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Cruising on Star Princess, Part 1
Part One – We drive down the Florida Turnpike to Fort Lauderdale
It’s time to pack up and leave our beautiful villa – but not before I have done a final clean of all the floors, checked the towels are fluffy and white, and that there is a little surprise for my next guests’ arrival. Paul finishes the last bit of hovering, a last look at our gorgeous pool, and its time to say goodbye to Tropical Dream Villa. We make a good team, me and him, and we both take a final look around to ensure that our home is in pristine condition for our next guests, and then we are off!
As we finally close the door on our home, we feel sad to be leaving, but there is excitement, too. After all, we were about to drive down to Fort Lauderdale to start a cruise on the wonderful Star Princess. Our comfortable car – a brand new Dodge Caliber, is purring on the driveway, and I sink exhaustedly into the cool leather seats. The last few days have been very busy, as always, making sure we have completed all the upgrades, and doing a spring clean. The suitcases are in the boot, so its time to go.
I can’t help but take a last peep at our home as we round the bend and set off on the next part of our Florida adventure, and make a silent promise to be back soon. The sun is shining and we have the prospect of a fantastic cruise ahead of us, the perfect end to our sojourn in Orlando. The car picks up speed and before we know it we are on the Florida Turnpike. If you have never used this road it is a great way to get to Miami and the eastern coast. It is pretty straight, you can keep up a fairly constant speed, and there are plenty of good service areas on the way.
We pick up our toll ticket at the Three Lakes Toll Booth which will take us through to Mile Post 88, north of Palm Beach without having to stop to pay tolls, and now we really feel we are on our way. Some people say the Florida countryside is boring, well maybe it is, as it’s very flat, but we love it. There are tall pine trees, endless fields, orange groves, and lots of water – I find myself craning my neck just in case I can see an alligator. We pass an armadillo, sadly flat as a pancake! The radio is on, and Phil Collins is crooning, ‘Take a Look at Me Now. ’ I find myself relaxing and soaking up the warm sunshine as Paul does all the driving. As yet, I have not driven in Florida, unless you count driving around Esprit, our community, but I don’t really think that counts! What is it about men and letting women drive them? The last time I drove him anywhere was years ago when he cut his finger badly doing some DIY, and I managed to persuade him to let me drive him to the hospital.
The miles speed by, and after a little doze I wake to find Paul pulling into West Palm Beach Service Station at Mile Post 94. I love to see the huge lorries with their amazing cabs parked up in front of us. The whole area is buzzing and we join the throng inside. Of course we can’t resist the cakes in Starbucks – Key Lime Cake is our favourite – crumbly, and with a fantastic tang. We grab a couple of teas as well and make our way to the window where we find a table. While we demolish our cakes I love to people watch. Beside me a little boy is playing his mum up – they are on their way to Orlando and the parks and he is obviously a bit too excited. I miss having the children, but they are back home – one at university and one at sea. Seeing these children brings back happy memories of trips to our villa and days in Disney.
Refreshed and feeling comfortably replete we make our way outside again – I never cease to wonder at the hot air which hits us in the face as we walk out of the door. I love it. Air con on and the car cooled down we set off again. The miles simply fly by and we are soon in familiar country, as our daughter worked for a year in Boca Raton, 20 miles north of Fort Lauderdale, as part of her degree course. I have to resist the urge to tell Paul to exit onto Glades Avenue, where she had her apartment – but we sail past and the roads and exits become more and more familiar.
Signs appear to Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport, and we know we are nearly at the end of our journey. We have booked a hotel for the night, and are pleased to see it in the distance, and on inspection it looks very nice. There is a lovely garden which overlooks a waterway, and there is a large pool. We lock the car and walk inside, glad to have arrived at last, and we can't wait for tomorrow and Star Princess.
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