Miami – Being terrified of scorpions, alligators & crocodiles. Star Island, Home of the famous and some HUGE houses.

The Everglades was an experience I’d really like to do again. We left the comfort of the heart of Miami to head a little way out to the Everglades to do a tour and try and see some alligators and crocodiles! It was a one of a kind experience and like I said I would totally go back and do it all over again. Firstly because the fan boats were so incredibly loud but SO much fun, they went a whole lot faster than I thought they would! And secondly, because we actually only saw one baby Alligator and that was about it!

I want to go again so that I have a little more of a chance to see some more of those water creatures I am so wonderfully afraid of! Although I say this now, chances are when it finally comes to going back It’ll be one of those things where I won’t see anything again. But the experience would be totally worth it.

 

We had a guide on the back of our fan boat, the boat sat about 15-25 people and we ended up at the back which meant we got given ear plugs because of how loud the fan was. Our guide was great, she was really talkative and open to all question and she actually got into the water at one stage of our tour where the water was only knee deep and all I could do was watch and listen and just PRAY that there was no creature with sharp teeth circling around her shins. It was pretty cool though when she just got back into the boat as if it was totally normal. But then I guess for her It was!

 

I could only imagine some of the beasts she’s been lucky enough to see on the huge area of water and grassland that is the Everglades! When we arrived back at the boat area we all piled out of the boat and headed towards a show area! Here we all sat around this large fenced area in the middle where another guide demonstrated how to tackle and catch an alligator or crocodile! I wasn’t the biggest fan of it, but it was so interesting to watch. And If I ever get into a spot of bother with an alligator or crocodile then I know how to handle it, because you know, its something I deal with on a regular basis in the UK… sure.

He also showed us other animals and reptiles and Its a safe to say GJ and I thoroughly enjoyed it when he decided to place a scorpion in his hands, pretty damn close to my entire body. The photographs sums up our exact emotions. BUT I did get to hold a baby alligator, and if thats not cool and totally doesn’t makes up for the fact he terrified me with a scorpion then I don’t know what will!

 

*****

When In Miami it would be almost rude not to do the boat tour of Star Island and all the other celeb inhibited areas! Although probably incredibly intrusive to those celebs that live on star island, some of the houses were absolutely out of this world. We went on the trip with Island Queen tours and it was honestly such a fun experience for our little trip.

The tour started in the harbour of Miami where theres also a huge market place! I bought a hoodie that said Miami on it and it lasted a grand total of one wash. I pulled it out of the washing machine and I hadn’t gone to Miami, I’d just gone to M-am- Instead, the letters had peeled of nicely!

 

We hopped onto this boat which had two tiers, it also had a bar with refreshments and an intercom across the entire boat so our guide could tell us who’s house/flat we were passing as well as all the other wonderful sights we did see. It wasn’t incredibly bumpy either on the boat so the journey was smooth. The water is such a clear blue when you hung your head out of the windows you could see all the jellyfish bobbing about in the water.

Not only did we get to see star island but you also get this totally different view of the Miami Skyline, all the cruise ships in the harbour were also massively impressive. It took us about an hour and a half to get around. We saw the houses that have been rented out by the likes of Kayne, P Diddy and houses that belong too Philip Frost, Shaquille O’Neall, Will Smith, Gloria Estefan and A few residents are women from the real housewives of Miami.

 

We also saw Fisher Island and Millionaire Row. Fisher Island is only accessible by helicopter or ferry and get people like Demi Moore and Bruce Willis renting the flats there. Plenty more famous faces still visit there too. It even has a golf course and a supermarket, I’d just never leave.

Nearing the end of the tour they take you under one of Miami’s main roads into the Port where the cruise ships sit and there were 5 HUGE big ships all docked. I’d never been so close to a cruise ship as nothing terrifies me more than cruise ships. But they looked wonderfully impressive from the outside, at a distance, in another boat that wasn’t a cruise ship. Much where I’d rather be!

 

We chose the best day for it too as there was no cloud in the sky! Overall I would totally go again, for the experience and because I enjoyed the boat trip that much!

 

 

Miami – Miami South Beach, Tiny Shorts wearing models & Nearly getting eaten by Sharks.

Miami south beach was my idea of perfect. I know I’m not yet travelled enough to have seen Thailand and Australia etc and I’m very sure my opinion will change once I do go to those places. But for now, Miami South Beach is my beach of dreams, its also where I realised I wanted to study tourism.

Our first day on Miami south was spent walking up and down the sand, not going that far into the water as there were swarms of jelly fish everywhere and watching a man nearly get eaten by sharks. No really,  he really did nearly get his ankles nibbled by a shark. But I shall get to that.

I was blown away. I love the beach. At home the beach is my happy place. So any beach that is more gorgeous than the seafront at home, which is most as its England, will never fail to absolutely blow me away. It had golden sand and the clearest sea I have ever swam in so far in my life. The lifeguard huts were even like ones you see from the movies. I fell in love. I won’t hide it.

This was also where I fell in love with the idea of working in the tourism industry. The influence of all the tourists and the sites that I saw as I wondered along the beach were something that made me realise that this industry was for me. So it really wasn’t just any old meaningless trip to Miami South for me because I decided my future. The best decision may I add.

One day I went for a wonder along Miami South on my own with just my headphones and I saw a stingray for the first time as it swam along the shoreline! I never thought I’d see one so close to the shore and because the sea was so clear it was so impressively large and swam so fast. i also saw a film crew filming someone who looked to be a male model, but its safe to say the swimming shorts were far to short for my liking.

The walk where the man nearly got bitten by the shark was an interesting one. I wasn’t on my own for this experience either so I had Imi’s shoulder to hide behind if I needed too. There was a a serious jellyfish problem at the time we were there so a few huge schools of fish were coming really close to the shore to feed, and following those schools of fish were some little sharks who wanted to eat the fish. Because they were so close to shore some man decided yeah Ill walk out into the water where the fish are, and the shark which you could see very clearly, and take some photos.

I think he realised the mistake he’d made when the shark spotted him and started to go for him and he was knee deep and humans running in knee deep water doesn’t always work in our favour. That and the shark was a lot faster than he was. So he literally JUST managed to make it back to the shallows before the shark decided he fancied fish instead of human for lunch.

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Honestly you know when you’re cheering someone on to win a competition because they’re winning and an opponent is just behind them and you get that rush of excitement and you’re alrmost screaming for them to win? It was a lot like that because we didn’t want his ankles to be devoured.

One day Imi, GJ and I decided we wanted to go exploring to the end of the beach where there was South Pier. The view of the coastline from south pier was literally something from a magazine, I was speechless. It made me realise Miami is a beautiful place. The other side of the pier was the harbour and I think what made it was when the disney cruise ship was leaving the harbour and they sounded the horn that played disney tune and I melted. It was an impressively large harbour and port which can hold up to 5 cruise ships! But I’ll get to that in my next post about our Star Island trip!

My stepmum and I also did a beach run along the boardwalk that they have along the top of the beach, almost like a promenade. That was perfect to run on. It was also incredibly hot, but really perfect for a 6 mile run as we went a little earlier in the morning! We tried to run along the sand but as you can imagine that wasn’t the easiest!

So the verdict from Miami south was that I’m going to live there one day and bury myself  under the sand so I never have to leave ever again. And go to Nikki Beach. 

 

 

Orlando – Universal S(unburn)tudio’s

Universal Studios was incredible, We did both sides of the park and of course we visited more than once, my all time favourite ride is at these parks, duh, The Hulk! Universal is sick, from The Simpsons world to Harry Potter world and all the other awesome rides and places it has to offer its definitely a come back more than once job!

Of course we all had our photograph of us on the giant fake blue wave in the entrance to the parks, it would’ve been rude not too, and I also absolutely LOVED the Billabong shop they had so of course I did spent a little too much time there. Theres also the beautiful view of the river that runs through the entrance to both universal parks and the entrance to the Hard Rock restaurant, the best time was when the sun was setting, it was gorgeous.

And not forgetting the rather large spinning earth and Universal Studios sign before you enter the park on the right side, I mean did you even go to Universal if you didn’t get a photograph in front of it?

Of course upon entering the park for a majority of the day all I was doing was applying suncream, which didn’t work, because I got royally burnt as per usual when is anything ever different with me. My face and my nose flare up so much when they’re burnt you may as well call me Rudolf. So many great rides at universal and so little time, but regardless of that we went on the Hollywood Rock It probably the most, although The Hulk was definitely a close second!

278My favourite time on the Hollywood Rock It was when I went on the ride with Imi, obviously you get on the ride and you strap yourself across your legs and stomach and whilst you’re making your way up to the first drop you get to choose what music you listen too as you go around the course, and at the time they were also filming your experience for you to take home instead of a photo. Id decided to listen to Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger because what other banger is better than that.

So it was video’ing Imi and I as we went round, and I’m pretty sure after watching it back with Ims she passed out on nearly every single drop on the ride and then came back to life screaming and smiling whenever we weren’t on a drop or loop, and the ride managed to get it all on film! I wish, I WISH I’d bought a copy of the film because we were hysterical laughing!

Some of the other rides that deserved just as much recognition has got to be The Mummy Ride, The Transformers 4D ride and the Men in Black shooting/game ride was so much fun. Im a pansy and hate simulator rides, so the Twister ride was lost to me, which is such a shame as I love the film! After being in Orlando a while I was starting to get sick of eating crappy foods so universal was my saviour in terms of the huge big tubs of fruit they sold around the park, easily my favourite buy because I was starting to forgot how good the sweet nectar of fruit was whilst we were out there.

269Of course The Simpsons world was fun, although I bottled it on the ride they had to offer, so I held the bags whilst everyone went on! But it was so cool how they had a Moes Bar and all the other Simpson related statues and venues! I even got to have a cute photo with Millhouse!

From The Simpsons world we went across to the Men in Black ride which was interactive, where you sat in a carriage of 4 and shoot things and get a score, I was crap, of course.

 

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For those who are massive Harry Potter fans you’ll know just how incredibly impressive Diagon Alley and Harry Potter world, Hogwarts, the train and the Duelling dragon rides are. Not to mention the Butter beer, So sweet but so good. Nothing was cooler than walking along Diagon Alley and realising that the dragon breathes fire down at all of us walking through the street! We also had a pretty good chat with the man who was running the ‘night bus; in the park, he was pretty up for a photograph and a natter! Now I’m not a huge Harry Potter fan, but It didn’t take much to absolutely blow me away with just how impressive the place was.

We took the train from platform 9 and 3 quarters across to the other side of the park which was awesome. It was newly opened when we headed there, there was 5 of us to a cubicle and the movie they showed on the window and the special effects with the carriage doors was so cool, so fascinated and great to be reminded of what happens in the Harry Potter films! The train dropped us in the adventure island part of Universal where the duelling dragons and the village with Hogwarts was, Im not sure how it happened but after a few tears from one of our youngest members of the families, we managed to bag ourselves a quick tour of the Hogwarts castle and then on the ride that was inside Hogwarts!

The Duelling dragons were good fun, and of course we had to go on both the Red ride and the Blue ride too see which one was better! I preferred the red ride hands down.

NOW of course because we’d come across to the other side of the park there was a whole new park to explore basically, this side of the park consisted of Dr Seuss’s area, as well as Jurassic Park and the Marvel area, which is definitely my favourite area!

228Jurassic Park was good fun because at Universal they have the water ride for Jurassic Park, not only was Imi terrified of all the dinosaurs that jumped out, and I don’t blame her either, but as we were making our way up the massive hill to then go down the HUGE drop they have, which FYI soaked me through even though I was holding a waterproof coat over GJ and myself, one of the padre’s our group had his Go Pro out and you can just hear some america voice say “Can you please put your Go Pro away sir” over the intercom, but, I’m sorry love, we didn’t hear you, what was that???? It was wild fun, I’ve NEVER been on a water ride with such a steep drop! Scared the living daylights out of me! But of course we were soaked, and it was great, kept us cool for the duration of the day as to was a scorcher!

Carrying on through the park the Spiderman 4D experience ride was tonnes of fun although it made me a little nervous in terms of simulator rides, but it was good’un in the end! AND I got to meet Captain America and HOLD HIS SHIELD, But typically, with my rather short shorts its made me look very naked…

Got to meet Optimus Prime too! The transformers costumes were seriously impressive, I couldn’t tell if they were ran by remote control or if there were people actually inside them, but they were really tall and so detailed, they were so impressive.

My favourite part of the holiday in terms of food in Orlando, was the Hard Rock Cafe Orlando in Universal Studios, I was excited to eat there before we’d even arranged to go there put it that way. Not only was it huge inside and out but it had a Cadillac just in the middle of the restaurant spinning around above the bar below it! When we arrived there was 13 of us and they even took a group photograph of us before we all went to sit down, and it was a great picture as we didn’t get another like it the entire holiday.

The food was incredible, I had a burger with bacon, cheese and the sweetest BBQ sauce, then all of us girls had mocktails because boo hoo the drinking age being over 21 in the US, none of us qualified for that haha! But the mocktails were nice none the less! I loved looking at all the famous musicians outfits dotted about the restaurant too, I’d also never eaten in a Hard Rock before this night either so it was a fun experience!

Id love to go back to Universal soon as they have opened a Kong: Skull Island ride, and it bet its phenomenal because I LOVED the film! One day I’ll head back.