A Postcard from Orlando 2021

Saturday, February 5

Before our November holiday in Orlando Florida feels like too distant a memory I wanted to write share the highlights and my favourite photos. After almost two year living through a pandemic and many hours scrolling our phones looking for news of the borders reopening it was such an amazing feeling to be back in the sunshine state and we made it into the country just 4 days after the borders reopened. 

This time we stayed closer to Icon Park on International Drive meaning we had more restaurants within walking distance including Gordon Ramsay's Fish and Chips. I wasn't sure but my boyfriend was really keen - we found a table outside overlooking ICON park as it was a warm evening. We both ordered the fish and chips (delicious). The fish was fresh, tasty and the batter well fried.

We went to Disney Springs to pick up our tickets for the after hours event later in the week and enjoy the Christmas decorations. I really like changes they've made to the Christmas tree stroll since the pandemic and we got to walk round looking at the all and adding the stickers to our map. Of course I also picked up a pair of ears to wear to the Magic Kingdom. 

I've included photos of the Lion King tree and Moana but they were all great and you can see more of them if you want to check out my Insta story highlights. There was such a festive feeling so I'd recommend a visit if your there around Christmas time. 

When visiting Orlando we like to get away from the busyness and tourist spots so this time we picked Blue Spring State Park because we hoped to see some manatees because they stay in the warmer waters over the winter. It would have been good to see a couple but there were 100s!

We spent a really lovely afternoon not only watching the manatees and walking along the beautiful board walk but also going on a short hike around the trail they have. Florida is such a beautiful place and if you're only going to theme parts then you're missing out. 

In the morning we went the rangers counted 247 including lots of mums with babies like the one above. They came so close and were really easy to see - I could have stayed and watched them for hours. It was one of the best days of the holiday. 

Then in complete contrast we also went to the Christmas after hours event at the Magic Kingdom - Disney's Very Merriest. We'd never been to Disney before but decided this would be the perfect time to visit the park with limited crowds and the one night wouldn't take over our holiday. 

We got into the park in time to see the day time fireworks show before the event began and even though it poured with rain it was the most magical evening. The festive atmosphere really added to the experience and I was so happy from entry at 7pm to leaving at 1am. 

Our main aim for the night was to get on some rides while the wait times were shorter so we managed to tick off - Pirates of the Caribbean, Peter Pan's Flight, "it's a small world", Monsters Inc Laugh Floor, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, Haunted Mansion and Jingle Cruise. The only downside was missing the parade due to the rain but honestly it couldn't have spoilt my mood. 

Our second farmers market visit of the trip was to Winter Park - I love a farmers market and this one was set really close to some nice shops and restaurants. We choose Barnie's for brunch and it was delicious - I'm so happy we got to try so many new places to eat this trip. 

Then we jumped in the car and went to Mead Botanical Gardens - that might be a stretch compared so some places I've visited but it was still a really pretty place for a wander and someone was getting married. 

Look at that view! The day we visited was really quiet but I can see it being busy with locals in the summer for picnics and BBQs.

We were in the Lake Apopka area one day and looking for somewhere to walk - we didn't find anywhere but in true American style they had a nature drive instead so we did that. It's the fourth largest lake in Florida and part of a huge regeneration program over recent years. 

Obviously I now have 100s of photos of alligators on my phone - most of them taken from the safety of the car but I've included just two in this post. Can you see the one lurking just behind the heron? 

Top Golf is such a fun place to visit so of course we went back for a game - it is really busy on a Tuesday when it is half price though so be warned. Maybe I'll need a few more practise swings before we are back... 

Every time we got to Orlando we have a beach day and this time we picked New Smyrna Beach. The first visit was to Tin & Taco for lunch - the tacos we choose were amazing and afterwards I saw they are opening a new location at Icon Park on International Drive. 

New Smyrna Beach is such a cool, beachy town with lovely shops to browse and a plenty of beach to walk along. I love all the art work they had all over the place including this manatee on the lamp post. 

The final night of our holiday was thanks giving so we knew we wanted to book somewhere nice (and still had tables) so we settled on The Boathouse at Disney Springs. Not only was it supposed to be nice but I was excited to see what Disney Springs was like at night. 

The food definitely lived up to expectations, the restaurant was really cool and the service was great. I loved seeing all the Christmas lights at night around Disney Springs. It was definitely a lovely evening and a good way to end our trip.  

And that's it - our holiday was over. We spent our final day doing some Black Friday shopping then we went to Kissimmee to enjoy some final rays of Florida sunshine before heading to the airport. I don't think our next holiday will be to Orlando but I know we'll be back again soon enough. 

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