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MEMORIES (No. 6) - "ZENITH" - CARIBBEAN & FLORIDA - 2006

MEMORIES (No. 6) - "ZENITH" - CARIBBEAN & FLORIDA - 2006

Postby Gillzajoker » 12 Sep 2020 10:53

The days of them giving pens and keyrings as prizes are long gone now, Geoff, on my last 2 Celebrity cruises
all you got was a measly lapel pin! On various ships, I've had some wonderful prizes in the past - wallets,
passport holders, beach towels, t-shirts purses, quality luggage tags, etc.

Faulous photos again on the wonderful food on offer. Speaking of lobster, over the last few years, most
cruise lines never had lobster on the menu, which was such a shame, as I couldn't afford it back home! :D
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MEMORIES (No. 6) - "ZENITH" - CARIBBEAN & FLORIDA - 2006

Postby judgegeoff » 13 Sep 2020 06:00

Day 16 – Thursday 16th November 2006 - Key West, Florida

This morning found our ship docked in Key West, Florida for a limited time visit as we were scheduled to leave at 1:00 pm. After a buffet breakfast with Arne and Sue, the four of us left the ship to have a look around the lovely town, just as the Royal Caribbean’s “Empress of the Seas2 was joining us on the quay.

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I’m afraid that the Key west photos are amongst the missing ones, so my apologies for the lack of illustrations in this port. There were only a couple of photos I could find, taken with my spare camera.

We had a walking tour of Key West and visited the ‘Little White House’, a very attractive Colonial style large wooden-clad house that had been used by many U.S. Presidents as a holiday retreat. We then found a small coffee shop, ‘Island Joe’s’ where we were treated to some excellent fresh brewed coffees.

Our stay at Key West was very brief but at least we had visited the town on previous holidays, so we were familiar with the town. We visited the famous ‘Sloppy Joe’s’ bar and Mallory Square before returning to our ship.

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‘Sloppy Joe’s Bar’ was originally named ‘The Blind Pig’ and opened on the 5th December 1933 – the day prohibition was repealed in the U.S! It was later renamed the ‘Siver Slipper’ until Earnest Hemmingway persuaded the owner, Jose (Joe) Garcia Rios, to finally rename it ‘Sloppy Joe’s’, due to the floor being continually wet due to melted ice.

After lunch in the buffet restaurant we entered the afternoon Trivia Quiz and almost won it, coming second to another team of Brits. After the quiz we retired to our room to start packing our suitcases, as we would be disembarking in Tampa the next morning.

The evening show, at 7:00 pm, was the ‘Celebrity Farewell Showtime’ and featured the ship’s orchestra, the singers and dancers and a return visit of the comedian Fred Klett. It was an excellent end to what had been a very enjoyable run of shows.

Before retiring to bed for the night we put our suitcases outside our cabin door as we would be disembarking in the morning.


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Day 17 – Friday 17th November 2006 - Disembarkation in Tampa, Florida

Our ship docked in Tampa at 7:00am, exactly as scheduled – the ship’s timekeeping had been excellent throughout our voyage. Together with Arne and Sue we went up to the Caravelle restaurant for our final breakfast and were seated with a very friendly couple who lived in Florida.

After breakfast we went down to the Celebrity Theatre to await our call to disembark but found it to be very crowded, noisy and not very pleasant. As we had no bus, boat or plane to catch, and therefore were in no great hurry to leave the ship, we decided to find somewhere quieter and more comfortable to wait. We decided to go to the Cova Cafe where we were pleased to meet up with the couple from Florida that we had enjoyed breakfast with.

Eventually we were called to disembark, so said farewell to our new Floridian friends and made our way off the ship, through U.S. Immigration and into the Terminal building where we were reunited with our suitcases. We then got a taxi to drive us to the ‘Marriot Riverside ‘ Hotel where we had arranged to pick up two hire cars.

We had decided to pick up our cars from the hotel as we thought that it would be a lot less crowded (and therefore quicker) than at the port. It was a lot less crowded, but the car hire staff were painfully slow and it was well over an hour before we were given the keys to our vehicles.

Arne and Sue had been allocated a nearly new red Toyota Cambry, whilst Chris and I had a charcoal-grey Honda Accord. We left the hotel, bound for Kissimmee, with Arne in the lead and, after a short circular tour of central Tampa, were soon on Interstate 4, heading north eastwards.

However, Arne had noticed that he had a warning lamp lit, telling him that he had low pressure or a puncture in one of his tyres. Whilst driving on Interstate 4 Arne had unavoidably driven over some timber that had been dropped onto the road from another vehicle (fortunately, being somewhat behind, we had been able to avoid it). As we stopped at a MacDonald’s diner for cold drinks, a chap pointed out that Arne’s car had a large piece of timber lodged underneath it. We removed the timber and went to a nearby garage where Arne pumped up the offending tyre and the alarm lamp was extinguished.

We arrived in Kissimmee without further incident and soon found the ‘Formosa Gardens’ estate where we would be staying for about twelve days. It was situated off the road that led down from the 192 road to the ‘Splendid China’ theme park (now closed). We drove through the residential estate, which was very nice, with large detached houses well spread out, and soon arrived at our villa, 2171 Formosa Boulevard. Unfortunately, Arne’s car warning light had come on again and we noticed that the tyre was looking a little flat again. We would need to sort that out the following morning.

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2171, Formosa Boulevard, Kissimmee.

The villa was a 4 bedroomed bungalow with two en suite bathrooms, a third bathroom, a lounge, a dining room, a kitchen/family room, a laundry room and a large double garage with an electric door. It also had a gas heated swimming pool and hot tub in a screened enclosure (to keep insects out), overlooking a pleasant little lake. We had a huge, king-sized, bed in our bedroom and a large walk-in dressing room with wardrobes and cupboards. Our bathroom had a very large bath , a roomy shower enclosure and his and her washbasins.

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Our pool area overlooking the little lake.

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The dining room.

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The family room, viewed from the kitchen.

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The comfortable lounge.

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Our large bed.

We tested our swimming pool and found that, contrary to assurances, the water was very cold – clearly the gas heating had not been switched on. Additionally the electronic safe in our walk-in dressing room wardrobe would not lock. So we called the Management Company and Chris and Sue unpacked the suitcases whilst we awaited their response. Eventually a maintenance man named Danny came and soon had the pool gas heating on and put covers over the pool and tub to retain heat. Our safe required new batteries and Danny didn’t have any, but between us we managed to find some batteries that fitted and that problem was then resolved.

We decided to go out for the evening and went to ‘Old Town Kissimmee’, a shopping, entertainment and dining complex. Every Friday, motoring enthusiasts meet there to show off their old, classic and modified cars. There were hundreds of vehicles of every shape and colour, many with massive stereo systems fitted, special lighting systems, plush upholstery and onboard televisions etc.

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Stock image of Old Town kissimmee.

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Stock image of some of the cars.

On the way back we decided to eat at a ‘Bob Evans’ restaurant (Bob Evans started his restaurant in 1948 and the chain now has over 500 restaurants across America). Our waiter, named Alex, was working the first shift of his new job and was very nervous, but his service was excellent and we gave him a good tip. The meal, as ever, was predictably tasty and we all enjoyed it.

We then drove home and checked our pool which was already getting much warmer and then retired to bed and slept very well.


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Continued tomorrow …………...
Geoff

Booked cruise :-
"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020 (now virtual)
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MEMORIES (No. 6) - "ZENITH" - CARIBBEAN & FLORIDA - 2006

Postby Gillzajoker » 13 Sep 2020 09:47

Pleased your last day was pleasantly spent, and departure was not too stressful, apart from the
long wait for cars and of course Arne's tyre problem. But your new abode looks fantastic and
I'm looking forward to spending time in Kissimmee with you. :D
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MEMORIES (No. 6) - "ZENITH" - CARIBBEAN & FLORIDA - 2006

Postby judgegeoff » 14 Sep 2020 07:40

Day 18 – Saturday 18th November 2006 - Kissimmee, Florida

This morning we had to get Arne and Sue’s car sorted out as they could not spend the next 11 days with a slow puncture (plus the chance of the tyre blowing out). We had noticed that there was a ‘Perkins’ family restaurant next to the Hertz car rental depot on the 192 road, so Arne dropped Sue, Chris and myself off at the restaurant whilst he went to the depot. The car rental people were very efficient and Arne soon appeared in the restaurant car park, driving a huge silver Lincoln Grand Marquis, with leather upholstery and a sat. nav. System.

After breakfast at ‘Perkins’ we continued along he 192, took Interstate 4 northwards and then peeled off into ‘SeaWorld’. We parked in their huge car park and then walked to the entrance where, after showing our pre-bought ‘Flexipass’ tickets, were admitted to the park.

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SeaWorld Orlando.

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Map of SeaWorld, Orlando.

We saw quite a lot of shows and attractions, including the Stingray Lagoon, the manatee Experience and a very good acrobat/dancer show at the Nautilus Theatre.

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One of the amazing show sets…..

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….. this one involved divers and acrobats interacting with the whales and dolphins.

We haven’t been to SeaWorld since this 2006 holiday, but we understand that the shows have changed radically since this visit. After a few accidents/incidents and a lot of comments from the public, there is now much less interaction between humans and the animals.

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The elaborate set for the ‘Clyde and Seymour’ seal and otter show.

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…..two of the stars.

We also visited the Anhueser-Busch Brewery Hospitality Centre where we could visit the lovely shire horses and received complimentary cool beers.

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‘Terrapin Dundee’ sinks the amber nectar!

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An old Anheuser-Busch delivery truck.

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Whilst at the centre we saw this tiny lizard – the smallest I have ever seen!

Before we left SeaWorld we went to see the Shamu Killer Whale show.

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The Shamu show.

We left SeaWorld and drove to the Disney created town of Celebration, which is just a short drive from the 192 road which runs through Kissimmee. We could tell we were getting near to it because the electrical power pylons were shaped like Mickey Mouse!!!

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This is a pristine town, managed by Disney, that has very strict rules regarding the painting and maintenance of property. Residents must keep their property in good order and they are restricted to an approved but limited number of colours that they can paint their houses. Similarly, they must keep their gardens in good order and their lawns well trimmed. In some of the surrounding towns, also managed by Disney, children are not allowed to be residents – they can stay with their relatives for short periods (school holidays etc.) but are not allowed permanent residence. It would not suit everybody (and certainly not us), but it does make for a very smart and orderly town if you like that sort of thing.

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Pristine houses.

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We had a very late lunch (at 3:00 pm!) in the ‘Market Place cafe’ at Celebration and then had a walk around the town’s lake. There are rocking chairs placed around the lake, so that residents can meet up and enjoy the surroundings.

We returned to our villa and found that the pool water was at a lovely warm temperature, so got our costumes on and went for a swim followed by about 15 minutes in the hot tub.

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Arne in the hot tub.

We then showered and spent the rest of the evening watching a DVD in the family room before retiring to bed.


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Continued tomorrow …………….
Geoff

Booked cruise :-
"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020 (now virtual)
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MEMORIES (No. 6) - "ZENITH" - CARIBBEAN & FLORIDA - 2006

Postby Gillzajoker » 14 Sep 2020 09:54

Seaworld looked a lot of fun, Geoff, and I can understand that in this 'enlightened' (!) age, we are
querying if it is right to use animals for our entertainment. Lovely houses in those villages, but, without
children, are they 'homes'? :D
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MEMORIES (No. 6) - "ZENITH" - CARIBBEAN & FLORIDA - 2006

Postby judgegeoff » 14 Sep 2020 14:41

Gillzajoker wrote:Seaworld looked a lot of fun, Geoff, and I can understand that in this 'enlightened' (!) age, we are
querying if it is right to use animals for our entertainment. Lovely houses in those villages, but, without
children, are they 'homes'? :D


In the 1990s, whilst on a touring holiday in Florida with our youngest daughter Sophie, I booked a 'swimming with dolphins' experience' at the Dolphin Research Centre on Marathon Key for Chris and Sophie. A couple of days before our visit there had been a hurricane warning and we were not sure if they would be open, but it turned out that the hurricane had changed course and battered Cuba instead of the Keys. The operators at the Dolphin Research Centre told us that whenever there was a risk of a hurricane, they opened a gate and the dolphins went back out to sea where they would be safer. However, once the threat is over, the dolphins are waiting at the gate to be let back in!
Geoff

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"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020 (now virtual)
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MEMORIES (No. 6) - "ZENITH" - CARIBBEAN & FLORIDA - 2006

Postby judgegeoff » 15 Sep 2020 06:11

Day 19 – Sunday 19th November 2006 - Kissimmee


Today we had decided to visit Orlando’s ‘Universal Studios’, so the four of us left the house, headed down the 192 road and stopped at a Sizzler’s restaurant for breakfast. They had a strange system whereby you joined a long queue to order (and pay for) your food and drink, before being led into the buffet restaurant which, bizarrely, was almost empty. The breakfast was not very nice, the eggs in particular looking as if they had been cooked hours before – they were like cannon balls! A few years ago Sizzler’s was a rather up-market buffet restaurant but, clearly, it had dropped down the rating list. Still, at least it was cheap, at £3.99 plus drinks each.

Chris and I, together with our two eldest children, had first visited Orlando in 1982, during a holiday in America and Canada. From 1991, Chris and I, with our youngest daughter Sophie, had enjoyed several holidays in Florida with Arne and Sue and their son Paul. We used to rent a pool house, like the one we were staying in on this holiday, as we found them as cheap as hotel rooms, but with much more room to spread out – and a nice private pool to enjoy. We used to visit all the theme parks, although ‘Universal studios’ was probably our favourite.

We took the back roads to ‘Universal Studios’ and arrived there without incident, paid $10 to park the car in the huge multi-storey car park (we were parked in Jurassic Park Row 404!) and took a moving staircase to the park entrance, where we entered the ‘Universal Citywalk’ cinema, restaurant and club complex. We walked through this complex (which was new to us) and decided to go to the old ‘Universal Studios’ park, which we accessed using our 'Flexipass' tickets.

We went on several shows and rides, including ‘Terminator 2 3D’, ‘Shrek 4D’, ‘Animal Actors’, ‘Jaws’, ‘Earthquake’, ‘Twister’ and the ‘Blues brothers’.

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The entrance to the ‘Terminator 2 3D’ show. This show opened in 1996 and, believe it or not, cost $36 million.

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A publicity photo of the ride.

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We thought we might enjoy a gentle boat ride at Amity……

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……. until we were attacked by this giant great white shark (Jaws!).

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We boarded a San Francisco subway train for a short journey ……

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…...then an earthquake struck! (‘Earthquake’ ride, but we survived).

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Entrance to the ‘Twister’ ride.

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The twister.

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Enjoying the ‘Blues brothers’ show.

We had a junk food lunch (hot dogs and chips) at a restaurant near to the ‘Jaws’ ride.

Now an embarrassing admission! I have never enjoyed fairground type rides such as roller coasters and waltzers etc. - they tend to make me feel sick, so I have always avoided such rides. However, I was stupid enough to go on the ‘Men in Black – Alien Attack’ ride with Chris. Unfortunately the ride included a lot of violent spinning and I ended up with a bad headache and nausea for the rest of the day. What a wuss!

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‘Men in Black – Alien Attack’.

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A publicity photo for the ride.

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A stilt walker outside the ‘Revenge of the Mummy’ ride.

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Pharoah.

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Photo opportunity.

We left the park in the early evening and stopped for coffees at a ‘Starbucks’ cafe in the Citywalk complex – which revived me quite a lot, and then returned to our villa. I still had a bad headache, so I went to bed whilst Sue, Chris and Arne went to a ‘Walmart’ store to do some shopping and then had dinner in a ‘Perkins’ family restaurant. When they returned to the house Chris went for a swim before showering and joining me in bed.


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Continued tomorrow …………..
Geoff

Booked cruise :-
"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020 (now virtual)
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MEMORIES (No. 6) - "ZENITH" - CARIBBEAN & FLORIDA - 2006

Postby Gillzajoker » 15 Sep 2020 09:13

In the 1990s, whilst on a touring holiday in Florida with our youngest daughter Sophie, I booked a
'swimming with dolphins' experience' at the Dolphin Research Centre on Marathon Key for Chris and
Sophie. A couple of days before our visit there had been a hurricane warning and we were not sure
if they would be open, but it turned out that the hurricane had changed course and battered Cuba
instead of the Keys. The operators at the Dolphin Research Centre told us that whenever there was
a risk of a hurricane, they opened a gate and the dolphins went back out to sea where they would
be safer. However, once the threat is over, the dolphins are waiting at the gate to be let back in!

Thanks for this info. Geoff - very reassuring :thumbup:

Loved all the pics. of your exciting adventures, looked great fun - and you are not a wuss - it's an
inner ear problem. I can go on all the 'up and down' rides, but the 'round and round' ones affect me
the same way. :D
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Re: MEMORIES (No. 6) - "ZENITH" - CARIBBEAN & FLORIDA - 2006

Postby Camela » 15 Sep 2020 15:19

I had forgotten how intense Disney Theme Parks are. I'm guessing our last visit was 20 years ago.
"Won't you let me take you on a sea cruise"
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MEMORIES (No. 6) - "ZENITH" - CARIBBEAN & FLORIDA - 2006

Postby judgegeoff » 16 Sep 2020 06:15

Day 20 – Monday 20th November 2006 - Kissimmee, Florida


I woke up this morning and felt 100% again, thank goodness! We left the villa in Arne’s car, had another breakfast at ‘Bob Evans’ diner and then headed for ‘Universal’s Islands of Adventure’ which none of us had been to before as it had only been opened a few years. We used our ‘Flexipass’ tickets to access the park and found it to be a very pleasant place to walk around – some of the artwork was stunning. However, most of the rides were roller coaster or motion sickness inducing types, which were not suitable for us wusses.

This park opened in 1999 and comprises 6 islands, each one with a particular theme (a 7th island, ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ was added in 2010, after this visit).

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Islands of Adventure map (2020).

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The ‘Jurassic Park River Adventure’ ride.

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The Temple at the ‘Poseidon’s Fury’ ride.

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Meeting the woodpeckers!

We went to see the ‘Sinbad Stunt Show’ and, whilst the set was excellent, we did not think that the show was anywhere near as good as the old ‘Indiana Jones Stunt Show’ at Disney.

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The impressive set.

We bravely went on the ‘Cat in the Hat’ ride which was aimed at smaller children, but even this had fairly violent spinning and sudden movements and Arne came off it looking a little green!

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Entering ‘Seuss Landing’.

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The ‘Cat in the Hat’ ride entrance.

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Ready to board.

Unfortunately, the weather had turned and it became overcast with a cool wind, so we had a late lunch in one of the park’s restaurant and then headed back to our villa. In the late afternoon we all went for a swim in the villa’s pool.

In the evening we went to a ‘Perkins family restaurant’ for our evening meal.


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Day 21 – Tuesday 21st November 2006 - Kissimmee

When we woke this morning it was quite cold and windy, so we decided to do some shopping today. We left the villa and drove westwards to the end of the 192 road and then turned right onto the US27 for a short distance before turning into a huge Walmart Store. We had breakfast there, in a ‘Blimpie’s’ restaurant and then had a good look around the store. I bought a pair of strong walking shoes and a pair of very comfortable ‘memory foam’ insoled slippers.

We left Walmart and went to a new Mall named the ‘Millenia Mall’ that had been built since our last visit to Florida. They had a large food hall and Chris and I had a very tasty Chines meal there.

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‘Millenia Mall’

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The large (and a little gaudy?) Christmas tree at the Mall.

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The Mall was huge.

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Could it be Christmas?…...

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….. I think it might be!

In the evening we returned to the villa, had a snack meal and then spent time in the pool.


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Day 22 – Wednesday 22nd November 2006 - Kissimmee

It was quite a lot warmer this morning, so we decided to return to ‘SeaWorld’ for another visit. On the way we called in at a ‘Cracker Barrel’ restaurant where we had a really excellent breakfast. ‘Cracker Barrel’ are a chain of restaurants that also have a store attached to them, selling a good range of ‘Country’ foods and goods. The restaurants are popular for their ‘homestyle’ country cooking and are very good value. They are very popular and have rocking chairs on a verandah outside the store for customers who are waiting for a table.

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The rocking chairs at Kissimmee’s ‘Cracker Barrel’ restaurant.

When we arrived at ‘SeaWorld’ we went on the ‘Shark Encounter’ and then went to see the ‘Blue Horizons’ whale and dolphin show which was a mixture of acrobatics, trapeze and high diving, together with shows by the dolphins, false killer whales and parrots and other birds. It was a very impressive show.

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The impressive ‘Blue Horizons’ set.

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False killer whales.

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dolphins and acrobat.

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The ‘Journey to Atlantis’ ride at ‘SeaWorld’ ends with a huge water chute.

On the way back from ‘SeaWorld’ we popped into Walmart for a little more shopping. Today was Arne and Sue’s wedding anniversary, so we celebrated it at a ‘Black Angus Steakhouse’ in the evening.


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Continued tomorrow ………….
Geoff

Booked cruise :-
"MSC Orchestra" - Cape Town to Venice 2020 (now virtual)
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