Saturday, 25 June 2016

TRAVEL: ORLANDO DIARY


When we woke up at our airport hotel on the 14th of June and switched on the news, we were horrified by what we saw. In the largest mass shooting in America, 49 people had been shot dead in a cruel and senseless killing at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Naturally we were shocked, but more so we were saddened by this horrible event. I’ll admit that I had a heavy heart as we made our way to Manchester airport to catch our flight. 



If you’ve been around Musings & More for a while now, you’ll know that I actually visited Orlando for the first time back in September. Ever since we returned home, my family and I could not stop talking about how much we had enjoyed ourselves in America and we all agreed we should definitely go back. So roll on ten months and we hopped on the plane, ready to head back to the sunshine state.

As we drove to our home for the week, you couldn’t help but notice the many sign posts and banners in support of the victims of the shooting. ORLANDO STRONG, LOVE IS LOVE and PRAY FOR ORLANDO were just a few. If I learnt anything during my stay in Orlando, it was how united they were in the face of adversity. You couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about the shooting or the appeals or events being held to raise money for the victims and their families. The issue was being talked about across all forms of media and that was exactly what needed to be happening.

Like last time, we chose to stay in our own house rather than a hotel. This, we all agreed, was the best way to stay in Orlando and get a taste of american life. We also loved the bonus of having our own private pool! We stayed in a place called Indian Creek which was close to loads of brilliant places like Disney and Epcot. As a note, some of the activities I won’t go into in this post, for example, Universal as I wrote about this in detail here and here last year and this time I decided to enjoy the experience without snapping away constantly and thinking of my blog.  

Being one of the parks we had yet to do, Epcot was always fairly high on our agenda. It was one I hadn’t really done much research on either and didn’t know much about it. There are a few rides at the park though nowhere near the others and most of these are future themed which is really interesting. Other than that, the idea is that you work your way around numerous different ‘countries’ through the park. This includes Mexico, Japan, Italy, Paris, England, Canada and many more. With each area, everything is naturally themed to that country and it is done incredibly well. You feel like you’ve visited a lot of countries in just a few hours and can even have your photo taken next to the big landmarks! There are also plenty of dining options in each country which means you could be eating sushi, gelato or perhaps funnel cake. As much as I enjoyed Epcot, I don’t think I would do it again. As a one-time thing, it’s really interesting but the limited rides mean that once you’ve visited all the countries, they is no real need to do it again.  








On the Saturday, we planned to venture further afield and head to the closest beach, which just so happened to be a place called Cocoa Beach. The journey was about an hour and a half, so we stopped to get some breakfast and headed to IHOP (international house of pancakes, dontcha know!). They have such an extensive, yummy menu that it was difficult to pick, but in the end I went for the ‘split decision’ which was essentially a fried breakfast with french toast and a side of buttermilk pancakes. Safe to say, I didn’t end up finishing the pancakes! 

When we eventually arrived at the beautiful sandy beach, my dad told us not to get too comfortable as we would be leaving (but later returning) for a surprise he had arranged. Intrigued, we sat back and soaked up the sun before heading back to the car for a fifteen minute drive. The three of us stared out the windows, searching for clues. It soon became obvious when he pulled into an airfield. 




He had arranged for the three of us to have a private helicopter ride! We were all delighted and introduced to the British couple who owned Beachside Helicopters who were so lovely. After signing some forms, we climbed into the helicopter and were given a quick brief by the pilot before pulling on our headphones setting off. It was a truly wonderful experience and I feel that words can’t really describe how it felt to look out at the sights below. I hope my photos do some sort of justice! I really would recommend Beachside Helicopters if you are heading to Orlando, they were great hosts and really made the experience all the more better. After our ride had finished, we climbed out (all in total awe) and made the journey back to Cocoa Beach where we flopped down on the sand to catch some rays.




Being the lovely man he is, my Dad had also scheduled in a 1930s themed 'Capone's dinner and show' for us on Fathers Day. He produced a hat for Matt and handed myself and my sister headdresses, pearls and a feather bower to help us get into character. We took our seats with a great view of the stage and we enjoyed a buffet of tasty food and were given unlimited soft and alcoholic drinks throughout the show. The show itself is great for the family and features brilliant music (think Bugsy Malone!) with comedy and even some audience participation! Having not done something like this before, we all really enjoyed it.


On our last full day, we had organised to go horse riding! It took place in St. Cloud at a place called Forever Florida , which ran a number of activities from zip lining to being a cowboy for the day! It was a beautiful place, with 4,700 acres of gorgeous Wildlife Conservative Area. There was even a very firm ‘don’t feed the alligator’ sign! I was introduced to my horse Moon (which I loved, my puppy’s name being Luna!) who I was told was the boss of the group and would lead the pack! I climbed up and found he was relatively easy to handle with a few gently nudges. Now like a lot of you, I had a few horse riding lessons but this was a lot more authentic. We made our way on horseback through unspoilt Florida, wading through deep streams and even a spider creek (much to the horror of my sister). The idea behind the Conservation area was that everything was preserved just as nature intended, something I really love. Admittedly, after an hour and a half on on Moon, my legs did start to ache. You really underestimate the muscle power needed to horsehide! Other than that, it was a great way to enjoy the gorgeous views and something really different for us to do together. 







As with last time, when our day to return home came around, we were all moaning about having to leave. I’m fortunate enough to have visited the US three times in the last ten months and I’m still completely in love with the place, longing to tick more states off my list. I’d love to know where you want to visit in the States and why, let me know in the comments!

Emily x

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32 comments

  1. Your trip sounds like it was amazing and so much fun!! I want to travel every state one day!

    Renee | Life After Lux

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  2. Emily, your trip to Orlando sounded splendid! So glad you had a great time. It's awesome to stay in a home instead of a hotel room. You really get a feel of everyday life. Epcot is lovely! I love that you took a helicopter ride (EXCITING) and horseback riding along trails is so relaxing. Florida has so much to offer. Great place to visit and live. The tragedies were horrible. Too much!
    http://www.averysweetblog.com/

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  3. The events in orlando were devastating but it's so beautiful how they're trying to raise money for the victims and their families <3 I think your trip sounds wonderful especially with the private pool ! I'd love to go to disney !!

    lots of love, Marianne xxx

    https://myhappybubblexx.blogspot.co.uk/

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  4. Looks like a great trip. Orlando really has had some awful times but it's things like that that show how strong the community really is!

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  5. Wow! Your trip sounds amazing. Some awful news before you flew though, I would have been in full panic mode.

    What a wonderful suprise that your Dad set up. i would have been intrigued from the start and skip the beach lol x

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  6. I used to live in Orlando and I love it there! The people of Orlando are from all walks of life, but they can move mountains when they unite for a good cause. so glad you had a great holiday though! Epcot is one of my favourite parks! xX

    kynialikethecountry.blogspot.com

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  7. Ugh, I miss Epcot so much. Disney World is one of my favorite places. It's so heartwarming to hear a personal account of how Orlando has come together. One of my friends lives down there and attended one of the vigils they held for the victims. It's such a terrible tragedy, but like the Boston Marathon, it's incredible to see humanity show love is greater than hate in the aftermath.

    Via Sora || instagram · twitter · pinterest · bloglovin

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  8. This sounds like the most amazing trip, Orlando is top of my travel bucket list for so many reasons <3 it must have been really moving visiting just after the tragedies that have happened there recently, it's so touching seeing how much the events have brought people together x
    www.britishmermaid.com

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  9. This looks like such an amazing trip, I'm going to Orlando in November for the first time and this post has made me so excited!

    Lauren Ashleigh xx

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  10. I love that you returned with your family just 10 months later - it must have made quite the impact on you all! The horseback ride looks like a lot of fun. Personally, I'd love to visit Orlando sometime soon simply to return to Disneyworld nearby, haha!

    Gabrielle | A Glass Of Ice x

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  11. I haven't visited Orlando before, but from the look of your photos, its a beautiful place to play tourist. These are great shot and surely sound like you had a fab time. The shooting is definitely a sad one. The world is getting crazy each passing day. :)

    http://missymayification.blogspot.co.uk

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  12. Has it been 10 months since your last visit? Wow, I remember reading about your previous trip but didn't think it was that long ago. LOL! And your dad is amazing, how cool is it that he organized a helicopter ride!

    Shireen | Reflection of Sanity

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  13. Looks like such a fun time was had! I loved Epcot Center as a kid and would love to visit again. But I am dying to visit Harry Potter World. Glad you enjoyed your next visit, albeit at a difficult time in Orlando history.

    xx Yasmin
    http://banglesandbungalows.com

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  14. The helicopter ride looks amazing! Glad that you had fun and that you felt the love, even if you did visit at a difficult time for the city.


    Away From The Blue Blog

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  15. It's so heartwarming to hear a personal account of how Orlando has come together.

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  16. Sounds like you had a blast! The pictures are absolutely great, I hope I get to visit Orlando soon!

    XoXo,

    Tamara - LoveofMode.com

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  17. Sounds like you had such an amazing time in Orlando, hun! Deeply saddened about the senseless shootings, but it must have been somewhat uplifting to see the overwhelming support for the victims from everyone around. I do like the idea of an 'around the world' park, and it seems like they did a pretty good job at re-creating the countries, also! The food looks absolutely delicious of course, and how cool is it that you had a chance to enjoy a helicopter ride! :) <3 Never traveled to the US but would love to one day. x

    Kay
    http://www.shoesandglitter.com/

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  18. I used to live in the states, and spent thanksgiving at Orlando one year - it was so much fun! I was so upset and saddened by the Orlando attacks - such a tragedy.

    Erin xxx
    islandbell.co.uk

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  19. I like your blog, its really dope.
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  20. Oh my goodness what an incredible trip, you managed to squeeze so much in! What happened in Orlando was SO terrible, thank goodness you came home safe. Something like that reminds us all how precious life really is xx

    http://www.thatnewdress.com

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  21. I can’t imagine how it would have felt to be there in the aftermath of such a serious event :/ However, I remember reading about your last Orlando trip, it would have been lovely to go back and it looks like it was! EPCOT looks amazing and - I want to go to IHOP. So. Bad. A helicopter!?!? Oh my gosh! And capone’s dinner and show sure looks like fun! You guys had a jam-packed trip, I reallyyyyy want to go horseriding - when I was little the horse I had during lessons was named Happy because he was born on new year’s eve :) Your riding trail looks so legitimate and professional!

    I think the first place I want to visit in the States is NY :)

    Raashi
    reflectionswithraa.blogspot.com.au

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  22. What an amazing trip and how lovely is your dad?

    Did you go on the Mission to Mars ride at Epcot? I loved that, would definitely do it again.

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  23. I recently went to Orlando too. Looks like you did some more varied activities to me, but I had been in Orlando just 2 weeks before the shooting. Such a tragedy! It saddened me so as everybody I had met and spoken to were just so friendly

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  24. You packed a lot into a fairly short amount of time! The helicopter ride looks fantastic!

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  25. Ahh that sounds like such a beautiful trip... You are so lucky to be able to go to the US so often... I really want to go someday, too :) I hope I get a chance soon xx

    BeautyPepTalk

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  26. You have some great pictures here. It sounds like you had an amazing time too! And a helicopter ride!? wow!
    Angie | Chocolate & Lipstick | Beauty, Fashion & Lifestyle Blog

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  27. It surely sounds like you had an amazing time! Don't worry, your photos do a lot of justice. Loving all the shots. Also, I would love to visit the States someday. It has soooo much to offer!

    -Leta | The Nerdy Me

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  28. That was a horrible week for the world but seeing the solidarity in Orlando just on the news really restored some faith in humankind for me. It sounds like you still had a really good holiday anyway - loving the sounds of the helicopter ride and Capone dinner. I've never been anywhere in America but Florida is high on my list of places to go! On a side note, this is so bizarre - I've actually got the Simpsons on in the background and its the episode where Mrs Krabbappel gets nominated for the teacher of the year award and its held in a parody of the Epcot centre! x

    Viva Epernay | GlossyBox Giveaway! | Vote For Me - Beauty Blogging Awards

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  29. You're such a lucky duck visiting the us, despite everything that's gone on. It's definitely a country on my bucket list xx

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  30. I went to Orlando when I was 15, such a great memories. Thanks for sharing this post, I enjoyed it so much remembering all the places I went.

    Keep traveling and enjoying life ;)

    Regards,

    www.agirlinafrica.com

    Diana

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  31. so pretty , want to go there so bad :)

    http://villemo20.blogspot.com/

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