Okay so Florida is a big place, and the city we are in is Orlando. This might be important later, who knows. This point was not so very relevant to me because I have never been to any part of Florida, so wherever we ended up was going to be novel and exciting. Also, my experience of Scottish people going to Florida consists of me going, Where did you go for your holidays, and they say, Florida!(!!!) and then their eyes roll back in their heads and their arms go floppy and they say, And it was AWESOME. Even my Goth Dentist was all, Squee! Florida! I have been like 24 times! and then tried to interrogate me on what we were going to do here while she had both her hands and a scrapey thing in my mouth (because it is the Law when you are a dentist). From all this, I may have formed the impression that Disneyland covers roughly two-thirds of the state and has an entrance in every major city.
I have also discovered I am pretty much the last person from Scotland to ever visit Florida, but that is okay because I am having a major adventure of my own and am away from work, so there.
Although this attitude was slightly marred by discovering one of my colleagues from the Rival Hospital is actually staying somewhere within two miles of us at this very moment.
Orlando certainly seems well set-up for tourists. Our hotel is right next to the Street of All Hotels, which appears to also be the Street of All Restaurants, and also All Minigolf. In fact, I’m not sure we’re going to go anywhere near the city itself, seeing as the Bossman has prepaid for about fourteen different theme parks. I assumed some of them, at least, would be reached by going into town, or rather, through it, but apparently not – there is a road (highway? Freeway? Interstate? One of them) and every turn-off on it takes you to a different park? Hot damn, that is some town planning!
Today we went to none of them and instead wandered up and down the Street of All Hotels. I am vaguely disappointed that I will see no sign at all of How Florida Residents Actually Live, but I quickly forgot about that in my conviction that we were going to burn to death despite the factor 30.
The Street of All Hotels also has Ripley’s Believe It or Not, which is a squinty, slanty red house full of… whatever the hell goes on in Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Which turns out to have nothing to do with Aliens. The Bossman expressed supreme disbelief that I could have spent my whole life and never been in a Ripley’s Believe It or Not, so he paid for me to go into what appears to be a curio emporium. If you can only make, say, a giant picture of some pop-culture icon (Beyonce, say, or Lady Gaga; or just a bald eagle because they never go out of fashion) out of something no sane person would ever use to make a picture (jelly beans, bottle tops, dryer lint) then you too can be exhibited here. Also if you are a two-headed calf, you are pretty much set (if not exactly for life).
However, just down the road from this was Wonderworks, an upside-down house, which has a hurricane simulator, an earthquake simulator, a thing where you can stick on a chainmail glove and be zapped by lightning, lots of science activity stuff and a neon high-ropes course which I thought looked really awesome until I got up there and remembered that I am terrified of a) heights and b) embarrassing myself in public. Fortunately I have the natural grace and agility of a wild animal; unfortunately, that animal is a water buffalo.
Thank god the Bossman has the same attitude to high-ropes courses that I do; also the same attitude to flumes, rollercoasters and the like, which is to say, Hell no, we won’t go. So he did not mock me for slithering and wobbling around until I’d had enough (approximately one minute later) and had to try and fight my way past ten thousand children who can do everything I can’t – except work out how to navigate around someone coming the other way, or make a decision about where to go next.
Mercifully, the Street of All Hotels also has bars, so we went for some cocktails and salsa things in a Bahamas-theme one where a guy played melodic steel drums in the background and I heard a reggae version of Hotel California. It was a long and arduous trek the half-mile back to the hotel after that, but the manager threw a very credible fit of shock when he head we had not taken a bus at any point, and suggested we go for a swim. Which was very cooling, yes, but thrashing around enthusiastically in a pool was maybe not the best solution to having been trekking about for hours beforehand. I think I was asleep by eight o’clock.
Above: flowers only previously seen in botanic gardens grow freely in the streets here! …I still have no idea what they are.