An interview on Two Fat Expats – holidays in Florida

I was interviewed the other day by blogger extraordinaire Kirsty Rice for her series Two Fat Expats. The interview was about the best holidays we have had with our children. We have done quite a few of those (and just returned from five fabulous days in Cape Town – a report and pictures to follow), but the ones that we always enjoy the most just through sheer ease and range of things to do is Florida.

Beautiful Clearwater beach, Florida.

Beautiful Clearwater beach, Florida.

I think if you can find a holiday where you DO things as a family then generally you all enjoy it more. I am not one to lounge on a beach while the children are in a kids club – alhough I totally appreciate for some people this is the way to go.

Anyway have a listen and let me know what you think – and tell me what your favourite holiday is/has been with your kids!

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Show your world: The Beautiful Florida Keys

We’ve just returned from two weeks in Florida and I’m still suffering the affect of jet-lag (so apologies for any mistakes in this post – my brain and my fingers aren’t joining too well at the moment). It was a wonderful, fun-filled week in the theme parks followed by a slowed-down relaxing few days by the water on Key Islamorada. Just the perfect anecdote to all that roller-coastering and non-stop walking in the blistering heat. I can’t recommend Islamorada highly enough, it really was a beautiful, calming and suprisingly un-commercialised place.

La Jolla beach motel, Key Islamorada

La Jolla beach motel, Key Islamorada

We stayed in a small, up-dated 1950’s motel called La Jolla right on the water front and from the moment we got there we were entranced by the wildlife in and around the sea surrounding the site. Nurse sharks, sting ray, flocks of parrot fish, jacks, groupers, snapper and many, many more types of fish swam around in front of the dock where we would sit swinging our feet out over the crystal clear water. Pelicans. seagulls and other birds came by for a visit, while in the trees above huge iguanas slept peacefully in the warm sun.

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But best of all, in the early misty light of the day, coffee in hand, we watched first manatees and later dolphins swim gracefully past our front door. The motel had kayaks free for guest use so once we knew roughly what time these beautiful creatures were due to visit we lay in wait, then grabbed a paddle at the first tell-tale sight of either the  bubbles emerging from the lolloping manatees or the distinctive blowing sound and v-shaped ripples of the dolphins. To kayak alongside these animals as they swam playfully past, below and away from us was a magical privilige.

Kayaking, La Jolla resort. Key Islamorada. Florida

Kayaking, La Jolla resort. Key Islamorada. Florida

Another highight of our stay were the evening sunsets – truely magnificent, whether at the end of a clear, blue day or on a moodier evening, when the dark clouds backdropped against the blood-red sky. The morning light, too, was breathtaking and even on one of those cloudy days the slate grey of the sky reflected in the water gave an eerie, other-worldy quality to the scene.

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As well as swimming, snorkelling, kayaking, sun-bathing, relaxing, beer-drinking and sunset-watching, we did manage a few trips during our stay in the keys – including right down to Mile 0 at Key West and on our last day, a memorable trip to the Everglades. But I think I’ll save those for another post!

This post is part the Show Your World series on Tiny Expat’s blog.

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My Travel Monkey

Beautiful Clearwater

I’m cheating a bit this morning and combining two events – photo 101’s theme of the day “moment and motion” and Tiny’s Expat’s weekly Show Your World. [edited to say: I have now added a third event: Monday Escapes]

Clearwater is on the Gulf coast of Florida, about two hour’s drive from Orlando. We visit Florida a lot – my husband’s only living relative, his brother, lives there so we try and get there as often as we can. But while we all enjoy the theme parks and the roller coasters, there is so much more to this beautiful state than just Disney and Orlando. One of the things we love more than anything is getting AWAY from the Brit tourists and discovering the “wilder” side of Florida. Of course Clearwater isn’t exactly wild, nor is it getting away, but it does have the most beautiful beach.

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Here my two daughters are running with pure joy across the cool, white sand – joy at the space and the feeling of the soft powder beneath their bare feet.

Later we walked on the splendid pier that stretches out into the sea, watching the fishermen being dive bombed by pelicans and the groups of friends and families waiting for the sun to go down. I managed to snap this picture of a seagull passing – looking, no doubt, for any tasty morsel dropped by bird or man.

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We’re going back to Florida soon, for one last trip before we head to South Africa. I can already feel the heat of the sun on my shoulders, hear the sounds of the children squealing in the swimming pool, taste the first beer as we salute the evening,  smell  the fried hash browns of the diner breakfasts, see the huge ocean and the bright sky. I can’t wait.

Have you been to Florida – and if so, have you managed to escape from the maddening crowds? Do you have any suggestions for special places to visit?

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My Travel Monkey