Friday, 29 August 2014

General Impressions of Florida

Despite this being my fifth trip to Florida, it had been five years since my last visit. I was no longer that little 16 year old who had just completed her GCSE's, hence I noticed a lot more things whist we were there.

- Driving. The driving in the Orlando area is awful. I've never seen so many people on their phones in the car (this is actually legal in the US, but almost every near incident we saw involved the driver on their phone) In the end, I put it down to it being a touristy area where there are a lot of international drivers, or tourists that quite frankly aren't used to the roads. However, no matter what country/state you are from and whether you are driving manual or automatic, surely you can see a large 15 seater van behind you as you are about to pull out of a parking space?

- The Disney Difference. I just love how Disney go the extra mile for their guests and it's definitely more noticeable when you are doing other Orlando parks during the trip. Just little things like not having to constantly be putting bags into lockers and having the people at bag checks (among other places) call you 'Princess', to bigger things like catchy music around the parks that you sing along to and more captivating theming within the parks, as well as the amusements during the ride queues- the Disney difference is just noticeable and I lost count of the amount of times I said 'And that's the Disney difference'. One of my favourite things from this trip was my uncle taking a loom band with him that a friend's daughter had made him, and all the Disney cast members were more than happy to have photos taken with the loom band. The result= a happy little girl back at home regularly asking to see where the loom band had been today!

-Illuminations. I still can't get through Illuminations at Epcot without crying. I lasted about halfway through this year then the tears came and they wouldn't stop. I really wish we had watched Illuminations twice while we were there- one so I could get good photos and video and another to fully enjoy it.

-Magic Bands. As we stayed off site, we didn't automatically get Magic Bands. 7 out of our group of 11 bought Magic Bands, and I thought it was worth it to not be worrying about losing park tickets park tickets and always having to rummage around for tickets whenever we fastpassed anything. We would generally book our fastpasses the night before the park and didn't have too much trouble getting what we needed. We did have one issue where the fastpasses from people who had their own MyDisneyExperience account were all wiped (about half of our group) so we spent an hour in guest relations in Hollywood Studios getting it sorted out.

-Discovering New Restaurants. We've always tended to go to the same few restaurants in Orlando, simply because they work for our family- things like Golden Corral, Sizzlers, Ponderosa, Ihop etc. This time we rediscovered Bob Evans, a restaurant we had eaten at 12 years ago on our first visit but never gone back to, and we had a two great meals there. The 3 course meal for $10 offer was brilliant and the service we had there was even better! We also discovered Applebee's and had two good experiences there, but we had to wait 45 mins to be seated. They also had a 2 main courses and a starter for $20 offer which we took advantage of, and the portion sizes were so large that the majority of my pasta was put in a box to be taken home. I ended up eating it for tea the next day and for breakfast the next morning! (yes, I had pasta for breakfast). Steak n Shake was also an amazing find as we looked for somewhere to grab some food before picking people up at Downtown Disney. It's amazing value for money and good quality food. The milkshakes are the best milkshakes I've ever had. They take a while to make and be served, but they are truly worth it!

There's a lot more I want to write about but I'll save that for another post!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Getting back into the swing of things

We've been home from Florida for almost two weeks now and I've been wanting to blog all about it but quite frankly, I don't know where to begin. It was amazing and I loved every minute. I didn't think I'd taken many pictures this holiday but upon coming home I discovered that I had over 600 photos and 25 minutes worth of video- I guess that's not too bad for 18 days considering I took 1000 photos in 5 days in New York a few years ago. I'll eventually get some photos and general impressions blog posts up.

Since we got back, it took a while to finally get back into the swing of things. Jet lag kicked my butt, despite sleeping on a plane for pretty much the first time ever. I did the first day of my gymnastics coaching course on the Sunday after we got back which was a very long day after an early start. I've been waiting to do the course for so long so it feels great to finally get the ball rolling towards becoming a fully qualified gymnastics coach. I've also been spending lots of time looking for jobs, but this process is becoming more disheartening by the day as each application is rejected or not responded to. The job centre was about as much use as a chocolate fire guard when I went and enquired there- just telling me to sign up to a website and walking off when I told them I already had! Oh well, back to square one.

My little sister was amazing and again proved that she has stolen the entire families brainpower by getting A*AA in her A Levels, and is now going to her first choice university in September.We went out for lunch to celebrate her success, though thanks to jet lag it felt like I was eating a large pizza for breakfast (not that I'm complaning). The next few weeks will be crazy packing her up and dropping her off in her new accommodation. I've already told her when to expect my visits!

Me and my mum made a quick 24 hour visit to the family in Wales this weekend. We had a lovely walk along the beach with an ice cream and the weather was beautiful.  It was the first game of the football season this weekend and since I'm coaching on Saturday mornings this year, I'm not going to be able to get to many games this season so we made the effort to get to the season opener. Unfortunately the beautiful weather from earlier in the day didn't last and even though I was wearing three layers of clothes, I was still cold. It honestly felt like a game in the middle of December, not an August night! Thankfully the team didn't disappoint and a deserved three points were picked up to get us off to a positive start. Let's hope it carries on and we get a little more luck this year.