Day 15 – Siesta Key

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Siesta Key Shops & Restaurants

Siesta Key Shops & Restaurants

Got up at 07:30 having had a very disturbed nights sleep again – I don’t know why but I have not slept well on this holiday. Wrote the blog and then put on the TV to get a weather forecast which wasn’t particularly promising. Jan got up soon after and we had a TV breakfast watching another ancient episode of Perry Mason. As the weather forecast wasn’t good we decided to stay at the villa and sunbathe by the pool until the rain came. By 12:30 the rain had still not materialised so Jan suggested heading off to Siesta Key which has just been voted the number 1 beach in America. On the way there we had a few spots of rain but by the time we arrived 30 mins later the weather was lovely. I managed to park the car next to the coffee shop which is a favourite of ours (no chance of losing it this time!). We had a good look round the village this time because we are thinking of staying here next year. We registered with a local lettings agent and she said she could get us a good deal on a beach side villa. The sand on the beach is so soft and white, no wonder it got voted number 1. We stopped at a roadside bar called Gilligan’s for about an hour and had a few drinks which was very pleasant. We then headed back to Bradenton for our first visit of the holiday to Chili’s. The rain threatened briefly – there was a beautiful rainbow as we entered the car park but nothing came our way. They have a permanent happy hour so Jan and I both had large Margaritas – Jan’s was mango flavoured and mine raspberry – wonderful. The food was excellent too. We then headed off to the villa for an early night as tomorrow we are planning to go to Busch Gardens again to take advantage of our free admission.

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Day 14 – Ringling Museum of Art

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Got up at 07:00 and did the blog. Jan was up just after 08:00 and after getting ready we headed off to iHop for breakfast. Walked out of iHop slower than we walked in and then we headed off for a return visit to the Ringling Museum of Art. We went there last year and enjoyed it so much we said we must go back. There have been some changes to it which has made it even better. There is more interaction now as can be witnessed from Jan showing how not to fall off a horse! I really wish I had been around at the early part of the last century when a circus came to town. Schools and factories would be closed down so that everyone had the opportunity to see it – a truly spectacular sight with all the colourful trailers. Whilst we were walking around a new part of the museum we came across a poster of a clown called Bello Nock (see picture below) – he reminds me of someone, just can’t think who!! We really enjoyed walking around the estate again especially sitting on the patio in front of the house overlooking Sarasota Bay watching the flying fish perform their aerobatics. All in all we were there for nearly five hours which went very quickly. If we come back to Sarasota next year we shall certainly visit again as there are more additions and improvements in the pipeline. We then headed up to Ellenton outlets for a bit of retail therapy. The first stop though was Kilmin’s Ice Cream Parlour (the real reason why I wanted to go there). After the now compulsory ice cream soda we headed off in different directions. The problem for me with these outlets is that they are primarily selling clothes and shoes. There are no book, computer or record shops so there is very little to interest me. It didn’t seem to stop Jan though and she came away with yet another handbag and some t-shirts whilst I came away with a free map of the place! On the way home we stopped off at Outback for another lovely meal (sorry Doms). Tomorrow we will probably have a lazy day at the beach again.

Day 13 – At the beach

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Had a lie in until 08:00 and then started to do the blog. Had a few problems with doing it yesterday – firstly I ran out of space on my web album and it wouldn’t let me upload anything off my camera. After investigation I discovered I had been uploading at too high a resolution. The only way was to delete all my previous images and reload them at the lowest resolution. That did the trick and it doesn’t look any different on the blog. Having solved that problem I had a problem uploading the blog itself which involved changing the password – it was just like being at work! Jan had been woken up at 09:00 by some workers outside trimming the palm trees so I stopped for a spot of breakfast before I resumed sorting out the blog and Jan read her work. Having completed the blog I put the TV on, and what should be starting but Perry Mason a very popular show in the UK in the late 50’s early 60’s in glorious black and white which only those of you of a certain vintage would remember (Maurice) memories of Della Street, Hamilton Burger and Paul Drake. Anyway enough reminiscing, sometime during the programme Jan fell asleep again – what a light weight. Later on whilst getting a drink from the fridge Jan discovered a baby lizard on the fridge door – we are still trying to work out how it got in as none of the windows are open. In the afternoon we headed back to the beach. The water temperature had dropped six degrees since last weekend but it was OK once you were in. I fell asleep in my deck chair whilst Jan read her book – it’s what holidays are about. As we had eaten a very rich meal last night we decided to eat in and Jan cooked meatballs and pasta again which we had enjoyed a few nights ago. After dinner we watched the original Footloose film – the story was a bit far fetched but the music was good. Tomorrow we are off to iHop for breakfast followed by a return visit to the Ringling Museum of Art which we enjoyed so much last year. Oh and in case you wondered who took the picture of us in the villa – the lizard of course!

Day 12 – Busch Gardens

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Got up at 07:45 ready for our day at Busch Gardens. We both felt much better so after a hearty breakfast set off just before 09:00. After stopping for some petrol ( £20 for about 9 gallons – doesn’t it make you sick), we got stuck in a motorway jam because of a crash ahead which meant we didn’t get there until 10:30. When we got there there was good and bad news. The good news was that the guy at the ticket office informed us that our ticket covered us for a second day which meant we can come back again within the next 6 days for free! The bad news was that the brain numbing, bone rattling wooden roller coaster Gwazi was closed for maintenance – as you can imagine we were both gutted (honest). Our first port of call was the new roller coaster Cheetah Hunt – we both thought it was brilliant, in fact I would go as far as to say it’s my new favourite roller coaster in Florida (sorry Hulk). The queue had increased to 25 mins by the time we got off, so instead, as our stuff was still in a locker we headed off to Montu the roller coaster next to the car park. We got straight on and within 30 secs of the start we both wished we hadn’t. We both thought we were going to throw up – it’s not so much the loops as the violent twists. Perhaps time is catching up on us with these type of coasters. We both agreed we wouldn’t go back on it again. After that we decided on something more sedate so we jumped on the Skyride a cable car ride which takes you over to the other side of the park. From there we went on the Stanley Falls Flume where Jan made me sit in the front and needless to say I got soaked and she didn’t! As the vertical drop roller coaster Sheikra was next to it we went on to that next. For the first time we managed to get a seat in the front. It is a fantastic experience and certainly in my top three. I then said something that Jan was to regret. I told her that as our stuff was still in the locker and that the roller coaster Kumba was nearby which was a pussy cat compared to Montu we should do that next. She reluctantly agreed which was unfortunate because it was just as bad as Montu in that we both thought we were going to be sick again. Jan especially was feeling decidedly dodgy when we got off muttering something about never believing anything I said again! After all that drama Jan wanted to sit down for a while and have a relaxing drink. In the meantime I went to look for my stomach and take some movie of Sheikra. Stomach found and pictures taken we then went and looked at some Orangutans who were really funny. We then caught the Skyride back to the Cheetah Hunt for our second go and this time we bought a DVD of us on the ride – it’s not as good as the one at Universal but it’s a good memory. By now we were feeling a bit peckish so we headed off to Kenya Kanteen for a spot of lunch. On the way there we stopped off at the lion enclosure where the two lionesses were lying up against the viewing glass – I have never been so close to a lion before. After some hot dog and chips and feeling suitably refreshed we then went to the theatre to see a very funny 4D film called Pirates starring Leslie Nielsen and Eric Idle. We then went on the Rhino Rally which is an off-road adventure through some of the animals. Sadly the best part of this ride has been removed to make way for the new Cheetha Hunt ride so it’s over very quickly. It was now getting near closing time so we jumped on the train for a ride around the park before stopping off to see some Kangaroos and Wallabies. We left the park just before six and this time we didn’t get lost. On the way home we stopped off at Carrabba’s for another wonderful meal. A perfect end to a wonderful if slightly stomach-churning day!

Day 11 – Relaxation

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Got up at 07:00 to a beautiful sunrise. By the time I had written the blog it was now light and I went for a run. At first I really struggled and in fact started walking but I decided to try and start running again and from then on I was OK. I was out for about 20 mins which I was pleased with. When I got back I lay down on the bed and promptly fell asleep for another hour. We had breakfast in the villa and the original plan was to go to the beach but Jan was feeling a bit sick so we decided to stay in the villa and sunbathe by the pool. I fell asleep again on the sun bed. We were out there for about 2 hours and as Jan felt better I suggested going for a drive. We went to see a development called The Inlets which we visited last year. Although way out of our price range (the show house is on sale for 1.9 million dollars), it is nice seeing how the other half lives. After we left there we headed for the De Soto Square Mall which is a local mall which we had never visited. We only managed a quick look round as it was closing early because it was Sunday but we managed to buy a couple of DVD’s. My stomach was now feeling a bit dodgy so we decided to eat in. Jan cooked a lovely meatballs and pasta and after that I felt better. Tomorrow we are heading off to Busch Gardens and our first ride on the new Cheetah Hunt roller coaster – watch this space.

Day 10 – At the beach

Florida 2011 278Florida 2011 279I slept in this morning until 08:00. I finished off the blog and after Jan arose at 09:00 we had breakfast in the villa. After breakfast we headed off to Holmes Beach. The beach was quite crowded but we soon found a spot and pitched our umbrella. It was a little cooler today than previous with the temperature in the mid 80’s – about the same as UK which is very unusual for this time of year. The one advantage here is that the sea is warm and you can walk straight in. The breakers were a bit bigger yesterday and reminded us both of the wave machine at Typhoon Lagoon in Orlando. We stayed on the beach for a couple of hours and then had a spot of lunch at the beach cafe. We both had fish and chips – the fish which was Pollock was very nice but the chips were not – the Americans just can’t cook chips properly and I left most of mine as did Jan. We then headed back to the villa and after cleaning up I decided to go for my first run of the holiday – I think I should have waited a bit longer after lunch as I struggled all the way round. I am going to try again tomorrow before breakfast to see if I find it any easier. After having a shower I lay down on the bed and fell asleep! In the evening we headed back to the Beach House for dinner. It was so busy the car park was full so we had to opt for valet parking. We had another lovely dinner whilst watching the sunset. After retrieving our car we headed back to the beach to enjoy more of the sunset. Tomorrow we are planning another day of sunbathing and relaxation in preparation for Busch Gardens on Monday.

Day 9 – Myakka State Park

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First of all, for those who had a go at spot the Dolphin on yesterday’s blog page those of you who said underwater out of sight were quite correct. The picture is in fact a movie clip which unfortunately will not play on the blog. Whilst I can edit text on a posted blog I can’t add another picture because I am using an iPad so I am including a picture in today’s blog which has a dolphin in it. Hopefully when I get back to UK I can sort it out on my PC. As for today I was awoken by my mobile going off at 05:30. As is always the case I never made it to the phone but saw it was a Bournemouth number. I thought it might have been Maurice ringing me up to tell me how bad Bournemouth FC are doing this year but as it was 10:30 in the UK he probably wouldn’t have been up! After having breakfast in the villa we set off at about 09:30. We got there just after 10:30 and booked an airboat ride on the lake. On the way to the boating lake three wild turkeys crossed the road in front of us. The lake is home to many animals and birds including about 700 alligators. During the tour we saw about 5 or 6 as well as an interesting bird called an Anhinga or snake bird which is similar in looks to a Cormorant. It floats in the water with just it’s neck and head showing and looks like a snake moving. Neither of us had heard of it before but it was fascinating to watch. We then headed off to the Bike Rental. We could have rented out a Tandem but if ever there was a recipe for both of us ending up in traction that was it, so wisely we rented out one each. Jan was so fussy about her choice of bike, first she wanted one with two wheels and then she wanted one with a comfy saddle! Eventually bikes sorted and our outer extremities sprayed with mosquito repellant we set off on what turned out to be a very relaxing and enjoyable ride. Half way round we met an English couple and their two young children from York who are staying near us. When we asked if they had been to Disney they said no we don’t do theme parks. Everyone to their own but I felt sorry for the children because Disney World is such a happy place and great fun especially for young children. During the ride a deer ran out of the woods behind us saw us and then legged it in the opposite direction before I could take a picture. Eventually we returned the bikes having not fallen off once and with no mosquito bites so the spray did it’s job. On the way out of the park we saw another couple of deer as well as another alligator. We both really enjoyed our visit to the park but after that there was only one place to head, and that was to St Armand’s Circle and Kilmin’s Ice Cream Parlour where an ice cream float had my name on it. Suitably refreshed and after a browse round the shops we headed back to the villa. As we were both tired we decided to stop off at a local pizza bar where we shared a very tasty pizza. After a very enjoyable day we hit the sack just after nine.