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The Conversion of a Florida Holiday Sceptic
Paul was not keen on driving from the airport on arrival and although we offered to pick them up he arranged for a driver and for the car to be delivered to the villa.
When they arrived, the driver, who we knew, commented that he had never before picked up such a smartly dressed couple from the airport and as I watched Sue unpack there didn' t seem to be much holiday attire in her smart suitcase. Oh dear, that doesn' t bode well for Orlando where casual dress is almost always the order of the day!
Being November it was dark and they were both tired, we were having dinner out with friends but they preferred to stay in and all was quiet by the time we got back.
The following morning we offered to take them out for breakfast which they were happy to agree to and we thought Celebration would create a good first impression, we had no intention of spending very long there so we took two cars and My husband rode with Paul and I drove our car with Sue riding shotgun! They were both a it over dressed but never mind!
We had breakfast at the Market St Cafe which they seemed to enjoy although Paul was nervous about his credit card being taken away from the table for payment, he didn' t want to let it out of his sight!
After breakfast we pointed out one of our favorite restaurants, Cafe D' Antonio, and told them about the stroll around the main Lake and the 2 lakes beyond, then we left them to their own devices (they had GPS) and retreated back to the villa and our jobs.
It was early afternoon when they returned and we were in the pool, they had, had a lovely time in Celebration, they were very impressed by its charm and cleanliness and we sighed with relief, feeling that we had won a small victory for Orlando. Paul, ever the Englishman, made pot of tea for us all and brought out the biscuits they had stopped at the supermarket to buy, tea and biscuits in the afternoon. . . . . . . . they are not going to let their English habits go too easily!
We had planned to go to The Bone Fish Grill at Winter Garden for dinner and invited them along giving them no more information other than we were going to a Fish restaurant, they readily agreed and were bowled over by their meal. . . . . . . . another plus point.
Over the next few days they started to relax more and to venture out alone. The trip to Kennedy was scheduled for later in their holiday and we tentatively suggested that they couldn' t visit Orlando without visiting Walt Disney World, Paul went white! We gave Epcot the hard sell, pitching it as the most adult of the Disney Parks with the fewest rides. You have to visit WDW just to admire the organization we said, ' it operates like a finely tuned engine! ' We didn' t think we were getting anywhere so imagine our surprise when on the 3rd or 4th morning they announced they were off to Epcot! I think Sues influence had been at play once again!
Sue announced that she felt overdressed but that she didn' t do ' scruffy' ( I guess that' s a no to my T shirt and shorts then )and Paul didn' t possess a pair of shorts other than the ones he used for swimming! But we packed them off telling them they would be fine and then spent the day worrying about how they were enjoying themselves.
Part way through the day we received an email postcard from Mission Space so we reckoned they must be having fun and started to relax.
They returned home late, obviously having stayed for the fireworks and walked through the door wearing ' My First Trip to Walt Disney World' badges! Okay, so that was only for effect, they hadn' t been wearing them all day but at least they were sporting enough to have been and got them. They professed to have had good fun but I think enough was enough and it was the only Disney experience of the holiday.
They ventured out shopping alone and came back with some slightly more suitable semi casual wear, Paul had even bought a pair of shorts, okay, they were smart tailored golf shorts but it was a start!
Towards the end of their first week the planned trip to Kennedy, and the whole reason for the holiday was planned to take place. The idea was that they would go to Kennedy and then on to the space coast for a few days, we did tell them that the space coast, to our mind, was not as nice as the gulf coast but they seemed happy enough. . . . . . . . . . . that evening they were back! Kennedy had been fantastic, everything Paul had dreamed of and then some, but they had hated Cocoa Beach on sight and we felt that all our hard work promoting Florida and all it had to offer had been undone!
A lazy day by the pool brought suggestions of a possible trip to the Gulf Coast but nothing firm was decided. That evening we took them to the Cheesecake Factory and introduced them to the concept of ' the box' for leftovers. Anyone familiar with this restaurant will know that if you have an appetizer it is unlikely that you will finish your entree and there is nothing wrong with leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day, they weren' t convinced but ended up being pleasantly surprised.
The second week brought Paul' s birthday and a hugely successful trip to Fantasy of Flight (sadly now closed) followed by our suggested restaurant, Seasons 52. They asked us to join them and generously treated us to a fabulous meal which was the topic of conversation for days afterwards.
The trip to the gulf coast was duly made and they enjoyed a day at Clearwater but still chose to return to the villa that same night, the two or three days they were intending to stay in Orlando became a full fortnight!
One afternoon whilst lounging by the pool, Sue asked what I was doing on the IPad and I told her I was writing an article for the OV guide, I explained the premise behind it and pointed her in the direction of a couple that I though might interest her, Bok Tower Gardens and Winter Park, she thought the guide was really good idea.
At the end of the fortnight it appeared they had really enjoyed themselves and I felt we might have converted them! The proof of the pudding would be what they reported to our mutual friends and colleagues on their return!
About 6 months later Sue contacted me to say they were planning on returning to Florida and enquired about renting the villa, I was gobsmacked! They returned to Florida in the spring, 18 months after their initial visit, the weather was cooler and they had a couple of problems with power outages due to storms so I was nervous of what they would report on their return. I was so surprised when Sue presented me with an article for the Florida Guide which I have submitted to OV for publication with her full permission.
The article, if it gets published, is entitled :
' Orlando for Adults Without Children'
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