Flashback Friday – Watching a Shuttle launch from Cocoa Beach February 2011

Back in February 2011, on vacation with my brother and his family we decided to go and watch a shuttle launch from Cocoa Beach.

Parking wasn’t too bad – we managed to park at a meter on the roadside fairly near one of the boardwalks to the beach.

It was February but the weather was good and we had fun playing on the sand, eating a picnic while waiting with many others for the launch to take place.

Having waited several hours, bought binoculars to see the launch and a radio to hear it, we managed to almost completely miss the event by looking in the wrong direction!!

Before we travelled home we visited the massive Ron Jon Surf Shop for some essential souvenirs.

Combined with a 6 hour journey back to Orlando (it was Daytona weekend the same day and the toll road was rammed) it turned out to be a very memorable day for many reasons – we still laugh about it 6 years later and the best thing is that apart from the fuel, toll and parking it was pretty much free fun in the sun!

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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 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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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!

Skip the line – car rental

Yesterday we flew into Orlando International.  We landed within minutes of 3 other jumbo jets Aith another just behind us.  Immigration was full and we were held on the plane for 40 minutes before we could disembark.  We then joined the back of a long queue to clear immigration, then customs and then had to wait for tram to take us across to the terminal building.

I still left smiling though!  I was smiling because I had checked in for my Alamo car rental before I left the UK.  I then clicked on the skip the line button and was able to register my drivers licence details and credit card from home.

So yesterday I was able to skip the line, we went directly to the car garage and within minutes had selected our car of choice and left the building.  It made me very happy!