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Review: Orlando


Florida, United States

Florida - a new experience

  • By SilverTraveller annette-hall

    21 reviews


  • Jan 2012
  • Husband

141 people found this review helpful

Florida – and new experiences!

The big 70 approaches – shall I look at retirement home brochures and buy comfy slipper, or wear purple and run my stick along the railings? Chose the latter, and went all out for new experiences. What exactly to do I left to chance, and a competition holiday win pointed me in the direction of Florida. This is something I wouldn’t have chosen as I hate flying, and friends were a bit scathing, thinking in terms of Disney (perhaps they were jealous!)

First new experience was the Virgin Holidays V Lounge at Gatwick. I was quite impressed with that. Free breakfast, newspapers, magazines, comfy chairsoverlooking the aeroplanes and internet access.

Second new experience was the flight across the Atlantic. Long, 8 hours, but films, music, games and snacks made it bearable – just. We could have managed without the long delay queuing to get through immigration though, a new but unpleasant experience.

Third new experience was the Omni Orlando resort at Champions gate. A very swish hotel, but very welcoming to two weary, rather down market travellers amongst their up market business clientele! Super grounds with a range of gardens, palm trees and pools. We enjoyed sitting by the pool in the warm January sunshine.

Fourth new experience was a body massage – very relaxing.

Driving in America was the fifth new experience. We had been a bit apprehensive, but it was easy. Roads were well signed, everyone kept to speed limits, and the volume of traffic was lighter than in the UK. After experiencing UK motorways, especially the M25, it was easy!

The sixth new experience was the huge number of lakes, there seamed to be water everywhere. An air boat ride with ‘Wild Willie’ on lake Tohopeckaliga introduced us to alligators, ranging from tiny to huge. A boat trip on Wakkula Springs gave sightings of yet more alligators and manatee.

A favourite experience, the seventh, was the Space centre, where we spent a whole day looking around. A tour bus took visitors to the different parts of the site, and gave excellent commentaries. Even the gift shops were interesting. We also saw a rocket launch, from Titusville, opposite Canaveral. The rocket was launching a satellite, and as it was in the evening it was spectacular, with light reflected over the river, and lighting up the sky.

The eighth experience was Epcot, with the ninth a rather swish complementary taxi to and from the hotel. I was pleasantly surprised with Epcot – not at all tacky, in fact rather smart. No litter, everywhere pristine, even the Disney characters were immaculate. We tried a variety of rides, more suited to children than senior citizens, and walked round the national themed villages round a large lake.

My interest is ornithology, so I was fascinated by all the new birds. There were so many, at times I didn’t know where to look first! A day at the Merritt island reserve, next to the space centre was tenth and best new experience for me. The common birds, grackles, white ibis and black vultures all appeared exotic. The rarest was a painted bunting, but all were exciting for me. I recognised 50 species, and saw more that I couldn’t identify.

Our visit was extended (Virgin kindly let us have a return flight a week after the competition date ended) and we travelled North to Santa Rosa to visit friends. It was good to see more of Florida than the Orlando area, and to see the gulf of Mexico as well as the Atlantic.

Hotels with microwaves and fridges were a good eleventh new experience. The meals out were rather large in quantity, so it was good to be able to have a meal in on the days we had travelled and felt tired.

The twelfth new experience was the only one I could have managed without. Travelling overnight was not pleasant. We made the mistake of having seats opposite the toilet, and a stream of people using the facility made sleep impossible.

So twelve new experience in a two week trip – not bad! What to try next – air ballooning, surfing, skiing? Getting a bit old I fear, – maybe Spending the Kids Inheritance – and booking up somewhere exotic is safer than SKIing!!

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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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