A Postcard from Orlando 2016

Tuesday, July 5

The first view of your destination from the sky is always so exciting - I still couldn't believe I was off to Florida on holiday. We flew premium economy with virgin atlantic so everything went smoothly and we were very well fed. Getting through the airport was a drawn out process and lots of queuing but we eventually reached our hotel - the 'Avanti Resort' on International Drive. 

I've been back a week and a bit now so I'm trying my best not to let any of the details of our holiday fade. I honestly wasn't sold on the idea of going to America but my boyfriend was really keen to go back. I was worried about all the rides, the pressure, everything being so big but in the end none of that mattered. We had an amazing time! 

Two weeks is a long time and I'm sure you can imagine the mountain of photos we both have. This morning I've finally got them all edited and sorted into folders so I can start writing some blog posts. Despite carrying my DSLR all the way there all these photos were taken on my Moto G (2014) or Scott's Samsung Galaxy S5. I couldn't take my camera to theme parks or water parks and the days were it would have been useful I realised too late. A little bit of a shame but at least I didn't live the holiday behind the lens.

This holiday we bought the Orlando FlexTicket Plus which meant we could go to Universal Studios, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Wet ‘n Wild, Aquatica, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens. Although we didn't go to SeaWorld for ethical reasons. I've got separate posts about visiting Universal and NASA's Kennedy Space Center because it would have been too much for this post. 

The view from outside our hotel room or the Orlando Eye.

A few days into our holiday Scott had rented a car so we could do some traveling and see outside Orlando. On the first day we drove to Cocoa Beach on the East coast. The day was burning hot and the sea as warm as a bath. I love swimming in the sea but it is such a rare treat so I made the post of it. We then lay under the sun drying off before walking along to the end of the pier. There are also sea turtles that lay their eggs on the beach and I thought that was very cool to see. Imagining them hatching and crawling to the watering in such a beautiful location.

Tragically on the second night of our holiday the shootings at pulse took place. Although it didn't affect us being in such a tourist area I still felt a little shaken that it happened so close. On the second Saturday (a week later) Scott and I had bought tickets to see Orlando City Vs San Jose. That night we got the worst rain of the whole holiday and we got pretty soaked although in the warmth we dried again.

Not only was our first experience of soccer pretty incredible the whole match was turned into a very emotional tribute to the 49 people killed at Pulse. You very rarely see a City with such spirit and support. The way they thank the first response, police and hospital staff is really touching. We are too quick here to complain about what more they could have done without saying thank you. 

The game finished in a very exciting way with two goals in extra time. A potentially winning one from Orlando followed by a second from San Jose moments later meaning the game finished 2-2.

I love water parks! After visiting Siam Park I became addicted so that was the part I was most excited about going to Orlando. The day we went to Aquatica Scott treated us to Quick Queue bands so we could go to the front of the queue 
every time. I loved Omaka Rocka and Whanau Way 
the best and we went on them both a lot! The rapids were a pretty cool feature that I'd never seen before. 

The most intense experience of the whole day was on Ihu’s Breakaway Falls (pictured above). Originally I refused to go on it because I couldn't handle the breakaway capsules but Scott went up and told me one didn't have a breakaway capsule. I still wasn't keen but he pushed and pushed for the rest of the day. To get him to shut up about it we climbed the 504 steps to the top. I honestly have never been so scared in my life... Looking down the slide it was so steep you couldn't see where you were going! Scott offered to go first and off he went. I couldn't even sit down on the slide and despite the life guards encouragement I just couldn't do it so I ran back down again. At the bottom I cried - I let Scott down, I'd let me down, I was scared and frustrated at myself. 

We gave up and went on some of the other rides a few more times but the park was nearing closing time and I knew if I left not going on it I would regret it. So I persuaded Scott up the steps again but this time I went first. I was still extremely scared but some part of me made myself push off and it was intense! I kind of enjoyed it too... in the end! More importantly I was so proud of myself though. 

I only agreed to the purple one because it was the least steep one but after going some reading back at the hotel I realised it was the steepest of all four with a 40 foot free fall and I went on it!!!

There is so much to do on international drive in the evenings. Most nights it was slightly cooler too so it was easier to walk around. One night we decided to play one of the adventure golf course which were all as American as I'd pictured. We choose Pirate's Cove because it was close to our hotel and started the more difficult of the two courses, Blackbeard's course, at about 10pm. Scott and I are competitive and I always lose so it was a tense game. I still lost thought it was a lot of fun! 

The second place we loved going was King's Orlando we discovered it on our second week after seeing good review on tripadvisor. It is over 21s at night so we were looking forward to something more grown-up. We went for tea after being at Aquatica all day. The food was delicious and the cocktails strong. Afterwards we tried some bowling (we are both pretty hopeless) then played pool which Scott is very good at. They do different offers every night and offers on drinks after 10pm. More than that though the atmosphere was really good so we came back on our final night too.

We ate in a lot of really good places. I'm still tempted to write a second post about it because it would take a big chunk up of this one. The one place I do want to mention is Olive Garden. I've heard of this place before on American TV/Movies etc so when I saw there was one so close I wanted to go. We went at the end of our first full day there and the food was delicious. Scott and I both really enjoyed our meals. We enjoyed them so much in fact we decided we'd definitely be back which we managed to do on the last night of our holiday. There is lots of options on the menu for something lighter or less filling, the unlimited salad was a great touch and their famous bread sticks totally lived up to expectations. If they had an Olive Garden in Scotland I know we would be a regular customers.

Re-reading this post it feels like I have missed out so much of our holiday. I've got more posts coming but if there is anything else you would like me to cover please leave me a message. No amount of words could describe what an amazing time we had - I now can see why people go back to Florida every year. 

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