2 girls, 1 holiday villa in Orlando, on a road trip!

We thought we’d have a change of scenery and with easy images coming to mind of cocktail drinking on fine white sand beaches we headed over to Sarasota on the Gulf coast.

Just 1 hr 40mins  along the I4 and I75 and we arrived at our destination – the Hyatt Regency.  We were able to check in early and then set off walking to funderstand somewhere nice to have lunch.   It was hot, the traffic heavy and noisy with a lot of construction.  After going round in a circle with sidewalks closed, our enthusiasm was fraying so we headed into the Ritz Calton to lunch as Jack Dusty’s overlooking the marina.  A mojito and lunch later we felt better.

Unfortunately we heard that all the beaches along the Sarasota area were affected by Red Tide which is an algae that kills fish and affects humans breathing – it also stinks.  The beaches are littered with dead fish.  With this in mind we headed off to the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens instead.

What a haven, not massive but absolutely beautifully maintained with lots of interesting gardens and play areas – greenhouses, waterfalls, tree hugging, mangroves and wildlife – we while away a couple of hours.

Then buoyed up we decided to risk it and head over to the shops, bars and restaurants of St Armands Circle.  When we gor there we couldnt smell the red tide (although I was a little wheezy) and free parking was abundant.   Reminding us a bit of Winter Park but in a circle with statues we had a little stroll and browse before heading back to the hotel.

We ended the day with room service and sitting out on the balcony looking back across the marina towards Jack Dusty’s.

2 girls, 1 week in a holiday villa Orlando

Yesterday we had a Disney day.  As an annual passholder I was able to get my friend a 1 day hopper ticket for $79 plus taxes.

We started at Magic Kingdom.  You can tell it is low season as the monorail was on a real go slow and as we arrived they announced it was going out of service.

Bag check and added security and then we were in.  All themed for Halloween the first spot was Snow White with no.line!  After a photo call we headed down the Main Street and arrange some fast passes.  We took a turn on the Tomorrowland transit, had lunch and then went on Its a Small World , Pirates of the Carribean and Buzz Lightyear.  After a little retail therapy we decided to head over to Epcot.

We had just arrived at Epcot when the afternoon storm broke – we decided to sit it out in the car lot and then headed in.  This time on the way in we had a photo opportunity with Daisy Duck! We 7were visiting for the Food & Wine festival rather than the rides, howe’ve,  there were very few lines – we could even have queued to see Anna & Elsa in only 20 minutes.

 

2 girls, 1 week in an Orlando holiday villa

We woke really early – it was still dark – due to the 5 hour time difference ftom the UK and our early night.  I opened the blinds in my room to watch for the sunrise.

As the sun rose, I donned my swimming costume and stepped out to the pool for an early morning dip – the sun rise was beautiful and the temperature perfect – pool was like bath water without pool heat.  As I relaxed by the pool afterwards a couple of hot air balloons glided over.

After a light breakfast, quick showers and getting dressed we headed out to visit the Premium Outlet on Vinelands Avenue.  With more stores and an easy to follow layout we prefer this one to the one on International Drive.  We looked in Ugg, GAP, Saks on Fifth before moving across the road to where the bulk of the stores are.  Best buys were probably in Kate Spade with upto 80% off.

Then an early storm came in, starting with a few large drops of rain, the skies darkened dramatically and then opened.  We decided it was a good time to visit the food court for some lunch!  There are a couple of new franchises in the food court including Greenacre which makes from scratch salad bowls and a new sandwich stall.  After the storm passed, we completed our outlet shopping and then headed to Target on the way back to the villa.

Super Target at Rolling Oaks really sells everything and is clean and not so crowded at Walmart – although it is a little bit more expensive I think.

Starting to feel hungry our final stop was to order 2 take out pizzas from Papa Johns.  $6.99 each, cooked to order and delicious!

Still gettin used to the time difference we watched a little television Dancing with the Stars and an hour of the presidential debate before calling it a day.

 

2 girls, 1 week in an Orlando holiday villa

Yesterday my friend and I travelled out to Orlando from Manchester for our annual girl’s week of fun in the sun – so I thought this week I’d give you a little debrief and insight into what that means for us.

We were on the morning Virgin Atlantic flight from Manchester.  T2 meet and greet car park – excellent service directly opposite the terminal building.  Security lines were long – you need to allow plenty of time.  We still had time for breakfast and after seeing the line for Frankie & Benny’s opted for Brodericks.

We had a good flight over – 8hrs 20mins arriving on stand 30 minutes early.  The queue for Immigration at MCO stretched from the hall to the aircraft, however, this was due to a new filtering system where ambassadors sorted arivals according to residency and last visit to the States.  We were through quickly and cleared Customs with no lines.

Then on to the car rental desks.  Historically this can be a real time eater with upto 1 hour wait.  This time though I had utilised the new skip the line facility and checked in for the car before I even left the UK.  This meant we walked straight to our car of choice.  We were through the airport by 2.45pm.

So what did we do with the time we gained – we used it wisely and drove straight to Celebration for a walk round the lakes and a scope of Kilwin’s! !

 

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Throwback Thursday – Lake Louisa State Park – Sept 2011

With 6 lakes, 20 miles of hiking trails, picnic pavilion, swimming in Lake Louisa plus sleeping cabins.

Only about half an hour from Walt Disney World you will find the sanctuary and calm of  Lake Louisa State Park.  Take Hwy 192 west from I4 about 9 miles, head North 8 miles on US27 and follow the signs.

We think September is the ideal time to visit, the temperatures are nice, the humidity  has calmed down so the wildlife is usually out an about during daytime hours.  We have seen armadillo, deer, fish and the gopher tortoises.

 

Sign Saturday – Gopher Tortoise Crossing!

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Keep your eyes peeled – we have seen Gopher Tortoises along the roadside on the US192, on the way into Disney on the verges, Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Louisa State Park and at Wewiva Springs.  One time there was one in the middle of the road and we were so worried that it might get hit by a vehicle that we pulled over to assist it to the other side – I have never seen a tortoise shift quicker than it did as we approached!