The dawn was promising, and I felt we’d awakened in a luxurious hotel. It is for our modest family, anyway. I’d picked up some watermelon, OJ and donuts for breakfast at a nearby gas station last night. I felt smugly resourceful, and Nikos’ smirking tilted head knew it. We were primed and ready for Epcot, and we planned on staying a full day.
The Dolphin is considered an Epcot hotel, with a boat serving as transportation to a private entrance into the park. This was a treat for all of us with the open air flowing in. The captain even wore white like on the Love Boat. The side with all of countries didn’t open until eleven, so we walked happily around to the giant golf ball, which Nikolas insists is called a “cornwall”. The landscaping was fabulous! The kids were more interested in the ducks, but the flowers were arranged in shapes and with vibrant colors. The weather was perfect, and the park was not overly crowded. we walked on most of the rides, without a wait. I just couldn’t believe how different this visit was compared to three years ago. We had to wait for every single ride for at least an hour last time. The two exceptions were Test Tracks and Soarin’.
I felt a little ancy until we made it over to the countries, which is by far mine and Elizabeth’s very favorite part. We went on the Mexican boat ride, put the three kids up front, and told them their parents were on a date. I love that ride until Donald Duck gets on the screen. Conversely, Nikolas giggled away, highly entertained by the added animation.
Nikos was beginning to growl wanting to eat. The kids wanted Chinese but the choices were such slim pickings we mosied on to the next country, and the next. Meanwhile, we went to the Norwegian ride, which is a little scary for a three year old. Katerina didn’t even move my hands when I covered her eyes. She doubled up with her own hands. At least she relaxed when Nikolas and Elizabeth began singing, “Grumpy Old Troll”. Caramel wafted through the air and I was hypnotized until we made our way to the caramel shop in Germany. Nikolas ordered a huge caramel apple and I decided I’d share a caramel shortbread treat with Katerina, but only after lunch. Nikos was biting his tongue but I could see the irritation growing, so we finally went for lunch in Morocco. The food was delightful! After eating more junk food meals than not, fresh lentils, falafel, tabouli, hummus and so on, tasted divine! We enjoyed our desserts while Nikos took Elizabeth to Japan to get her shaved ice treat.
We played on the drums in Africa, Nikos teased me about the annoying Donald Duck and his pals when we rode the Mexican boat ride once more, and then we headed back over to the rides on the other side of the park in the afternoon. The kids to played at the shaded playground, and I had to hide the flowers that Katerina had so proudly picked for her Mama. I felt sorry for Elizabeth. She didn’t really want to play on the small playthings and Nikos and I were hanging out talking about obviously boring things to a thirteen year old. I realized that this was just a moment in time and our lives would inevitably change. There will come a time when we’ll no longer visit Disney or unfathomably, not even want to sleep in a tent. Nikos was either extremely bored or thinking he’d have a little romance, but he was going on about how cute I looked in my old Marshall green t-shirt and black capris. That’s my Nikos. He more often than not compliments me when I haven’t tried a lick, but when I put some effort into my attire and do my hair, he doesn’t seem to notice. At least he compliments me after all of these years, however random it is. As far as what attracts me is when Nikos cleans the windshields with that squeegee at the gas station. He knows it too. He pops his head in my window and always says the same thing, “I’ve gotta take care of my little wife here”. Nikos believes that I also find him attractive when he’s finally motivated to mow the lawn, which of course doesn’t do diddly squat for me. Now, Nikos will never need to know that last piece of information, and I thoroughly appreciate his efforts and a trim lawn. If I’m watching out the window, Nikos makes sure to look back at me and and pretends he’s desperately struggling with our self-propelled mower.
My feet and legs felt achy, as I’m sure the rest of the family felt. We went through a gift shop and all Nikolas kept talking about was how much he wanted the cornwall ball. He made us go to yet another gift shop, and he found it! He told us that he had wanted it for three years, since our last visit. It was the first time Nikos and I had both heard about it. Nikolas is not much of a talker typically. Katerina cried after the first shop and then the second. I began to think she had grown spoiled, since she hasn’t cried for toys up until now. Elizabeth came outside with me, while I tried to console Katerina. I explained to her that Minnie Mouse wouldn’t be happy if she knew that Katerina was so sad in her world. This just made Katerina wail even louder. Once her sobbing subsided, Katerina explained, “Minnie Mouse will look at me and say, “That not Miinie Mouse, that Katerina’. Me need Minne Mouse ears. Minnie Mouse say “That Minnie Mouse, not Katerina, but they be sparkly ears”. Bless her sweet baby heart! Katerina still needs some work on her speech, but that darling girl communicated exactly what her precious brain thought! Elizabeth and I laughed so much. Of course, we’d get that baby girl some Minnie Mouse ears!
We’d gone on mostly everything by four, and headed back over to where our boat stop was. On the walk back, Nikolas found his thirtieth lizard. This time he caught it. He was gasping with excitement, and i realized all that Nikolas for sheer happiness is a lizard to chase around and a cornwall ball. Overall, it was a wonderful day at at Epcot!
Once we made it back to the hotel, we weren’t hungry yet for dinner, so we headed to the pool, and it’s freezing water. I’m grossed out by hot tubs because I’ve heard one too many times that you can get an STD in them. We were all cold, so I allowed the kids to wade in the Jacuzzi, and besides, the only real swimming Nikos ever does is dips in a hot tub, and he seems fine. Oh now I’m all grossed out! He’d better stop by many gas stations and take that squeegee to wipe away my new visions from my microbiology classes in college!
We quickly dressed and took the boat over to the Boardwalk. It was a cute area, resembling 1920′s Atlantic City. We ate at at Greek restaurant, owned by Cat Cora, an Iron Chef celebrity. We ordered two saganakis (fried greek cheese), Elizabeth and I had pastichio (Greek lasagna), Nikos had soup and a trio platter, Nikolas had grilled fish and Katerina was out after eating two bites of bread. The food and atmosphere were nice, and we only had a wait of ten minutes. The staff cheered, Opa” way too many times, but we were in Disney after all. Cheese factor is entirely acceptable. The boardwalk was festive with hanging lights, with many people out and spending their vacation money. We stopped by a bakery and bought some muffins for breakfast. The hotel was so close, it wasn’t necessary to wait for the boat. This had been a terrific day, and so it seemed the curse just might have slithered away.
I don’t even remember if I turned on the TV before bed. We were all passed within seconds. The kids didn’t even squabble over their usual contention of bed space.