* Prices may differ from that shown
Florida just has to be the best place in the world! I have had many many holidays here and it just never fails to amaze me, just how good it is. Florida has this incredible atmosphere that is full of vibrance and energy that I have never really experienced any where else. I think what makes Florida so special to me is that there is somethign there for everyone. Whilst their is Disney World for the children the water parks and theme parks that are on offer really do make it suitable for the whole family. There is just so much to do in Florida and everything is relatively cheap when comparered with the UK. From mini-golf to eating out at TGI Friday's Florida is just a wonderful place to be. The climate is exceptional throughout the year, regularly reaching 33 degrees. However, during the summer there are regular small thunderstorms which is worth noting. The accomodation is excellent in Florida and is reasonably priced. I hope this was useful and thank you very much for reading this.
We first visited Florida about ten years ago with friends thinking it would be a one off holiday of a lifetime, we have just returned home from our fifth visit the place is addictive. We always base ourselves in orlando / kissimmee area as it is close to all the main attractions and also easy to access major roads to move throughout the state. On each occasion we have been we stopped in villas which we find through the private villas magazine distributed throughout the uk, we would recommend this to anyone as the villas give you independence and amazing value, as I said we first went with friends twice and again twice with parents and the cost of a villa between you is so cheep this time my wife and I travelled alone so looked into hotel cost but still ended up in a private villa with three bedroom double garage and private pool backing onto a gorgeous lake all for £800 in total not including flights. As for Florida well there is something for everyone but it is also exhausting as you want to do so much. Even after five visits we still cant wait to go back we always end up at some if not all of the major theme parks but really enjoyed our latest visit where we did more nature orientated things such as walking in a few of the hundreds of national parks to canoeing and kayaking swimming and snorkelling to just watching the wildlife we even had an otter outside our villa. On this visit we spent a couple of days in Miami a fantastic place but also very expensive (try Miami Duck Tours for site seeing) Gorgeous beaches and stunning nightlife. Anyone visiting would be well advised to hire a car as it is all so vast, most hotels do have bus services to all the big attractions but if you want to go off the beaten track and see the real Florida you have got to drive. A great day this time was spent a small town called Mount Dora it is a lovely little town by a lake full of little cafes and craft / antique stores. We hired two Segways from a shop here and got a one hour guided tour round town it was so much fun we now want one each "lol". There is no end of things to do and even my parents who are in their seventies have been with us twice doing most of the theme parks and they absolutely loved it and really want to go again if they can. You must plan plan plan if you go as there is so much to do and it makes it so much easier. If you do go to the theme parks we would advise getting the longest tickets you can afford that way you can come and go as you please. A fantastic guide book to buy for the orlando area is The Brits Guide to Orlando it is our bible and has saved so much time and money for us we buy an up to date one every time we go, it is worth its wait in gold. Hope this was useful for you and if you do go have a great time.
Florida, wow! It is my favourite holiday ever. Well I 14 and I love it, On the plane I always get excited when I see the preveiws of things to do In florida. As I get into the airport the sun is beating down on the windows and there is only a few clouds in the sky. Everyone obviously speaks english so there is no problems with travel or directions. There are a huge range of villas in florida. They are all in their own section down a main road like, like a village but with a big entrance sign which makes it very easy to find your way round, there are names like "Palm Springs and "Solana Lake" which I find very nice. The villas are lovely with pools and fantastic air conditioning and a lot of villas are not far from the theme parks! There is also a huge choice of Hotels, All with great service right from the airport. As you drive in the cab you see all the palm trees and the sun shining onto the road, also you see the bilboards in certain places advertising the amazing theme parks! Which gets you very excited. The biggest theme parks have hotels of their own which are very nice. for example the Disney Hotels in the disney area and the hard rock hotel right next to Universal! I have stayed in some of the disney hotels and they are amazing. Carribean beach has its own mini beach with hammocks and a pool for each block! A huge eating area indoors and outdoors and the gift shop. All of these hotels at disney have a bus which runs to each of the theme parks for free. And the universal hotels are right next to the theme parks they are about a 1 minuit walk to the entrance! And very close to the 'City walk' and long line of shops and restaurants. There is a big choice of theme parks like the disney ones which you can access even if you are not staying in the hotels. The disney theme parks are lovely, very themed and musical. There is a huge choice of rides for all ages, some big ones like tower of terror and rock'n'rollercaoster in disney studios and Peter Pan and Snow white in magic kingdom. The universal theme parks, Islands of adventure and Universal studios are amazing theme parks. I love them to bits :o) There are mainly themes indoor rides in universal studios like Jaws (You are actually in a boat a metre away from a shark!!, well you know), And Men in black (a shooting aliens ride!), Nicktoon blast (join spongebob and friends in this moving virtual ride!), simpsons ride (newly opened, I havnt rode it yet!) and revenge of the mummy (awesome!) It's great, it also has fantastic themed restaurants and shops, its great for all ages. And islands of adventure is my favourite becasue it is a theme park for everyone. It has all the different mini-parks like Suess landing, The lost continent, Jarassic park!, Toon lagoon, Marvel super-hero island. Its great and the rides are outstanding. It goes from the cat in the hat ride at Suess Landing, all the way up to the incredible hulk roller-coaster which consists of loops and drops and the fast speed start! great for the thrill seekers. seaworld is another great theme park, which has rides and shows! seaworld is the home of the massive whale Shamu, who puts on all sorts of shows for you to watch and enjoy, I know I did! There are lots of things you can do like feed dolphins and stingrays, also come facetoface with real sharks inside a bubble! :O Also the two rides, Journey to atlantis (A slightly spooky ride where you go to atlantis, but are you wanted there?) also the amazing KRAKEN! (A drop dead amazing rollercoaster with loops and dips going underground, this will take your breath away!!) see penguins and polarbears at seaworld aswell! NEW sealworld waterpark aqualand!! With steep toboggan tracks and funnel rides! Also a ride with a clear tube to get a quick glance at the black and white dolphins aww. Also the lazy river which every water park has. This water park is lovely and themed with music and fun. Busch gardens is a great theme park for the thrill seekers, with 4 huge rollercoasters this theme park is awesome. With the jungle theme, It will take your breath away. It includes the best ride there, Sheikra! With two 100% vertical drops and a loop and a sideways turn, you will scream! All these theme parks are easy to get too from hotels and villas, trust me I have done both :o) All the theme parks are for all ages because the young people will love the hundreds of small rides and the dressed up characters, Teenagers will love the huge massive rides and the shops and food! And adults will love to take their kids there to have the best time, and they may like a lot of the rides aswell! There is such a choice. And in the evening after a busy theme park day, have a dip in your hotel or villa pool and them get ready to head off the the unviersal city walk or downtown disney for some great shopping and lovely food. About downtown disney, This place is amazing! With the biggest disney shore ever the kids will go mad, looking for jewellry and pins to add to their sash and also get a cinderella make-over! There are surf shops for men and women and more. there are so many restaurants and in the evening they are all lit up, typical disney. me and my family always go to the rainforest cafe, as we can eat on the decking overlooking the lake at night and seeing the lit up shops on the other side. the beaches in Florida are great too, like clearwater. the beaches are white and sandy and the sea and blue and clear. great for a day away from the theme parks. It may not be the cheapest holiday but its the holiday I miss the most, and I am going next year for my 5th time! The theme parks never get old. Florida, I actually love it.
I visited Florida many years ago now with my uncle and his wife I think I was only 12 at the time but just the other day I was looking back through some old photos which brought back some really great memories of the time I had there. Well we had set off from Newcastle International airport first ever 10 hour flight I had ever been on so I was getting quite nervous because im not really a one for flying. But during my time on the flight I just occupied myself by watching movies and listening to music so time would pass by quicker. With about 3 hours left I decided to have a little nap as I was abit worn out. Just as I woke up we were just about another 10 mins from landing so everyone on the plane was starting to get a bit excited as we had nearly touched down. Finally we had landed and by god was it hot as soon as I stepped of the plane you could just feel the hot air nothing like back in Newcastle normally miserable weather there raining or very cold. First thing we had to do was to go and retrieve our luggage which didn't take all that long. Then we had to go and hire a car as we had actually booked a villa and we had to travel by car to our destination. Shame we weren't able to get a coach or have some one to drive us there because my uncle did not have a clue as it took us nearly 7 hours just to find where we were staying which was Kissimmee in Florida Orlando. Once we had arrived at our villa the first thing we done was dumped our luggage straight down and checked out the rest of the villa but the first place I had for was the back yard as we had our own swimming pool it was amazing. But after along day flying we decided to go to bed so we could get an early start in the morning. Next morning finally come it was scorching hot outside soon as u walked outside you got a lovely tan that's how hot it felt. I think it was about 10am we set off in the car to go look for food shops just so we could get a few odds and ends in. On the way we also passed a few of these little booths which sold tickets for the lots of different theme parks so we decided to take a look. If I remember correctly we bought tickets for Bush Gardens, Gatorland,Universal Studios,Disney Land and some Water park but I didn't enjoy the water park as much as the others. So after we had got home that night after buying tickets for the parks and a bit of food shopping we all decided that we would go to Gatorland first thing the next day so it would be a good idea if we got a good nights sleep but I didn't I decided to go have a dive in the pool even at night it was still really hot I couldn't believe it. Next morning came and the sun was shining it was red hot again 2 days in a row I couldn't believe our luck we would be lucky if we got two days of hot weather in a row back in Newcastle once a year just kidding. Finally we were all ready and it was time to set off as we were heading for our day out at Gatorland. It didn't take that long to get there to be honest only took about 30 mins or so from where we were staying. Once we arrived we showed our tickets at the desk and away we were. During our time at the park we saw a lot of amazing animals I thought there was just going to be alligators and crocodiles but actually there was a wide variety of other animals too such as snake, spiders and many more but too many to name. We had actually been round the full park and it was still pretty earlier and with nothing else planned for that day we decided to head for another park and I think universal studios was probably the closest to us so we decided to go there for the rest of our day. We then arrived at universal studios the ques were miles long just waiting to get in never mind the ques for the rides they were even longer. Once inside we headed straight for the rides. I think the first ride I went on was some virtual ride I think it was Spiderman I didn't think I would have liked it but I actually really enjoyed it. The next ride I went on was the Jurassic I went on with my uncle I thought this ride would of been ok but it was pretty damn scary it was only a water log ride too but its like a 100ft vertical drop although you cant tell as its really dark and you cant see a thing you don't realise how big the drop is till the rides over and you look up at the building I was gob smacked. We all so went on lots of other rides that day but too many to name so after the rides we thought we would go have a look at some of the shops inside Universal Studios but I was shocked to see the prices of some of the items they were very overpriced. After cruising round the shops we decided to call it a day and head back for the villa but all in all we had a really good day and Universal Studios is a park I would recommend going to if you ever have a holiday at Florida Orlando. We got back to the villa at about just after 10 that night and we were all so knackered we just all decided to go straight to sleep. For the next few days we didn't really do much but just chill and sunbathed by the pool as we were all worn out from the days before. After the 5th or so day the holiday seemed as if it was flying by. Then for the next 5 or so days all we really did was drove about checking out all the different shopping centres they weren't just ordinary shopping centres they were really huge nothing like they are over back in the UK. With 3 days remaining now just before we head home we decided to go to the last two parks we had bought tickets for. First of all we thought we would go to Bush Gardens it took awhile to get there as its in Tampa Bay (I think) Bush gardens was one of my favourite parks out of the ones I had been too during my holiday. Bush Gardens had a lot to offer Animals,rides,shops and best off all the safari which was amazing it was pretty scary though with the lions like metres from you there was also tigers,hippos,rhinos,cheetahs,meercats and loads more but im not really good with remembering the different animals. Next day Just one day before we head home we headed for Disney Land it was our last park to go to. This park was alright but wasn't my best as I didn't believe there was much really to do apart from get your photos taken with lots of different Disney characters and well watching the parade at the end of the night and well a few decent rides and that was about it so I suppose it was ok wasn't my cup of tea though but there was a lot of people there to watch it so I suppose everyone has their own opinion. Heading home Now was the time for us to head back home we got up really early in the morning to sort a few bits and bobs out but we had done most of the packing the night before just before we hit the sack. All done and dusted we headed for the airport arrived on time and within 2 hours we were on our flight back to the good old UK. Didn't take as long on the way home though as it only took 8 hours going back. Finally we reached down in the UK and believe it or not it was raining as usual but it was good to be home to see the rest of the family. But in all honesty I can say this was the best holiday I had ever been on.
Well it's been a while since I have written a review, having been to America and Europe im now back and refreshed with hopefully some more stories to tell. This review is about my time in Florida, I spent a week, went to a live wrestling event, visited the most spectacular beaches, went to the latest night spots and so forth, hopefully you'll enjoy my new batch of reviews. P.S, I will be incorporating my wrestling experience in this review, as the whole premise of this holiday was for this sole reason. Brief History: Florida is an American State located in the southern region of America, nearest to the Atlantic Ocean. Its rich Spanish history can be dated back to the early 1500's, when Juan Ponce de León, who was one of the first to step foot in Florida and coincidently name it. Many wars with the British, Spanish, French and local American Indians took place between the 1600's and 1800's. Today, the states Spanish heritage can be associated with its large population of Hispanics. Florida also has many cities, which include Miami, West Palm Beach, Tampa and Orlando, all of which we visited. Accommodation: Well surprisingly I actually went to Florida with one of my university lecturers, its seemed me and him both had a fascination with wrestling, and since he had been to Florida many times before I thought I would leave it up to him to pick were we stayed. He picked the beautiful "Bay to Beach Resort", which is right opposite Fort Myers Beach on the tip of the Gulf of Florida. The hotel was probably one of the best I have ever stayed in, it's incredible view of the beach and ocean front, the majestic coconut palm trees growing outside your balcony window, and its open hospitality all made the stay much more pleasant. Prices: We stayed for a 3 nights at this hotel and worked out to roughly £290, which included bed and breakfast as well as free drinks at the bar. I noticed that they had a lot of children at the resort and having looked on there website we found cheaper packages with a family sharing. So if you're a family with young children, your likely to get a better deal that the single people. Like most places prices tend to be steep during the peak season so booking in advance would also be a plus. The rooms: The rooms came fully equipped with air conditioning, beds, a small kitchen to make tea and so forth, a pleasant bathroom, a safe to store all your valuables and cable TV. I think the best part of the room would have to be the balcony overlooking the ocean. The hotel also comes with a nice pool, with both a deep and shallow end, which caters for the adults and the children, along with a deck of sun beds, however considering we were right next to the beach we didn't really stay at the hotel. Contact Details: (Phone: 239-463-5846) (740 Estero Blvd, Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931) The rest of the time during our trip we stayed at a family house located in Miami. Again even the houses are like hotels, largely due to there sheer size and garden space, as well as most of them having swimming pools in the back yard. Attractions: Florida has so much to offer the tourists; it caters for both the older and younger generation. I previously went to Orlando ten years back to go do the whole Universal studios tour, however being a lot older this time around I could experience the nightlife, the clubs and have the independence to see things for myself, without having my family here, (a big plus for me) Daytona; For anyone going to Florida, Daytona Beach is defiantly a place that one must go. It's exactly what it looks like in the movies, blonde beautiful women on the roller blades, bodybuilders working out near the beach, surfers in the water, and Baywatch life guards running in slow motions like they do. Its also a place full of motor sport fanatics, with state of the art motorbikes to state of the art cars, they love them. We were fortunate to be around during a NASCAR event, although we didn't see the actual race, just watching the fans were something special. The beach is right up as the best beach in the world, next to the Miami Beach. Its absolute gold and having arrived for Spring Break, there were plenty of people backed on the beaches having a sun tan. Unlike most beaches this really does live up to my expectations, the sands beautiful, waters nice and cool and majestically light blue. The beach front also has a lot of food parlours, anything ranging from ice cream, to pizza, to chips to burgers. And all with reasonable prices you really can eat a lot. Daytona Beach had tons and trash cans, and I seriously suggest you use them, if you're found littering you can receive a fine upwards of $190, even if you're a tourist. At the pear end of Daytona Beach they have a water sports section, a chance for tourists and Spring break visitors to use Jet Skies, go on speed boats and so forth. Prices can be hefty, but if you go as a group it works out cheaper. We went on the speed boat ride, which worked out to $50 per person. The experience was amazing, it's like you're in the film Miami Vice. Another beach that you should check out if you have the chance is Panama City Beach, it's just like Daytona Beach, but perhaps the water is even clearer. Busch Gardens Africa: (Tampa Florida) I had heard so much about Bush Gardens that I felt I had to visit it at least once. It's located in Tampa Bay Florida, which is easy to access by both busses and cars. You can either pre book your ticket online at; http://www.buschgardens.com/BGT/, or buy tickets at the stand. I would recommend buying the tickets online, they are much cheaper, involve less queuing time and offer huge discounts. The park is a mixture of exotic wildlife, fabulous scenic views, along with the excitement of rollercoaster's. It's a real family hearted place, but anyone would love visiting it. (Im not going to write a huge section because I plan on writing a separate review for this attraction, look out for it) Wrestlemania 24: The whole premise for this holiday was to go to Wrestlemania, a wrestling event that takes place once every year. Now being a huge wrestling fan, I always wanted to go to one, and the perfect opportunity was this year when my lecturer had a spear ticket. The ticket itself cost around $750 which some may think is ridiculous for a wrestling event, but hey I thought it was well worth it. The tickets included backstage passes with autographs, front row seats to watch the matches, as well as allowing us to keep the seats we seat on. The event was held at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando Florida, which just so happened to be an open roof arena. Being so, the first half hour of so was marred by slight rain, however it's soon stopped. The magnificent fireworks displays, the matches and the crowd experience, really eclipsed my holiday experience. For more info on the event visit (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WrestleMania_XXIV) Shopping: In terms of shopping, like most places in America British tourists can always get a bargain with the strong pound. There are a lot of huge shopping malls located all over Florida, one of which includes Altamonte Mall, near Altamonte Springs. It's like the London equivalent to Brent Cross, except it's twice as big, has a cinema and bowling centre and offers a wider range of shopping opportunities. There are a lot of electronic shops, however be carful before you buy, make sure they offer an international warranty and above all make sure its works abroad. Mall Hours: Monday-Saturday: 10:00am-9:00pm Sunday: 11:00am-6:00pm Apart from the malls, you can also pick up huge bargains along the streets. The Hispanic street sellers sell some beautiful hand crafted ornaments, however just make sure you don't pay more than there worth, always try and haggle. Nightlife and Food: Florida offers many bars and dinning areas along the beach areas, it's not all just for the super rich and famous, most of these places actually cater for the average Joes. There are hundred of places I could recommend, however above all check out the Samba Room if you're in Orlando. They offer some of the best cuisine in Florida for a reasonable price. The food, along with the alcohol and lively music make this a brilliant place to visit. An of course there is a reason why they call it the samba room, they actually teach there guests how to do the samba dance, just make sure you have had plenty of drinks before you make a fool of yourself. This place tends to be busy all year round so make sure you make a reservation the day before you intend to go. (http://www.sambaroom.net/) Transport: The main way to get around the city would be using public transport; it's much cheaper and easier to access. The main form of transport is Miami-Dade Transit, which runs rail systems all around Miami; with inter link connections to other cities such as Orlando, Daytona and so forth. Local fairs in an out of Miami cost about $1.60, with connection rail trains costing more. Your best bet would be to buy a weekly pass which works out to about $13.
I went to Florida in January 2002 with three other lads in fact, it was the last holiday I took before getting married. :-) I have very fond memories of Florida, and shall proceed to bore you with them now After a very thorough security check at Orlando airport (this was only 4 months following the September 11th terrorist attacks, after all) we rented a car from Budget and drove to where we were staying the first night we rented a private house not too far from Colonial Drive (not a bad little place but not exactly four star accommodation!). Im not saying who it was but someone lost his driving licence and so couldnt drive and someone never heard the last of it Orlando itself is a nice little place, much of it feels like an uncharted backwater very relaxed, and not at all what I expected. We did the theme parks when we came back Magic Kingdoms, SeaWorld, and Universal Studios - but for four days we just toured Florida. First we went out towards Cape Canaveral and the JFK Space Centre. It was the one thing that I wanted to see that no one else did but after theyd seen it, they were glad Id convinced them. Driving down the east coast from there we travelled down to Miami, and stayed in a dodgy hotel. (Very cheap, but dodgy.) Somehow we kept expecting to hear gunshots. A huge guy hanging round reception looked every inch a pimp, and though thankfully it never happened, the other thing we kept expecting to hear was some latina knocking on the door asking if we required any room service One of my friends (name withheld pending blackmail payment) confided to me on the first night that hed never been as scared in his life! Downtown Miami is not a place Id really recommend but South Beach is spectacular. (Unfortunately, since it was January, the weather was quite cold at times however, there werent too many people around, which was nice.) Theres quite a few nice places to eat down Ocean Drive, and it looked like there were quite a few places worth going sadly we didnt have time to properly explore. After visiting the Mamba Bar that evening we planned to take a trip down to the Keys next day. Visiting the Keys was a bit of an anticlimax we saw just how beautiful they were without having time to really enjoy it. However we did eventually reach Key West. We found what looked like a decent restaurant, and although the food was good we were slightly put off by the sight of a massive, greasy, sweating Czech cook smoking in the kitchen. We exited post haste stage left After another nerve-wrecking night in that dodgy hotel in Miami (door barricaded with all the rooms furniture except the beds) we went up to what we expected to be (and what did indeed prove to be) the highlight of the Florida leg of our trip - The Everglades. (We spent 8 days in Florida and then 9 days in California though technically part of that time was spent in Nevada / Arizona.) The natural beauty of the Everglades has to be seen to be believed (the story about how the American Army actually made it bigger by trying to get rid of it is just great, too!), and riding on the hoverboat (whats the proper name for them again? You know the ones I mean, big fan at the bag, used in cheesy chase scenes in Police Academy 5 and Chain Reaction etc ) was even more fun than it looks in the movies! The only thing I didnt like was the way the alligators at the reservation at one end were kept the handler claimed what was being done to them caused them no pain, but I wasnt totally convinced. Im taking it that the alligator meat they were selling was obtained either from gators whod died naturally or who were bred for the purpose yes I did try some (they said it tasted like chicken they forgot to mention that it tastes like a rubber chicken ) but afterwards I found myself wondering a/ what condition the gators were kept in if bred for food and b) whether it actually was alligator anyway. But these concerns were soon forgotten on the ride back on the hoverboat (Yep, Im shallow sorry.) It did slightly bother me afterwards though, and took some of the shine off of the experience of going to the Everglades. Damn them. :-O Er, where was I? Oh yeah after the Everglades, we travelled up the west coast and ended up in St Petersburg in an Irish pu. (Theyre just everywhere - I ended up in one when I went to Paris as well and I dont even like pubs! I just always seem to be with people who do, and these pubs are always conveniently positioned . Canny lads, these Irish ). I didnt see enough of St Petersburg to really get an idea of what it was like, but I saw enough to decide that one day Id like to spend long enough there to decide whether I would want to spend time there huh? Did that make sense to you? Back in Orlando we spent some time just exploring mainly along Colonial Drive and International Drive. We found out two very important things while there. These are: *- Never take a woman there theres far too many good clothes shops (the Nike store even lulled me into spending money now thats an accomplishment!). *- Never try to diet there especially with Chevvys wonderful Mexican food and some great Caribbean-style restaurants The theme parks were very expensive as we did one day at each, and doing three in a row was a bit more than I would normally be happy with but as Id convinced the guys to go to Cape Canaveral, how could I object? Actually those three days were really good anyway -wish it had been a bit warmer though Of the three, I preferred Universal Studios to Magic Kingdoms (which is after all designed most for the kids), though SeaWorld is a reminder that nothing man can create can really compete with what nature has to offer. The big killer whale (I forget the name) wasnt being moody that day so we got to see him strut his stuff, though fortunately we sat far enough back to escape without getting completely drowned! Overall Florida is a great place to visit and has plenty to offer. However I dont think its quite a 5star venue overall since it appeals more to specific groups (especially families) who like doing certain things than having general appeal, and the weather does play quite a large part in how much youll enjoy it obviously, this is particularly the case if you planned to spend much of your time on the beach! I think that most people will enjoy going to Florida and the prices are generally very reasonable, but I just cant quite see it as a five-star resort. Maybe four and a half stars though! I enjoyed my stay there very much and would definitely go there again it just wouldnt be top of my list. Hope youre still awake after reading that
We've been coming to Florida for 14 years. Sadly the first time was a disaster as me, hubby and 3 children were all holed up together in one hotel room. Not recommended! We must have looked the most miserable family there. Also eating out may be quite cheap -but when it is twice a day x 5 plus snacks and drinks-the bill really adds up. Also the hotel pool got barely touched-as we were so keen to get full use out of our Disney passes. We didn't go back for another 8 years and thankfully we have learned something since then. We hired a villa in the first instance-and what a differenc. 4 huge bedrooms, a kitchen, laundry and our own pool can make. We were so entranced that the following year we bought our own and 'Pooh Corner' became my oasis in the sun. Now some people dream of owning a villa. To be honest it never entered my head-we just sort of fell into it. But now it really spoils you for anything else. In fact I have no desire to stay on Disney-as it is so nice to get away from the theme parks and the razzmatazz-and relax and chill out in the pool. But each to their own. I just know that being cramped in 1 room in a hotel with a communal pool is no longer my dream holiday. Not when I can lie in my pool and watch the sunset and the birds of prey come out to hunt as they fly overhead. Since we 'dipped our toes' in the property market-it has really boomed. There is a villa to suit everyone and all pockets-and so cheap. Villas on the continent are so much more expensive and don't come with games rooms, playstations, fibre optic lighting and all the little extras we owners provide. At the end of this year we will have made our 17th visit. (I think you need 3 a year just to keep your villa updated!) and I don't regret one day spent painting etc! If you've always booked a hotel or suite-maybe you should try an alternative. You've nothing to lose-and you may get hooked-like we did. After all-what can be better having a lazy swim, breakfast by your own pool and then hitting the theme parks! Alison Lyon
I was born a raised in Sandestin, Florida and I can honestly say that if you want a truly beautiful holiday in Florida, try this one! The Gulf Coast is often overlooked as a FL destination for UK travellers who focus more on the overcrowded, over ratted, overly expensive Orlando. If you want a super fun and relaxing holiday for the whole family, try Sandestin. It's located on the Emerald Isle in the far top corner of the West Coast of Florida, near The Alabama border and offer much cleaner waters than that of the East Coast....as a matter of fact, it's called the "Emerlad Coast" for it's sugar soft white sand, clear blue green Carribean waters, and it's surrounding beauty and activities. I grew up on the "Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort" of which I recommend to all....you can access direct info by going to the website: www.sandestin.com There are loads of family fun to be had or if you are wanting more of a retiring holiday, it's all here. For the kids, we have Big Kahunas Water Park (a water slide park with a elaborate tropical golf course for the adults beside it.......) which is where Courtney Cox and David Arquette went on their honeymoon. Alvins Island, a beach shop with lots of souvenirs, a championship golf course on site (at the above mentioned resort) that hails Tiger Woods as a frequent player when in the area, Pleasure Island Fun Park with rides and gneral fun park activities, pier and luxury charter boat fishing, skydiviing, helicopter rides, outlet shopping (cheaper than chips!!!!!), a large array of famously owned resturants......my 2 faves are Fishermans Wharf where the freshest just caught seafood is docked for your picking and Crab Shack with the best key lime pie in this world!!!!! All resturants are beachside with views to wow the most jaded. Speaking of jaded....this destination is a fave with the likes of Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Vanessa Redgrave, Sir Anthony Hopkins....e tc......and even Prince Charles has had a go. So why don't you.....it's sure to be a holiday to remember!!!
Imagine, if you will, the bald cypress trees reaching far above your head. Between the branches you see glimpses of the turkey vultures wheeling high against the clouds, the red-shouldered hawk soaring, the graceful flight of the swallow-tailed kites. If you are lucky you may catch sight of the Barred owl perched in the high branches or flashes of brilliant red as the male Northern Cardinal flits over the ground looking for food. By the pool overgrown with water lettuce you may catch the eye of an alligator or a Florida Redbelly Turtle. This is the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary - Collier County, Florida. Corkscrew contains the oldest remaining stand of bald cypress trees in the state of Florida. Most cypress forests were cut down for timber in the 1940s and 50s. In the early 50s the National Audubon Society accepted responsibility for the management and preservation of the area. An elevated boardwalk was constructed that allowed visitors to enjoy the wildlife and the beauty of the swamp. The Sanctuary is open daily all year round although hours vary. Indeed it is noteworthy that the experience differs in the wet and dry seasons. It is also pointed out that mosquitoes and no-see-ums tend not to present a problem to visitors. Recent admission charges were $6.50 for adults and $ 3 for children. It is sign posted from the I75 at junction 17 (Bonita Springs) and is near the town of Imokalee. The approach road is unprepossessing and leads through backwoods settlements. There is ample car parking and a sympathetic and informative gift shop. Essential to the visit is the Companion Field Guide which gives a short account of the origins of the Sanctuary and also lists, with illustrations the flora and fauna that can be seen around the area. A visit essentially involves a walk around the two and a half mile boardwalk with short excursions to elevated viewing platforms. There are areas representative of Pine Flatwoods (slash pine trees killed by lighteni ng strike do not rot and can remain standing for centuries), Wet Prairie, Cypress Forest and Marsh. Many trees exhibit coloured patches on their trunks from colonies of lichen. Many trees also host the curious Strangler Fig. There are also many examples of plants that live away from soil (the epiphytes) which can be found high in the upper branches - Tillandsia, Spanish Moss, Old Man's Beard. We saw many creatures and were able to identify most of them from the book. There are also rangers and friends of the Sanctuary on hand to point out sights that we may have otherwise missed. The mammals include Raccoon, Otter (we saw their spoor) grey squirrel and White-tailed deer. Twenty six species of bird of listed and illustrated. We learned the difference between a cormorant and an anhinga. There was also a Limpkin there that day - a species listed as of special concern in the state of Florida. Alligators were in abundance sharing mud banks with the turtles. Although described we luckily did not come across the Diamond Backed Rattlesnake. We saw several stages in the development of the life cycle of the Southeastern Grasshopper. At the time of our visit, most were black and yellow juvenile nymphs. We were also acquainted with the two dominant butterflies: the Zebra Longwing and the Ruddy Daggerwing. This is a 'Must See' place when visiting South West Florida. It's a comfortable half dfay trip from either Fort Myers or Naples. Appreciate the natural heritage of the planet and do your part to protect it. The Audubon Society and the Friends of Corkscrew Swamp are to be congratulated in their efforts both in local eco-system preservation and their attempts to bring such conservancy issues and sites to public attention.
In Febuarey my partner suprised me,with a four week holiday to florida. We found a really nice motel on the internet, It was called sun sea motel witch was managed by a young english couple. The motel was really cheap, and the people were very friendly. it was situated on st pete beach which was ideal for us as we were close to many lovly attractions like clearwater, treaure island, tampa, st johns pass etc. I was really impressed with the local transport, because you could get a day ticket for three dollers which would work out at about two pounds, this ticket inabled you to travel anywhere you wanted. Ever since i was i child i had always wanted to go to disneyland, This was my chance, i found these theme parks really fasinating but more for children. when we arrived we visited all of the theme parks, magic kingdom had all or the dineys charaters and a spectacular firework displays. epcot i found to be really disaponting as every thing was shut, i felt for all of the kids that had visited that park on that day, i would not recommend this park to any one. My favorite park was MGM studios, this was more for us, as it catered for most of our needs. I would advise you to visit all of the parks as i feel that you would regret it if you didn't. The entry fees were reasonable at around fifty dollers, for a park hopper pass. I found this holiday was perfect as you could relax on the beach or you could visit the sites. I loved st pete beach as you would get up in the morning and walk along the beach, dolphins would swim by everyday at the same time it was brilliant as i have never experienced anything like it. I have to say i thought that florida was more for children, but i was mistaken i had a wonderfull time. I would adivse anyone to go, and not to knock it untill you have tryed it. I am planning on returning to florida in november, as i have made some really nice friends. Me and my partner are even thinking of moving out there, but we will have to see what happens.
I have always been interested in the USA in general, and Florida in particular. Although I have never visited Florida, I'd love to go, and I have researched into the "Sunshine State". Florida evokes images of sparkling sunshine, bright blue seas and is famous for its fantastic liveliness and vibrancy, within its energetic night-life and non-stop fun-filled days?Yet in contrast, there is also beautiful scenery in blissfully calm and tranquil hideaways. Clearly, Florida has something for everyone. Orlando Orlando has it all. There are hundreds of exciting activities for you to discover, and you?ll be amazed by them all: Everything here is so wonderfully different to our everyday lives- soak up the all-American culture, or simply soak up some sun! You?ll be blown away by what Orlando has to offer- to the Sea World Adventure Park, which is ideal for kids, to the thrilling 3D rides at Universal Studios, not forgetting the world?s best-loved theme park, Walt Disney World. Re-live your childhood in the most magical way possible, where your dreams come to life. Meet all your heroes, such as the extraordinary Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and watch them and their famous pals in their dazzling electrical parades. With seven separate parks, including the enchanting Magic Kingdom, home to Cinderella?s Castle, and Disney?s Blizzard Beach, an exhilaratingly exciting water park, you won?t be bored in the safe hands of Disney! A large selection of Disney-themed hotels are available: The kids will love Disney?s All-Star Resorts, which are themed to their-and your-favourite Disney movies, such as Toy Story. The luxurious Swan and Dolphin Resorts, located in the heart of Walt Disney World, are ideal for couples seeking solitude from the vivacious spirit of the park. You get the best of both worlds by being so close to the excitement, yet you also enjoy a more peaceful and relaxing Disney experience. If theme parks aren?t your thing, d on?t despair! Orlando offers superb shopping, with over 100 shopping malls offering quality products at inexpensive prices. For some all-American fashion, why not visit the Gap Outlet at the Lake Buena Vista Factory Outlet Stores? Miami This is Miami, the world?s favourite beach resort. With its shimmering white sands and gleaming sunshine, it?s not hard to see why. Lie back and enjoy the glorious weather, and indulge in the traditional Miami experience: Take a trip to Miami Beach, where you?ll discover an array of water sports and a fine selection of restaurants, such as the American Classics Restaurant- a quaint, 50s-inspired eatery, where you can sample authentic American cuisine. Or discover some of Miami?s little-known historical culture: This is the perfect destination to enjoy a wide variety of ballet, opera and theatre, and is home to the New World Symphony and Florida Philharmonic. The South Beach Art Deco area boasts America?s largest selection of 1930s Art Deco buildings, proving that Miami caters for every taste. Rivalling Orlando?s shopping, Miami is hugely popular for its astonishing malls. The CocoWalk open-air shopping centre and Coral Gables? ?Miracle Mile? sound great. Other attractions include the Parrot Jungle, and the 1.4 million-acre Everglades National Park, where you can see wondrous alligators and adorable turtles, amongst other wildlife, making Miami the perfect place for families also. The Biscayne National Park, the largest marine park in America, is a wonderful place for children. Here they can learn all about life ?under the sea?, and be amazed by the fascinating collection of sea animals. For the more daring amongst you, scuba diving and snorkelling are also available. The Florida Keys Key West is Florida?s most Southern city, and brings some cultural diversity to the typical Florida holiday. Here, you?ll find offbeat restaurants, unusual shops and Victorian housing, as well a s Ernest Hemingway?s house, which you can?t afford to miss: see where the famous author spent his life, and even be inspired to take up writing yourself! Key West is the ultimate de-stressing alternative to the hustle and bustle of Orlando and Miami. Book into one of the exquisite hotels in the Florida Keys, located in the secluded resort of Islamorada, the peaceful waterfront resort of Key Largo, and in the heart of Key West. Bask in the sunshine, lie back, and take in the wonderfully unique haven that is the Florida Keys- ideal for relaxation holidays, at a lesiurely pace. Fort Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale is a fashionable, contemporary beach resort, full of chic boutiques and an excellent night-life. It?s commonly known as the ? Venice of America?, because of its 165 miles of waterways. Here, locals travel using water taxis- a novelty worth trying! As it?s quite an exclusive resort, Fort Lauderdale?s hotels are superb. The fantastic Lago Mar Resort, located in a peaceful and relaxing beachfront setting, has its own private beach, providing seclusion for all its guests. Palm Beach County One of Florida?s most exclusive cities, Palm Beach is home to the rich and famous. Golf enthusiasts will be in their prime here, as Palm Beach offers more golf courses than any other city in Florida. Boca Raton, located to the south of Palm Beach, is a quiet resort, yet it still has so much to offer: visit the exclusive Mizner Park area, which was constructed in honour of Addison Mizner, a famous architect, and his marvellously unique designs. Here, you?ll find the world?s only Museum of Cartoon Art, and charming palm trees and fountains. The Ritz-Carlton hotel is located on a secluded beach in Palm Beach. You?ll be spoilt for choice with its amazing facilities-restaurants, tennis and basketball courts and a Nintendo Games Centre in every room?What more could you ask for? St. Petersburg and Clearwater Both St. Peter sburg and Clearwater are firm favourites with holidaymakers. Ideal for families, both resorts offer excellent water sports and magnificent beaches. Close by is Tampa, where you can find Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay, one of Florida?s most popular theme parks. With its great combination of white-knuckle rollercoaster rides and an animal park, Busch Gardens is both exciting and educational- perfect for the kids! So what are you waiting for? From the fantastically colourful spirit of Miami, to the tranquil paradise of Boca Raton, Florida is ideal for anyone. A treasure chest of delights, it?s waiting to be discovered by you, so why not uncover some magic and visit Florida? I know I will be!
Florida a great place to take two holidays in one. Having said I would never go to America for a holiday my family and I have fallen in love with Florida, having been there for the last three year and intend to go again. The first year 1999 we spent two very enjoyable relaxing weeks on the Gulf Coast, staying at two RCI time-share resorts, namely Charlotte Bay Resort and Sea Oats Beach Club. Both these resorts are on the West Coast of Florida. Charlotte Bay resort over looks Charlotte Bay which is close to Punta Gorda, well worth a visit. Sea Oats Beach Club is near Englewood and as the name suggests backs on to the beach. The next year 2000 we spent one week in Orlando and one week on the Gulf Coast at Bradenton Beach, again staying at two RCI time-share resorts. Grand Lakes Resort, Orlando which is in Kissimmee within easy reach of the Disney Theme Parks and fairly close to Sea World and Great Universal Studio's. After spending a fairly trying week in Orlando we made the three hour dirve over to the Gulf Coast. This time we stayed at the Smuggler's Cove Resort on Anne Maria Island and had a relaxing week and fell in love with this place. An excellent resort situated between the beach and the inter-coastal waterway. Excellent accommodation. Well worth a visit. Last year we went back to Orlando and Bradenton, travelling this time with Airtours staying at the Hawthorn Suites near to Sea World, well worth a visit. Once again we had a trying first week in Orlando and followed this up with a relaxing second week on the Gulf Coast. On all these trips we have got the best out of Florida and in the last two years have found that spending one week in Orlando and the second week on the Gulf Coast means that you return to England in a relaxed state. I would recommend that others try this two centre holiday. While there we have enjoyed the following places and would recommend others to visit them, Sea World , Orlando; Cape Canaveral, Busch Gardens, Tampa and Mote Marine Science Center, Sarasota.
In the USA a woman gets raped every 3 seconds. The crime rate in San Jose is 5,364 per 100,00 of the population. For New York the figure is 9,236. Compare that with Miami's staggeringly high 18,394. I got out of Miami fast and flew to Tampa, which is half way down the left hand side of Florida. On the plane, someone called Catherine got talking to me about Florida's governor, Jeb Bush. "Jeb denies having an affair with the head of Florida's department of management services, a lady who was once a Playboy bunny," said Catherine, who looked pretty enough to have been a bunny. "But not everyone trusts Jeb. Jeb worked for Miguel Recarey who is wanted by the FBI over allegations of massive fraud..." Tampa has a fine baroque restaurant called Bern's Steak House, where Catherine and I enjoyed some Chateau Lafite and sixty ounce steaks. Well actually, to be honest, Catherine vanished at the airport and I dined in a Pizza Hut, and the pizza was not great. However, I did get talking to the waitress about Tampa's most famous citizen, a man called Santo. According to my informant, "Santo Trafficante ran casinos in Havana. Castro threw him out, which was why he was allegedly involved in CIA plots to kill Castro. Santo Trafficante allegedly ran all the gambling operations on the Gulf Coast and allegedly set up narcotic networks in Latin America and South East Asia. He never went to jail. When he passed away, his place was allegedly taken by a gentleman called LoScalzo" So, what more do you need to know about Tampa. It's a big city full of concrete. TAMPA! Remember the cargo ship that was stopped and searched in the English Channel because it was allegedly carrying terrorist materials to London. That ship started its journey in Tampa. Tampa is home to the McDill Airforce Base where the US military's Central Command serves as the nerve centre for the wa r in Afghanistan. Tampa is home to an Islamic studies think tank, whose head became boss of Islamic Jihad. (Some commentators believe that most Islamic militant organisations are controlled by certain intelligence agencies). Remember the Anthrax that struck Florida. According to the Washington Post, DNA testing has shown that the origin of all the anthrax that hit America was America's own germ war lab at Fort Detrick. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ I headed on quickly to St Petersburg, across the bay from Tampa. There I visited the Dali Museum which has the biggest collection of that artists works in the world. Brilliant! I took a look at the Sunken Gardens (on Fourth St): a tropical paradise of exotic trees, plants and birds. A good place to eat a ghastly McDonald's burger. Well, you can feed bits of it to birds. Overnight I stayed, of course, at the gorgeous pink, vaguely Islamic-styled, Don Cesar Resort Hotel at St Petersburg Beach. They do nice big breakfasts. Filled full of waffles, I headed a little South to Sarasota. The highlight around here is the 68 acre estate of circus man John Ringling. Ringling's C'ad'zan is huge. That's the name of the place, by the way. I loved the banyan trees, the Florentine villa, the Venetian-style mansion full of tapestries, the Renaissance-style statues and the exciting circus museum. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ I could have gone 20 miles South to the tiny town of Venice, with its wide streets and parks. But I didn't then know it was famous. Venice is famous for three reasons. First it is where the Ringling and Barnum and Bailey Circuses do their training. Secondly, it has the building that was the national HQ of billionaire Jackson Stephens's Beverley Enterprises. According to www.madcowprod.com , "Jackson Stephens was a roommate of President Carter at the US Naval Academy. Stephen's name has come up in a number of spooky cases: in the BCCI criminal bank scandal, in the case of the death of Vince Foster, in the stolen Promis software scandal, in the 1996 finance scandal involving allegations of Red Chinese money, in the gun-running and cocaine smuggling at Mena Arkansas that was behind Iran Contra and Whitewater. Stephens was the chief domestic campaign contributor to Bush senior and to Clinton. And Venice Airport was named during the questioning of Oliver North during Iran Contra." Thirdly, Venice was the teeny little place where Mohammed Atta and his fellow 'hijackers' chose to learn to fly. Some people think that Atta was working for a group within a certain intelligence agency. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ I headed to North West Florida, to Panama City Beach. The Sheraton Miracle Mile or the cheaper Stingray Motel are possible places to stay. If you like computer video arcades, country music saloons, wax museums, water slides, and amusement parks, then this is the place! This is more authentic than Disney World. It's down market and tacky and lovely, in a Coney Island sort of way. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ I had to visit the East Coast, and where better to go than Palm beach! This is quite a bit North of Miami. In Palm Beach the place to stay is The Breakers, a vast five star palace with twin towers, Venetian arches, Persian carpets and vast chandeliers. Alternatively there is the Heart of Palm Beach Motor Inn, which is cheaper. If you have money, and it's an election year (when you have a choice between one millionaire who supports the military industrial complex or another millionaire who supports the military industrial complex), you can attend Palm Beach political cocktail parties, listen to millionaire politicians pretending to be friends of Blacks and Hispanics, and pay several thousand dollars for the privilege. Palm Beach has money. It's a place to stroll around, or better, drive around. South Ocean Boulevard has a home with 117 rooms and a golf course. Number 702 is where John Lennon once lived. On N Ocean Boulevard is one of many palatial homes belonging to the Kennedys. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ A LITTLE ABOUT WALT DISNEY, space craft, INDIANS, and so on. The Florida INDIANS were not all nice. Sometimes their firstborn were sacrificed to their chiefs by being clubbed to death during a ritual dance. When the white men arrived, many Indians were hunted like dogs or killed off by measles. The BLACKS, until the Civil Rights Act of 1964, were forced to sit in separate parts of buses, or forced to use separate washrooms. Hotels, schools and public buildings were all segregated. Blacks were not allowed to go swimming at Palm Beach. The RAILWAYS were the key to the development of Florida. By 1894 there was a rail link to Palm Beach, which became a holiday resort for people like the Rockefellers. Gambling began to play a big part in Florida's economy in the 1930's. Al Capone moved into a fortified estate in Palm Beach. Florida MAFIA boss Santos Trafficante, who featured in the film "Donnie Brasco", sought the protection of the Fifth Amendment clause when asked by the House Select Committee on Assassinations whether he had ever discussed plans to kill President Kennedy. An explosion inside the US battleship Maine in 1984 in Havanna Harbour had nothing to do with Spain or the Spanish. But the US blamed Spain and used the sinking of the Maine as an excuse to free CUBA of Spanish control, and make Cuba a 'colony' of America. Under the evil Cuban dictator and US friend Batista, Havanna became the place for US mafia brothels and casinos. And America's elite owned most of Cuba. When Castro kicked out the Americans, the Pentagon Chiefs of Staff, in 1962, considered a plan called Operation NORTHWOOD. The idea behind Northwood was that US secret agents would carry out deadly terrorist attacks in the US which could be blamed on the Cubans, and thus justify a US invasion of Cuba. Operation Northwood was to include various bomb explosions in buildings in Miami and elsewhere, the bringing down of an aircraft, and the sinking of a ship. (See www.whatreallyhappened.com ) According to www.onlinejournal.com "around 1960-61, George BUSH and fellow CIA operative Felix Rodriguez organised Cuban exiles in Florida for an invasion of Cuba. The Cubans did not rise up in revolt against Castro when the Bay of Pigs invasion took place. President Kennedy was blamed by some of the elite for the failure of the US led invasion. "In 1963 JFK was assassinated. the involvement of Cubans, CIA operatives in Florida (Felix Rodriguez) and the questionable activities of Bush and others, is detailed in numerous books." (Bush has denied being in the CIA in the early 60's) In 1969 Neil Armstrong is supposed to have journeyed from CAPE CANAVERAL to the Moon. Some experts now consider that the film of the moon landing was faked. 1971 saw the opening of WALT DISNEY WORLD. According to www.onlinejournal.com "in 1973 the Watergate break-in was conducted by anti-Castro Cubans and CIA agents tied to the Bay of Pigs, including Rodriguez. "In 1976 CIA Director George Bush stonewalled Congress regarding the attacks on a Cubana Airline jet. Anti Castro Cubans were arrested, including Luis Carriles, whose boss was Felix Rodriguez. "From 1982-6 Vice president Bush, CIA Director Casey, Felix Rodriguez and Oliver North were allegedly involved in the Iran Contra affair (whereby arms were sold illegally to Iran and support given to the terrorist Contras who were trying to bring down the democratic government of Nicaragua ). In Senate testimony, Rodriguez alleged that he passed ten million dollars to the Contras from the Colombian Medellin cocaine cartel. "In Florida JEB BUSH allegedly operated as the link with the Cubans and the Contras...Florida based drug-running fronts funneled US government funds as humanitarian aid to the Contras. Senator John Kerry investigated Miami-based Ocean Hunter, one of many Florida-based drug-running fronts, and discovered $200,000 channeled South..." On 11 September 2001, the ATTACKS ON AMERICA took place. Three days after the WTC disaster, Newsweek and the Washington Post reported claims that 5 of the 'hijackers' received training at secure US military bases during the 1990's. The reports also claimed that 3 of the 'terrorists' had listed their addresses as the Naval Air Station at Pensacola, Florida. A Defense Department spokesman admitted that the names of the 'hijackers' were the same as the names of people who had trained at secure US bases. SPOOKY!!!
White powder-puff sand between my toes Towards the sea of turquoise blue I walked, dancing amongst candyfloss shells vacated by outgrown hermit crabs. The Gulf of Mexico, her majestic splendour, washing the shoreline with a lazy sweeping motion, but with intense continuity. My foot tested the shallow waters, teasing the sand below. An unusual sensation of warmth crept up my legs, as my senses adjusted to the water temperature, an inviting 82 degrees. No prompt was needed as I plunged beneath her embracing body, gliding with the push-pull current, and surfacing once more to fill my lungs with much needed oxygen. The yellow facemask fixed firmly to my head allowed me to scrutinise the sand blowing hermit crabs buried in the shallow waters, and walking along the seabed. Small schools of exotically coloured fish zigzagged around me, dancing in unison to some acoustic rhythm inaudible to the human ear. As the sun retired to distant lands, we stayed in the sea to admire the natural phenomenon of sunset over the Mexican Gulf, an occasion not to be missed. With more than a fleeting resemblance to a tequila sunrise, the clouds re-arranged their diary’s to put on a kaleidoscope of changing colours and patterns much to our pleasure, as we embraced and bid goodnight to our enlightening first day of our journey across the southern states of America. Panama City Beach, some 350 miles from Orlando, Florida. An encapsulating city in its own right, situated 20 minutes from Panama City itself. Driving over one of the many gulf bridges that litter the northern gulf territories, your first impressions are that of shipyards and industry, which to the uneducated traveller, could be misleading. Five minutes later, you encompass the tourist orientated beachside area, with its Blackpool like attractions and mass of hotels and motels. Prices ranged from $29 (£22) for a double room, up to $150 per night for the more luxurious hotels. We chose the former, as this was a budget road holiday, and were certainly not disappointed. The Seafarers Motel was set off the road, and lay slightly above beach with access straight onto the dunes, through a security gate (which was always unlocked) by the swimming pool. Parking was right outside your door, so transporting the luggage from car to room was quite easy. The room consisted of two double beds, air con machine, bathroom and sparse furniture, but adequate for a short stay. Cleanliness was of an acceptable standard, and no bugs! Within a ten-minute walk of the motel, were various restaurants boasting extensive menus, mainly seafood, and some exotic names adorned the list as well as the traditional fare of lobster, shrimp and tuna. We set our heats on Sharkys. A restaurant/bar/beachfront café style place, which boasted to be the world’s largest Tikki bar. We had actually visited this some hours earlier, during our walk along the beach. I had a Margarita and Sherry a Pina Colada, for a very reasonable sum of about $10 dollars (£7). Here you had a fun atmosphere, with live rock and roll music and a mixture of rock songs from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. In fact the singer even did some good renditions of U2. Another feature of the entertainment was a menu of songs, of which you can pick your favourite and he would sing them! Not a bad idea and maybe one that is being used frequently in the UK. Not a person to attend live music functions very often, I wouldn’t know. We both ordered the same dish (Howard and Hilda!!!) Steak and Shrimp (which are the same size as our King Prawns) the only difference being Sherry has her steak medium, mine is well done. Strongly recommend you think twice about ordering a starter in the States, as more often than not you get a free salad as part of the meal. It isn’t often I can finish a full plate of their entrees. The charge for surf and turf was $9.99 (£7 each) a bargain as the steak was a healthy 12oz, and you had half a dozen king prawns, oops I mean shrimp! Washed down with a pitcher of Bud, and some wine, we enjoyed the open-air atmosphere and the warm Florida evening. You will find all the major chains have restaurants here, names including Pizza Hut, Shoney’s, Denney’s, and many, many other restaurants which left you spoilt for choice really, but remember that everything is spaced out in the U.S.A. and you may have to drive to the a restaurant, therefore no drink! Now Panama City Beach is long but narrow, encompassing a natural lagoon to her North, and the Gulf to her southern boundaries. Width being no more then a half-mile or so, on average. So the main drag is in fact “The” drag. So littered along both sides are various commercial ventures which include amusements, go-kart, tacky gift shops, shoe shops, clothes shops, bars, diners and much, much more. Not a quaint little seaside town, more of a complete party package and very popular with the younger element during summer breaks from college/university. But don’t let that dissuade you in any way if you prefer the tranquillity of natural beauty and wildlife of sea and land, for less than a twenty minute drive sets you down in an abundance of natural Sand Dunes, infested with all sorts of weird and wonderful fauna, foliage and creepy-crawlies. Much of the coastline is protected by strict guidelines and federal law protects the plants! (So don’t even think about picking them or you will be shot!). All in all Panama City Beach has resurrected itself proudly from the devastation caused to her by some nasty Hurricane relocating her houses and attractions some years ago, and if you like to see a different side of Florida, a 7 hour journey, including two breaks for burgers, petrol, grape ju ice and pretzels, is well worth making from Orlando. If there were a pitfall, or more a sensible bit of advice I could give, it would be this. While swimming just after dusk, I felt a strange sensation on the back of my neck, almost like getting a hair caught in a chain. This rapidly spread down my back, and I quickly realised that a Jelly Fish had stung me. I told Sherry to get out the water quick and luckily the water was shallow enough to walk out of. As I reached the beach a numb sensation, like an electric shock spread through my upper back, mildly paralysing my left arm, causing slow movement and mild pain. I quickly returned to the Motel and inspected my back, but there were no visible signs of any tentacles attached to it, so I was very fortunate. An hour later, there was only the tingle left, but a red line about 12 inches long from the middle of my back to my shoulder appeared, a lucky escape. Jellyfish are plentiful in warm water, and don’t really pose much of a threat in daylight, but can’t be seen at night. Entirely my fault for swimming after dark, but it was so warm and peaceful, it had to be done. There are many links to Panama City Beach, but make sure you don’t confuse it with Panama City, which, as I mentioned is a fair distance from the beach. Climate is hot, hot and hot. Avoid early September, as this is Hurricane season. You may not witness a hurricane, but it kicks off plenty of cloud, lessening the suns ability to bronze your torso. Water averages up to 82 degrees in September, and is warmer than the beach. I cant say what the rest of the beaches were like, but the beach I was on had a strong current, so swimming for children should be supervised and I would recommend finding a stretch of beach where there are Lifeguards present. Kids will love the sand. It is more like a dust and brushes off your skin much easie r than the usual cling sand found on beaches in the U.K. Fishing is popular in this area, and purpose built piers can be used for a small fee. Boat fishing party’s can be arranged from any hotel or motel lobby, at a very reasonable rate. Fishing gear can easily be hired from shops that surround the beach, so no need to carry yours all the way from good old blighty. For more info go to www.google.com and enter Panama City Beach. The results are plentiful and you can even view the beach through live web cams. Here are a few to get you started. http://www.beachview.com/panama_city_beach.htm http://www.800pcbeach.com/ http://www.panamacitybeachonline.com/ Angus Reid
"Florida is a state located in the southeastern United States. Most of the state is a large peninsula with the Gulf of Mexico on its west and the Atlantic Ocean on its east. It has a warm and humid subtropical climate. It was named by Juan Ponce de León, who landed on the coast on April 2, 1513, during Pascua Florida (Spanish for "Flowery Easter," referring to the Easter season). Florida's economy relies heavily on tourism. The capital is Tallahassee and the largest city is Jacksonville."