The stories of my life on a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea ... and my occasional adventures beyond these shores.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Snapshots of Florida

What struck me most about Florida was the heat – the humid, all-encompassing humid heat that embraces you as soon as you step outside and drives you half insane. As a friend of ours remarked, it’s almost as if there is no ozone in the atmosphere. But aside from the heat, I was surprised at how lush and varied the vegetation is. In my mind, intense heat goes hand in hand with months of drought and a dry landscape. But then, I didn’t know about the rain.

We stayed in Florida for almost four full days and did the things that tourists do.  We spent our first afternoon in Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney), an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. My son and husband had a grand old time at the Harley Davidson merchandise store – especially since they got to pose with all the bikes on display, while I spent a wonderful hour at Anthropologie; and we all agreed that The Ganachery was a chocoholics heaven. We were seriously thinking of going for a ride in the Characters in Flight tethered helium balloon that soars to 400 feet but, due to a thunderstorm warning, all rides were cancelled, and, sure enough, it wasn’t long before the rain started to pour. We soon learnt that torrential downpours are part and parcel of daily life in Florida. No wonder the place is so green.

Our first full day was spent at Disney’s Hollywood Studios where we mostly passed the time chasing characters from the Star Wars movies to the extent of waiting in line for 45 minutes to take a photo with Chewbacca (I learnt that he’s the tall, hairy guy). But thankfully, we queued indoors where it was nice and cool. The most memorable and terrifying ride was the Tower of Terror and the one I enjoyed most (because it was a staid ride in an open vehicle) was The Great Movie Ride which has since closed down. I opted out of the Rock ’n Roller Coaster and was pleasantly entertained by two street performers in their 1920s costumes who soon had the crowd gathered round them in fits of giggles. Although we would have loved to stay for the fireworks show, we had friends to visit and left soon after seeing the Storm Troopers perform their final march for the day.

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The next day we drove to Kennedy Space Center which is about an hour away from Orlando. Space enthusiasts have plenty to see and learn here and even though rockets and spacecraft are not quite my thing, I was still thrilled to learn more about the Moon landings and Saturn V, the gargantuan rocket (111m long) that propelled Mankind to Earth’s closest neighbour. The space shuttle Atlantis is another jaw-dropping exhibit at Kennedy Space Center. I was especially moved by the memorial to the crews of the Challenger (lost in 1986) and the Columbia (lost in 2003) tragedies. A guided tour bus took us ‘Behind the Gates’ to the launch pads at Cape Canaveral. We got to see the cavernous building that houses the spacecraft and learnt how special, gigantic vehicles called crawlers transport the rockets to the launch pads. We stayed till closing time and were disappointed that we did not have time to see and experience everything, especially the Shuttle Launch Experience. which simulates the shuttles’ eight-and-a-half minute ascent into orbit. We arrived in Orlando just in time for a tornado warning that came complete with thunder, lightning and a downpour that lasted close to an hour.

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On our last day we drove back to Cape Canaveral to visit friends and swim in the Atlantic – it was the first time that I swam in an ocean and not in a sea. The water was surprisingly warm but the swell was a force to be reckoned with. The beach we were on stretched for miles, the sand  had an unusual mud-like quality to it and there was a wonderful breeze. I was loathe to leave but black clouds loomed on the horizon and before too long we were driving in an infernal storm that satisfied my longing for rain for a while.

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Our trip to Florida was vastly different to the things we see and places that we usually visit when we travel. It was more about fun, friends and, well, thunderstorms. I am glad I got to experience it and cross another State off my bucket list: 11 down, 39 to go.


  1. CALIFORNIA IS NEXT!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Yes I'd love to visit California especially to see you and Banksy

  2. Heat and humidity is the worst weather combination from my experience. Congratulations is venturing out in it - I think I would not have stepped outside the hotel!

    1. I sort of got used to it after a while. And the rain helps to keep things sane.

  3. Dear Loree - wonderful pictures of your time in Florida. It is a state I have never been. Hubby has and also my Mom. I am sure the tropical heat is overpowering in the summer. Thank you so much for sharing. Sounds like you had lots of fun. Hugs!

    1. I think this was a horrifyingly hot summer everywhere. Hopefully, next year will be kinder.

  4. I've only been to Florida once and it's spring time in Miami. It wasn't that bad and I found the weather pleasant and great for walking/exploring the beach. I think most people who visit Florida are looking to have fun and relax. We did the same when we visited.


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