Sunday, 29 May 2016

Sun, Surf and the Waving at the Rich and Famous

Saturday 21st May to Thursday 26th May 2016

Fort Lauderdale

….not having slept for about 20 hours we were, to say the least, a bit tired by the time we deplaned; Miami International had very kindly closed nearly everything down and American Airlines were of little use.
Even at this time of the morning the temperature was hovering around 28C and the humidity felt quite high.
Found the carousel where the bags came off, a lone AA representative disappeared quick smart when he found out there were some tired upset passengers.
It took a little while to find the link shuttle train to the hire car centre – the end result being that we finally arrived at our hotel at 5am – at least the front desk was open and a lovely person there was of immeasurable help – we were in our room by 5:15am and asleep by 5:30.
Both of us were tired but we woke around 10:30am and thought that a walk outside might help – it was even warmer than when we arrived and the sun was blisteringly hot – at least to us – there were plenty of very-fit people running around looking, well, fit.
After an attempt at walking along we sought the cool refuge of the shady restaurant and with it being close to lunch time anyway and not having eaten properly since early Friday morning we sat down to a scrumptious seafood and pasta lunch – very decadent and very expensive but worth every cent – on top of which it was lovely and cool and we had great views of the sea and the sand.
Lobster, pasta, mussels, pippis - delicious...

...and the view was great as well

Diane had wifi for the phone and found out that the FA Cup was on – I had thought it was a Sunday game – there was a bar right where we were staying which was a sports bar and we asked politely if they would be able to change the channel of one of the 20 odd screens to FOX for the game – “Where would you like to sit and which screen would be best for you to see?” came the reply – I love this place – so we sat at the bar; screen directly in front; lovely bartenders (female) to attend to our drinks needs and to talk to as well – this was a little piece of heaven – at least for a few hours.
And on top of of all of that, Manchester United one in extra time 2-1 – it couldn’t get any better than this; and we hadn’t even woken up yet.
Back to the room and Diane had a spa in the bath in the main bedroom, but we were both still pretty tired and made it as far as 9pm.
All-in-all whilst we had had the delayed flight on the previous day we had made up for that with a great Saturday.
Could it get any better?

Well for Diane it did – the French Open started on Sunday and with the time difference it meant an early TV start and she had a choice of 3 different TV’s to watch – depending an where she wanted to sit, so she was set for a while, but still managed to excuse herself away to make it downstairs to visit the Croc shop and leave some money there.
Sunday was essentially a day to rest and recuperate – and with the views that we had from the balcony it was hard not to do just that.

Here are the views from our unit - both during the day and night

Our plans had suffered a little due to a computer problem with our travel agent and we would only be here for 6 days and not the original 7 days and with the delayed flight this now meant 5 days, so we weren’t about to rest around too much.

Our apartment - the third level up and the right and centre windows - a 2 bedroom
apartment with lounge, dining and kitchen between

Monday came and we decided that a visit to see some of the local wildlife was in order; but we didn’t wish to spend a complete day there so a local wildlife park was found and we drove out to there – Sawgrass Recreation Park – to see the alligators and other locals.
Having only seen the air boats on screen it looked like an interesting way to get around and we had little or no time to brace ourselves for the experience – about 2 minutes after getting the tickets we were seated and off – the noise was dampened by the earplugs – Diane managing to get a couple of extra pairs – as she said, they were to help her sleep with my snoring – lovely.
It was a warm humid day and little sun so we were hopeful of seeing some but probably not a lot of alligators – the pilot found a couple of them on the surface and we happily snapped away at them, and then at more wildlife around – mainly birds – but equally enjoyable was the experience of riding in one of these shallow-drafted craft, skimming along the water and over the reeds.

Just breaking the surface to observe what is going on...

...still keeping an eye on us all

these guys were in the enclosure.... was this one

The little rain that fell was if no consequence.
After that experience and a coffee we went to see the other exhibits and to actually handle a “baby” (small) alligator – it was after all 2½ years old and could cause a nasty bite.

Not too dangerous - especially with it's mouth taped close...

...safely behind an enclosure

seeking shade

We had seen our fill of locals for a while – at least this variety of locals; Diane had in her investigations of things around the area, found a shopping mall which including factory outlets – I knew that she couldn’t get too much before she needed to start chucking other things out – our luggage limit wouldn’t allow too much more.

She found a Vera Bradley outlet and the same style of carry-on bag that Sam had purchased a couple of years ago and also a matching handbag – we could accommodate those – both within the luggage and the budget.

The spoils of the battle with the mall

With so many man-made and natural waterways around we thought that we really should take a tour of them as far as we could – it also afforded us a waterside view of how the other half live (whilst they were here).
For just $25 each we were able to use the hop-on-hop-off water taxi which took us as far south as Hollywood (Florida); into the eastern area of Fort Lauderdale and north to Wilton Manors.

The larger boat is a carrier - partly submerging to allow around 10-15 other
boats into the carrying area

The beach area was quite perfect; the waves did come up but were mainly flat

Down at Margaritaville with sunshine and wave machine to ride the surf a bit
more easily

The running commentary of the houses that we passed as well as the boats yachts mega-rich yachts that we were shown was a bit unbelievable – there was just so much money around this area, and you could tell that a lot was also spent on just being able to say where you lived and the size of the house and the boat.

This is listed at a cool $3,695,000 - not sure if that includes the boat

Just a lazy $49 million will get you into this one...

...and this a bit more for this at $100 million
Still deciding on which one we prefer

Roundly agreed as an ugly boat, but I think we would take it at the right price
This was originally owned by Johnny Depp but now it is called home by JK Rowling

We also found out that a lot of the large boats are being moved before the hurricane season starts which is generally from June to September – even the cruise liners do not come here during that period; a good point for us to remember for future visits.

at the Irish pub and the Guinness was as good as we have had anywhere
There is no doubt in our minds that we would love to come back here; we have enjoyed the hotel and all of its facilities (maybe we didn’t get to use the gym, but it was there in case we got silly enough to want to work out), but the hot tubs were very nice; the suite was great and the location was just about perfect; and that is before we think about the sports bars.

Diane was extremely happy after a victory at Fusball

We have managed to work on the tans without any effort; we have walked a bit more and just had a good time.

All of those things had to come to an end and so we had to leave on Thursday – early again -  but without any hassles – we found our way back to the airport, which looks lovely in the daylight; checked the bags in and this time with no flight delays we were off and in Dallas on time and in daylight – time for the last part of this trip to commence…

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