travel ~~ my florida fix

Bonjour!  I hope everyone is enjoying January.  In just a few days, we will be rounding that corner of the long winter and settling into the pleasantly short month of February.  And then, my friends, Spring is just a short journey away (I hope).

I have returned from a glorious week in Florida.  Sadly, the weather had nothing to do with it being glorious.  Boo.  Most of my days there were cloudy, cool and rainy.  But it was glorious because I got to spend a week with one of my besties.  She used to live here in Michigan but moved to Florida over a decade ago.  We usually see each other for a day (or half day) when she comes to visit her family in the summer but it is hardly enough time to catch up on everything.  So, while hubs was safely tucked away in a week-long class, I pinned on my wings and flew to Florida.  We had a wonderful time!

One of the things I did get to do while I was there was travel over to the Atlantic seaside town of St. Augustine.  In all the times I have been to Florida I have never had the pleasure of strolling those ancient streets and soaking up some history.  Our day trip to St. Augustine was very cloudy and eventually very wet.  But I was able to tip my toes in the ocean before the rain came.  (sorry about photo quality…all shots are from my iPod)

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And I tried to get a bit artistic with my iPod.

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Once it started raining we donned our monster umbrellas and walked around St. Augustine.  My friend was able to show me some her favorite shops.  We ate at a delicious Greek restaurant where I nearly gagged on my authentic Greek coffee.  Who knew Greek coffee was chewy and tar like?  I love dark, dark roast coffee but this little cuppa scared the crappa out of me.

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The next couple of days found me relaxing at the house with these two

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while my girlfriend had to work. I fell in love (and no, Rockefeller is not aware of my infidelity and we are going to keep it that way).  I kept her up-to-date with the little Moppets shenanigans.  I stole brief glimpses of sun when I could, took a couple of long walks.  It was quite nice.  And it helped me to reserve my energies for….

….WALT DISNEY WORLD!

When I first called my friend about coming down, we discussed the possibility of doing a “girls only” trip to Disney, namely the Magic Kingdom and Epcot.  The more we talked of the possibility, the more excited we got and soon we found ourselves booked at a Disney resort for two nights.  Watch out…here we come!

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We spent our first day at Epcot.  The crowds were bearable and the weather was…cold.  But we endured.  Endorphins are good for that…and Disney is good for endorphins.  We were able to see and do just about everything we wanted.  I even got to see some of my family from Oregon who were at Disney that same week.  Not to mention my must do stops:

France

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Almost like being there.  Not.  But still fun! And I can eat stuff like this:

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I bought kitchen towels (made in France!) as a souvenir.  Yes.  I am obviously an old person visiting Disney now.

Morocco

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So I can eat this:

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I adore the shop in Japan.  And I tried really hard to pretend I was in Venice again while in Italy.  So hard.  Sigh.

We stayed until the Illuminations show completed.  I am always blown away by the fact Disney does this show every. single. night. It is so impressive!

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We marched our tired, cold and aching bodies to our hotel.  Slept maybe six hours and we were back at it again for the Magic Kingdom.

Magic Kingdom  holds dear in my heart.  It is really all about the nostalgia of this park, and the characters that I grew up with (Cinderella! Donald Duck!), that makes the Magic Kingdom my favorite.  Getting on some of the same rides I rode when I was seven is just so surreal and right up my vintage alley.  Where else can I feel a part of my childhood again?  My parents long ago moved from the home of my early childhood…and the one of my tween/teen years.  So I can’t visit my old bedroom(s)…or the porch we played on…or the living room we made tents in.  I do drive by my old elementary school once in a while.  But if I stop and hang out on the playground, I might find a new home in a 8 x 8 cell and I would be wearing orange– so pas chic!  I can’t get arrested at Disney.  I can let that inner little girl go wild.

The day began with using our well planned Fast Passes. And the weather was a perfect sunny 70 degrees. The first couple of hours had very light crowds and low wait times.  But by 11:00/Noon, the park was slamming with people.  “Thunder Mountain”, “Peter Pan”, “Pirates of the Caribbean” and the “Jungle Cruise” were all done by then so we headed over to the newest attractions at Disney…”Under the Sea” and “Seven Dwarfs Mine Train”.  But first we stopped in at “Be Our Guest” to see if we could do counter service there since making reservations for dinner never transpired (not for a lack of trying though).  The line for lunch was an hour wait at 11:00.  Thanks to our “My Disney Experience” apps, we could stay apprised of wait times for other rides…”Under the Sea” was creeping up there, “Seven Dwarfs…” was 140 minutes.  Waiting an hour for food was not a high priority…being a kid was.  As we were standing in line, I noticed a woman off to the side with a clip board (FUTURE DISNEY TRAVELERS TAKE NOTE).  I meandered over to discover she was taking dinner reservations!  Zippity doo daa!  One caveat, we had to be a party of at least four.  I told her to reserve us for four and figured I could find some of my family in the park to join us.  Haha!  No problem.  Two of my cousins would happily join us that evening.  We were thrilled to have reservations so we now could endure some of the long wait times for other things.  We scampered all around Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.  We ate lunch at Pinocchio Village Haus and pink cotton candy by the Big Top.  Before we knew it, it was time for dinner.

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They have designed the Beast’s castle to look very much like the movie inside.  There’s a big foyer to enter and then we were lead  through the main dining room (looks like the ballroom) to the Beast’s own special quarters where our table was.  This room was dark and decorated with shredded curtains.  In one corner was the glass domed rose.  Thunder and lightening heightened the mood of the room.  But our table was beautifully set.  And our meals were delicious.  My friend even ordered the “grey stuff” for a shared dessert…but none of liked it and it got sent back.  Not delicious.

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After dinner we had our picture taken with our host…he was very gracious.  I didn’t think to inquire after Belle…my bad.  All in all, it was a great Disney dining experience.

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We bammed out a few more rides.  Revisited a couple we had already done.  Ariel’s “Under the Sea” is darling.

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 The “Seven Dwarfs” ride is smooth but short.  We MISSED THE FIREWORKS while in line for “Space Mountain”—grrr.  But we stayed at the park until the clock struck 12 Midnight.  A propos.

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Again, after a short night of sleep, my friend and I took off the next morning for Downtown Disney.  We first ate a yummy breakfast at our hotel (the best waffles ever!) and then took the bus over to Downtown Disney.  We didn’t stay very long.  We were feeling the fatigue of the previous two days and we had a bit of a drive home.  Satiated, we left Walt Disney World with sketched out plans of definitely doing a girl trip again.  We both felt it was the best time we had ever had at Disney.  I loved it in 2009 with my family (hubs, parents, brother, sister-in-law, and nephews) but we did it in June.  For a week.  In the 100F heat.  We had fun but were seriously miserable much of the time there.  And as much as I love traveling and being with my husband, he is not a Disney fan.  He has a list of 1005 other places/things he’d rather do…I am not sure Disney is even on his to-do list.  However, he has gone with me before because he knows I love it and he loves me.  But why make him go and spend all the money if his heart isn’t in it?  I am happy to have a new Disney travel partner.  And thankfully, her husband feels the same about Disney as my husband does.  Maybe they can go golfing next time while we play at Magic Kingdom.

Once we got back to her house, I had to pack up to leave the next day.  7:00AM found us back on the road to the Tampa airport.  I arrived home early afternoon.  Got to get in some serious snuggles with my boys, went to bed early and found myself in some sort of coma on this past Monday.  Yeah.  Go figure.  Unpacking.  Laundry.  Cleaning.  Parents came to visit on Wednesday.  Helped a friend on Thursday and Friday with some major stuff.  And now, here it is the weekend again and I am writing this really long blog post only because I needed an emotional break from “All The Light We Cannot See” that I am trying to speed read through because it is due back to the library soon and I love it and can’t put it down but I have to just so I can breathe once in a while.

Phew.

Spending that week in Florida with my friend was incredibly special to me.  It would have been even without Disney.  But being with her was a cathartic experience…helping me to appreciate the value of beautiful friendships, hearty laughs and long talks over great coffee. She’s someone I am myself with and can just relax…and I love her for it! Friends Forever.

Hope you are having a good month.  Until we meet again, may I suggest some highly candid, very thoughtful and always entertaining reading over at Have Some Decorum.  Ellie has a great voice…and although living with a very serious illness, she has maintained her dignity and joie de vivre.  Inspirational stuff.

~~Heather~~

PS  A couple of things I forgot to mention–oy vey!  No, I did not get to see the Fountain of Youth.  Bummer.  It was raining too hard when we were there and I decided to get soaked through the actual streets of the town instead of in a tourist park.

Also, if you haven’t been to Walt Disney World in a few years, you will like some of the changes.  I mentioned the app you can download.  Well they are also now using wristbands at the parks.  Everything is tied to this band; it is your room key, your credit card, your Fast Passes.  Very convenient–also potentially dangerous as far as spending goes and/or if you lose it.

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6 thoughts on “travel ~~ my florida fix

  1. Great to read a blog about FL in January. Sounded a bit chilly but it the short escape part sounds good, especially when there is a little France involved! Glad you had fun with your friend.

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  2. LOVE reading about your trip … so jealous! I’ve only been there once, and Magic Kingdom didn’t really do anything for me but I loved Epcot. I want to go back. You’ve done a great job of documenting the trip and all the photos are wonderful. Glad that inner child could get out and have some fun, and that you had an old friend to do it with. Sounds like a week to remember!

    ps – I really really want to read “All the Light We Cannot See” but can’t borrow from my mom anymore because she has a Kindle. Guess I should get a library card. Have you read “The Secret Keeper” by Kate Morton?

    pps – THANK YOU for the card – have it stuck to my fridge, where it will make me smile every day!

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  3. i wish id known u were going to st Augustine. I would have told u to tour Flagler college. That’s what we did when it rained there. Very cool and ornate.
    we talked about going to DW while in st.Pete this yr but they don’t take dogs inside and i wanted to stay inside. Oh well, your blog took the edge off. I feel like i made the trip with u. Thanks.

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  4. Heather I finished your blog and felt I was with you and Lisa!😊 What a wonderful time to spend with a dear friend.
    Enjoyed your Photos. Yes, I agree with one of your followers the way
    You write brings a smile on our faces. You and Lisa will reflect on the memories
    For many years to come. This summer I would like to do a wine tour with you!
    Looking forward to reading about your future adventures!

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