June 7, 2014

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA: From Naples; to Naples

Beloved Liz,

Ciao from my Naples to yours! I am writing you from a Naples myself - Naples, Florida, that is. Yes, I am visiting the family in sunny Southwest Florida, one of the nation’s strangest melting pots.

The demographics of this little city are actually quite fascinating. Once they became empty-nesters, my parents high-tailed it South and settled here in Naples. While it is a popular destination for snowbirds seeking to live out their golden years on some of the city’s over 75 verdant golf courses, there is also a steady stream of foreigners here, including a robust population of Germans who began immigrating here in the 1960s, and a Hispanic population that is steadily increasing. Collier County’s Hispanic population increased 69 percent in the past decade, while neighboring Lee County increased a whopping 170 percent. The Spanish-speaking population alone represents a variety of cultures, and their influence isn’t hard to spot around town - from the red-tiled houses to the Cuban coffee shops to the authentic Mexican taquerias on just about every block.

The roads of Naples alone tell a story. Take the Tamiami Trail to buzz from Tampa to Miami, or spot gators in the swamps along Alligator Alley (real name, I kid you not). Turn just down Old 41, and you’ll find yourself in the Everglades, home of bonafide swamp people and some of the nation’s deadliest predators. 

Yeehaw, cowboy.
But that’s another story for another time, and we’ve got drinkin’ to do!

This time around, we set our sights North, to Orlando. That’s right. Beersnbreads has taken it to the next level… the happiest place on Earth! 

We arrived in DisneyWorld with one mission and one mission only: to drink our way around the world. Eleven countries, four thirsty friends, and one goal...


Now, I’ve been a fan of the Disney Company for a long time. I admire their dedication to customer service, their commitment to innovation, and most importantly, like any good film nerd, their absolute attention to set design. Nowhere is this more evident than in their parks. It’s the Mickey Mouse ears hidden in the iron fences, or the completely decked out window dressings on the faux shop fronts in the city squares. You gotta hand it to them - Disney does details. This makes for quite the drinking adventure. Not only does each country in the world showcase have an authentic menu of speciality drinks (now I know why my parents used to take me here), but additionally, what’s really cool is that each country’s staff is comprised of real honest-to-goodness natives. This is all a part of the Disney International Program, which selects teens from all over the world as part of a year-long cultural exchange. So, the girls in Epcot Norway speak Norwegian, and the boys in Epcot France speak French. Pretty cool, eh?

Well, enough dawdling. Allons-y! Our eleven amazing destinations await!

Our mission.
1) Mexico

Hola! Donde esta la barra? That’s all the Spanish you’ll ever need to know here in DisneyWorld Mexico, because that was enough to get us our Coronas. I recommend you explore the marketplace inside the giant Aztec temple to see authentic(ish) Mexican wares that would cost 5 cents in Mexico, but here in Buena Vista, can be purchased for the low, low price of your first born child.

Praising the ancient gods for this gift of Corona.
2) Norway 

“You can never have too many trolls” should be the slogan of this portion of the world showcase. Experience the wonders of Maelstrom, a viking water ride that is both disappointingly anti-climactic, and also just climactic enough for you to realize that the “Glacier shot” you took earlier was a bad idea. Carlsberg was the order of the day here… and this chocolate viking hat. Obvs.

3) China 

If I see something called “Tipsy Ducks in Love” on a menu, I feel it’s my obligation as an American to try it. It was everything I had hoped for: iced coffee AND tea (the extravagance!), cream, chocolate, and of course, whiskey. Even though no magical fortune cookie turned me into a duck nor had me fall in love with a duck, I did become pretty tipsy. Really tipsy. I was drunk.

This was only three countries in. 

4) Germany
Willkommen to Germany!
Your beloved Berlin provided a bevy of beer-like beverages (Dr. Seuss was overpaid… this is easy)! I myself had a delicious Radeburger Pilsner, while the rest of the crew sampled something called the “Schofferhofer Grapefruit Beer.” What did it taste like? Fanta. Alcoholic Fanta. And this is why the Germans are all so filthy rich.

What's more German than beers and cuckoo clocks? Nothing.

5) Italy

The hold-beer-in-mouth-while-another-human-being-rides-piggyback maneuver can only be done by experts. Do not try at home.
This marks our descent into madness. Here, we met several other groups of young adults and made some friends 4 lyfe (none of whose names we can remember). Young college graduates, a group of rowdy locals, and even a few Bachelorettes - all on their own quests to conquer the globe via alcohol consumption. You never notice this when you’re a kid, but man, there’s a lot of partying going on in DisneyWorld, and it. is. awesome. In this version of Italia, we drank everything from Peronis to Prosecco to fine red wine to Limoncello shots. Come si dice “wasted”? 

6) The AMURIKAN Adventure (not its real name)

What’s more American than a Sam Summer and a giant leg of turkey meat? A narrated lesson of American history, of course! “We the People” takes its audience on a magical journey led by Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain, who guide you through our nation’s exciting and wondrous history. Due to my intense, verging-on-fanatical patriotism, I cried about three times during this movie while hearing sound bites from greats like Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, and Abraham Lincoln. Meanwhile, the rest of crew took a nap and only woke up because the ushers told us we had to leave the theater. I still had tears in my eyes as I left Disney ’Merica, but was determined - like any true American - to finish the mission I had begun.

7) Japan

I’m going to start off by saying that I have no affinity for anime and I find Pokemon pretty annoying, so as you can guess, I did not do well in Japan. Luckily, the Japanese have a pretty impressive beer selection, so I was feeling a lot better after I met my new friends: Asahi, Kirin, and Sapporo.

8) Morocco

Hello, my name is Marley, and I am addicted to coffee. Put some liquor in that coffee and you’ve created the perfect storm. In Morocco, I sampled the Kasbah - coffee plus hazelnut liqueur. Sometimes, people create some really beautiful things. *wipes away tear*

9) France

The lack of children’s rides and the emphasis on fine dining and drink in the city of love keeps this portion of the world showcase buzzin’ with a mostly adult crowd. We reconnected with some old pals from Italy and sipped on French champagne with Creme de Cassis, which is a blackcurrant-based liqueur that makes everything taste summery and sweet and infinitely lujjjurious. Oh la la!

Ratatouille participating in some non-PG behavior.
Attack by French kittays!

10) United Kingdom

Cogan - who lived in London not so long ago - was quite at home at the rowdy Rose & Crown Pub here in Disney UK, and the Dubliner in me was relieved to finally see a spot of Guinness to quench my thirst. We tried Black & Tans, a mixture of Guinness and Bass Red Ale, and danced along to the sounds of British Revolution, a Brit pop cover band that blasted the Beatles all through the jolly good night.

11) Canada

I'll never let go, Jack.
Your second home did not disappoint. Although I could have done without the Molson and while I vehemently appealed the staff for more Celine Dion (note: I had been drinking), I do have to thank the Aztec gods (re: Disney Mexico) that no one managed to fall into fake Niagara Falls… although there were some close calls.

Eleven countries. Seven hours. Countless drinks. ONE VICTORY. My fearless team persevered through blazing suns, aching bellies, and screaming toddlers, all to earn the title of (Disney)World drinking champions!* I hope I done you proud, Liz.

Well, it’s finally June, and since my favorite season has officially begun, beersnbreads is taking it beachside. Upcoming posts comin’ at you live from Ocean City (home of Seacrets, the world’s trashiest nightclub), Harper’s Ferry (West Virginia... need I say more?), and scenic Cape Cod (accidental make-outs with members of the Kennedy clan to follow). Happiest of summers to you, my European amore!

Hearts, stars, and horseshoes,


p.s. Special thanks to my co-drinkers, Cogan, Katie, and Corey, without whom this great achievement would not have been possible. 

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