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Neil is speaking a few events and conferences this year and for the first one I went along. We went to Orlando, FL as I mentioned in my last post on healthy eating tips for traveling. We did a lot in the few days we were there. We started off at Disney World and stayed at the Grand Floridian, which is a Disney Resort ( you can take a monorail or bus to all the parks). While Neil was involved in a number of events I did a little exploring on my own.

It was weirder than I thought to be alone at the resort and parks. Most people are with family or at least a few business colleagues when dining or exploring. Finding somewhere to eat at the resort with open bar seating for one was a bit tough. I eventually got a spot at the bar of the Citricos restaurant and had a fabulous meal trying to appetizers, the heirloom apple salad and sautéed local shrimp – both were amazing. I read my kindle at the bar amongst couples, I thoroughly enjoyed myself once I got seated. The next morning I went to Animal Kingdom alone and at every single ride they ask you how many in your party so they can see which line or seats to put you in. I got asked multiple times, “Just you?” One time an employee came to find me in line and asked again, “are you really by yourself?” and then he followed up with “why?” Haha! He ended up giving me an extra fast pass to use on rides since I was waiting all alone.

IMG_7636Later that day we drove a couple hours to visit our Swedish friends who happened to be vacationing in Florida. It was so special and definitely the highlight of my trip. We got to meet their beautiful new son and catch up. I love having friends that you are close with but can go years without seeing and pick right up where you left off. I met my good friend Mathilda my first day of college while she was studying abroad for a year and we became quite close. We have travelled to each others weddings since and now met up in Florida! I can’t wait to see them again for an extended visit!

Neil and I spent the better part of the next two days exploring Disney World and then Universal Studios. As two young people with no children or strollers we got around quite quickly and were able to ride many thing at Magical Kingdom and Hollywood Studios in one day. We had dinner at Epcot in Morocco and watched the firework and water show. The next day we switched hotels to be closer to Neil’s next event and to go to Universal Studios. We got lucky again and stayed on Universal Property so we could take a quick boat trip from our hotel to the park.

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Once in Universal we headed straight for Harry Potter World, Diagon Alley to be specific. We went straight to the Gringott’s Bank ride, which was my absolute favorite. It was the perfect blend of shaking you around, falling, 3-D entertainment and things coming at you. Trying to beat the crowds we took the Hogwarts Express, which is awesome because it is a really a train that connects the two Universal parks but it is also a ride. You go into a compartment and then the windows on either side show characters and scenery which is very fun! Arriving in Hogsmeade was very cool seeing all of the shops and the Hogwarts castle in the distance. We tried most of the rides there including a 3-D rollercoaster inside Hogwarts, the dragon roller coaster and we even tasted Butterbeer. It was super sweet and tasted like cream soda with butterscotch foam on top. Yummy but a little much for me. I kept walking around with my mouth open and a huge grin on my face. It was really fun to see these stories I love come to life.

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We also had fun in Jurassic world, Springfield, USA, and trying a few other rides. My favorite was The Mummy ride which had a great twist at the end! Neil loved exploring Springfield and having me take his photo in lots of funny poses. Enjoy the photos!

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We were exhausted midway through the day and headed back to the hotel before dinner. I discovered a Fixer Upper marathon on HGTV while relaxing in our giant hotel bed and am now obsessed. I may or may not be trying to convince Neil to move to Texas to buy and renovate a house. Our new joke is that we can just open up that wall, gut this, expand the kitchen and add a island and then build a pergola in the backyard. This seems to be their recipe in the few episodes we have watched. I know I am late to the game but I love the Gaines and am so happy it is on Netflix!

Overall, we had such a lovely trip and it was the right mix of time together and taking care of business. We were ready to be home and to get back to our crazy puppy, Reilly!

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Orlando Trip: Theme Parks & Fixer Upper
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