A Travellerspoint blog

Homeward Bound

We awake early. All the bags are packed and all that remains is to make sure that the villa is spick and span for when the owners arrive later that morning. We nip to Denny's for our final breakfast of this trip. Peter has his usual 'Grand Slam Slugger' and I have my favourite 'Moons over My Hammy' and return to the villa to gather the last of our things before heading out. We do not need to be at Sanford Airport until at least 2pm and so we decide to do some last minute shopping instead.

We head up I-4 to the Mall at Millennia which we class as a 'posh' mall as it has a Tiffany store. Peter had been rather jealous of my Ray Bans that I purchased earlier in the week and so decided to get some for himself. He buys Ray Ban P's, the P standing for polarized which will beneficial when driving as eliminates glare. Not quite the bargain I got but still good for polarized lenses. We make use of the free wi-fi at Starbucks to locate a petrol station near to the airport as we need to ensure the tank in the rental car is full before dropping it off.

We arrive at the airport at around 2.30pm and Peter sortes out the return of the renatal car. Check-in and security is very quick as there is hardly any lines which is one of the real benefits of flying from this slightly smaller provincial airport. A quick stop at duty free for some essential beverages (Bombay & JD) and then we head to the Royal Palm Lounge. As we are flying premium class we have automatic access to this very pleasant lounge. We are given a wristband that entitles us to 2 free beers or wines which we make use off and then we settle down until boarding.

We are called to board about 16.30 and are soon settled in. We push back on time and take off around 17.15. Thankfully the flight time back home is only 7 hours 40 mins due to the jet-stream and a significant tailwind that I saw at one point during the flight at 173mph, propelling to almost supersonic speed. We both watch and enjoy Les Miserable from the inflight entertainment selection. It's a long film and by the time it ends we are already over Newfoundland and about to start the transatlantic part of the flight. There is not much else to choose from and so we both pull out our iPads to watch programmes and films we had previously downloaded. Night time is very brief if it could be called that at all, the full moon casts a eerie glow over the clouds and ocean below us so it almost looks like daylight. Soon the cabin lights are brought up and breakfast is served.

We land at Manchester at approximately 05.55 to bring to a close an excellent 2 weeks away. It feels like we have been away for much longer. We are greeted by bright sunshine and blue skies although the temperature is a little fresher at 6C (42F) but it's better than rain.

Royal Palm Lounge

Royal Palm Lounge


Farewell Florida

Farewell Florida


Moonlight over Atlantic

Moonlight over Atlantic

Posted by Patch64 17:00 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Rapid Water Rides & Rapid Service

We awake on our final full day in Florida. We are slow to get going today and we plan on taking it easy as yesterday was a long old day.

After breakfast we head to Seaworld's water park called Aquatica. It was not overly busy and we soon found a spot on the man made beach in front of Big Surf Shores which is one of 2 giant wave making pools. We sunbathe for a little while and then cool off on the various water rides. I don't enjoy the tube style rides and prefer things like the lazy river or in this case the Roa Rapids (which is like a lazy river on speed). Peter ventures off to ride the Dolphin Plunge and the Omaka Rocka. After lunch we head to the Florida Mall for a little retail therapy and then head back to the villa and enjoy some time in the private pool here.

We then start the horrible job of packing to come home which is not much fun but has to be done.

We have dinner at Bahamas Breeze on Vineland Avenue where we share (we are learning) an appetizer of Chicken Quesadilla. Then I have a Carnitas (Slow roasted pork, sautéed with chorizo sausage, fresh corn, sweet plantains and garbanzo beans in a cumin-citrus sauce served over yellow rice). Peter has Jerk Chicken Pasta (Sliced jerk chicken breast, fresh asparagus and mushrooms tossed in a Parmesan cream sauce with bow-tie pasta). Although the food was excellent the service was way too quick and we had barely finished our starters when the mains came. I prefer a break between courses but I guess they need to turn tables.

Now we are back at the villa enjoying some ice-cream and some wine before our journey home begins tomorrow.

Aquatica

Aquatica


Roa Rapids

Roa Rapids


Bahama Breeeze

Bahama Breeeze


Lovely sunset

Lovely sunset

Posted by Patch64 17:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Toasty Roasty

We awake to blue skies and sunshine. I like this time of the day. It's lovely and quiet where we are and the birds don't seem as loud and chirpy as back home, although there does seem to be a pigeon intent on waking the neighbourhood with its throaty caw (or is that a coo?).

No rush this morning. We are headed over to the west coast of Florida today to Tampa. When we bought our theme park tickets it included Busch Gardens in the package and whilst a little out of the way it also gives us the opportunity of meeting up with more fellow cruisers. This time Pam and Scott from Zephyrhills, who we met on Freedom back in 2006, and who we have seen a couple of times since but sadly not on a ship. They were on the Allure the week before us so that was bad timing.

After a late breakfast we make our way westward on I-4 until we reach Busch Gardens. The temperatures are soaring by the time we arrive and make our way into the park. The thing we enjoy about Busch Gardens is that it's part zoo as well as theme park. As you enter some of the first animals you encounter are Alligators and they have some really big ones here. Not that they do much, just lie there basking in the sun. Am sure they would soon be alert if you got too close to them.

We decide to try the parks newest ride, the Cheetah Run, a high speed roller coaster that opened in 2010. We put our things in a locker, conveniently provided close by, and take a bathroom break first as Q time is about 25 mins. The bathrooms were close to another ride called Montu and as the Q time for that is zero minutes we hop on that first. Once I get off, after being flung through various loops and switchbacks, I begin to think my roller coaster days maybe coming to an end. Not as much fun as they used to be. Cheetah Run partly restores my faith as its very fast and exhilarating with only one upside down loop. We ride it twice in a row.

We then walk through the Edge of Africa seeing various animals such as Hippos, Lions, Gazelles and Elephants. We even see one of the Alligators, a big mean looking one, being fed a chicken, fully feathered but thankfully already dead. It was gone in one gulp. We arrive at Timbuktu, a section themed after the malls and bazaars of Africa where we buy a welcome iced drink as the sun is high in the sky and as hot as hell. Well maybe not that hot but still toasty roasty.

We decide not to try any of the water based rides as we are going straight to dinner after the park and do not want to be squelching through our appetizers. We have lunch and continue onto to Stanleyville and eventually the bird gardens. The heat and humidity are really taking their toll on me at this point and have zapped me of all energy. We decide to leave the park and head somewhere with aircon...a shopping mall perhaps. We return to the car but it is a full 5 minutes before we can even get inside as it's that hot. I swear if we had left a pie in the car before we entered the park it would now be baked to perfection.

We end up in Channelside, after getting lost in Ybor City, and think we have stepped into the Twilight Zone. The place is pretty much deserted and there is a fat guy patrolling around wearing a Batman costume. He asks me to let him know if I see Robin..weird. Peter has managed to hack into a local wifi signal and we head towards the International Plaza Mall. It's blissfully cool inside and we spend some time looking around Dillards and Nordstroms.

By now it's time to head toward Plant City and dinner with Pam and Scott. The weather which has held up all day decides to deteriorate as we make our way back along I-4 and the heavens open. We arrive at our destination not long after so not too bad. It's great to meet up with Pam and Scott and it doesn't feel like its been 6 years since we last saw them. We have a lot of laughs over dinner but a couple of hours is not long enough to catch up fully and we agree we must cruise again together again...soon.

After dinner we wish each other goodbye and continue our journey back to Kissimmee. It's been a long, hot day. But again fun.

Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens


Can you do this?

Can you do this?


Cheetah Run

Cheetah Run


King of the Jungle

King of the Jungle


Chillaxing

Chillaxing


Toasty Roasty

Toasty Roasty

Posted by Patch64 17:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Wingardium Leviosa

Found it hard to wake is morning. Too much sleep perhaps? Nothing that a nice cup of coffee could not sort out. Bright sunshine this morning although like yesterday some stormy weather forecast for later in the day.

We are soon out the door for breakfast and then on our way to Universal Studios for the day. We decide to take the preferred parking which means you don't have to walk so far from the car to the theme park. Not sure it was worth the upgrade as it was a fair old walk from King Kong 310 to the park entrance.

Once inside we head to Islands of Adventure first and the Amazing Spider-Man ride which has now been upgraded into HD. You can really tell e difference and it's a fun ride. We then head over to Popeyes Bilge Rats Ride and got absolutely soaked along with the fellow passengers on our large floating ring. Lots of fun though. Plenty of other park guests seem to take pleasure in putting a quarter in the water guns to soak us further without getting on the ride themselves...cowards. Sadly the sun decided to hide its face which prolonged the drying process somewhat. We walked through Jurassic Park in which the main ride River Adventure is closed for refurbishments.

We then enter Hogsmeade, part of the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter zone. It looks excellent and is like stepping into a scene from the movie. We are entertained by a few students from Hogwarts singing 'something wicked this way comes' together with their pet toads. We then join the 45 min line for the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. The experience includes a flight around Hogwarts castle, an encounter with the Whomping Willow, a horde of Dementors, Giant Spiders and a Quidditch match. The ride drops, spins around, twists and turns using robocoaster technology which allows the seats to pivot while being held above the track by a robotic arm. Very exhilarating. We then walk around Hogsmeade visiting places such as Honeydukes, Zonko's and The Three Broomsticks as well as seeing The Hogwarts Express.

Having seen all we want in Islands of Adventure we head over to Universal Studios (which is right next door). We stop at Mel's 50's Diner for some lunch and then do the Simpsons and Despicable Me rides which are great fun.

We then return to the villa for a few hours before heading out to dinner. We meet up with Fred, someone we met on our Freedom of the Seas sailing in 2009 and kept in touch with ever since. We eat the the Outback Steakhouse and although the food was very good the service was a little haphazard to say the least. Still it was nice to meet up with a previous sailing buddy who we hope we will have the chance to sail with again sometime in the future.

We say goodbye to Fred and head back to the villas where it's cocktail and TV time.

Universal

Universal


Me at Hogwarts

Me at Hogwarts


Hogwarts Choir & Toad Chorus

Hogwarts Choir & Toad Chorus


Zonko's

Zonko's


Krustyland

Krustyland

Posted by Patch64 17:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

To Boldly Go

First full day in Orlando today. Good nights sleep last night. We awake to a slightly overcast sky and the local weather channel predicts some heavy rain & thunderstorms from around lunchtime. In view of this we slightly curtail our plans and decide to head to Seaworld and then go to the movies this afternoon. If it's raining outside I'd rather be inside.

We head to Seaworld, via Denny's, where the skies are blue and the temperatures are soaring. Could the weatherman have got it wrong? We stroll around the park visiting the Dolphins, Sealions, Manatees, Turtles and other assorted marine life. We venture onto the giant roller-coaster Kraken and the water ride Journey to Atlantis. We head to the Dolphin Theatre for the dolphin show Blue Horizons.

We leave the park and grab some lunch before heading to the AMC Theatre at Downtown Disney to see Star Trek - Into Darkness. I wanted to see it before we came on holiday but it only opened the day before we left. We both really enjoyed it.

As we exited the theatre we could see that the weather had changed dramatically. People outside were running for cover as the rain was falling horizontally, whipped up by some strong winds. We hung back as we know we would get drenched even on the short distance to the car. The rain soon petered out to a soft drizzle and so we ventured out to the car. The sky to the east was pitch black and we could see flashes of lightening underneath the clouds. We had dinner at Chevy's Mexican restaurant (huge portions, should have shared, don't think will ever learn).

We stopped off at the Premium Outlet Mall where I got a nice pair of Ray Bans Sunglasses a lot cheaper than I would have paid in the UK.

We head back to the villa around 9pm and spend the evening watching TV and chilling with some wine. Another lovely day in Florida.

Blue Horizons - Sea World

Blue Horizons - Sea World


Turtle

Turtle


Stormy weather

Stormy weather


Blue Horizons

Blue Horizons

Posted by Patch64 17:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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