We arrived in Miami full of excitement for the next few weeks. Firstly, it was a return ‘home’ for Ez who spent a year living there during her University days attending the University of Miami. Secondly, it was the fact that a day after we arrived some of our very best friends (the Boscos) from Australia would be joining us for about 2 ½ weeks. Piper and Evie had been counting down the days (literally on a chart) until some of their best friends Zara and Elise would arrive. Piper and Zara have always been great friends while Evie and Elise until this stage were ‘friends by association’. We would change that though.
Piper and Evie – We have waited for this day for so long. The kidnappers haven’t let us see our mates all year. It’s game time now.
Straight off the plane the first 3 people spoke to me in Spanish as there is a huge Hispanic community in this part of the world. Not sure if that was normal or it was just that I look like a Diego (size of Maradona maybe??) We headed straight down to the Uni to relive the glory days for Ez and check out what it was all about. I half expected 3 kids to run to her calling mummy mummy but luckily it wasn’t to be.
The uni was very impressive, although I mostly marvelled at the fact that they had jumping fish and an alligator in the lake as well as a sporting store the size of Massachusetts (no idea how big that it, but it sounds impressive). Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t always kind to us in Miami but it was still steamy so we made the most of it. Highlights included:
- Beach time at the iconic art deco South beach (and less iconic north beach). As well as singing ‘A1A Beachfront Avenue’ like Vanilla Ice every time we drove on it.
- Chowing down on some good food. We ate some great Cuban food as well as giving an old favourite Shake Shack another run…or was it two runs? It’s a little awkward when you are welcomed by name.
- Trip around the everglades. This was special. Plenty of Alligators in their natural habitat while gliding on the back of an air boat. Felt like we were in Miami Vice.
Piper and Evie – It was weird. Every bar we walked past someone yelled out to mummy. Often saying things like ‘the thunder from down under is back’…whatever that means.
Next stop was just outside Orlando as it was the departure point for our Caribbean Cruise. That probably sounds more exotic than it is. We had a 3 night cruise to the Bahamas. I’ll be honest I’ve never been a cruiser (apart from a couple drunken work nights) but after the kids were so excited when we caught an overnight ferry to Croatia, I caved in and booked us 3 nights of luxury. Luxury in this instance translated to a quad share cabin on a Carnival cruise ship! Onboard, I was expecting more white trash than a napkin factory but was I pleasantly surprised. I do feel ripped off not having matching shirts though, as it seemed the order of the day. The kids had a lot a lot of fun…the adults even did too.
Piper and Evie – The kidnappers had promised us a Cruise all year, so finally we made it. I had envisaged something with a little more grandeur, not a remake of fairstar the funship from the 90’s. Anyway, we would make it work. Hopefully we won’t see them much.
What does family cruising on Carnival look like?
- Water slides, swimming pools and spas. You name it, our kids probably weed in it.
- I’ll give the food a pass mark. There was plenty. We ate in the restaurant every day and most meals were decent. A pizza here, and ice cream there and the kids were in heaven.
- Cocktails and dreams, without the dreams, plenty of cocks.
- High rolling in the casino. Well not exactly high rolling but the 2nd night we went back, my travelling companion was treated with a hello Andrew, here is a free drinks card for tonight.
- While the kids played in the Kids club, the adults played 80’s music trivia and tried to wrangle 4 people on a 2 person drinks package.
- A day exploring the Bahamas. We dined with the locals eating Conch (a shellfish of sorts). Everything was cool mon. In my head, I was speaking like a member of the Jamaican Bobsled team (stereotype Caribbean much?)
Piper and Evie – Kids club, Kids club, kids club! We had a brief escape from the kidnappers when they dropped us off here. New, young fun people to hang with. I wish our cabin was in here.
Off the cruise we had one day to recover before the mother of all 48 hours would be upon us. Halloween, Disney World and little Zara’s 5th birthday!
We were staying in the world’s largest timeshare in Orlando as we prepped for the big day. The gods had shone upon us in regards to Disney tickets with a friend from home (thanks JP) and a friend of a friend of the Bosco’s (Kathi) coming through with the goods scoring us some free tickets. Kathi was a Disney tragic (in the nicest possible way) who sorted our fast passes, booked us dinner with the princesses all in the name of Mickey. On a side note Piper, had always thought we were getting free entry as back in Australia, Nanny had challenged her to find a 4-leaf clover with the prize being Disney tickets. She found the clover. Thanks Nan.
Piper – It’s bollocks that Evie gets to go to Disney. She found jack shit. I do all the hard work and Cryey McCryalot gets to ride on my coat tails.
Day 1 EPCOT
- Getting my photo with Anna (out of Anna and Elsa fame). I’ve always had a thing for redheads and she did seem easy in the movie (she was going to marry Hans who she only just met!)
- Rides galore. Whatever we could go on we did. We even got through the line at the new Frozen Ever After ride with no meltdowns (I had been expecting one from Ez)
- Dinner with princesses. There were more princesses than legs day at the gym. The looks on our girl’s faces were priceless as one by one our table was visited by a princess – Belle, Cinderella, Ariel, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty. Evie would grab their hand as soon as they arrived and gaze into their eyes (we were hoping they would take her away for a couple days to give us a break).
Evie – I kept grabbing the princesses’ hands, hoping they would take me away from the kidnappers. Didn’t work, I would have to stay with the Evil Queen and Beast.
Day 2 Magic Kingdom
We backed up for more punishment the next day. During the Disney prelim, I had told Piper two things: 1. She could try fairy floss (cotton candy, although she says it with an American twang – carton candy) for the first time in her life (yes talk about deprivation) and; 2. she could tell us when she wanted to go home.
Highlights of day 2
- Finally working out how to get more fast passes to avoid the queues and ‘work’ the system.
- Heading straight to Space Mountain for a roller coaster ride through the dark and only a 5 minute wait time
- Meeting more princesses. Can you ever meet enough? The girls just loved asking them questions and talking to them.
- Rides galore x 2. Piper has gone from a timid little one to the ride daredevil. Her faves were the Barnstormer roller coaster and Splash Mountain. Evie went on her first ever roller coaster but wasn’t a big fan. She closed her eyes the whole time. She loved the Dumbo ride and those crazy tea cups that make adults feel sick.
- Watching some of our favourite characters sing and dance on stage. I think Ez was more excited than Piper and Evie. When Elsa sang Let It Go snow blew out of her hands, it was just like a scene from The Wolf Of Wall Street.
- Seeing many couples in matching shirts or random Disney gear. More twins than a IVF reunion.
- Night fireworks and shows…it was pretty special
Piper and Evie – WTF. Why have you been hiding this place from me. It is amazing. Every princess we spoke to we just asked them to take us away from the kidnappers.
PS – It was mid fireworks that Piper whispered in my ears ‘can we go home’ and yes, she did love the ‘carton candy’, it just melts on your tongue!
After two hectic days 4 adults and 4 children were well and truly spent! We left Magic Kingdom carrying 4 sleeping kids to the car, feeling like we had just been through Tough Mudder . We were in drastic need of a holiday. We gave ourselves a day to recover before boarding a flight for our next adventure, Mexico. More about that next time.