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Day 1: Boarding Day

Posted on April 23, 2018 by under Travel, Zumba.    

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Sunday, boarding day, was a little overcast but it didn’t keep us from seeing our cruise ship from our hotel window. The emails we received were a bit confusing. One email said boarding would start at 11:00 AM, while another email said we couldn’t board until 2:30 PM. Since we didn’t expect to be able to board the ship until 11 at the earliest, Brian and I decided to have a leisurely breakfast at the hotel restaurant. We were just lollygagging after breakfast and walked around, enjoying the view, and taking a bunch of pictures.

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The sun finally started to come out and I got this nice panoramic of the marina.

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We had so much to kill after breakfast that Brian actually had time to lounge around and watch TV. It wasn’t until we started seeing posts about people waiting in line to board and getting on the ship that we decided it was probably time to head on over to the port. Some people were posting about the boarding and others were asking how long the lines were, etc.

Brian thought it would be funny to reply back that we can see the line from our hotel. We had a good chuckle but didn’t actually do it.

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We weren’t sure what kind of view we would have next time so we took one last selfie with our amazing view before taking off.

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Our hotel is super close to the Port of Miami so we were there in no time flat. As luck would have it, we ran into some friends (Natasha and Amanda) at the check in.

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Here’s a pic of the four of us in the waiting area.

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Danielle and Ty were ahead of us. We probably could have joined them but we didn’t want to cut in front of everyone. Also, I don’t think there was enough room for all four of us to slide in. I figured it was only a matter of time before we were all together aboard the ship anyway.

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Just for grins, I took a selfie with the port employee who was in charge of making sure the boarding process was organized and safe. She was doing a great job.

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Here’s a selfie of me and a Filipina friend I made at ZINCON a couple of years back. She goes by Missy Belle on Facebook. She went on the cruise this year too.

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Speaking of Missy, I ran into my friend Missy at the lunch buffet at Windjammer. We were so lucky that we even ran into each other. The lunch buffet was so crowded (because people were hungry and our staterooms wouldn’t be ready until 1:30 PM so there was nowhere else to go) and there was hardly any place to sit.

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It was either hang out at Windjammer or hang out at one of the bars which, incidentally, is where we found the rest of our crew.

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Missy and Todd (and almost everyone else) wore their matching shirts. These two looked so cute, I just had to take a picture of them!

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But you know what’s even cuter? These guys — (from left) Rony, Rodrigo, and Benjamin. I took multiple sessions from these guys throughout the week so this is just a bit of foreshadowing of things to come.

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Brian and I took a quick selfie with Miami as the backdrop before we sailed away. Not really the best picture since we took it from Windjammer instead of from one of the upper/viewing decks.

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Here’s a selfie with the other half of our group. I love that so many people from Wichita went on the cruise this year.

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It took a while but we were finally able to get into our room. This picture depicts the view from our room. We decided to go up a category and get a cabin overlooking the promenade instead of just getting a regular interior cabin. Ours is still considered an interior cabin but it seemed to offer a bit more space because of the window seat. It’s not that much more space, though.

We got to check out Natasha and Amanda’s (they were roomies this year) balcony cabin and it was definitely more spacious. Brian and I have decided that, next year, it’s going to be balcony or bust. Plus, if we all get side-by-side balcony rooms next year, we can remove the partitions and we can have one extended balcony which will be super fun. Party time!

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This is a picture of all our stickers. I wised up and signed Brian up for different sessions than me so I could use both of our stickers and get into double the classes.

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Each day I would take a picture of the “Cruise Compass” so I knew exactly what was happening without having to carry around the daily newsletter with me. The highlight of the evening was the “Sail Away” party at the main pool with FUSE ODG, Armando & Heidy, DJ Precise, and DJ Francis.

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I also took a picture of the Zumba schedules each day for the same reason. All of the classes on the first day were first come, first served.

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I ran into Amanda again on my way to my first session.

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I called Missy to see what class she was hitting first and we actually both picked Marcie’s class. Brynden, Natasha, and Amada decided to take the same first class also. Except, I was the nerdiest of the bunch and got their first but that meant I got us all in the front row.

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We had such a great time in Marcie’s class. I even met someone with an October birthday (it was kind of an ice breaker that Marcie had us do) and she happened to be wearing leggings that matched my shirt.

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Marcie’s class was fabulous but they were having problems with the sound system. The fuse kept blowing for some reason. We were interrupted several times. Also, when it was our turn to rotate to the back, it wasn’t as fun for me because I couldn’t see anything. We initially thought we would stay in Star Lounge for the next session which was Steve Boedt’s masterclass but then decided we didn’t want to put up with the sound issues and lack of visibility so we went to Studio B (the ice rink) to dance with Rony and Cat instead.

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By the time we got there, the floor was already full so we were relegated to the sides. Tammy and Rina got decent spots on the dance floor though.

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The nice thing about Studio B is that you’re not out in the sun and the stage is elevated so it’s easier to see what’s going on. It’s definitely one of my favorite class venues on the ship. You still want to get there early to get a good spot on the floor, though. Because even though I could see well from the sidelines, we were dancing on carpet and there wasn’t much room to dance. We had to really improvise.

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I’m not sure how we managed to do it but we were actually able to get almost everyone together for dinner that first night. We were only missing Tammy and Rina. Already, the trip was off to a great start!

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Here’s a picture of the fabulous “Sail Away Party” from our favorite viewing area. Brian and I were enjoying the concert by ourselves (and I think a couple of others) when Danielle, Ty, Brynden, and Laurie showed up. They had no idea we were up there but had the same idea as us about going to the tallest vantage point.

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Great minds think alike!

Brian and I were too tired to hit the late night disco (from 11 PM to 3 AM) at the Cosmopolitan. We hung out with the group and did a bit of exploring after the party but then we turned in. I had an early start the next morning.

BTW, I took a ton of food pictures so check back tomorrow for a post that talks about all the eating we did. I did a lot of Zumba but definitely did not miss any meals. Until next time!

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Pre-Cruise in Miami

Posted on April 21, 2018 by under Travel.    

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Brian and I weren’t sure if we were going to get him the unlimited alcoholic beverage package on the ship so our first stop in Miami was the Publix down the street from our hotel. We got Brian two bottles of his favorite wine, Apothic Red, to take aboard the ship. The rules stated only two bottles of wine per stateroom but they weren’t being very strict so I probably could have taken two more bottles of wine myself too. Although, as it turns out, we didn’t need them because Brian ended up getting the unlimited drink package on the ship.

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After we completed our wine mission, the next order of business was to get something to eat. We were both starving and we hadn’t eaten lunch yet. We knew we wanted to have dinner in South Beach because I wanted to show Brian the beach while we were there. He’d never been to Miami before. I got to check it out when I was in Florida on a work trip a couple of years ago. We had dinner at Larios on the Beach (Gloria Estefan’s restaurant) and then walked across the street to dip our toes in the ocean. Anyway, I thought he would find it interesting.

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We didn’t have a specific restaurant in mind so we had our Lyft (Lyft prices were half what Uber was charging so we decided to use Lyft the entire time we were in Florida, with the exception of our ride from the airport to the hotel because taxis were more convenient and readily available at the airport) drop us off at CJ’s Crab Shack. We walked up and down the strip. Everyone had some kind of happy hour special they were promoting. In the end, we ended up walking back to CJ’s because they had crabs (which I was craving) and a nice patio area for people-watching.

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Brian had a really interesting way of describing South Beach. He said it’s a lot like Vegas but more naked. LOL. It’s true. There were people milling about everywhere, walking up and down the sidewalk and even the streets. The cars could barely move in Ocean Drive. I can’t imagine having to drive in that mayhem on a regular basis. (This is why we didn’t bother renting a car. Neither of us wanted to drive.)

The people weren’t your average people either. Most were really fit and, though some were not as fit, everyone was overflowing with self-confidence. Many people didn’t bother with coverups. They just walked up and down in their bikinis or speedos with no shirt, sarong, or any kind of coverup. Which isn’t too unusual if your swimsuit is covering all of your butt, but some people were wearing dental floss. These people were not shy at all.

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As for me, I just watched in amusement as people walked by — some clothed, some not fully clothed — while drinking my 40 oz. Miami Vice drink in a CJ’s Crab Shack souvenir tumbler. We watched this one guy clad only in a pair of very tiny, very tight swim trunks walk up and down. He was upset about something, but I couldn’t make out enough of the conversation to figure out what. Something about not being able to check into their hotel because he didn’t have his credit card. Anyway, a little bit later, he’s back and unloading bags off the back of a car stopped in the middle of Ocean Drive traffic.

“That explains why he’s walking around naked,” I told Brian. “He didn’t have his luggage.” We both busted up laughing. Walking around naked is so South Beach!

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Here’s a picture of Brian’s food. He’s not much for seafood.

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This is mine. Gotta eat crab when you’re at a crab shack!

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The crab photographed well but it was kind of dry. I’ve gotten spoiled of late since I’ve been eating crab at Jax Fish House and Oyster Bar in Kansas City and they have pretty good crab there.

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We wanted an excuse to linger and continue people watching so we ordered this giant dessert. Well, truthfully, it’s because I have no will power and I love chocolate cake. It was pretty good.

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Brian helped a little bit but I ate most of it.

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While we were eating, this guy parked his very gold car next to us. It was a huge hit. I lost count of how many people stopped to take pictures and selfies with it. Apparently, gold is the new black. It’s huge in South Beach.

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After eating all of that food, we were so stuffed that we decided to walk it off at the beach. There were a ton of people there.

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This panoramic photo doesn’t do it justice.

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At least it’s a pretty wide beach and, even though there were so many people, there was plenty of room for everyone. Anyway, we walked up and down the beach, not very far. It wasn’t look before Brian had had enough. We both woke up at 2 AM that day for our early flight so we were pooped. I really wanted to join the rest of the Wichita folks for dinner and dancing later that night but we were too exhausted. Brian specially. We decided to just lay low and hang out at our hotel for the rest of the evening and turn in early.

Next time I’ll tell you about boarding and our first day on the cruise. Check back tomorrow. Until then, have a fabulous weekend!

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Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay

Posted on April 19, 2018 by under Travel.    

I’m so grateful for all of my Marriott points. Brian and I got to stay at a very nice hotel in Florida, close to the Port of Miami, before and after our cruise. It didn’t cost us anything since I had enough points to cover both stays.

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Here are some pictures of the room that we got the night before our cruise.

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The room itself wasn’t anything fancy but that view was spectacular.

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We loved the view so much we had to selfie in front of our window.

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Check out this view!

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Here’s a view of the marina just outside our hotel.

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From our window we could see the Venetian Causeway (closest) and MacArthur Causeway (further one) and the Port of Miami.

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The Venetian Causeway is closest to our hotel and is one of the ways you can get to South Beach. Except, sometimes traffic gets really backed up when the bridge (a double-leaf bascule bridge) is open for the larger boats to pass through.

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Brian and I did some exploring around the hotel on that first day. Here’s a view of the marina from the hotel terrace.

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Oh, and I found a ping pong table but had no one to play with.

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We also found a giant connect four game.

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And a giant chess board.

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It was a pretty quiet Saturday night at the hotel.

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Not a soul in sight at the pool.

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The hotel gym is on the same level as the pool with a nice view of the marina.

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The next morning we woke up to see our ship at the port.

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This giant Adirondack chair was on the terrace right outside the hotel restaurant so, of course, we had to take a pic of me in it.

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Pictures of our yummy pre-cruise breakfast…

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We took some selfies out on the restaurant patio after breakfast before heading up to our room for a quickie Facebook Live video.

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We took yet another selfie with our fabulous 31st floor view as the backdrop when we got back to our room. Then we did our Facebook Live.

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Here’s the quickie FB Live video from that morning.

When we got back to the Marriott after our cruise we got a room on the 23rd floor. Not as high as our top floor room from before, but it actually had a balcony and better view. We could see bay and city views from our room.

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This is a view of the bay.

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Here are some pics of the city view.

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Here’s the view at night, with the bay on the left and the city on the right.

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Here’s a pic of the bay at sunrise.

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And the marina beneath our room at sunrise.

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Here’s our messy room.

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Because of my rewards status, we also got free breakfast in the mornings. Here are some pictures of the nice breakfast buffet at the hotel restaurant each morning.

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This is the omelet station where you can also get fresh pancakes and waffles.

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I didn’t have pancakes or waffles but I kind of wish I had because I really wanted to try the rum-infused maple syrup.

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All sorts of breakfast foods — regular and cheesy potatoes, bacon, sausage etc.

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Fruit on the left, cereal bar and breads on the right.

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All sorts of breads and pastries.

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Fruit and smoked salmon.

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My breakfast.

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After we ate our breakfast, we got some pics of the beautiful sunrise.

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We really enjoyed our stay at the Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay. It’s a beautiful hotel and the location is perfect. Next post we’ll tell you about the exploring that we did on our first night in Miami and our visit to South Beach.

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Broadway Autopark

Posted on April 11, 2018 by under Events.    

Misty talked me into going to the Broadway Autopark open house on Friday. It didn’t require much effort because I’d been curious about this project for some time. I drive by all the time on my way to work. Brian and I had talked about going over there to check it out multiple times.

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Here are a few pictures form their open house last Friday.

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The 44-unit apartment complex managed by Bokeh Development is one of the most unique new residential developments in downtown Wichita. It used to be a full-service parking garage, which I didn’t even know was a thing.

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The open house on Friday featured a tour of a furnished model unit on the 5th floor, which is the top floor of the building. You don’t need to see them all because the units are all the same. They are all one bedroom efficiency apartments. The only difference is that there are a few units with no balcony because they are on the other side of the building with the round windows.

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The apartments are tiny so it’s good that most of the units at least have some outdoor space. You definitely have to live very minimally, though. I think it would be ideal for a young, single person who lives downtown.

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Being able to park right outside your door is definitely a plus so you don’t have to park on the street and get rained on. You enter through this door and then your bedroom and bathroom are immediately to the left. The bedroom is not even quite a bedroom as the walls don’t go all the way up and it has no door. It’s just a partition. Definitely can’t be messy because your guests will see everything.

Beyond the bed is a closet but your washer and dryer are also in there. So not much space for clothes really. This is why I mentioned living really minimally. There isn’t much storage available within the apartment itself. I think you have bike storage outside but this is definitely not the place to rent if you’re a hoarder.

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The patio is spacious and would be a great place to hang out on nice days. There isn’t much privacy as there is an entire row of patios but it’s a great way to meet and get to know your neighbors.

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Here’s what the units on the other side look like.

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There’s no outdoor space but the windows are plentiful. You also get the unique, round, porthole windows. I love how they preserved the elements of the parking garage and kept the “garage” feel.

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Your kitchen cabinets are even made of garage tool chests. They polished the concrete floors but kept everything (beams, posts, and all) exposed so the feel is definitely very industrial.

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Since you don’t really have much room for entertaining in your unit, there is a very nice community space in the ground floor.

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It is in the same area as the 24-hour fitness room.

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It’s not a big gym but it’s got everything one would need to get and stay fit.

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Oh, there’s also a dog-washing station in there for pet parents.

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They also have this nice TV room for game or movie nights.

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Anyway, I thought the place was great. I loved how close it is to the office. I would have walked over but it started raining ice that afternoon. It’s not ideal for people with a lot of stuff but I think it will be popular with folks who want to be right in the thick of the downtown action.

I love that they’re offering more and more living options downtown. I can’t wait to see downtown Wichita bustling with people. So much is already going on downtown. I think it will only get better the more people live downtown. Great things are happening in Wichita and I’m so excited to see it all unfold!

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Best Lunch Deal in Downtown KC

Posted on April 10, 2018 by under Food and Drink.    

If you haven’t been to Tavernonna inside Hotel Phillips, you have to check it out. They probably have one of the best lunch deals downtown. For $10, you get soup or salad, a half sandwich or pasta dish, drink, and gelato. My favorite thing to get is the spaghetti with a Nonna’s meatball (extra). The meatball is kind of expensive but it is huge and delicious. It is worth every penny.

My friend Lesa and I had the opportunity to eat lunch together at Tavernonna last week. Here are a few pictures.

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When I’ve had the $10 lunch special in the past, I’ve gotten a Caesar salad. However, it was super cold out last week so soup sounded good. The were serving a very green broccoli cheddar soup that day.

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I had the spaghetti with a Nonna’s meatball.

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Green must have been the color of the day because the gelato flavor they were serving was pistachio. It was amazing. I’m not sure if the gelato is a new thing that they’re doing because this was the first time I’d ever had it with lunch.

Now that I know that a scoop of gelato is part of the lunch deal, I may never eat lunch anywhere else.

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Lesa originally asked for the smoked prime rib dip sandwich with a side of fries but she didn’t care of the dressing that they put in the sandwich so she ended up getting the spaghetti with the meatball as I did also.

Lunch was super fab. I’m hoping to hit Tavernonna again for lunch when I’m back in Kansas City next week.

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