with fresh squeezed orange juice and half filled with rum. I loved them.
I was so busy being in awe of these people that I didn’t even realize we had made it to EPCOT. I pushed past all the losers waiting at bag check and then pushed through all the losers waiting to buy tickets and made my way to the booth where nobody was waiting. People are so dumb. The ticket was hella expensive, but I had a a gift card, so it didn’t really cost me a dime. Winning! They don’t have paper tickets anymore, they’re like credit cards, just like the room tickets that you tap on the door at the resort, you tap them on this glowing orb and walk on in. You could easily sneak in, I think. Don’t try it. (Try it. Let me know how it goes.)
I have always wanted to go on the Behind the Seeds tour, but nobody will ever go with me because nobody seems to like plants as much as I do. So, I went and made a reservation. I convinced the woman at the counter that I was a Disney Vacation Club member and got a discount. I love doing that. My favorite experience is from years ago when Expedition Everest opened up. It was in previews for members when we were there and we convinced the people waiting that we had left our membership card in the room. Loves it. We got lanyards, too. I still have mine somewhere.
I had a little over an hour and a half until my tour, so I went to the World Showcase and into my beloved France for breakfast. More than any of the other countries, this one is, in my opinion, the most authentic, it’s just like being in a posher arrondissement of Paris, it’s quite a lot like the area around the Place Madeleine mixed with a bit of the Île Saint-Louis. They have a fake quay and snobby perfume shops, a good restaurant, a great bakery, and all the people are imported from France. It’s a delight.
The bakery has changed completely since I was here last year, and it’s for the better. The old bakery was cramped and the food selection was rather lame. I remember the baguette was vile and the food tasted like it came from a mediocre boulangerie like that one beneath my apartment on the rue Saint Paul, Malineau, absolutely dreadful place. The bakery is now spacious and located in a completely new building. The selection is also noticeably better quality. It’s not Pierre Hermé by any means, but it’s so much nicer than before. I had a chocolate dome, a raspberry-lemon macaron and a mimosa. I only spoke in French, too, because I can. Everything was wonderful. The macaron was even decently matured, but I’m not a huge fan of big macarons with whole fruits inside that you have to eat with cutlery, they’re a finger pastry.
I wandered back outdoors and decided to have a ratatouille tart and a Grand Marnier slush, because, YOLO (it’s back!). I sat myself next to the river and somehow struck up a conversation with the two ladies next to me. We were all talking about how good the food was and what we do. They were nurses. They were intrigued that I was a baker and insisted that I have half of their quiche florentine. Normally, I would find this odd, but I had already had two drinks. It was a great quiche. They wanted me to have some of their baguette too because I was too thin. I loved them, too. What a marvelous compliment! The baguette has improved tremendously. I was thoroughly impressed.
I slowly wandered back through England and stopped for some hot tea. It was hot out, but whatever, YOLO! I had lemon green tea and I’m going to have to get some when I return home. It’s marvelous.
I made it to my tour just in time to go and I was thrilled from the onset. We went back through an employee area, which is always interesting to see and into the lab. We were given a vial of ladybugs to release whenever we’d like to on the tour. I was disgusted, I hate those little effers.
They aren’t cute. They aren’t adorable. They’re awful. They’re such a nuisance back home. I don’t remember when we released the Asian beetles in Iowa, but even if they’re eating aphids, I don’t care. They’re absolutely everywhere. They smell. They stain things. They always get in the house. They fly in your mouth. They land in your drinks. They refuse to die. They’re hard to vacuum. They’re just the worst. I was appalled. But, whatever.
We saw different examples of insect damage and the insects that did the terrible work. There is a little wasp that flies around the greenhouse that is no bigger than a gnat. I never knew they could be that small.
We saw the hydroponic gardens, which I adore, and the biggest sensitive plant that I’ve ever seen.
Nobody on the tour knew what it was, so I dramatically slapped it and listened to them all gasp as the leaves immediately shut up. I adore those things. I’ve planted some seeds at home to grow a new one, but they aren’t germinating, I’m not sure what the trouble seems to be. Perhaps they will have done something by the time I get home.
I was entranced by the tomato tree–exactly what it sounds like–and the other methods of tomato production. The snip off all the side growth and leave it on one main vine that they let grow ridiculously long and coil up. It was fantastic.
There was a pomelo the size of my head and I wanted it. I love pomelos. For being a greenhouse, they were very stingy with samples, all we got was a slice of cucumber. I hate cucumbers, but these were actually pretty good. I still don’t care for them. Lots of plants and then we went into a fish farm, which I found terrifying. I don’t care if you eat meat, but it was awful to see them all being grown to be eaten. What a sad life to live in a tank.
These are olive trees. My sister didn’t know that olive oil came from olives. Isn’t that…something?
I want all the rosemary!
GUYS, THERE WERE ALLIGATOR BABIES!
I squealed like I had just seen Tom Daley.
Don’t judge me. You would, too. Don’t lie to yourself.
Everybody looked at me. I can’t help it, I love alligators. They were about 18 inches long and absolutely adorable. I wanted to hold one. The guide said it would bite me. I said I don’t care. She said no. Whatever. These ones were being raised for their skin and their meat. I got a bit sniffly. Can you have a pet alligator? Can you tame one? Will you send me one?
PEPPERCORN! I love peppercorn so much that it’s stupid.
After the fish farm, we went into the tropical room, which was my favorite. There were banana trees and peppercorn vines and cinnamon trees and pineapples and dragon fruit and more. It was heaven. So many things that I need to try! I learned that white pepper is not a separate variety of pepper, it’s just hulled black pepper. Mind blown!
On the way out, she showed us a tree that grows miracle fruit. That’s the berry that you eat and then you can eat a lemon and it tastes like lemonade. I made sure I was last out and plucked one off the tree and surreptitiously put it in my pocket. Sad ending, though, I sat on it and it squished and I didn’t get to try it. Worst evil plan ever.
The tour was soon over and I went back out to explore the countries. I spent like, two minutes in the Canadian pavilion because Canada is lame. They have, maybe two shops and a steakhouse. No thanks. It’s pretty, though.
I wandered around the Twinings tea garden in England for some time looking at all the different plants they used to develop their flavors. Good fun, that. I bought a new teacup that has the Queen’s face on it. My old favorite teacup is not doing so well. It’s an antique from a Freemason lodge, but it has a little crack in it, and I don’t want it to grow any more.
I went through France again and then into Morocco. I have got to go here someday. Everybody is good looking. I went to the pastry shop and was looking around when the guy behind the counter asked me what I wanted, I’m thinking, “YOU,” in my head, but I got a chocolate-raspberry-date cake that was equally delicious.
I sat out in their souk and admired the architecture. I love the tiles and the fountains and absolutely everything. I want to remodel my bathroom to look like it’s in the middle of Marrakech. Wouldn’t that be the end? What does that mean?
I wandered around the shops for awhile, but didn’t let myself buy any of the lovely brassware. No room in my bag, sadly.
From Morocco was JAPAN! It’s been my favorite for years and years and years. For me, the epicenter of all joy in EPCOT is found at the china shop at Mitsukoshi. I am absolutely obsessed with that store and cannot wait for my eventual trip to Japan so that I can go into a real one. I’ll probably pass out.
I love Japanese culture and their customer service and their kimonos and their quirky products. There used to be a Mitsukoshi in Paris, but it of course closed before I got to experience it. To get my Japanese fix in when I’m in Paris, I go to their cultural center next to the Bir-Hakeim Métro shop. Heavenly place. I bought several new plates to add to my already enormous collection of Japanese china. When I finally move, it’s going to take a massive amount of newspaper to wrap everything up. Then, I’m going to need one hell of a china cabinet.
“Est-ce que vous passez le temps heureux?” Do you spend your time happy? Do you?
The so called American Adventure is after Japan and it’s utterly pointless. Waste of space, really. I don’t know why they don’t offer some shops and quality restaurants and interesting cultural things. We have a very interesting country, why do they insist on showcasing colonial Philadelphia? Nothing wrong with this, of course, but all these countries are showcasing their nation, not a time period. I just think it’s dumb and scurried off to Italy.
I’ve become disenchanted with the Italian pavilion. It’s just not charming anymore. They use to have Alfredo’s, which was the best restaurant in the entirety of the Disney parks. Now to get your authentic alfredo fix, you have to either go to the restaurant off of Fifth Avenue in New York City or fly to Rome and go to the original one there. I’ve been to them both. They were supposed to have one in Los Vegas, but I don’t think it ever took off. Anyway, the shops never change. I spritzed myself with expensive cologne and wondered why Lavazza or Illy didnt open an espresso bar. There is an amazing Lavazza shop in Chicago, I’m sure it would do well. Whatevs.
I didn’t do anything by make small talk with the Germans. By small talk, I mean small, I’m limited to maybe five expressions in German and I scurry off before they realize I’m not fluent. “Wie geht es, Nutte?”
There’s nothing to do in this weird little African section, so I scurried off to Norway or China, I can’t recall the order, lets say Norway. I’ve always meant to try their bakery, so I went in there and had the most delightful snack. I ordered the vegetable soufflé and Voss water, one of my favorites.
The soufflé consisted of eggs (#obvs), potatoes, mushrooms, spinach, and various cheeses. It was excellent. I really enjoyed that one and recommend it to you all.
In China, I wandered around the shop and read all about the year of the snake. That’s me. I’m the perfect snake, too. All the qualities fit me exactly. I’m vain, seductive, devious, thoughtful, and all those other things. I’m also a perfect Leo. There’s something to astrology, I’m telling you. You know who else is a Leo and a snake like me? I bet you know. I’ve told you a hundred times. My idol, Martha Stewart! How weird is that? (Weird, I know!)
Mexico is the last stop, and I thought a margarita sounded nice. I think they always sound nice. I love them, but the ones they were selling outside didn’t look like anything special, so I decided to pass and go into the pyramid. Inside, it looks like your in the middle of–I forgot the word–the town square? There’s a word for it in Spanish. I know this. I know a lot of Spanish. Thinking…thinking…thinking. Playa? No, that’s beach. Is it plaza? I don’t think so. Whatever it is, it looks like that. There were all the normal shops, but behind the stairs was a tequila bar. Has that always been there? I sauntered right in there and ordered a blood orange margarita with wild berry foam and sweet chile rim. Delicious!
I wanted to stay there and try all the varieties and eat chips and salsa all day long. I could, too. I love chips. I love salsa. I love cheese dip. I love margaritas. Let me tell you, that was a strong one, I believe I said, “Gracias para todo, mi amigo,” to the bartender on my way out. Whatever I said, he seemed amused.
At that point, I realized two things. 1) That last tweet/Facebook status (“There’s a tequila bar here. Bye.”) was a poor way to sign off before my phone died. Now everybody probably thinks I’m passed out drunk in a bar. 2) I’m the most fun person in the world.
I decided to go on the Test Track. Everybody is crazy about this ride, but I’ve never cared. If I wanted to go sixty five miles an hour in a convertible, I would just get a convertible and go for a drive, I don’t get the appeal. It’s completely changed, too. It used to have this lame little story about test driving different cars in different environments. There were bad jokes and we all laughed. No laughs anymore. It’s all serious and looks like you’re inside of a computer. I didn’t care for it.
Ellen’s Energy Adventure, to my eternal heartache, was closed for the day. I love that ride, I love Ellen. There wasn’t much else to do, so I went into Innovations, I haven’t been in there since I was in Middle School. Interesting place. I did this thing where you create your own roller coaster and then go on a simulator. That was pretty cool, I was flipping around all over the place.
The Garden Festival made EPCOT look even prettier than normal, so I looked at the flowers and watched a butterfly hatch.
I did a lot of research later that night about butterflies. I was really stumped by them. I understand that they are caterpillars and become butterflies, but are they a completely different animal? Do they have the same organs? What goes on in that cocoon? My brain hurts thinking about it. The caterpillar digests itself basically and metamorphoses using only a tiny bit of tissue that remains the same.
I couldn’t think of anything else to do, so I went backwards through the countries to eat some more, I didn’t want to miss a thing. So I went back to Morocco for their falafel and attractive people. Dinner came with a couscous salad and a lentil salad and it was amazing. The falafel was so much better than the one I had at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Weird. I thanked another one of the ridiculously good looking waiters in my limited Arabic, “Chokrun,” which impressed him. But he was even more impressed when I left with a (I don’t have a clue how this is spelled in Latin letters, but here’s the phonetics), “Ma’asalemma. Misa il kiayr.” Suck it, bitches, I thought to the guests who looked at me curiously. I think it’s very important to learn languages. Even a few pleasantries are sure to come in handy someday. They make you look worldly. Besides you can listen to people talk about you. They think I’m Canadian in France.
I wasn’t hungry at all, so I went back to the bakery where I ordered a chocolate mousse tart. Excellent. I didn’t care to stay and watch the fireworks, which I’ve seen dozens of times, so I made my way to the busses before being deluged by the other guests. I was surrounded by Arkansas people at the bus and was amused by the conversation with a young girl and her mother. They reminded me very much of Honey Boo Boo and Mama June, so of course I loved them. The daughter was sad that she wasn’t wearing her mermaid outfit, but decided it was okay just to wear the mermaid makeup. The mother said, “Darling, you’re still a mermaid on your face and in your heart.” It could have been the several drinks I had consumed, but this was the sweetest thing I’d ever heard.
I sat next to a woman on the bus who has been to all the Disney parks around the world. We commiserated about how lame the Hollywood Studios are in Paris and then she told me all about the Disneyland in Hong Kong, which looks amazing. She and her husband have season passes to all the parks. I was impressed. He does something where he goes everywhere and she doesn’t have to work. Jealous.
Back at the resort, I walked the half mile to my room and about burst into tears when my key refused to work. I assumed that the park ticket had in some way interfered with the room key and begrudgingly went back to the lobby. It was a very dramatic scene that followed.
For some reason, my reservation was split into two separate parts for the exact same room. Nobody knows why. I had a reservation for two nights and then for one night. I don’t known why these weren’t consolidated into one. It was very annoying. Fai was very confused and concerned when it said that I had already been checked out and had a key for the night. Of course this wasn’t true, so we logically concluded that I had an evil twin staying in the room. I had to talk to two managers and they all seemed to think I planned it that way, that’s stupid. I’ll probably write an email when I get back home. I was issued a new key and went back to my room where it had been cleaned, but all my things were still in their proper place.
Stressed, I went down to the Sanaa lounge, which was like an upscale episode of Cheers. “My friend!” the bartender shouted as I walked in. Friendly people, I thought. There was a very drunk man at the bar, so I obviously sat next to him so that I could listen to his strange conversation. Total redneck from Dexter, Iowa. He and the bartender called me Ogden. The drunk told me all about a four wheeler he had bought from some guy in Ogden. I had some lemony drink and then coffee. I scribbled out my postcards and finally made my way to bed.
My phone was flashing and I had a message saying that I had left my debit card at the bar. I wasn’t that drunk. I’d pick it up in the morning.