What we saw, heard, felt, smelled and tasted on our winter vacation


I don’t know about anyone you guys, but it takes me forever to get back on schedule after going on vacation. It might help if I didn’t always take a gazillion pictures which I then have to sort through (tossing most), apply Photoshop magic to the rest, and only then make available to those who have expressed an interest.

Fear not; if you don’t want to see any more vacation pictures, we’re done! If you do want more, I’m including links to the albums on Flickr.

  • Here are about 40 shots of central Florida scenery
  • Here are about 80 shots we took at Universal, which is mostly Harry Potter stuff, but has a few shots of the Blues Brothers Show and other areas
  • Here are about 60 shots from Disney World

So. Here’s where I use my words to try to convey the sensory delights of Florida. Aside from things to see (some of which are captured in my photo albums), there are also things to hear, feel, smell, and taste.


  • Tired red flowers…and glorious red flowers (like those pictured above)
  • Chartreuse and red foliage
  • Palms, both tall and bushy
  • The model timeshare unit they showed us, with decor from this century…unlike the unit we stayed in.
  • Faux aged wood and stone at the pristine theme parks
  • Pretend settings in general: a New York street with the Blues Brothers (or reasonable facsimiles thereof); Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade; a supposed antiquities museum where you can buy faux Egyptian goods; Thunder Mountain “mine train” which is really a roller coaster
  • So many swimming pools!
  • A long, long beach
  • Dunes
  • Little black-eyed Susans nestled in the sand
  • Gray skies
  • Bright sun


  • The drunk guy in the airport elevator. Our first clue to his inebriation was his slow, overly dramatic reaction to the request that he move over a bit so our luggage cart would fit. Then he yelled at us to come back so he could continue fighting with us.
  • A “90-minute” time share pitch that lasted more like 3 hours; the snappily dressed young men—Faisal and Neph—who faked friendliness and interest in us so they could sell us a time share at Westgate Lakes. It didn’t work.
  • Traffic on the interstate
  • The loudest housekeeping staff ever, banging and shouting at 8 a.m.
  • Improbably cheerful confectionary shop workers
  • Rolling waves at Cocoa Beach


  • Fighting strong current on the lake (in a paddleboat)
  • Aluminum-framed sliding glass doors to the screened balcony. So hard to open and close!
  • Warm paraffin during a pedicure
  • The scrape of exfoliating scrub on my legs
  • Misty drizzle
  • Gully washing rain
  • Cold water and the grit of drying sand as you rub it off your feet
  • Soft sand
  • The overhead scorch of the dragon’s breath at Gringotts
  • Chilly, misty breezes
  • Warm sun
  • The scary elevator that arrived on the top floor, bounced and banged around for several excruciatingly long seconds before finally opening its doors and allowing escape
  • Bicycling on twisting, bewildering “roads” around the resort


  • The drunk guy in the airport elevator. Seriously, the alcohol emanated from his pores!
  • Asphalt
  • The ocean
  • Warm paraffin during a pedicure
  • Butterbeer (a butterscotch soda) at Harry Potter world/ Universal Studios


  • Fat Tire amber ale – strong, with a clean finish
  • A lovely white bordeaux and the best spinach goat cheese quiche ever at Le Cafe de Paris in Orlando
  • Cucumber-lemon water
  • Fortescue’s sticky toffee pudding ice cream: caramel deliciousness
  • Potato leek soup at Three Broomsticks: smooth and mildly aromatic
  • Spring green salad with red and golden beets, walnuts, chèvre, dried fruit and apples
  • Apple caramel cheesecake
  • Fizzing Whizbees, which are much like having a milky chocolate soda in solid form
  • Chocolate Frogs, which actually taste only faintly of chocolate, but at least included a trading card of Rowena Ravenclaw
  • Grateful Dead wine, berry-flavored and full-bodied, with some tannin

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