Our first full day in Orlando and Martin's first go at driving the American Highways (and first time at an automatic). We decided we would just explore I-Drive before going further afield. All we have though is a small map which is included in the mid pages of a freebie vouchers booklet, which only names the really main main roads. Still it cant be that hard can it? Of course it may have helped if the driver had informed his navigator that we were travelling south and not north! And do you know just how hard it is to turn round in America? It didn't take us long to realise we had made a mistake but there were no off ramps. No u-turn places. And eventually we passed under Mickey Mouse into Disney, a place we had no intention of visiting, and a place we had no admission tickets for.
Pretty soon we were in a queue to get into the Epcot car park, and still no way to turn the car around. So Martin (after some shouting at from his co-passenger) abandoned the car on the verge and went to ask the booth lady what we should do. They must get loads of people doing it as they didnt bat an eyelid, just told us to drive through and take the first left.
We did that and then promptly got turned wrong again, ending up in Celebration village where the residents were all out holding a town yard sale! I tell you, we got to see allot of Orlando that day! We did manage to find a Target and a Joann and I got to do lots of stash shopping though.
That evening we ate in Sizzlers. I think Martin was rather confuddled by the choice of goodies that you could get from the 'all you can eat' buffet and managed to fill himself up before his entree came. I must admit it wasnt as good as I remembered it from Arizona (after bigging it up to Mart), plus I think a bit of Jet Lag had hit us so not that successful a meal.
The weather forecaster reckoned that it was going to be pretty showery on the East Coast so although we had planned to visit Cocoa Beach we swapped our itinerary around and headed out to Clearwater about an hours drive away. This was pretty handy as it meant we at least knew where we would find Discovery Cove when we headed out for our Dolphin Interaction the next day.
The Tampa Bay area really is beautiful, Clearwater is reached via a very very long causeway with water lapping on both sides.
It was very hot and quiet humid by the time we arrived, and to make matters worse I had managed my usual clever trick of getting blisters on my feet. The other mistake we had made was thinking we would not need beach towels so the first thing we had to do was find a shop selling those. Then we found the famous wooden pier. "Look at those big ducks by the end of the pier" I said. But when we got up there they werent ducks but real live wild pelicans. Loads of them. We were awestruck and spent ages just standing watching them diving for fish.
There were even more of them by the charter fishing boats on the other side of the road. We got up quite close and personal but that wasnt to be our first close encounter with the animals this holiday.
By now it was unbearably hot so we collapsed into the nearest shop to enjoy the coolness of the air con. and to purchase some head gear. Martin's hat was very sauve, I dont think you could say the same for mine.
After an icecream (where the local radio was playing and talking a really nice peice on the intestinal problems of most Americans) we had a quick swim and headed off back to I-Drive to grab some food.
There are so many good places to get a bite to eat on International that it is really hard to choose. As we walked along discussing the various virtus of each munching house, I stepped into a puddle left from the recent shower, and something extremley small but with very large teeth punctured my foot (bare from having to abandon my shoes because of the blisters). It was so excrusiating that I had tears streaming down my face as we walked along, so it was in desperation that Martin headed for the nearest restaurant - Chilli's, for a seat and some food. Well it was brilliant, the best ribs I have ever had (not hard its the first time I have sampled a whole rack of ribs) smoothered in spices and brown sugar, a mouthwatering corn on the cob and of course the obligitory chips (oops sorry fries). Billie, our waitress made us smile a bit too.
So stuffed to the gills we hobbled home (well I did) to our hotel, and set the alarm for our Dolphin encounter in the morning.