Honeymoon Day 9 – Preparing for a Hurricane!

It was nice waking up leisurely, knowing that we had no plans and could just take the day as we pleased. So we had a lazy morning watching TV (mostly sport or keeping track of the hurricane or presidential debates!) whilst enjoying breakfast in our room.

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We couldn’t spend the whole day lazing around inside though and as it was lovely and sunny, we decided to head to the hotel pool area. We found a couple of sunbeds, ordered a few drinks and enjoyed soaking up the sun.

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We spent the afternoon chilling on the comfy sunbeds, relaxing in the Jacuzzi and floating around the huge pool. It was very calm as it was mostly couples with only a handful of children.

As usual though with the Floridian weather grey clouds started making an appearance by late afternoon and as the staff were already trying to pack up as many sunbeds as possible in preparation for the hurricane, we decided to head back to our room and look into options for the evening. With just a quick pit stop along the way for a game of Shuffleboard…

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Walking back to our room, we received a call from Virgin Holidays. They explained that they had tried to book us onto trips to Mexico and LA but neither had worked out with our dates and so the only other option they could offer us, apart from staying in Orlando, was to fly to Las Vegas.

Matt and I love Las Vegas and have been a few times before and even though it wasn’t the relaxing second week we thought we would be having, we just wanted to get away from the bad weather and relax for a few days, without the stress of a looming hurricane! So we told them to go ahead with the new plan and they said they would email us with all the details but that the flight was 6am the next morning!

We got changed and decided to head back to Disney Springs for our last night in Orlando.

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We drove there in a huge storm. It was so bad that we could barely see the road or cars in front of us, which was quite scary, but we made it and decided to go to the House of Blues for an early dinner.

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Trying to escape the rain ha!

We’ve been to a few States which have a House of Blues but we had never visited one, so I was excited to check out it’s offerings. I loved the decor and music and we were told that Sum 41 had a concert there that evening if we wanted to get tickets. I was tempted as growing up I loved Sum 41! But looking at the horrific weather and knowing we had to be up at 3am we decided against it!

To start Matt and I shared the Voodoo Shrimp, which was recommended and it was delicious. The shrimp were huge and the flavour was incredible, we both thoroughly enjoyed that dish, although I wasn’t too keen on the cornbread. I’m not a big bread fan anyway but that was just an odd one for me, Matt loved it though. For mains Matt had the tacos and I had the pulled pork sandwich which was yummy but huge and as ever I couldn’t finish it all. I don’t think I finished one meal the whole honeymoon!

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We declined dessert as we were just so stuffed and as the weather had cleared, we walked off dinner by looking in a few shops and visiting the World of Disney one last time!

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Sad to say goodbye to Florida but excited for the next adventure on our honeymoon!

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Love, Chloe xx

Honeymoon Day 5 – Spa Day & Sunshine!

Now I may love Disney & Universal and the craziness that comes with visiting all the parks, but for me there is nothing better than a spa day!

After a much needed sleep in the World’s comfiest beds and full from a buffet breakfast, it was time to head over to the 40,000 sq ft on site spa. Yes it really is that big!

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Matt and I have been to a few spa’s together now but this was definitely the largest. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos to share with you from the spa day, as we left all phones and cameras back in the room, as we wanted to spend the day relaxing. Sorry!

The staff were welcoming and friendly and there were lots of healthy drinks and snacks dotted around the place to help yourselves to, during the day.

We were shown around the amenities, which included saunas, steam rooms, Jacuzzi’s, before changing into the fluffiest robes and slippers ready for our treatments.

We waited for our treatments in the calming lounge area, on comfy sofas, whilst listening to the soothing music. It was nice to just relax and have some time away from the theme parks for a while.

We had booked the honeymoon package, so first up was an hour couples massage. Matt and I were in the same treatment room, filled with music and candles and after picking our choice of oils (we both chose differently – Matt’s was a relaxing scent, mine a pick me up) we finally got to relax while having all the stresses and tensions massaged out of us. Pure bliss.

An hour always goes too quickly when you are being pampered. However after the massages we were ushered into our own room, with private Jacuzzi which was filled with rose petals, so romantic and what honeymoons should be about!

When the treatments were over, we were given a private area back in the lounge and enjoyed glasses of champagne with chocolate covered strawberries, yum!

As the weather was so good we decided to take a dip in the spa’s outdoor pool. Again this was lovely and chilled and we made the most of soaking up the sunshine. We were still so stuffed from breakfast, champagne and strawberries that we forgot all about lunch.

That evening we had a dinner reservation at Norman’s which was located inside our hotel. It had been highly recommended and the menu looked delicious.

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After plenty of fried foods we finally got a few vegetables back into our diet 😉

To start we shared the beef tartare and the duo of empanadas – 2 Pork Picadillo and 2 Beef Guisado. My favourite was the pork.

For main course I opted for the pan cooked fillet of Florida Snapper with asparagus spears, Citrus Butter Sauce and “Belly” Of Garlicky Mashed Potatoes, it was so delicious! Matt went for the chef recommended Pork ‘Havana’ with Smokey Plantain Crema, 21 Century Mole, Black Beans-Sweet Corn Salsa and Golden Grits which he said was like nothing he had tasted before, in a good way!

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To celebrate our honeymoon our waiter gave us a couple of glasses of complimentary bubbles which was very lovely of them.

Then finally for desserts we opted for the white chocolate cheesecake with strawberry espuma and blood peach meringue and the trio of sorbet – mango, coconut and pomegranate. I think these are the prettiest desserts I have ever eaten and they were super tasty too!

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A lovely end to a super relaxing, romantic, indulgent day.

Love, Chloe xx

Honeymoon Day 2 – Universal Studios!

Even though I had an amazing sleep my body still decided to wake me up at 6am! So I decided to go for a little explore. I wanted to check out the breakfast options, always my main priority when staying at a hotel and I also wanted to book us onto the free shuttle bus which dropped hotel guests off at some of the parks. Although we had the car, some days we decided it would be easier to use the free transportation on offer, especially if we wanted to stay at the parks all day and would be tired or wanted to have a couple of drinks.

The staff were more than happy to help me, even at that time of day! I found a couple of options for breakfast and was told we were welcome to visit the neighbouring Marriott Hotel to use their facilities and restaurants too, which was good to know.

We decided to try out Highball & Harvest for breakfast, which was a restaurant and bar area in our hotel. It offered an à la carte menu as well as the all you could eat breakfast buffet. It was pretty pricey but I guess that’s to be expected in the type of hotel we were staying at, but the food was super fresh and delicious so made up for it. Matt even finished off his breakfast with an American frosted doughnut! When in Rome….

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Even at 9am the mixture of heat and humidity was fierce! Waiting outside for the shuttle bus to collect us, I was already melting and the day hadn’t even begun.

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Such a tourist with my backpack!

We arrived at Universal Studios ready and raring to go, map in hand, our plan was to visit both parks (Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure) in one day. Some people might think we were crazy but we just didn’t have enough time to do it any other way. Due to this we upgraded our tickets to the Express tickets, which meant we could skip the queue once at each ride or show. This was actually really useful and worth the money as it meant we could do all the rides we wanted to without getting stressed or rushing around. The only attractions these tickets didn’t work for though were the Harry Potter rides.

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Phew I’m tall enough!

Now, I could easily talk about all the attractions in great detail and go through step by step every single thing we did, which is what I originally started doing when first writing this post, but it was going on forever and I just thought you would get a bit bored! So I’m going to try to condense it all as best I can and just show you a lot of photos instead!

We started the day at Universal Studios which consists of 7 themed areas. Production Central, New York, San Francisco, Hollywood, World Expo, Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone and finally The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley. We made our way around all these areas apart from the kidzone and went on the rides, looked in the shops and just enjoyed the atmosphere and excitement of being there. I must admit though I hate big rollercoasters which is annoying for Matt who loves all rides, so he did have to go on a few alone 😦 Sorry Matt!

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One of Matt’s favourite films – Back To The Future

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This ride was so good!

One of my favourite rides in this Park was probably Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, it’s really well done and quite funny, plus Matt and I are such big kids who love anything Minions! I also loved the Simpsons ride and the whole Simpsons area. It was pretty cool to be able to go into Moe’s for a drink, Krusty Burger for food or to the Kwik-E-Mart for gifts!

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A couple of the areas didn’t have much going on, as they were either working on new rides or had just demolished old ones. I get that they constantly need to be working on new ideas and attractions but I’m not sure how I feel about the new, Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon ride which opens in 2017. I appreciate he’s a big deal in America but just sounds weird to me and I don’t see how it relates to Universal, also I think it’s going to be yet another 3D or 4D Ride! Personally I really miss the old school rides like Twister, Earthquake and Jaws. I really wish they would bring some of those kind of attractions back!

Now this may offend some people haha, but I am not a Harry Potter fan. I have never read the books and have only seen tiny snippets of the films if my sister, dad or Matt have had them on, I just don’t get the hype. So before we visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I must admit I wasn’t really bothered or excited about it. In all honestly I was actually annoyed when they started building the areas as I just couldn’t understand why they had to take over the Universal Parks. Why couldn’t they just build a whole new Harry Potter theme park of its own?

Vent over I promise.

As when I actually stepped foot inside HP World it really did look pretty impressive, even though I had no idea of what shops, streets, people I was looking at, I could still enjoy it and embrace the wizarding experience. Plus the rides are really good too!

 

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Trying Butter Beer – Matt was very disappointed when he realised it wasn’t real beer!

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As we had been on everything we wanted to go on and seen everything we wanted to see, we decided to take the Hogwarts Express at Kings Cross Station over to Hogsmeade Station, located in Islands of Adventure.

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Universal’s Islands of Adventure is also split into 7 sections. Port of Entry, Marvel Super Hero Island, Toon Lagoon, Jurassic Park, The Lost Continent, Seuss Landing and finally The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade.

We were flagging a bit by the time we made it over to this park, so we decided that our first stop would be lunch at Mythos Restaurant. We needed time out of the heat and we just needed a sit down after all the walking! We opted for a light lunch which arrived quickly and was tasty.

Fuelled and raring to go again, we went out to explore what this park had to offer. Starting with HP Hogsmeade. Again this area was visually stunning and the main ride was full on. Not at all what I was expecting!

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Sorry Matt for making you ride alone!

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The newest attraction at I.O.A which is pretty impressive

Our favourite rides more often than not are the water rides. So by the time it got to late afternoon and we were absolutely sweltering from the heat, we decided it was time to cool off and Toon Lagoon seemed the place to go. Starting with Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls which I was quite scared to go on, the reason I don’t like roller coasters is due to the drops, so when I saw the height of this log flume I panicked but Matt basically forced me to go on and I’m glad he did as I loved it, even though my face tells a different story…

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This photo will forever make me laugh!

Then we found  Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges which is a rapids ride. I don’t think I have ever laughed so much on a ride before. We got absolutely drenched through, but this was by far my favourite ride of the whole day. We even went on for a second time which we filmed on the GoPro.

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Drenched from the water rides!

We made The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man our last ride of the day as it was about 6pm and we were uncomfortable in our wet clothes. We ended up getting changed in the toilets ha, but I was just happy I was dry! I’m so glad we brought a change of clothes and shoes which we kept in our backpacks inside lockers when we were on the rides, as this meant we could then carry on the evening without having to head back to the hotel.

We then spent the evening at Universal CityWalk which is located just outside the entrances of both parks. We mooched around the shops, brought some amazing macaroons at The chocolate Emporium and then finally treated ourselves to cocktails and burgers at Hard Rock Cafe.

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The Texan: Hickory-smoked pulled pork, chipotle barbecue sauce, cheddar & Monterey Jack cheese, crispy fried jalapenos & onions all on a toasted brioche bun. Yummmm!

An amazingly fun but long day!

Love, Chloe xx

 

Honeymoon Day One – Travelling!

Ever since we booked it, I felt like an excited child counting down the sleeps until both our wedding and honeymoon.

For our honeymoon we had planned a week in Orlando, Florida, followed by a week in The Bahamas and we couldn’t wait. Neither of us had visited The Bahamas before, but I had visited Orlando once, 15 years ago! I kept wondering how much had changed or how much of it I would remember. I also wondered how it would feel, visiting as an adult with my husband rather than as a child with my family.

I was so excited for our honeymoon that I had planned our itinerary months in advance. Matt thought I was a crazy lady but for those who don’t know, Disney planning is full on! You need to plan out what days you are visiting each park and even what rides you want to go on and where you want to eat! Of course you don’t have to be this organised, but then you will end up queueing for hours for attractions and you won’t get to eat in any of the table service restaurants. Luckily Matt let me plan a crazy busy week, fitting in as much as humanly possible knowing that we had a relaxing beach week to look forward to afterwards.

For Disney Parks, you can book reservations for shows and restaurants from 180 days in advance of your trip and believe me you need to, especially for the popular places such as Be our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table and The Crystal Palace restaurants. Included with your park tickets you also have the use of FastPass+ which means you can pre book times for your favourite attractions from 30 days in advance.

I found that the best way to book all these things was to download the My Disney Experience App to my phone. You link your tickets to the app and then you can easily make selections and bookings. Then when you are actually at the parks you can keep track of ride wait times and it will tell you when your FastPass+ reservations are along with so much other stuff. Very handy and all the parks have free WiFi so no need to worry about data charges.

Universal Studios also has an app which we downloaded, however they don’t do their FastPass+ the same way and most of their restaurants you can easily book, there’s no mad rush like at Disney!

The countdown seemed slow to start with but then before we knew it the weeks were flying past, the wedding was sadly over and finally the day had come to begin our honeymoon!

We live very close to Gatwick Airport, which is a bit of a bonus and means we rarely experience that crazy holiday madness of actually getting to the airport. I still woke up like an excited 5 year old and annoyed Matt by constantly talking about our honeymoon plans and what I couldn’t wait for us to see/do/experience together, he probably couldn’t wait to get on the plane and put his headphones on!

 We purchased a Go Pro as we wanted to film on as many rides as possible and then we chilled with a late breakfast and bubbles, finally toasting the start of the next two weeks adventures! Unfortunately about half an hour before we were due to board, it was announced that our flight had been delayed by roughly 3 hours, bit annoying, however it did give us time to figure out how the Go Pro worked!
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Finally on board we had a nice flight. We had a tasty lunch, I opted for the chicken salad and we both watched a couple of films. Bad Neighbours 2 for the both of us which was OK but not as good as the first, but then when are they ever as good as the first? Then I watched Sisters, which I hoped would be really funny as it had the dream team of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler however it wasn’t the best and Matt watched Money Monster with George Clooney, which he said was pretty good.

 

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On the Plane

It must have been about 5 hours into the flight when the turbulence started and I hate turbulence! I start panicking, I go clammy, I fear we are going to fall out of the sky, all the while Matt stays in the same position as he has been all along like nothing is happening. It makes me laugh as I really wish I could be the same but I can’t help but cling onto his arm as soon as the plane starts shaking. I always hope it’s just going to last a few minutes and then pass, but this time it probably lasted on/off for around an hour and at times it was so bumpy our drinks were spilling and even the cabin crew were told to sit down.

We landed in Orlando around 8pm and were treated to some huge lightning strikes on landing which, if we weren’t landing I would have freaked out about, however it looked really pretty as it fully lit up the sky and I was just happy we were almost off the plane!

We decided to hire a car for the week as we weren’t staying at a Disney or Universal resort hotel, so thought it would be the easiest way to get around and give us the freedom to explore as much of Orlando as possible. We decided to go for a Convertible Mustang, wanting to make the most of the Florida sunshine, but after collecting our luggage and making our way over to collect the car we started to worry that our luggage wouldn’t actually fit in it! After a bit of a shuffle and the bonus of me being short we managed to squeeze it all in and we could finally make our way to the hotel.
The next task was actually finding our hotel without a sat nav, as well as it being dark, driving on the wrong side of the road and both feeling pretty tired! Kindly the car hire staff printed us out the driving instructions and Matt got us to The Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes.
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It was a beautiful hotel but I felt completely out of place looking dishevelled and tired in my comfy travelling clothes. But the staff were super friendly and got very excited when they realised it was our honeymoon. We made our way up to the 12th floor and both crashed onto our huge king sized bed exhausted but excited for the next day’s adventure.

Love, Chloe xx