It’s been a while dear friends and followers.
So long, in fact, that this website domain expired and I had to contact my lovely co-traveler Heather to help me renew it.
In the meantime, my time back in The States has not proven uneventful.
I started and soon quit a bogus hostess job at an Latin-Asian fusion-restaurant-that-shall-not-be-named.
I started living again with my sorority sister and ex-roommate Kandace. Together we adopted a charming and destructive little poodle. *See the two as pictured below*
Kandace and I opened up our home to couchsurfers and have hosted two wonderful travelers. One girl from Minnesota and one amazingly energetic man from Poland. His name is Igor and, after hosting him for three nights, my desire to visit Poland has gone through the roof.
I have gone to 3 very different concerts. One of which I was doused in champagne by the lead singer.
I started a new job at Dunwoody Country Club and have had a good time getting to know more lovely people.
I have bounced around various cities including Charlotte, Atlanta, Cocoa Beach, Clemson, Charleston, and Orlando.
The last of which was just last week ago; and it was there that I got to reunite with my British roommate Calum. For those of you who are new to this site, at the end of my study abroad kick, I was graciously allowed to mooch off 4 British lads for almost two weeks after my previous landlady was being less than agreeable. I knew Cal and his family would be vacationing in Orlando, so I hopped on Spirit airlines at early hour of 6am and flew an hour over.
Flying to Orlando from Atlanta is definitely recommended for time and monetary reasons. As I had road tripped with Kandace to Cocoa Beach, Fl for Spring Break back in March, I know how long it takes. About 9 hours. That is a whole lot of driving. And money spent on gas. I paid about $100 round trip to Orlando using Spirit and Southwest Airlines. But be warned, for the great price these flights are not the most luxurious. Seats are small all around. Tables are minuscule in Spirit, and seats go unassigned in Southwest. Also be wary of Spirits extra baggage fees for small carryons- It’s $35 dollars when you book ahead, so be sure to do so!
The Moment I collected my small baggage and located Calum’s charming family, I was whisked away for a day at Universal Studios. I’m pretty sure that the last time I was at a Universal was when I was 12. But while Universal was full of wonderful rides and sights including (but not limited to):
The Big Globe
and soaking water rides
The true joy of the day came from gallivanting around Harry Potter World. Split into two different words (Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade), the creators of this park spared no expense in detail. All the shops from the books were featured beautifully. My favorite being Flourish and Blotts (although I was rather miffed that I could not actually enter the store).
You could ride the Hogwarts Express from Platform 9 3/4 between the two worlds, perform magic with your own wand, visit the goblins at Gringotts, ride on your roller-coaster dragon, listen to choir students sing with their bullfrogs, and watch the elegant ladies from Beauxbatons Academy of Magic flounce around in their blue silk. I was especially happy to see that the Hogwarts Express was its proper shade of crimson, unlike the model in the movies.
Least we forget, I also got to indulge in the best of frothy Butterbeers. This frozen concoction was almost the equivalent to a frappuccino. Yes, it was as delicious and sweet as I hoped it would be.
The day drifted on in a magical flurry of sunshine and copious amounts of sunscreen in the hopes to stay “sun-safe” in the Florida heat. There were also numerous coffee breaks as I became more and more delirious from my hour-and-a-half of sleep the night before.
As the day drew to a close, the Ridley family and I catapulted into their rental house exhausted and sun-worn. Ordering a pizza proved to be more difficult than normal, so Paul ventured out into the late night and came back with a feast of Taco Bell. What I deem as mediocre Mexican food appears to be pretty good by British standards. Proud of myself for not collapsing from sleep-exhaustion for almost 40 hours, I crawled my way to bed at 11pm.
The Ridley’s and I spent the next day at the Blizzard Beach water park. I found the whole concept of this park rather amusing. While you soaked up excessive amounts of Southern sun, you got to pretend you were somewhere up in the mountains (fake snow-tops and icicles included). There was even a chairlift that brought you to the top of slide-infested “Mt. Gushmore”. Seven hours of lazy-river drifting and slide races later, we all piled into our van to get changed for our dinner reservations in Downtown Disney.
Our experience at the Raglan Road Irish Pub was wonderful! We waited longer to get a table outside, but it was well worth it. Traditional Irish dancing a music hosted by a guitarist and banjo player kept the atmosphere lively and welcoming. Our waitress was a happy little thing with a fiance that hailed from Leeds, England. We were more than happy to offer congratulations and kind words on the English city. Surrounded by good company, I toasted my Magners cider and enjoyed a scrumptious portabello burger. The weather outside was perfect for sitting back and gossiping into the late night. And so we did.
The next morning, I said my goodbyes and spent a few last minutes by the pool trying to delay the realization that I would be leaving Cal and his family sooner than later. If it wasn’t for the fact that I am still post-travel broke and was going to see The Neighbourhood in concert back in Atlanta that night, I would have had to be dragged kicking and screaming back on that plane (probably).
It was beyond magical pretending to be back in Sheffield with my good friends. Many thanks again to the Ridley family for being such wonderful hosts! I hope to visit very soon.