Orlando! - by Jo
We reached Orlando by Amtrak, the most well-known train company in the States. The journey was comfortable apart from the fact that the air conditioning was being pumped out so hard that we almost froze to death... But in comparison to the Greyhound buses that we were soon to encounter, it was total luxury. Rachael felt similar to how I had been feeling on our flight to Miami, as her boyfriend Chris was flying into Orlando that night to meet us.
Our accommodation was called 'Palm Lakefront Resort and Hostel' which conjured up images in our heads of a relaxing place by the lake, complete with swimming pool and hotel-style rooms. The reality was a roadside motel - one of those truly American-style motels that you see in films, where dodgy people hang out to smoke and cause trouble. We rocked up in the taxi and were greeted by one of the weirdest looking men I've ever seen - he had tattoos of Disney characters all up his arms and looked like he'd just smoked a barrel of weed. A good start! He showed us to our rooms and although they weren't quite as nice
as we'd been expecting, they were OK, apart from the huge samurai that was painted on the wall of ours towering over the bed for no apparent reason at all. That afternoon Rachael set off to collect Chris from the airport, after Disney Druggie (whose name incidentally was also Chris) had misinformed her several times about how to get there. They returned several hours later and the four of us were finally altogether; a moment which Rach and I had talked about so many times over the past 3 months and which was now finally here!
Everyone knows that there's not a lot to do in Orlando apart from visit the theme parks, which really was our main reason for going there. If it hadn't have been for those there really would have been no point in going there, as all we could see for miles from our motel was fast food restaurants and strange looking shops that were always closed. There is absolutely no way that someone could be on a diet in Orlando since there is not a single healthy option in sight, and the fast food restaurants always have deals on, such as my favourite one
that I saw outside a Taco Bell - 'Buy 10 tacos get 1 free!' 10 tacos????!!!! Honestly, no wonder this is the most obese nation on the planet.
Anyway we found our way to a discount ticket store to try and get tickets to go to Universal Studios the following day. However we got really lucky as they were trying desperately to get rid of some tickets for Disneyworld so as not to have to go all the way to the park and sell them. So instead of paying the usual $85 for them, we got them for $25 each, which included 'fast pass' to many of the rides. Only a fool could have turned that offer down so we rushed back to the motel, made some peanut butter sandwiches and got in a taxi to the park. Those who have been to one of the Disneyland parks know how magical it is; something about the atmosphere turns adults into big kids! The day was great, we watched character parades (during one I shamelessly barged a little girl out of my way so as to get a better view of Belle), bought souvenirs and went on rides both big
and small. With our fast passes we were literally able to stroll right to the front of the queues for rides like Space Mountain and Thunder Mountain, we actually felt pretty guilty walking past all the people in the normal queue who had probably paid over three times what we did for their non-fast pass tickets... But the guilt was soon forgotten when we were on the rides which were amazing!
My favourite ride, which I think was secretly everyone else's favourite too, was It's a Small World. For those of you who don't know, it is a kid's ride where you sit in a boat and travel slowly through a colourful display of mechanical characters dressed up from around the world, all of whom sing the It's a Small World theme tune. I know, sounds like something out of a horror movie, and it's true that the song gets stuck in your head for days afterwards, but we enjoyed it! Rachael and I also had a whale of a time on the Alice in Wonderland teacups, which we spun around on too fast and felt quite ill afterwards - something that made me feel horribly old as I
used to be able to go on those with no problem at all! The entire day was so much fun and I don't care what anyone says, you can never be too old for Disney!
A couple of days later Natalie turned 23 and for that we had to celebrate. Like I said before there isn't a whole lot to do in Orlando and we were all Disney-d out so decided not to fork out $85 to go to Universal Studios. Instead we bought some wine (of course) causing Disney Druggie to comment that all English girls love their drinks, and then made our way down the street to a TGI Friday's which we'd noticed before. As usual we ordered far too much food and Nat and I had to take ours away in little boxes to eat the next day (which I did, it had gone soggy and wasn't nice), but it was worth it as at the time the food was delicious. Natalie even commented that it was the best steak she'd ever eaten! When she was in the bathroom I asked the waiter to embarrass her accordingly, which he well and truly did when bringing the
desserts out by gathering all the waiters together and singing a loud birthday song, and then bringing out a cheesecake with a candle in it. She pretended to hate it but I know she secretly loved it :)
On our last day at the motel Nat and I had moved into Rachael and Chris's room as ours was needed for someone else. The doors were operated using those electronic swipe cards that rarely work first time, but as we tried to get into the room later that day the key had completely broken. We alerted Disney Druggie and some other members of staff, who didn't seem in the least bit bothered until we started to kick up a fuss, at which point they went over to the door and began to aimlessly swipe the card over and over again. They told us it was all under control and would be done soon, so we went over to the grocery store to buy some food for our upcoming overnight Greyhound bus, came back and saw that they had broken into the window in order to open the door. This caused me to wonder what on earth is wrong with just an old-fashioned lock and key, but I didn't bring this up. We just got our stuff and got out, ready to embark upon the journey that was to make me lose my faith in Greyhound buses for ever...
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