I purchased tickets for the Backstreet Boys concert approximately 10 months ago for myself and a group of friends. I have a Citi card which provides me with the perks of being able to purchase presale tickets to concerts, which has not only saved me money over the years but has helped in purchasing awesome seats! If you don’t have a Citi Preferred card and go to a lot of concerts like me, I highly recommend getting one! I use it ONLY for presale tickets and it carries a zero balance when the tickets are paid off until the next concert!
My friends and I discussed what time we should leave to get out to Orlando since there was not only the Backstreet Boys Concert going on but a Miami vs Florida football game at the Camping World Stadium. We knew that traffic was going to be bad and parking may be a challenge but something inside of me knew it would all workout. Intuition? Maybe!
When we got to the parking garage I asked the guy that was working there if there was any way we would be able to get 1st level parking. Low and behold, he told us where to go and BAM, 1st level parking! This would definitely be in our advantage when leaving the garage which in the end only took us 15 minutes or so to get out. Now on to find some food…
As you can imagine, most of the restaurants were packed and that is when my friend suggested pizza at a place called Gitto’s. The pizza was delicious, the atmosphere and the cleanliness of the place was a lot to be desired. When people were finished eating the staff didn’t wipe down the tables or chairs (which were filled with food and beer) and when we actually found someone, I had to help her because she was so slow. My suggestion, eat the pizza outside.
Now to the concert..
When we got to our seats we had an awesome view of the stage with no one in front of us, in fact, Brian Cittrell had walked passed us on our right. His son Baylee’s band opened for them who were just OK.
I wouldn’t call myself a die hard fan of the Backstreet Boys but I do enjoy their songs and have never seen them live. I have to say that I was very impressed by their performance. They sounded great and kept the audience entertained from beginning to end. During the show, each one of them talked about how thankful they were to the fans of Orlando since Orlando was where the Backstreet Boys started. It was very sweet and I may have teared up a little, MAYBE.
In the end, it was a great night of entertainment and spending time with great friends! I recommend going to see the Backstreet Boys if you are a die hard fan or are just a fan of a few songs. They put on an amazing show!
Ron and I just got back from a long weekend in Tampa for the Bob Segerconcert and St. Patrick’s Day festivities at theTampa Riverwalk We’ve never stayed in theRiverwalkarea and have never seen the River O’ Green which was an awesome experience! If you have never been to theRiverwalkduring St. Patrick’s Day, it is worth the trip for sure. I’ve posted the map below.
We left our house around 10:30am to trek out to Tampa. The drive there from our house is about 2 ½ – 3 hours depending on traffic on the Interstate 4FROM HELL! Normally when we visit the Tampa area there is bumper to bumpertrafficaround the Disney World area, then it clears upfor a while until you hit the Tampa area aroundInterstate75.
We stopped at Seminole Hard Rock Tampa because I have an obsession with slot machines. Even though I am on a mission to live a frugal life, save money and pay our debt off, I have a weakness for slots and some sports betting on occasion. Some people have shopping weaknesses, I have a slot machine weakness (I think I may be one of the small group of women who honestly HATE shopping!)
SLOT MACHINE SIDENOTE: My advice to people who are on a budget and like to gamble every once and a while, DO NOT go into the casino with a credit or debit card and only play penny slots! I’ve won over $200 a few times on penny slots so it’s not impossible to risk small and hit big once and a while. Now that doesn’t mean that I ONLY play penny slots but if you are on a budget, penny slots allow you to play longer with less money.
Now back to the trip….
The casino gave me $15 of free play which I lostsuper fastand then we lost what we had budgeted for the day too! It was frustrating but at least we were able to see all the new renovations that they’ve made with the money that they have taken from us for the last decade! Ha! It is very easy to get lost in this place now. It went from a small, cozycasino to approximately 4 more casino areas with one being a non-smoking casino. They are also adding more hotel space in addition to the hotel space that was already there and a much needed parking area (maybe they’ll send me a free room one of thesedays..Iwon’t hold my breath). There were also more restaurants and bars too. It was nice to get my gambling fix for a while…well, until Sunday!
We left the casino and were on our way to the Westin hotel to check in. Since I work for local government, we get a discount on hotels as a perk. We were able to score the hotel for HALF OFF! Thank God for that because everything else was so damn expensive! I can’t remember the last time I stayed at a hotel and the breakfast wasn’t free but more on that later. The hotel was absolutely beautiful and it was a requirement to valet park (which was $28 a day). See where I’m going with this? Every where I turned I was either swiping or dishing out cash. I know, we’re on vacation but I was getting tired of having mini strokes every time people asked me for money! I blame this on not preparing ahead of time to find cheaper prices. I’ll never do that again!
We had tickets for Bob Seger and were really excited to see him since both of us have never seen him live. We purchased floor seats (which was my first time on the floor) and had seats on the end of the row which Ron and I prefer. Everything was going great. He sounded amazing! We had comfortable seats and were enjoying some great rock and roll until I started to feel really sick. I hadn’t been feeling too well for the last week or so to begin with but the combination of a few beers, two really tall and bulky guys in front of me and the body heat making it feel like I couldn’t breathe really got to me. I felt like I was going to have a panic attack and all of a sudden my stomach started to churn. I had to get out of there and fast! Ron followed me out to the hallway and I told him I wasn’t sure if I can go back in there. Fortunately I didn’t puke, unfortunately we had to leave early. We were able to see a little over an hour of the show which was good though. I told Ron to stay but he wanted to make sure I got home okay. I’ve got a good egg!
When I woke up in the morning I was feeling sooooo much better and craving a nice, big cup of coffee! Ron and I went downstairs to the breakfast buffet, piled our plates with food and just as we were digesting, along comes a bill to our table. We both looked at each other and thought…hmmm..this is odd, we don’t pay for breakfast when we stay at a hotel, this has to be a mistake. As I looked at the bill, I thought I was going to have a stroke! $43 for a mediocre breakfast buffet?!?!? WTF! As I was catching my breath, I thought, if I would have done my homework on the Westin I would have known that breakfast is not in fact FREE and checked out where we could get a cheap breakfast elsewhere. What a bummer and it could have been totally avoided if I would have been proactive. Take note peeps!
We usually stay at the Hampton Inn and they provide a free and much more appetizing breakfast in their room rate. The closest Hampton Inn to where we were was about 15-20 minutes away and we really wanted to be within walking distance to everything at the Riverwalk and did not want to get into a car to go anywhere so we chose the Westin. Granted, I’m not badmouthing the Westin because their rooms were super clean, we had a nice view and the staff were very helpful and sweet, but, charging people for breakfast and mandatory valet parking is not my style. IM ON A BUDGET!
We met up with Gina and my niece Ava for the day (You may have seen them in some of my previous posts). We walked, talked and had a delicious lunch together. It was great to see them and catch up! After they left we made our way back to the hotel to take a snooze, shower, and decide what we were going to do for the night.
I was browsing on my phone and saw that the Tampa Bay Lightning were playing so we decided to go to the Amalie Arena and see if maybe we could get tickets to see the game. When we got there we found fans sitting in their chairs outside the arena watching the Lightning on a huge screen! We didn’t have to go any further. We grabbed a drink from the outside bar, found a bench to sit on and watched the Lightning win. Go Bolts!
On our way back to the hotel we found a Starbucks that was actually right next to our hotel that we decided would be our breakfast destination in the morning before we checked out.
The Westin provides free coffee (probably the only thing that is free in this hotel) so we grabbed our coffee and walked to Starbucks. Ron had an everything bagel with butter and I had a plain bagel with cream cheese. Total spent: $4.50! Now THAT’S what I’m talking about!
We went back up to the hotel after breakfast and grabbed our things and waited for our car to be valeted to us. Honestly, the whole valet thing was a big downer for me. I don’t like other people driving my car, RON doesn’t even drive my car! And to require me to not only turn my key over to some stranger, pay for it, not be able to get to it if I forgot something, sucked. On the brighter side, we didn’t use our car the whole time we were there so it was safe and sound in an underground parking lot.
Before we left the Tampa area we took a chance at Seminole Hard Rock Casino again. Total spent: ENOUGH!
I have to say that Tampa did it absolutely right with this Riverwalk creation. I believe it is close to 2 miles worth of parks, restaurants, museums and beautiful breezes off the river. We will definitely go back !
And that’s all folks! I’ve posted a video from the River O’ Green below for you to enjoy!
Till next time, I’ll see ya soon!
Armature Works – Cool warehouse kind of vibe with food, bars and shopping.
Ron and I had been looking forward to seeing Sammy Hagar for months and then Hurricane Irma came through our area and the original date of September 20th changed to November 11th. In the long run, it worked out better because we didn’t have to take time off from work since the rescheduled concert landed on a Saturday. We were so happy that they postponed the date and did not cancel it!
Since St. Augustine is about an hour and a half from our house, we decided to get a hotel at the Hampton Inn (We are Hampton Inn freaks) on A1A and make a weekend out of it. We’ve never been to this particular hotel or seen beach side in St. Augustine. Every time we visit, we stay in the Historic District (I’ll be there in a few weeks for their tour of lights..stay tuned for that blog in about a month or so).
We arrived at the hotel around 1pm and I walked in to see if we could check in early. They said they would take our phone number and call us if the room opens up before check in time and gave us a parking pass. We were able to park at our hotel and walk across the street to a place called Sunset Grille. Ron and I both had the mahi tacos that were absolutely delicious. Along with the tacos, they serve beans and rice on the side that were very tasty. We ordered a few beers and sat outside since the weather was not humid or buggy. When we were finished eating we hadn’t gotten a call to check into the hotel so decided to go to the bar area of the restaurant to watch the UCF game and have a few more beers. We made small talk with people at the bar and the staff were professional and kind. I would definitely recommend a trip to Sunset Grille if you are in the area.
After lunch we walked over to the hotel since it was getting close to check in time. When we went up to our room we noticed we had a balcony view (it wasn’t of the ocean, but we had a balcony!). When we checked out on Sunday the woman behind the counter asked how our stay was. I said, “It was great! Didn’t realize that I booked a balcony room”. She said, “You didn’t, we upgraded you.” SCORE!!! Thank you Hampton Inn!
On to the concert…..
This was the first time either one of us had been to the St. Augustine Amphitheater. I knew that it was a smaller venue and that it was outside with an awning that covered most of the seats and I LOVE these kind of places! They are not as crowded. They are big but not TOO big where you can get lost. AND it’s a much more intimate setting. Sometimes arenas can be so overwhelming and annoying.
When I book tickets for concerts I ALWAYS book the premiere parking. ALWAYS! They run between $20-$40 and worth every penny! When we got there we were about 8 cars away from the main entrance. Again, WORTH….EVERY….PENNY!
Collective Soul opened up for Sammy Hagar & The Circle and I really enjoyed them. I remembered some of their songs from back in the day and other songs I forgot they sang like “Better Now”. That was a sweet surprise. I haven’t heard that song in ages! They are a good solid band and they mentioned that they were in the process of recording a new album.
Sammy Hagar & The Circle consists of Sammy Hagar (of course), Michael Anthony (bass player from Van Halen), Jason Bonham (his father was none other than the late John Bonham from a little ole band called LED ZEPPELIN) and Vic Johnson (he played with The BusBoys and Sammy Hagar and the Waboritas). Their set list consisted of Van Halen tunes, Sammy’s solo career songs and Montrose songs. One of my favorite songs is “Poundcake” and whoa….was it AMAZING live! Chills! Some of the other tunes they played were “Right Now”, “Dreams”, “I Can’t Drive 55”, “Best of Both Worlds”, “When Its Love”, “Heavy Metal” and a few Montrose songs that were before my time. Ron knew them though! Ha! They ended the night with a cover of “Rock and Roll” by Led Zeppelin that rocked the place!
It was definitely a great concert and to think that Sammy just turned 70 is CRAZY to me! He has more energy than a 30 year old!
I just got back from an awesome trip to see my dear friends in North Jersey and my favorite band, Guns N’ Roses in NYC! When my friend Heather told me that GNR were planning on coming to Madison Square Garden, I didn’t even have to think about it, I said, “I’m booking my flight as soon as you get the tickets!”
My plane arrived around 9pm on Friday night and Heather and Sean came to pick me up at the airport. It was so nice to see them and when I walked outside and took a breath of the New Jersey air, all I could think to myself was, “I love and miss this place so much!”. I literally couldn’t stop smiling and this trip couldn’t have come at a better time since I’ve been feeling an overload of emotions lately and just needed a break.
Heather runs the Kristy Fund and she needed some help with collecting Skel-A-Mingo’s from people’s lawns around her town (please visit her website about the Skel-A-Mingo haunting’s that she organizes during October and other fundraisers that she has going on all through the year in memory of her dear friend, Kristy). It was great to be with her during haunting season so I could meet the Mingo’s and help out a little.
For dinner we had the best pizza in New Jersey at V&J Pizza. This place blows all the competition away! I love me some Delio’s in South Amboy but V&J Pizza is my all time favorite pizza! I mean, look at the picture below! My mouth is watering just looking at it! It’s a masterpiece!!!!
That night Heather and Sean invited some of their friends over and we hung out by the fire drinking beers and laughing. The weather was perfect and I got to meet some really cool peeps!
Before I start talking about the concert, I have to mention the plain bagel with scallion cream cheese that I had for breakfast and the awesome Italian sub for lunch from King’s Kid Deli in Pequannock. As you probably already know from some of my other posts, it’s all about the food when I come to New Jersey. I try to eat as much as I can then come home and starve myself. Ha!
At around 3:30pm we left for NYC to see Guns N’ Roses. The concert started at 7:30pm but we wanted to get into the city early so we could have some food and drinks at Stout which was down the street from The Garden. We shared delicious chicken fingers and an artichoke, spinach and cheese dip to DIE for!
I have to give a HUGE shout out to Heather for the tickets she got for the 7 of us! We had amazing seats in the first row on the 2nd level. We had TV’s in front of us, extra leg space and a sill to hold things (like my beer!).
Now onto the concert..OUT OF THIS WORLD! I think they had one of the best openings I’ve ever seen! The build up to the opening song was a train on the screen with each place they have played so far. When it got to MSG it stopped, everyone started screaming and they started playing “It’s So Easy”! I think I had chills! They played many of my favorites including one from the Chinese Democracy album called “Better” (This was when the original GNR band broke up and Axl toured as GNR with other musicians). They belted out one song after the other like “You Could Be Mine”, “Welcome to the Jungle”, “Don’t Cry”, “Estranged”, “Mr. Brownstone”, “Night Train” and ended with “Paradise City”. They definitely did not disappoint and Slash has to be one of the best guitar players on the planet (although I already knew this before the concert). I was in awe watching him! He just didn’t stop and I couldn’t stop watching with my jaw hanging! He’s one of those guitar players that is so good that the guitar is like an extension of his body. It’s meant to be there and he knows it so well that he doesn’t even have to THINK about it. He’s so natural and his sound is so distinct that when you hear him play, you KNOW it’s him. He’s in a league of his own that’s for sure! As for Axl and Duff, Axl seemed to be struggling a little with his voice at times but that happens when you’re touring for 2 years straight! However, it didn’t change that fact that he is Axl “Fking” Rose!!!! Duff has always been a great bass player and seeing him and Slash playing together again was just epic to experience! I don’t know what else to say about this concert except, yes, I got to see GNR “In This Lifetime!”
Recoup, food, recoup some more, Skel-A-Mingo’s, food, recoup….you get the drill.
I woke up and looked at my phone to see what the weather was outside and when I looked, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. It’s 35 degrees!?!?! Whoa! A little chilly but I was excited that I would be able to experience cold and crisp air before I went back to humidity hell! Yes, it’s still humid in Florida in October. Just shoot me!
My flight was scheduled to leave at 10:50am. I like to get to the airport about 2 hours ahead of time only because you never know what the security line is going to look like. Heather and I left with plenty of time to spare until we didn’t have any time because of all the traffic! What the hell are people doing on the road at 8:00am? Shouldn’t they be at work already? Needless to say, my anxiety level was at 1000 (although I wouldn’t have minded missing my flight and staying in NJ a few more days!). We finally got to the airport and I did the hug, kiss, tuck and roll out of the car and made it to security with only 4 people in front of me. Props to Heather for her amazing driving skills (I was a little scared, I’m not gonna lie) and her calmness during my almost meltdown…ha ! Love you!
In the end, I had a wonderful time in my home state with my awesome friends and a little GNR to make it a perfect trifecta!
Heather and Sean’s front yard graveyard
The Killian Clan
Below are some videos from my trip. My goal was to make a YouTube video but some of my videos didn’t come out so great. Guess I’ll stick with blogging for a while until I can pull my YouTube game together! Feel free to enjoy the ones that DID come out decent.
The last time I saw Hall & Oates was in the late 90s with my friend Lydia and my mother. My mom was so excited to see them because she was a huge fan. Not only did she get to see one of her favorite bands, but she also found a pick that Daryl Hall had thrown out into the audience! It fell on the floor after he threw it and she was looking all over for it. I told her, “you’re never going to find it, it’s too dark” and boy did I eat those words! A glare of light shined from the stage and she found it! She picked it up and I’ll never forget how happy she was that night After she passed away, I found it while going through her things and now it’s with me.
Before the concert we went to Wahlburger’s in Downtown Orlando and this was my first time there. I didn’t have a burger because I didn’t want it laying in my stomach through the whole concert but I had a chicken caesar salad that was great! I would definitely go back.
*Note – If you plan on seeing Hall & Oates and Tears for Fears, beware that there are some set list spoilers below*
On to Tears for Fears……
THEY WERE AWESOME! Not just awesome, but, CAPS, BOLD andUNDERLINED awesome! I had this certain expectation of what I thought they were going to sound like and they sounded 10 times better than I thought they were going to sound! Lets face it, they haven’t been around for a while so you never really know what you’re going to get. Well, what a show! They opened with my favorite song “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” and sang favorites like “Mad World”, “Head Over Heels” and “Shout”!!!! They did a cover of “Creep” by Radiohead that was amazing! They looked great, their voices were on point and the band sounded like they did back in the 80s! Pleasantly surprised and very impressed!
On to Hall & Oates…..
I went to the concert with a group of lovely ladies who had never seen Hall & Oates live. When I saw them back in the 90s, they had played at House of Blues in Orlando which is a much smaller venue than the Amway Center. It was nice to be in an intimate setting with them and I wondered if seeing them this time in an arena setting would make it a less enjoyable experience for me. What I realized was that it wasn’t less enjoyable, it was just different. It’s been about 20 years since I saw them so of course things aren’t going to sound the same so I had to keep that in mind when going to this concert. **Sidenote** If I remember correctly, back in 1997 they were promoting a new album called Marigold Sky which, by the way, was a VERY underrated album. If you’ve never heard of it, go and get it! You won’t be disappointed.
Now back to the review…..Hall & Oates still have it! They opened up with “Family Man” and played most of the classics like “Maneater”, “Private Eyes”, “Family Man”, “Out of Touch” and ended with “You Make My Dreams Come True”! I would have liked to have heard “Adult Education” and “Method of Modern Love” but I’ve heard them play those songs before so it was okay I guess…. ;). Daryl sounded great although at times I felt like he had too much echo and the background music was so loud that it sometime overshadowed his voice. As for John, he can still play the guitar like no one’s business, voice was great and in wonderful shape! Their sax player was AWESOME (we called him the white Clarence Clemmons. Ha!) and the band as a whole are great musicians. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and would recommend seeing them if they come to your city!
Till next time….keep making “your dreams come true!” Ok, corny!