Florida

The holiday started off badly as I woke up the day we were leaving with a raging temp, and my glands up. I lay in bed, and Hannah packed (Bob was still at work). Though she couldn’t manage to squeeze everything into the two bags I had been aiming for, and had to resort to a third, it did turn out that she didn’t forget any essentials – so another task I can pass over to her :-).
Bob came home about 4pm, we had a row when I made noises about contacting the insurance to see if I could fly out when I felt better, and I dragged myself out of bed, and off we went to the airport. We’d booked into the Holiday Inn Express as it had free parking for the fortnight. I fell straight into bed, and Bob and Hannah went looking for dinner. I slept fitfully and feverishly till the alarm went off at 4pm, and we dragged ourselves over to the airport for the first shuttle to Gatwick. We then had a three hour wait for the flight to Orlando, and I dozed in Starbucks, while trying not to look as if I was about to contaminate a entire jumbo jet with Ebola or something.
Was very glad when we got on the plane that we’d decided to pay a little more to fly scheduled with BA, as our last trans Atlantic flight was charter from Glasgow, and it had been ghastly. But we had wide seats, lumbar support, footrests, and a TV on the back of every seat. I fell asleep, Bob and Hannah watched TV all day. We arrived at 5pm their time, and spent a couple of hours being photographed and finger printed (stopping only short of a DNA test), before being allowed into the US. Had a slightly scary moment when the Department of Homeland Security asked me “are you ill, ma’am?”, but I denied it, blaming it on dodgy ears after the flight and I *think* he was just being friendly. Though perhaps not. And picked up the hire car. The salesperson tried to convince us we’d be “all crushed up together, man” in the mid sized car we’d booked, and tried hard to get us to upgrade. We compromised by saying we’d look at the car and come back if it was too small. We couldn’t really see how it would be though, given we’d upgraded twice when ordering it. And in fact, it turned out to be a Mondeo, so it was hardly small!! Finally left the airport about 7.30pm, and headed out to our villa. Which was rather lovely. Vast, with a pool, and a screened in veranda, and an 8 foot bed. Bliss. Hannah had two doubles, her own bathroom AND a 32 ins TV in her room, so she was in 7th heaven. I fell into the large bed, Hannah jumped in the shower, and Bob went out to catch Pizza Hut. We managed to stay awake till about 10pm, which went a good way to helping the jet lag for the following day.
Sunday we went to Golden Corral for an all-you-can-eat breakfast. I was positively sylph-like in comparison to most of the rest of the clientele. I have never seen so much food in one place. Fully satiated, off we went to the Magic Kingdom to pick up our tickets. We were finger printed again, though Hannah sliced her finger just the next day with a bottle opener, and her finger print never worked again for the rest of the holiday. We had a bit of a walk round the Magic Kingdom, but we were all tired and hot, and I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, so we decided to return to the pool. (though Bob got lost driving for well over an hour)
Monday we were up early, and off to Epcot in time for it opening. I really enjoyed it, though in fact the future that was envisaged when it was built is either already past, or in the present, so it’s not as mind blowing and futuristic as I expected. However, parts of it are really beautiful, and Hannah enjoyed the rides. We were there till early evening, by which time I’d consumed all the paracetamol I could, so we headed back, I had an early night, and Bob and Hannah had a swim. Hannah then spent the rest of the evening in ecstasy with the Disney Channel, as we don’t have any of those refinements at home.
Tuesday we went to Aquatica, which was fantastic, and we’d expected it to be mobbed, as it had only been open 5 days, but we had it almost to ourselves. They were having some small glitches with it being new (although nothing I noticed really), but it meant we got freebies at various points during the day for our inconvenience. LOL. Got chatting to a “homeschooler” and she gave me a flat Stanley.
Wednesday I finally felt well, so we gave the Magic Kingdom another shot, and we all enjoyed it much better this time – quieter for a start! Although places generally still seemed busy to us, only about 10% of the car park space was in use, so it must get REALLY mobbed. Apparently 3 hour queues are not unknown in summer. I would just hate that. Hannah stood in line for lots of “meet and greets”, did all the big rides, and we watched the parade.
Thursday, Hannah got up and said “do we have to do theme parks today?” LOL. I think she was knackered. Bob and I were happy to say no, so we vegged round the pool, did a bit of shopping in the evening, and generally had a lazy day.
Friday we went to the Animal Kingdom. I’m not one for zoos, but this was amazing. I think it was the park we all enjoyed best. We were there for it opening, and stayed till it closed, and did all the shows and rides, plus an animal safari, which was fantastic.
On Saturday we spent the morning at Universal City Walk (we didn’t do Universal Studios), looking for a Maggie Simpson’s doll for a present, with no luck at all. Apparently they are really rare, and you can’t get them anywhere, I had foolishly assumed we would pick one up no problem, but having not seen one all the previous week, either at the tourist places or in the Toys R US that I insisted we try, had been convinced we’d get one at Universal. No luck, so after some texts home, refined the search to look for a native American Doll – also as it turned out with no luck, as the choice is Disney, Disney, or Disney. And even Disney isn’t doing Pocahontas this year. So, Elaine – sorry, it’s Disney tat!
We then decided to give the parks a miss for the weekend, and headed off to the coast for a couple of days. Wow, wow, and triple wow. Now THAT I could cope with. Hannah got in a panic as I went off for a walk, and disappeared for well over two hours. Bob was relaxed as he understands what I mean by a “wee walk”, but Hannah thought I’d had a Jaws moment. The beach was amazing, that you could walk for all that time, and not be nearly at the end. It was so gorgeous there, and I think if I was going back, I would probably want to stay longer at Clearwater, and have less time in Orlando.
By Tuesday we were back on the theme park trail, and did Busch Gardens. Where I punched someone VERY hard after he pressed his naked bits against me at an isolated viewing point. I was then in a slight panic that I’d end up in a US jail, and it took the shine off things for the rest of the day. The fact that I seem to have some sort of compression injury and bruising to my arm is probably indicative of him having a bit of a shiner to explain. Serve him right.
Wednesday we visited Down Town Disney, which was lovely. Rode on the water taxis, had lunch at the Rainforest Cafe, (ridiculously excited by this, as we don’t have one in Scotland) and looked for native American dolls πŸ˜‰ I resisted spending money here In the evening we went to Red Lobster, and had margaritas and – well, lobster πŸ™‚
Thursday found us at MGM studios, but I don’t know if it was too hot, too busy, or we just weren’t in the mood, but none of us were enjoying ourselves, so after watching HSM2 we returned to the Magic Kingdom, and got there in time for the 3pm parade. We did some of the shows we’d missed the previous week, and stayed for the fireworks. Long day, but lovely.
Friday Hannah wanted to revisit Animal Kingdom, so we did it all again, and still enjoyed it. I met another homeschooler, and got given another flat Stanley. What is it with these women – do they have a supply of them to give to foreign tourists? Packed up in the evening. All felt rather sad.
Saturday we had to be out of the villa by 10am, so we all tried to forget about the fact we wouldn’t be home till 4pm the following afternoon. Visited a mall, something we hadn’t done, and basically spent the day looking for air conditioning. Bought new trainers for me and Hannah, and some sport gear she needed/wanted. Wandered out to the airport mid afternoon, searched all the shops for either Maggie or a Native American doll, and went through the whole security process in reverse to be allowed out. Flight home was pretty good, considering the length of it, and we all got at least some sleep.
At Gatwick we had a “welcome to the UK moment”, when 3 breakfasts (with toast/coffee/milk extra) cost Β£35, when the Golden Corral had cost us $18. (about Β£11). Felt very embarrassed about the family of Americans who had been sitting behind us on the plane, who got crap service in Garfunkles, couldn’t believe the coffee wasn’t included, and couldn’t get tap water with their meal, and then got a bill for just short of 60 quid. We had a four hour wait in Gatwick between flights, but in fact that was only long enough to have breakfast, as it took nearly two hours to get through security, and then another hour to get through it again for the domestic flight. Arrived back in Glasgow about 4pm, picked up the car, home by 5, and slept for 16 hours. Bob was back at work today, but Hannah and I have had a lazy day.
So, yes, a wonderful holiday, Hannah had a ball, and really glad we went. As these things go, very cheap, especially with the exchange rate. I would say I thought Disney was over hyped, and I’ve no real notion to go again. But Florida itself was fantastic, and well worth the visit. There was lots we didn’t do – never saw the Atlantic Coast, didn’t go to the Space Centre, didn’t do Universal, and didn’t do any on the non-Disney attractions – the homeschooler gave me a list of local places, some of which sounded excellent, but we never made it to any of them. I’m also glad though that we didn’t go at it like maniacs – I do actually feel like I’ve had a holiday, and if we go back next year, still loads to do, without the need to bother Walt again πŸ™‚
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10 Comments »

  1. Ali said

    Oh Wow! What a trip – the villa sounds just wonderful – bliss I should think to have arrived there.
    Don’t like the sound of the isolated viewing points with the man with naked bits at all!
    Fabulous detailed post, all sounds exhilarating and a very special trip.

  2. jax said

    Sounds fab Joyce, slightly green with envy. Intrigued as to how you identified all these homeschoolers (or they identified you?) Good on you for the punch, hope he really did have a shiner and is put off such actions again.

  3. Joyce said

    I made it a challenge a day Jax to engage at least one American in conversation, and as I didn’t do all the rides, I spent a bit of time waiting for H+B, so I did it then. Only two of them happened to be homeschoolers, the rest were other things. I guess asI probably trageted women with kids, and it was outside school hols, I had a fairly high chance.

  4. Sarah said

    sounds absolutely fantastic, so glad you all enjoyed it πŸ™‚

  5. Nic said

    Sounds like a fabulous holiday πŸ™‚ Off to go back and check out all the (many) links in your post now! Well done on your punch and erm, to my shame I’m also going to have to google Flat Stanley!

  6. Roslyn said

    Sounds wonderful! I felt the same about Disney and Universal was crap really.

    As for US homeschoolers- they just stand out! LOL! MOst of those we wet had about 10 kids all dressed the same.

  7. HelenHaricot said

    what a fab time. will put it on my list of things to do before the girls leave home!

  8. Kirsty said

    Really glad you had a good time, sorry to hear about feeling ill on the way there. i can def sympathise with that one, although I did wimp out and not go.

    Villa sounded fab too. Ever so slightly jealous πŸ˜‰

  9. Elizabeth said

    Glad to hear it was a good trip! The west coast near the gulf is also gorgeous. I’ve been living here for almost 8yrs and still get a shock over the cost of everything!

  10. Allie said

    Just had time to read this properly. Sounds like an amazing trip.

    Very glad you punched that bloke.

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