Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Return to 1990, take a left at Mickey Mouse

When I was about five or six years old, my parents took me and my sister to Florida for two weeks. We rented a car, drove down to the Everglades, went to Busch Gardens in Tampa, Sea World, Universal Studios and - of course, the pinnacle - Disney World in Orlando.

I refused to have my photo taken (see proof, left), was too scared to approach any of the Disney characters for their autographs, and would only go on the sedate E.T ride after an encounter with a very realistic King Kong at Universal Studios. Oh, and the pool at our Holiday Inn was out of bounds after I lost a baby tooth while having a swim. I was a pain in the arse, but had the time of my little life.

It's the sort of holiday you rarely get to do twice. But having just spent seven days reliving my youth at Florida's theme parks, I have now learnt why. It is bloody knackering, and that's without kids in tow.

How's this for a week?

The Boyfriend and I drove up to Tampa on Monday from Miami, having got ourselves a multi-ticket for Busch Gardens and Sea World. We spent Tuesday being flung upside down on rollercoasters, Wednesday doing more of the same while watching killer whales dance to music. Oh, and we saw a polar bear. Yep, Sea World has a polar bear.

Trivia time! Do you know what happens when you see a polar bear?

You get the 'what else can we do!?!?!?!?!??!' bug.

Another $200 later, and we had Thursday taken care of: a day spent stretching our imaginations and 3D-glassed eyes in Universal Studios. Friday's ticket covered Universal's newer park, the Islands of Adventure. Here be more rollercoasters and more 3D, 4D, G Force than you can shake a stick at - and, randomly, an entire Harry Potter world reproduced to such detail that even I was impressed. As in, I don't really get it, like the whole Gandalf and wizards and Gryffindors and things, but other people went nuts for the place. They queued in their thousands for hours on end to buy plastic wands in boxes. Nuts. Saturday, we avoided the weekend crowds and bought significantly-cheaper-than-Selfridges- jeans. Sunday, we went to Downtown Disney and then, with me hankering after another dancing whale fix, back to Sea World for the evening rides and shows. Monday, with the weather preventing a water park visit, we returned to Busch Gardens. Tuesday...well, today, our bank accounts and brains bled dry of all their nutrients, we dragged ourselves out of Orlando and hit the road.

We'd leave the hotel in the morning and stay out until the theme parks had shut at 10pm, then find dinner while still drenched from a water ride minutes earlier. We extended the car rental by three days. Spent hundreds of dollars on theme park tickets, food and accommodation. And depressingly, saw more overweight parents carrying their saddeningly obese children on their electric wheelchairs than I'd hope to see in a lifetime.

We voted two to none to ditch the Greyhound tickets, and splashed out on car hire for our final week of travelling up to New York.

Money is at an all time low and the word sleeeeeeeeeepytired doesn't even cover it, but shit the bed...what a week.

And I reckon, give it another twenty years, I'll be ready to do it all again.


jman said...

What's on your itinerary up the coast? Highly recommend Charleston and/or Savannah, Williamsburg and of course DC, Baltimore and Philadelphia before hitting the Big Apple. No doubt there are endless adventures along the way. Glad you have decided to put memories over budget - in the long run the extra $1000 won't mean a bean's difference to your life, but the memories sure will.

London-Lass said...

"We voted two to none to ditch the Greyhound tickets, and splashed out on car hire for our final week of travelling up to New York."

Gawd, I envy you. Almost had a holiday booked with a (significant) ex wherein we were going to do this fly drive thingie through New England ending up at (gulp) Cape Cod. But then I dumped him. And it all came to nowt. Take lots of shots in New England and post 'em up so that I might live vicariously through someone else's adventures *sob*. PS : Although I did make it to NY (bout three times) -- it was aces.

Zstep said...

Alternately to what jman suggested (if you stay close to the coast definitely the way to go with perhaps a look at the Outer Banks of North Carolina- First in flight and all that...), if you drive north of Atlanta to Chattanooga...beautiful county. Chattanooga and east is stunning mountain country. The Appalachians and Blue Ridge mountains are great. Asheville NC is an awesome town and surroundings or if you go north a bit, the Cumberland Gap is also incredible.

Anyway, just a few more suggestions.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

jman - Open to suggestions really, we're in Jacksonville FL at the moment, heading to Savannah, GA for tonight as soon as we get ourselves up and checked out. After that, hopefully get off the I95 and go coastal, Outer Banks etc. DC and Philadelphia we'll do in the days just before NY.

London - I will be sure to post up photos as I go's easy to avoid doing this sort of trip, it certainly isn't an easy one in terms of money or getting around but I'm sure it'll be worth it in the end.

Zstep - Was just reading up on the Outer Banks this morning, quite fancy a look - however do we need to get a ferry over to them or is it linked by a bridge? Will definitely get the map out and look at Chattanooga, would be good to see some inland mountain areas.

Sounds like this is a good stretch of the US to be driving up?

(I should add we haven't actually got a road map yet, next stop petrol station!)

Scarlett said...

What really blows my mind are the moms that do this with their kids...two in tow and 8 months pregnant ready to pop at any minute next to the Dumbo Ride. Total champs!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you're having a brilliant time, not jealous at all :)

I hope it was the Fox's Mints polar bear?

jman said...

Outer Banks connected by causeways - no need for ferries. However, you're going to have to make a choice between coast and inland (for the most part) otherwise it's too much to cover in too little time. Even if you go to the Outer Banks, you could head west to around Charlottesville (good university town and near the home of UVA's founder, Thomas Jefferson) and head towards DC via the Skyline Drive, a very pretty 40's era parkway which goes along the Shennendoah Mountains which are part of the Appalachians. Also when going from DC to Philadelphia you might wish to swing through Lancaster (a bit out of the way) because it is both pretty and it is Amish country so you could very well see people driving along the road in a horse drawn buggy.

zstep123 said...

As jman says, you'll need to make a choice between the coast and inland. The Outer Banks is very nice (Cape Hatteras, Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk etc). The rest of Eastern North Carolina is "meh" in my opinion. If you do the OB, you can head due north, go through Norfolk and Hampton and get to the Williamsburg Virginia area which has the Jamestown settlement (first successful English settlement in North America), Yorktown victory center (where we finally kicked the Brits out...oh wait...:-)) and the Williamsburg Colonial Center which is supposed to be quite entertaining.

From there its an easy jump to Richmond (considered by many to be the quintesential city in the American South- never been myself) and then an easy drive to DC...

jman said...

Unfortunately the drive from Richmond to DC, while not long in distance, can be hellacious because there is so much traffic depending on what time of day (or day) you go. Not quite as bad as the LA freeways, but getting there! That's why a detour to Charlottesville and then DC would avoid that stretch as well as seeing some lovely countryside.


Blog Template by - RSS icons by ComingUpForAir