Monday, September 10, 2012

Two weeks into 3 and how that seems long but is too short


Yes I know, I say this every time, but it has been a while since I created a post.

This post will be divided over 3 parts, you're reading part 1 of these 3.

Recently I took my annual vacation. My sons had their summer vacation and of course that means that as a family we had to spend time.
Late last year we bought a little place at the beach in Turkey and my wife and kids spend some time there. Instead of spending the whole summer there. They stayed in our place at the Akbuk'ian beach for about 2 and a half weeks, during which I was working full time in Cairo. No need for me to fly to Holland. Although I have nice neighbors in Almere, I have nice friends in Cairo and a weekend in the Egyptian sun is nice as well.

On a side note, it was Ramadan and this year Ramadan was brutal. Days were long, hot and humid. I tried to fast for a day and decided that being divine-agnostic (that's how Facebook puts it) has its benefits. Nevertheless, the catering at the office was totally geared towards Ramadan, close to not existing is what that means.

We decided to fly to the USA and visits our very close friends in Waltham, MA. It's close to Boston. The week in Boston was preceded by a week in Orlando, FL.
My main reason to go to Orlando was to go to Florida and show the boys alligators in the Everglades on an airboat. The reason we went to Orlando instead of Miami was a matter of logistics. The trip would be Amsterdam, Florida, Boston and finally Amsterdam again and the best schedule was through KLM/Delta airlines. And since I've got KLM gold status and so does my wife we went through the airports smoothly and swiftly.
A couple of days before we went on vacation I arrived in Holland and the next day the family returned from Turkey. 3 days later we went to Orlando.
The journey took close to 13 hours as we had a transfer in Atlanta. No direct flights by any of the Sky Team airlines from Amsterdam to Orlando.
Jay, our oldest, pretty much was done with the whole traveling when we arrived in Atlanta. Fortunately the flight to Orlando from Atlanta took only an hour.
We collected our luggage, 3 suitcases, one filled with presents, and I got the rental car from Dollar. A Ford Taurus, nice car. It's the last time I rent a car from Dollar. "Why?", you ask me? Because their prices on the web are totally misleading. Although in the end not more or less expensive than the competition, the other car rentals prices online were way more accurate. Lesson Learned.
Thanks to my pretty good memory and my Nokia Lumia 800 we were at the hotel without any problems. Well, dusk had set in and I couldn't find the switch for the headights until my wife looked it up in the manual. Nevertheless the driving in the US is kind of different from what you experience in Cairo. The lanes on the roads are as wide if not wider than in Cairo, but the biggest difference is that in the US there is only one car per lane. This is quite refreshing. Of course, in the Netherlands this is the same, but it feels more relaxed in the US.
Our hotel, Wyndham Grand Orlando, was perfect. Not The Atlantic Palm Dubai perfect. But perfect nonetheless. I'm still happy I went for a luxury hotel.
Very friendly staff, swift service and excellent spacy room. The boys slept on bunk-beds and a comfortable bed was set for my wife and myself. All in a single room, but still with enough privacy as needed for a family of 4.
The little cafe in the hotel lobby was actually a Starbucks affiliate, so Starbucks espresso. Very nice indeed. The restaurant in the lower lobby (LL on the elevator button) was very pleasant and very much tailored for kids. And OMG, the Man vs. Dog hotdog at the pool side. Gosh, that was some mean hotdog. Foot long with cheese and jalapeno's and sauerkraut and all kinds of other stuff. I finished it twice.

I won't bore you to sleep with every little detail of the hotel.

This first week of our vacation in the US was spend between Disney parks and the hotel pool. The swimming pool and the pool table in the De kids loved it, especially Jay. He'd rather play pool than go swimming. The Disney parks were very nice and big. But admission was a matter of big bucks as well. Would I say "but worth every penny"? Nope. I think they were over priced. But we had fun.... Until I got my AmEx bill obviously.
The highlight of this week in Orlando was actually not the Disney parks and we enjoyed it our last day in Florida. It was the airboat ride we did at Wild Florida in Kenansville, about 45 min drive from Orlando. We booked a private tour, meaning just the 4 of us and our guide were on the boat for an hour. My reasoning behind paying a little more was that
whenever the guide explained something we could translate it for the kids. Without other tourists that didn't want to wait for translations and go on with the tour. It was awesome, on the boat across the swamps of the Northern Everglades. Looking for gators and we saw some. Not the big ones, but small ones, still 1.2 m (4 ft) nonetheless. And we saw an American Bold Eagle. In hindsight we should've done the night tour, that's when the big gators are hunting. But since it was our last day...
We did see the big ones though. There was a small park as well, very nice setup, with a large pont that had like 6 big gators, by big I mean about 4-5 m (12-15 ft) long.
Whenever you go to Orlando, this is what you must do. Forget about all the parks. They're fun, but you should go to Wild Florida.
The trip to Wild Florida marked our last day in Florida. Next day we flew to Boston to visit our friends in Waltham. That I'll cover in my next post. I thank you for getting this far.

Enjoy the remainder of your day or good night,


No comments:

Post a Comment