Off the shores 16
Exploring Florida for ourselves
Life, a roller coaster to enjoy
Rajiva Shanker Shresta
Welcome to Orlando
“Welcome to Orlando. The numbers are in, and it’s official: We are the No. 1 travel destination in the world with 62-million overnight visitors. That’s millions more than New York and more than the annual visitors to London and Vegas combined. One of the reasons we are so popular is that we’re always changing, always growing, always adding more to our already dynamic destination. ...” Rows of tall palm trees with waterbodies here and there greet and welcome us as we landed here. It was past one in the night when we checked in Rosen Centre Hotel, a local landmark with the addition of inviting outdoor lighting, offering a beacon of hospitality for Orlando visitors, there’s always something new Better than Ever, the letter from the Publisher had in their welcome note in the book Orlando found on the writing table. From the Airport I had picked up a complimentary copy of I Love Orlando November-December 2015 issue as a heap of them were there for you free and inviting. Such magazines not only help us to know the best about the place but also the latest and current thing going on to find out for yourself. It again had in their opening note “Welcome to Orlando – The City Beautiful! This world-renowned destination is the ultimate tropical oasis for your winter vacation with its ever sunny days and mild temperatures. If you’re dreaming of beautiful beaches, days of outdoor recreation, affordable designer shopping, enticing dining options and world-famous attractions, you’ll find it all here. … There are endless activities for the family to enjoy and I love Orlando Magazine is your guide. Within these pages, you’ll find great tips to the best dining, shopping and recreation in Central Florida. I hope you experience a fabulous winter getaway making cherished memories here in Orlando!”
It was bright sunny Sunday morning giving a panoramic view of this part of the city known to be the hub with all leading hotels standing tall and majestic to welcome the tourists well-lit but the one to attract most was the one flooded with blue light from a distance and to find it was our own Rosen Centre Hotel that took a while for us to reach to find the main entrance to enter their lobby. Vimal had from car-rental Dodge (we used to have Dodge SNT bus No. 61 for Kalimpong in 1950s) seven-seater comfortable and good enough for the family with his brother Vipin with wife Sapna and kid Arnav joining us later during the day from Houston, Texas. Airbus was crowded to the brim with a passenger to delay the flight almost by half-an-hour but to reach the Airport in two hours’ time that took another two hours to collect the baggage and get this car that we would be travelling in comfortably throughout for the week till we depart next Sunday. Seeing the parents rushing with kids Rachna remarks that while everyone seemed to be rushing out with their children for the holidays, here she was with her parents instead and for me to retort, Jamana ulta chha, Maiya! That could best be termed as the Time Change we all to be here in the US holidaying thus together.
So Vimal-Rachna had for the first day thought of SeaWorld Parks and & Entertainment. Florida that “has everything you need for the perfect Orlando vacation. Our world-class theme parks, combined with a wide variety of partner hotels, offer you convenience, quality and outstanding value. Plus, you get exclusive guest benefits while you’re at the parks” that had SeaWorld, Aquatica SeaWorld’s Waterparks, Discovery Cove. Busch Gardens announced in I love Orlando. Walt Disney World with Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, Epcot, Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios were the next thing to do altogether. We also have Universal Orlando, Wet’nWild, Legoland Florida, Gatorland, A whole of bundle of fun packaged but depend upon how much you could make out of it and reach as we know well that is next to possible to cover up them all. It needs lot of time and efforts, not to talk of the amount of money that requires spending. You have to be working in the US saving enough for enjoying your weekends thus that for us with earnings in India seemed a whole lot splurging coming all the way travelling, staying in starry comforts with dining and entertainment to have here!
Day 1 SeaWorld
Season Festive continued here with the theme Welcome to SeaWorld’s Christmas celebration spread here, there, everywhere nook and corner all covered to see the Season meeting the Sea as the tagline that beautifully sum up what it might not be possible for me to describe all in some words or pictures to accompany it. Not every can make unless one has the knack of seeing such a widespread tourist place nor can take them all when places abundant to visit during one’s stay that demand many a visits here even you feel that we had covered many of such places during his visit. So, we had to go being selective in choosing the places to see and our eyes were Vimal-Rachna him to conduct the tour while her to take shots appropriately to capture the joyous moment and share with friends and relatives on the Facebook as the day progressed or for the sumptuous dinner to relax in the night. We know and believe that the joy of visiting such wonderful places multiplies when shared and I too in the league to keep them posted whenever and wherever I could get connected to them via Wi-Fi that I show them prominently announced as we check in the SeaWorld. Once inside paying for the ticket, every place free to enter and tourist map too made available in plenty whosoever likes to be benefitted with it as we enter the SeaWorld around midday, somewhat late to begin the day here. We had rushed here skipping breakfast for the brunch to make up the time due to late last night. Ticket once paid covered for the whole day and you need not have to pay add-ons for numerous enclosures to entertain yourselves at different places during different hours to suit you. I ask if some concession for the seniors, Rachna tells that since they and children comprise the majority of visitors here, no such provision. We see seniors departing say bye to his son’s family after spending whole day of fun together while we were too way back looking for our car in the park. It is the way here to go thus enjoying life beautiful!
Though open till 10pm we leave the place to return to our hotel and we would have lost much time had it not for the sharp sense of location Vimal had to find back the place our car parked amongst thousands of them without proper number in the lot. While going to NYC at Hamilton it was convenient to remember 3345 the number we parked our car. In hotel we meet Vipin reached from Houston, Texas to join us for the rest of the tour. They come with gifts for us and we too had some for them too including the back-scratcher, I find a useful thing even at odd hours of the night or when alone nobody nearby to give that fulfilling help. Rachna-Vimal with numerous such tours much travelling ever since here in the US finds out along the International Drive the nearest with eateries numerous to find Thai Thani to suit us all for the dinner. Wi-Fi here helps me post about the place we were this night.
Besides Penguins in their enclosures, we had Hunter Whales and Dolphins performing at different places and SeaWorld 50 Years completed had announced, “We’re all responsible for Antarctica. Together we thrive. SeaWorldCares.com| People power! Protect penguins by protecting their ocean home.”