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Old 30 May 20, 05:35 PM  
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WileyCoyote
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Bayous to Beaches. Oct 19.Day 23. Sad faces,lots of suitcases & exciting future places. Coming home.

Wednesday 23 October

Yesterday is HERE


Going home day. Itís pants isnít it.

Especially when you find photos from the night before reminding you of the temperatures you are never going to experience back home



Although after 3 and a bit weeks our cases and waistlines were already looking forward to a return to lighter normality.

We were sad to be at and end of a fabulous trip.

It has been like three different mini holidays and each part had been fantastic. So many wonderful places to look back on.

We rarely manage a decent night of sleep before travel day and last night was no exception.

We both said we had the feeling as if we had the start of a cold . The mood didnít improve when I saw the review the airbnb host had left me .. indicating he would never accept me as a guest again and other hosts should be wary of me I was raging. What a cheek. Even this far after the event it still makes me cross.

I had a last morning watching the sunrise



We enquired about a late checkout but at $50 a hour we decided we could cope without it and by 1130 we were out waiting for the car as they had suggested we could load the case into the car and they would return it to valet parking for us.

I insisted that we wait while they did this just on the off chance some passing drug lord took the opportunity to use our car for nefarious purposes -

Andy thought it was hilarious that I sat there but hey - made me feel better .

He pointed out that of course once the car drove off we had no idea what happened to it anyway ...

A short stroll over to the marina at midday



Look at the photobombing bird in the background



and we booked on to the 1pm Little Toot sailing.



We had just missed breakfast time at the Salty Cafe which was a shame so we had a drink and just watched the boats and people go by .. and a few pelicans




There were maybe 20 people on the trip.. so nice and quiet and we had such a a fun time.



It was way better than we expected and after lots of shots of water and the deck




I have loads of ďjust missed them shots ď

... never quite catching the pesky dolphins ... finally we did finally see a pair and it was brilliant ... especially as they chased the boat . We have a video which I watch often .. they are just lift your spirits.



It was interesting hearing about the houses of the rich and famous



and also the story of the lady who wouldnít give up her house to the developer who built behind her ... very ďUpĒ .



There was a bit of drama getting off the boat as someone missed their step and did a proper face plant on the dock ... ouch. Fortunately all was ok and painful injury and expensive lawsuit appeared to have been avoided.

Andy really wanted cod and chips for lunch so at 2.30 we took a walk over to Frenchyí south cafe - because - like - its a beach cafe so its bound to be on the menu right.



Wrong.




Perk of not being the driver means one last cocktail ...



Pineapple lemon drop martini



Very refreshing. Apparently the pineapple chunks had been soaked in vodka for a week. I can confirm after one bite that this is the case

Mozzarella sticks and boneless bites to start





Burger for Andy



Tropical chicken pitta pocket for me



This was really very nice. I wanted to avoid anything too salty before the flight home. Very fresh.



This test was a bit of a struggle after the potent pineapple



It was a nice lunch though and we finished by popping into the souvenir store to pick up the obligatory magnet . We resisted the oversized pickles for the plane.



Final farewell to the truly splendid Wyndham



We picked up the car and set off for Tampa airport at 4 ... and we were much closer than we realised so were dropping it off before 5.



We had just gone over the 24 hour rate from when we had collected it in Orlando but they kindly waived the fee.

Tampa airport was a great experience - well laid out and not too packed at all.

We got the little monorail over to the terminal




with Andy demonstrating his multi case manoeuvring skills earning him the hashtag myhusbandcanwheelmorecasesthanyours.



and we had almost no wait at check in.

The cases came in at 23.2, 18.8,17.8 and 18.6 . So 79.4 out of 80kg. I neednít have added in those couple of extra kilos in the end ... Our hand luggage was also weighed coming in at 8.2 and 8.8. Oodles of room there then...

The trusty Ikea back pack had our travel clothes in so we could get changed later. I think i said this earlier but it really is a fantastic piece of hand luggage !

My notes are a bit thin from here on in .

I know that I spent some time sorting the hand luggage so it could all be stowed with just a few things we needed to hand .

We were through security quickly and by the gate at 6.30 which was ages from our 9 pm ish flight.

It was nice and peaceful though. I wrote up lots of my notes and food report and picked up some sweets for the office and had a nose in the shops



My scant notes seem to tell me that boarding was on time and we had the lovely spacious exit row seats just after the premium cabin



with the fabulous galley view.



Well it may not have been the Dreamliner but at least it wasnt an Air Scotia/HiFly re run.

I didnt even write down what film I watched - maybe I didnt watch anything. it must have been an ok flight because equally my sparse notes dont refer to feeling terrible either.

When the food cam out Andy had beef which he said was ok .



I had the chicken. Also Just about ok although I think a square of chocolate for dessert is feeble.



Breakfast was a turkey (or maybe ham , I couldnít tell ) and cheese roll. Looked like a child had done the cling film wrapping . And cake.

Because of course thatís what we eat at breakfast time ...



What is it with airline breakfasts ... who dreams up these meal choices ?

It was of course cold and miserable at Gatwick. We were off sharpish and through passport control really quickly. I think it was only just over 30 minutes from leaving the plane to setting off with our cases to find the taxi driver.

Do you wremember at the start of the trip we had the whole staying at the North terminal but flying from the South thing going on ?

So, when we arranged to be picked up it came back to haunt us. Yep, those comedic phone calls .. we are here - where are you ? I am at arrivals . Yes but we are at arrivals and cant see you. ...

And so on

For 20 minutes ...

When you are cold and a bit tired 20 minutes can feel like 2 hours and it was all getting a bit tetchy .. once it was finally established there is in fact not a Premier Inn at the south arrivals, all was well and we were re united with our transport. Hurrah

I dozed most of the way home .. and it must have been a fairly uneventful trip back .. just the usual rain



and traffic so we were home early afternoon and then began the faffing with unpacking, with the dogs traipsing behind us every two seconds just in case we disappeared again.

We stayed up as long as we could - I think till 7 or 8 and had a couple of melatonins before bed. We still had the evil jet lag but not as bad as on other trips and we do think it made a difference. The clocks also changed that weekend so we gained an extra hour .. definitely helped.

For the shoppers... I have laid out some of the haul in the second post. We felt it had been a good trip on the shopping front .. even with the ever declining exchange rate we had picked up some great things.

Another holiday over

And so what next ... well almost as soon as we were back I wrote our highs and lows.

Here they are as I posted them at the time.

Highs

New Orleans
The Big Easy. Such a laid back place. We completely chilled out, ate delicious food and quaffed a fair few cocktails. It is still keeping a hold on our hearts. Our livers are thankful we only stay a short time.

Savannah
Like New Orleans but notched up a gear or two. Beautiful place, friendly people, divine food and drink. Will absolutely go back. Had a pedi-cab tour in the morning with a laid back guide who was great. And itís a brilliant way to get around. Best meal of the trip at The Olde Pink House.

Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island 🌴
Despite slightly off weather, still had wow factor

Natchitoches 🇺🇸
Reminded me of Eureka Springs. Wish we had more time to explore. Quirky, quaint and had the wholesome town feel. Plus the servers loved our accent so much they sent every one over to check on us constantly just so we would speak. Fattyís meat pies were a hit.

Shreveport🏩
The Remington Hotel - I cant imagine many Brit holiday makers making their way here but if you do, this place is outstanding. I want to live in our hotel room it was that spacious. Seeing my uncle again was very special after the year the family has been through. Precious times.

Palm Coast🏖
Loved it. All of it. Fabulous beaches, lovely state park, friendly people. Unspoilt and super clean everywhere. Only 30 minutes to St Augustine one way and Daytona the other. Had a view of the intra coastal waterway from our condo and saw the dolphins on our first morning. Sitting on the balcony watching the boats go by was bliss. And Beach Belly Bob and his Dad are great guys. Go have one of their sandwiches !

Expedia💻
Every hotel booking went without a hitch. Fees were as advertised, no unexpected extras. Really impressed it went so smoothly.


Gulf Coast 🐬
Little Toot was a great last day outing. Great value and fun. Left us feeling very happy. Wyndham Grand is a really nice hotel. Very pleased with it. Rescued the end of the holiday after a wash out on AMI and Airbnb horror story. 😱

Catching up with folks
We saw a few friends and made some new ones this trip. Possibly the most sociable I have ever been And it was a really nice addition to the trip.

The Lows

HiFly🛫
Our Norwegian flight was changed 7 days out. We had retained exit row / ELR seats which was positive. The rest was not. The plane was old. Bits of our seats were gaffer taped together. Some of Andyís seat came off in his hands. My table tray and IFE were useless. Service was super slow. Cabin crew nice enough but when they are running (quite literally) up the plane to reach their seats before take off, it makes you wonder how competent they are. Seatbelt signs were on for every tiny bit of turbulence and at times felt like we were trapped in our seats. It was not a particularly bumpy flight. Has put me right off Norwegian.

AirBnB
I should say , not Airbnb as a whole as we had a stay in Palm Coast that was brilliant.

Our stay on the Gulf was not and I have a thread in the Accommodation section on it.
We had a place that was, in my view, grossly misrepresented on its listing, an unresponsive owner and a night in a house that was hideous. I was half expecting Michael Myers to appear at the end of the bed.

It had been Storm Nestor the previous night and as it was dark, torrential rain and full on tornado warnings in place we opted to stay and search for a new hotel. That night stay cost us a full refund with Airbnb as we did not leave immediately(they only make partial exception for weather related incidents I discovered later). We were refunded 75% of the total in the end which just about covered the hotel cost. It has aggrieved me that the host received anything from us. It was a nightmare at the time but it will not blot the rest of the trip.

Dollar Car Hire at New Orleans airport
A surly and unhelpful agent who could not care less that they had no cars matching the class we had paid for and was insistent we took an economy when we had paid for premium. Just hard work.

In Between

Hilton Head Island
It was ok but we didnít love it. The weather wasnít brilliant and that did spoil our appetite for sight seeing. It seemed to be full of people a little entitled and a bit rude. Perhaps a cultural thing but a distinct lack of please and thank you. The hotel was nice but expensive and very corporate focused. It was the only place the entire holiday that charged for bottles of water in the room.

Charleston
It didnít wow us. At one point we didnít like it all but it did grow on us. King Street is a mixed bag, the further you walk the better or worse it gets. There was one point where we became quite concerned for our safety. The carriage ride the next day was a shambles and a let down. Itís not a complete low because we had a good hotel, a great afternoon and evening meal(eventually).
Not somewhere I would return. Savannah far eclipsed it for us.

Dollar
We usually go with Alamo. Dollar was much cheaper this trip. No hard sell but a lack of choice in cars. All a bit meh but not enough to be a low.

The weather🥵⛈💨🌊
When it was hot, it was damn hot. And it was great.
But we had more rain and overcast days than all our other trips put together. A shame when we only had 24 hours in some places and it did dampen () our sightseeing spirits. Driving on two particular days was terrifying .. and Iím not even the driver

In summary though...

24 days, 4 states, 10 hotels, 2 Airbnbís, 4 flights, 3 cars, thousands of miles, sun, rain, biblical rain, tropical storms, 6 beaches and 32 cocktails. It was an absolute blast. We loved it.


Looks like I missed a cocktail or two in that summary .. as I actually ended with 35

I donít think I would change anything except as time has gone on I reflect that I was harsh on Charleston. The carriage ride disappointment really swayed my judgement and looking back I should have been more generous.

We still prefer Savannah but I do wonder if we had done our own pedi cab tour of Charleston if we might have left feeling equally as warm about it as a place. It did have by far the most beautiful houses and our food and dining experiences were also excellent.

And so what next? This trip feels like a lifetime ago now.

Well, there was one thing that I didnít post at the time.

We had spent the week in Palm Coast as itís always been our ambition to have a retirement place in the sun and over the last year we have been looking at lots of options.

And that explains the show home trips and lots of visits around the neighbourhoods. I instantly took a liking to the place. More than that. I felt completely at home. Andy had already shortlisted places from his visit there the year before.

After a couple of visits to one particular location, we took the plunge and set about buying some land with a view to building a home over the next couple of years.

By the time we left Clearwater the sale was agreed and a couple of weeks later the deed was done quite literally as we had signed the transfers and the land was registered in our names with the County.

This is me perusing the corner of our plot boundary



and wondering about the sensibility of all these trees in a state that has hurricanes, wildfires, alligators and of course snakes. Who would buy a house in a place like that . LOL.

Our house will be about 10 minutes from the beach one way and 10 minutes from the town centre the other way. I am most excited that there is a cycle trail to a Panera Bread at the closest intersection.

But thatís a whole other adventure now.

We were over in March to move things forward - choosing our new home design and starting things in motion for the build .

Of course that was BC.
Before Corona.

We made so many plans on that visit and had so much we were looking forward to. Trips to Ikea and Home Depot took on a whole new excitement ... who knew there were so many styles of sinks and grout colours .

Palm Coast has, so far, been relatively unaffected by Covid19 and our reality of lockdown life is vastly different to theirs. Life there looks far more normal than here. It makes us so desperate to get back. But with uncertainty on flights, exchange rates and the next 6 -12 months more generally we have many decisions to make in the coming months.

For now though we are so happy to own a piece of Palm Coast Paradise and we have our dream home plans all ready to go as soon as its practical to start. Itís a pretty major pause but it wouldnít really be us if it all went to plan first time would it

I did start an insta account to share our house building plans but I havenít updated it in ages.

Maybe now is the time to get back to it.

Or after I write up our March trippy because based on how long this one took it will be nearly Christmas.

Thanks for sticking with it. Reading it all back now reminds me what a fabulous trip we had. I hope you enjoyed it too.

Shoppers .. second post is for you..
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Old 30 May 20, 05:35 PM  
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WileyCoyote
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The Final Shopping

Tommy Hilfiger hoodie dress $15 Ellenton



Ralph Lauren dresses Orlando $25 each




Ralph Lauren jumper Orlando $20 . Must admit to being disappointed on the fit of this one ... arms seem to be short !



Tommy Hilfiger sweater $15 Ellenton



Nike joggers $30 Ellenton


Ralph Lauren tees $12 .. Orlando great value in the RL kids store (up to age 20) plus discount voucher



Lacoste tees .. either $20 or $24 Orlando



The email sign up vouchers from RL and Tommy made a big difference.

Finally ... CK leather phone wallet with a detachable purse. These made brilliant Xmas gifts and only $25 Orlando .. outlet market place



Edited at 05:37 PM.
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Old 31 May 20, 05:43 AM  
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Thanks Amanda! Another great read! And how exciting to have your own piece of Florida! I look forward to reading more about it!
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Old 31 May 20, 08:15 AM  
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Another fantastic trip and report Amanda a few lows especially the air bnb however you had mainly highs.
I love your news about buying the land to build. Will look forward to hearing about the progress!

Kelly x
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Old 31 May 20, 08:28 AM  
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Really enjoyed reading and following along. Impressed with the cocktail tally! Hope your retirement/building plans can continue as quickly and as safe as possible for you. I'm very jealous of the cycle trail to Panera Bread!

M x
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Old 31 May 20, 09:01 AM  
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Hi Amanda.
What an amazing trip.
Your new home plans sound incredible, you must be so excited.
Congratulations.
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Old 31 May 20, 09:21 AM  
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Sad to read the travel home day, but you made the most of it with the boat trip. I love the little 'Up' house, good for her! I would want to keep that beachfront location too.

Congratulations on buying your land. Wow! That's exciting. I couldn't imagine building a house in this country let alone trying to manage a house build in a country I wasn't living in. I hope your plans haven't been too slowed down by this pesky outbreak. I'm looking forward to seeing you on your new deck with a cocktail.
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Old 31 May 20, 02:16 PM  
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Thank you so much, have loved reading along. Brightened up a few dark days😊
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Old 31 May 20, 10:36 PM  
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Great trip and how exciting about your land! Look forward to hearing about how it develops once the building can start start.
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Old 1 Jun 20, 12:55 PM  
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WileyCoyote
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Originally Posted by Melbatb View Post
Thanks Amanda! Another great read! And how exciting to have your own piece of Florida! I look forward to reading more about it!
Thank you. Hope all good with you ? It is exciting .l a bit stressful too

Originally Posted by Cutiepie View Post
Another fantastic trip and report Amanda a few lows especially the air bnb however you had mainly highs.
I love your news about buying the land to build. Will look forward to hearing about the progress!

Kelly x

Thank you x It was very much mainly highs. Especially after such a horrible start to the year last year. Ha ha. Fingers crossed on the build front ...

Originally Posted by Pumba75 View Post
Really enjoyed reading and following along. Impressed with the cocktail tally! Hope your retirement/building plans can continue as quickly and as safe as possible for you. I'm very jealous of the cycle trail to Panera Bread!

M x
Thank you. It was a good tally wasnít it. Andy laughed about the cycle thing but I was totally excited ... I can just see myself tootling along for breakfast there...

Originally Posted by Beaker's Fluff View Post
Hi Amanda.
What an amazing trip.
Your new home plans sound incredible, you must be so excited.
Congratulations.
Thank you x We are very excited. I just want it up and built so we can furnish it but a long waiting game at the moment. Having to be super patient.

Originally Posted by Goldia View Post
Sad to read the travel home day, but you made the most of it with the boat trip. I love the little 'Up' house, good for her! I would want to keep that beachfront location too.

Congratulations on buying your land. Wow! That's exciting. I couldn't imagine building a house in this country let alone trying to manage a house build in a country I wasn't living in. I hope your plans haven't been too slowed down by this pesky outbreak. I'm looking forward to seeing you on your new deck with a cocktail.
Little Toot was such a brilliant end to the holiday. Isnít that story about the house great. That big hotel complex sat behind it... !
I donít know how we will cope watching it go up from a distance. The site manager will send us a weekly video once it starts. A little way to go yet though Thank you x

Originally Posted by Scottishbelle View Post
Thank you so much, have loved reading along. Brightened up a few dark days😊
Ah thank you thatís lovely x

Originally Posted by CrispyA View Post
Great trip and how exciting about your land! Look forward to hearing about how it develops once the building can start start.
Thank you. Hope all good with you all ?
Will be interesting to see what the next few weeks bring for sure
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