Tinder and Theme Parks: That Time I Spent 3-Full Weeks in Florida

Lately, I’ve been taking you on a few trips down memory lane. Little by little, I’ve shared how my journey as a perpetual traveler started. This post continues to shed some light on what my travels were like in the early days of my career.

This time, I would like to take you back to the time I spent in 3 weeks in Florida, to this day, it is still the longest I’ve spent in one place. The year was 2016, and I’d just recently recommitted to being a full-time traveler. In fact, this trip took place in the fall of 2016, and I had dropped out of school and began traveling full-time in the spring of the same year.

Let me give you some more context; I began my travels through eastern Europe after my studies in Malta. It all started with a trip to Kazakhstan. From there, instead of returning to school for my second semester, I continued to explore Eastern Europe through the spring and summer. This travel stint ended in Spain, shortly after my birthday. Spain was my last European destination, before flying off to North America for the fall.

So, I spent the earlier half of 2016 traveling through Eastern Europe and spent my birthday in Vienna (this was the year before the first Heuereka) and then went to Valencia to take part in La Tomatina before flying to America.

I proudly fought for the freedom of expression in El Buñol.

La Tomatina sidetrack

If you haven’t heard, La Tomatina is a festival that takes place in Spain, in the little town of Buñol, Valencia. During the festival, everyone involved throws tomatoes at each other, taking part in a massive tomato fight, and it’s all purely recreational.

Since 1945, it has been held on the last Wednesday of August (conveniently, right after my birthday), during a full week of festivities that take place in Buñol. I was actually planning to attend the Tomatina this year after Heuereka, but for obvious reasons, it’s been canceled. Maybe we can make it happen next year, after Heuereka 2021.

Anyways, I spent a few days in Valencia during the festival and fully participated in La Tomatina. There was a pretty colossal pre- and post-party as well, and I was there for all of it. Actually, the post-party I went to was pretty legendary, so much so, that it became a yearly tradition after the year I was there. It’s a big foam party that turns into a crazy after-party. – Pretty epic, I was really looking forward to returning this year for the 5th edition.

Valencia – Foam-bearded at beginning of last night which ended at 8 am this morning. I like Spain just for going out late and eating churros as a pre-sleep breakfast Tomatina pre-party.

Moving on, during my short stay in Valencia, I made friends with two girls from Australia… or was it New Zealand…? – one of the two. 🙈

Getting tipsy on Sangria at 8.30 am, preparing for the fight that starts in 2 and a half hours. 150 tons of tomatoes waiting to be squashed by over 20.000 people.

Either way, we stuck together for most of the festival. We partied and enjoyed the festival together, even throwing tomatoes at each other during the fight. Oh yeah, before the tomato battle takes place, there is a tradition called Palo Jabon. It is basically the initiation ceremony for the tomato fight, and it is a pretty outrageous show. There is a huge, greased-up pole, and people rush to climb it.

The aim of the spectacle is for someone to reach a leg of Jamon Serrano that sits at the top. It’s pretty tricky, the pole is covered with greasy soap, and it gets super slippery. People trample and climb all over each other to get to the top. — We watched the whole thing and it looked like great fun, but we didn’t dare attempt going through that part of the crowd. When someone eventually reaches the top and takes the ham, they ring a bell, which signals the official start of the fight.

At this point, six huge trucks begin to drive through the area unloading about 150 tonnes of tomatoes; everyone goes wild pretty quickly. Keep in mind that there are usually just over 20 thousand people attending the festival, so things get super rowdy and messy- FAST. We really enjoyed being on the streets during the fight, but if you have a bit more money, you can drive on the tomato vans. From there, you are basically protected from the crowd, but you have a perfect aim to get everyone.

The inhabitants also enjoy the fun by emptying buckets full of water on the participants corralled within the narrow streets.

Then, exactly one hour later, another signal goes off, announcing the end of the fight. By this point, not only us, but everyone else, even the entire plaza and the streets were all tinted entirely red. Everyone and everything is fully covered in tomato juice; there was even a small river of tomato juice flowing through the gutters.

Pretty intense, but great fun. I can recommend doing this at least once in your life.

After the fight, cleaning staff from the municipality begin the clean up almost immediately, and pretty much every young person at the festivals heads to the after-party.

And another party night at the grand after-party.

It was super fun, and I definitely want to repeat the experience at some point. Next time, I’ve even considered chartering my own tomato wagon – the Heuereka wagon! Maybe next year after my birthday.

So, I partied pretty hard at the after-party and headed straight to Barcelona right after. I took the high-speed training from Valencia to Barcelona and had one day to enjoy the city. I remember visiting the port, but the rest is kind of a blur.

Barcelona – Enjoying my last afternoon in Europe for a while.

Time for a change of scenery, I mean, continent 🥳

As you may know, at this point in my life, I had only been to North America 2 times before. I had already traveled extensively through eastern and southern Europe, but I had not really dedicated much time to discover the Americas. So, I decided it was time for a change of scenery and booked a pretty long trip to North America.

It all started when my friend Patrick invited me to visit him in Canada in the fall of 2016. I said yes, and took the opportunity to make it a more extended trip and include the United States in my visit.

It’s good to have international friends. You see, my good friend Paul has a lovely condo in St. Pete’s Florida, and he invited me to spend some time there while he was away traveling through Europe. I think he was around Malta at the time exploring places I’d recommended.

So, I had a pretty good itinerary. First, I would spend three weeks in Florida, a state I’d never been to, and then I would spend almost three more weeks traveling through two of the main provinces of Canada. The whole trip was pretty awesome.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that my first time in the U.S. was back in 2012 when I traveled to New York with my uncle and my brother. The second visit was in the dead of winter of 2014, during a 3-week conference tour around the east coast. This was right before traveling to South America for the first time.

So, I hadn’t really seen much of the country, and I had never been to Florida, or anywhere south of New York for that matter, so I was really looking forward to seeing something completely different.

So, from Barcelona, I flew direct to Miami in the first week of September.

Sala Vip Lounge Barcelona Terminal 1 – Off to America

Welcome to Miami, Bienvenido a Miami

When I landed in Miami, I had a car rented right away. It was a sweet Ford Mustang, not a Camaro, just a typical Mustang, but I was still happy it was to be my ride for the next week.

Aventura Mall – My new toy for the next week in Florida. A Ford Mustang Convertible from Sixt for just 40$ daily. Having already much fun cruising around the Sunshine State

Since I arrived early in the morning, I used the day to drive up and down the east coast of the state. I made it all the way to West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, stopping at some beautiful beaches along the way.

Ft. Lauderdale Beach – Cruising along the beaches

West Palm Beach – Time for some beach

On the way back down to Miami, I stopped at one of the largest malls in North Ameria, I wanted to see what all the fuzz was about.

3rd biggest mall in the U.S. Still didn’t find what I need.

During my first days in Miami, I had pretty much the same program I had when I visited Miami with Dad last year – just on a very different budget.

I stayed in Miami Beach and explored the area, but instead of staying at the W, I lodged in a 12-bed hostel room, paying between 40-60 dollars a night – and back then, this was a lot.

South Beach, Miami – I’m in Miami (Bitch!)

South Point Park – Views of downtown Miami

I visited Little Havana, Downtown Miami, South Beach, and everything in between.

In downtown Miami.

Calle 8 – Little Havana – I would prefer the real Havana, actually…

One of the nights, I went to a pub crawl with people from the hotel. I can recall this night because we went to Club Fifty Brickell; there each drink, even water or soda, cost over 20 dollars. It was a super expensive and posh club at the top of a massive skyscraper in Brickell. It was funny, we were able to get in without paying because of the pub crawl, but no one got anything to drink while there because it was hilariously overpriced.😅😂

Club Fifty Brickell , Miami – Great dance club on the 50th floor in Miami Downtown with swimming pool and great views. And great prices – 40$ for a little Gin Tonic 😉

My first road-trip from South Beach to Key West

After doing all the typical tourist things in Miami, I made plans to drive down to the Florida Keys. Just like I did with my dad after our Caribbean Cruise, but again, on a much more limited budget.

Florida City Highway – Off to the Keys

I met a guy at the hostel I was staying at in Miami. He was from Key West, and he was looking to go home. So I offered to drive him down, and we had a beautiful drive down to Keys, my first time ever in Key West.

The Florida Keys – I picked up a local who shows me all the area. Great spot on earth

Key Largo – Life is good

Before making it all the way to Key West, we made a little detour to see some water channels that have stunning mansions all along the water. From there, we continued to my new friend’s home. After getting him there, we had lunch and a few beers before I continued the rest of the way to The Keys solo.

Snappers Waterfront Bar And Grill. Key – Time for some lunch

I spent 3 nights in key west and stayed in two different places, both were really nice. The first was this hostel:

Key West – Staying at this great place for the night. Never took a bath in such warm salt water before.

And then I moved to spend a few nights at the Pelican Resort in Key West. The place was stunning, check it out:

The Pelican Key Largo – It’s hurricane season, but apart from some rain the weather has been very pleasant so far -)

The Pelican Key Largo Cottages

The Pelican A good swim to start the day

During my time there, I went on a boat ride and got to do some parasailing. I also got my jet-skiing license and enjoyed some other watersports.

Getting the license to operate a jet ski -D

Just snorkeled at the 3rd biggest barrier reef of the world -)

Coral Reef – Key West – The first time I did both parasailing and jet-skiing. So much fun. Saw a huge manta ray from 20m above -)

Almost in Cuba. I would love to go back there…

However, the fondest memories of my time there are the beach sunsets I watched while having a beer at the bar.

Sunset at the southernmost point of Continental US

Mallory Square Sunset Celebration – really stunning sunsets

From Key West to St. Petes… Through the Everglades

After spending a few days in Key West, and I began to make my way north towards St. Petes. I planned a stop to check out the Everglades National Park. If you don’t already know, it is a 1.5-million-acre wetland preserve on the southernmost tip of Florida.

Discovering the Everglades

It is often compared to a grassy, slow-moving river, and it is made up of coastal mangroves, sawgrass marshes, and Pine Flatwoods. There are hundreds of rare animal species living in the ecosystem.

I was excited to see this kind of nature for the first time, so I took a tour that took me pretty deep into the Everglades Park. I went on a boat tour – on a traditional boat – not the typical airboat most everglades tours take you on.

Flamingo Marina

The boat ride was pretty long, but I was super lucky, we got to see some manatees, a family of them were hanging out near the harbor. We also went to see some pretty big alligators; this was my first time seeing one in such close proximity, and in the wild, it was awesome.

Finally seeing a big croc

After my stop in the Everglades, I continued the drive through the national park, all the way to Naples. I drove through Fort Mayers and spent the night at a hotel before continuing the journey early the next morning. That day, I finally arrived in St. Pete’s, my home for the next few weeks.

Everglades Driving into the sun for over an hour is not that much fun for the eyes, but common at these straight westward roads…

Settling in St. Petes

Paul’s home was in a luxury condominium complex in Isla Del Sol, a tiny island connected to St. Pete’s by a bridge.

Sunshine Skyway Bridge – Over the long bridge straight to my new home for the next 3 weeks.

Saint Petersburg – Approved to spend the longest time in one place this year in here.

The complex is a Yacht and Country Club, and it lies between the southern tip of St. Petersburg and St. Pete Beach. The amenities include an 18-hole golf course, some nine clay tennis courts, fabulous dining facilities, a private fitness center, and a beautiful pool and hot tub overlooking the bay… hard life, am I right?

After discovering what nice pool I have, I go swimming here every morning.

So, this incredible place would be my home base for two weeks. I would stay in the apartment for a few days and then drive around the state to see all the best things it had to offer.

My beach for the next 3 weeks. Chilled place.

A few days after arriving in Tampa, I had to give my car back. So I stocked up on groceries to make sure I could survive a few days before picking up my next car.

Walmart St. Petes – Stocking supplies for the Hurricane season. Well, I’ll also try to survive a few days in the U.S. without a car. Too sad I have to give back my Ford Mustang tonight.

I used my time wisely during my stay in St. Pete’s. I worked a lot and would drive around to see the city and get food; I even cooked a meal or two myself!

Palma Del Mar – The busiest week since the inception of Staatenlos with over 20 coaching calls. I couldn’t really enjoy so far the beauty of my condo here.

I guess I should tell you a little more about the area in case you don’t already know.

Let me tell you a bit more about St. Petes. For starters, the city is located at the base of the Tampa Bay peninsula in Pinellas County, Florida. The downtown area can be characterized as an art and entertainment destination. You’ll have no trouble finding a variety of arts and crafts stores, galleries, and museums, along with hipster cafes and boutique food shops all within a couple of blocks of the Tampa Bay waterfront.

Maybe you already recognized it, but I got a new phone. Nexus 5X using Google Fi working excellent so far, also for selfies. Much better coverage than even AT&T.

As far as Tampa goes, you should know that it is actually the largest city in West Central Florida and the third-largest city in Florida, after Miami and Jacksonville. The port of this bay is the largest in the state, near downtown. Today, Tampa is part of the metropolitan area most commonly known as the “Tampa Bay Area”. The area encompasses Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater.

Clearwater Beach @ Pier 60 – After a week mainly dedicated for work, this one will be dedicated for fun and relaxation -)

Personally, I found St. Petes to have a more subdued social atmosphere than its larger cousin, Tampa. I really felt like there were not many people around, even in downtown, which is supposed to be the entertainment hub. I guess part of the problem was that I didn’t know anyone in the town. So, being the problem solver that I am, I used Tinder to “socialize” and make some new friends.

Fort De Soto Beach Park – Wow. This epic beach is just 10km from my apartment. I guess I will come here every day now -)

Beautiful sunset at the beach

Palma del Mar – Could imagine having my villa here as well

Upham Beach – Stunning sunset at the beach yesterday -)

Vamos a la playa

Tinder sidetrack

Actually, I have two pretty good tinder stories from my time there; and I think it’s time for Paul to learn what really happened to his furniture finally. So, it’s time I let him in on the secrets I’ve kept for so long. 😉

The first story is what I call a tinder pyramid scam date. Obviously, I met the girl online, and during our chats, she invited me to dinner at a really fancy place. I said yes, and she came to pick me up at the apartment and drove us to the restaurant. Little did I know that there was an event going on at the place, and she was actually one of the speakers of the event. I had NO idea about any of this; she didn’t mention it at all. Imagine my surprise when we arrive at this place for this pyramid scheme presentation.

We watched as presenters went, and when it was her turn to speak, she presented her well-thought-out pyramid scam and then proceeded to try and get me to sign up, I was truly baffled. Needless to say that this wasn’t the coolest first date I’ve ever had, but still, she was pretty hot, and I had an ok time talking to her after the presentation. Unfortunately, even then, she was there with all of her friends, her mom, and some more family – and they all wanted me to sign up for their scheme. 🤦‍♂️🙅‍♂️

The second story is a bit less ridiculous and a bit juicier.

I won’t go into too much detail, being a gentleman and all, but the time has come for Paul to finally learn what happened to the lounger he had on his balcony.

I had a tinder date that claimed she was a good cook, so I had her over to make dinner and prove it. She actually turned out to be a fantastic chef; she made homemade lasagna, and after a delicious dinner, we decided to go “relax” on the lounger.

At some point, and totally out of nowhere, the lounger completely broke down into pieces. I think we were simply too heavy (even though she wasn’t actually heavy at all, and neither was I back then). But still, somehow, the lounger just gave out and crumbled beneath us. I guess it wasn’t made for two people to relax.

Leftovers of my first Tinder date in America. I will live on this night for quite long.

Those are the two dates I remember from that time, I’m pretty sure I had more, but the real highlights of my time in Florida were actually the excursions I made all around the state.

During the days I would spend at the apartment, I took some time to explore St. Petes and Tampa. I don’t remember the minutia, all I can say is that I discovered most of the nooks and corners of the cities. I had a lovely time going for meals and enjoying the beaches nearby, but other than that, there is not much detail to tell. Some beautiful beaches nearby, but I don’t really remember much of the details.

Fort De Soto Beach Park – You have even dolphins coming to the beach here .

Sunsets on sunsets

Nice afternoon at the beach

Right now, all I can remember are the highlights. My excursions to Orlando, visiting all the theme parks, and also visiting Cape Canaveral.

Cape Canaveral… the Space Coast of Florida

Before checking out the theme parks near Orlando, I visited Cape Canaveral, a city cape in the center of Florida, on the Atlantic coast. The city is most famous for being the home of America’s launch pad, the Kennedy Space Center.

I visited the Space Center, and I would highly recommend the experience if you’re ever in the area.

The John F. Kennedy Space Center is one of ten National Aeronautics and Space Administration field centers in the country. Since December 1968, KSC has been NASA’s primary launch center for human spaceflight.

Famous Launch operations for the Apollo, Skylab, and Space Shuttle programs were carried out from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39 and managed by KSC. Starting with the fourth Gemini mission, the NASA launch control center in Florida began handing off control of the vehicle to the Mission Control Center in Houston (“Huston we have a problem”), shortly after liftoff; in prior missions, it held control throughout the entire mission.

NASA – Cape Canaveral FL – Goodbye, world. Governments hassle me too much. I will fly to Mars now to wage private city wars with Elon Musk.

There are about 700 facilities and buildings grouped across the center’s 144,000 acres. Among these is the visitor complex, which is where I took this photo: (PICTURE)

The visitor center at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center features multiple exhibits and displays, historic spacecraft and memorabilia, shows, IMAX movies, and a range of bus tours of the spaceport; they even have a simulated ride into space.

The center also provides astronaut training simulations, including a multi-axial chair and Mars Base simulator. There are also presentations from a veteran NASA astronaut. With your entry ticket, you also get access to a bus tour that takes you to the separate Apollo/Saturn V Center.

Future doesn’t belong to the faint hearted, it is for the brave!

The whole KCS complex is next to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), and they work closely together to share resources, they even own facilities on each other’s properties. It is no wonder the area and its nearby islands are part of a region known as the Space Coast.

While in the area, I also visited Port Canaveral, one of the busiest cruise ports in the world, and the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse.

As you know, I always enjoy being in places that are rich with history, and for that, Cape Canaveral was great. However, as you also know, I’m a big kid at heart, so to me, the most memorable parts of my time in Florida were, in fact, the theme parks. 🤩

Before starting the tour of all the attractions near Orlando, I made sure to pick up another car. Sixt hooked me up and gave me this sweet upgrade for a very reasonable price.

Finally got a car again. Sixt upgraded me to a BMW 328 Limousine. Paying 25€ a day/

Letting my inner child take over at Disney and Universal

During my visit to Orlando, I stayed a few nights in a hotel to be able to enjoy several of the theme parks in the area. I think I actually made two trips to Orlando, don’t really remember the details. All in all, I went to all four Disney theme parks and Universal Studios, and I loved it all!

I can’t give you many specifics about what I did in each park, all I can say is that the nerd in me had a lot of fun. I went on all the main attractions and the more delightful rides, those geared more toward adults. It was fantastic.

You are probably aware that Disney World is a MASSIVE entertainment complex in Florida. What you probably don’t know is that the property covers nearly 25,000 acres (only half of that land is actually used). Disney has four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios – MGM, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom) – all of which I visited.

But that’s not all; it also has two water parks, 27 themed resort hotels, nine non-Disney hotels, several golf courses, a camping resort, and other entertainment venues, including the outdoor shopping center Disney Springs.

So believe me when I say, there was A LOT to see.

So let me start by telling you about the most unique of the theme parks, the Animal Kingdom. I really enjoyed this park; it was really great to be able to see so many different animals from very close up.

All of my life, I have loved going to the zoo and seeing all the different kinds of species. Moreover, at this specific point in my life, I had yet to travel through Africa on a Safari or explore untamed jungles. So, seeing all these animals there, many for the first time, was excellent. Not to mention the zoological theme park itself was definitely awe-inspiring.

After all, it is the largest theme park of its kind in the world, covering 580 acres. The park opened on Earth Day, April 22, 1998, and was the fourth theme park built at the Disney resort. The park is dedicated and themed entirely around the natural environment and animal conservation. Being a theme park, it still features traditional attractions while also exhibiting hundreds of species of live animals in their “natural” habitats.

I should note that due to these sensitive conditions, unique designs and provisions were incorporated throughout the park to protect the animals. For instance, the park is located on the western edge of the resort, isolated from the other theme parks and properties. This is done to minimize external disruptions to the animals.

This is the park’s most iconic landmark, the Tree of Life. A 145-foot-tall, 50-foot-wide artificial baobab tree. The park is the second-most-visited at Walt Disney World Resort, behind the Magic Kingdom.

Moreover, the park’s nighttime show also features no fireworks, unlike all the other parks. This is done to avoid disturbing the animals. This park is ranked third-most-visited theme park in North America and sixth-most-visited theme park in the world. In the Disney World resort, the Animal Kingdom is the second most visited park after the Magic Kingdom.

The Magic Kingdom is the most popular theme park of the bunch, it is often recognized by the iconic Cinderella’s Castle, and it is probably the park you think of when I say Disney World.

This park was the first to open, back in the fall of 1971. Its layout and attractions are based on Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, and are entirely dedicated to fairy tales and Disney characters.

Feeling like a kid again – Disneys Magic Kingdom

This theme park is most famous for the younger kiddies. However, I still managed to really enjoy some of the attractions. My favorite was Cinderella’s enchanted castle ride, super cool, even if you’re an adult.

It is easy to get wrapped up in the magic of it all and feel like a kid again. Walking around, there is so much detail in everything. It is no wonder why this park has been the most-visited theme park in North America for the past 20 years.

I also visited Epcot; this park was Inspired by an unrealized vision developed by Walt Disney. The park opened in the fall of 1982, as EPCOT Center, and was the second of the four theme parks built at Walt Disney World.

Fun Fact: It was initially devised by Walt Disney himself, as an experimental planned community that would serve as a center for American innovation and urban living. The idea included an urban city center, residential areas, churches, schools, and a series of mass transportation systems that would connect the entire community. Sadly, after Disney’s death in 1966, the “EPCOT” concept was abandoned. In the 1970s, the company decided to turn the project into a second theme park to supplement the Magic Kingdom.

The new park maintained the idea of showcasing modern innovation and enterprise through avant-garde edutainment (educational entertainment) attractions, as well as the addition of a world nation’s exposition. Everything was featured in two sections: Future World and World Showcase.

Epcot – Great Fireworks

Today, the theme park spans across 305 acres, more than twice the size of the Magic Kingdom. Epcot’s theme is focused on the celebration of human achievement, namely technological innovation and international culture.

This park was also entertaining, but to be honest, it wasn’t my favorite. Also, this is probably a good time to mention that all the parks are incredibly overpriced. Check it out:

They call it Bratwurst and charge 6$ for it…

The next theme park was also pretty cool, although its non-Disney counterpart was way better. I’m Referring to Disney’ s-MGM and Universal Studios. Let’s start with MGM, aka Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

This theme park opened in the spring of 1989, as Disney-MGM Studios, and was the third park to be built at Walt Disney World. It spans 135 acres, and it’s dedicated to imagined worlds from film, television, music, and theatre, drawing inspiration from the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Disney – Still crowded, but quite comfortable without huge lines visiting here in September.

It was initially developed as both a theme park inspired by show business and an operating production studio, with active film and television production services. Construction on the combined park and studio began in 1987, and it was quite accelerated when the similarly-themed Universal Studios Florida began to be built just a few miles away.

I really enjoyed the movie-themed attractions of the Hollywood studios, but if I’m being candid, I actually loved Universal Studios much more. In particular, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter area.

Universal Studios is a theme park and production studio, which also started with its parent studio in California, Universal Studios Hollywood. The park in Florida opened in the summer of 1990, and its theme is the entertainment industry, with a focus on movies and television, just like its Disney counterpart.

For me, Universal was much better, but it may be all because of their Harry Potter world (I’ll tell you more about that in a moment).

For starters, this park is also massive; it has eight themed areas laid out surrounding a large lagoon that stands in the center. If you want to geek out, the eight areas, clockwise from the entrance, are Production Central, New York City, San Francisco, London/Diagon Alley, World Expo, Springfield, Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone and Hollywood.

Each area has its own set of theme-appropriate rides, shows, amusement park attractions, character appearances, food stances, souvenir stores, and all that jazz.

For me, the Harry Potter area was the highlight of the visit. Even though I loved riding through some other iconic movie scenes, finally being able to be at Hogwarts was the absolute best.
The whole area adapts elements of the story, recreating Hogwarts, Diagon Alley, and Kings Cross.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – #nerdgasm.

The area also has a re-creation of Hogsmeade with a bunch of gift shops and restaurants from the novels such as Honeydukes, Ollivanders, the Three Broomsticks, and the Hog’s Head, to name a few.

There was also a full-scale working replica of the Hogwarts Express, which takes you between different areas of the park. Even though everything looked quite artificial, the experience was totally cool, and I was giddy as a child as I walked through Diagon Alley. The whole experience was a huge nerdgasm. 🤓😅

On My way to King’s Cross

Oh, and I almost forgot, I was there the first week of October, so the park was turned into Halloween Horror Nights. This event takes place at nighttime during the month of October. The parks are business as usual during the day, and at night they transition into a haunted park. The main features are haunted houses, scare zones, and live entertainment.

Keep in mind that Horror Nights are meant for a more mature audience, and they fully commit to incorporating a fear factor.

You should know that when I was a child, I was actually quite scared of horror movies and roller coaster rides at amusement parks. So when I found out that Horror Nights was happening, I took the opportunity to do something about my fears. I went all in and entered a bunch of mazes, haunted houses, and the scariest rides into horror film scenes.

It was super intense, but that is also part of what made it so cool. They had super intricate setups, and the actors were committed to frighten the living @!#$ out of you. Even the Harry Potter world was in full-fledged Halloween mode – it was really cool.

Since then, I love this kind of stuff, and I would definitely like to go back!

Palma del mar – Already my last day on Isla del Sol. Tomorrow flying into a very new country for me.

Pass-A-Grille Beach – I ll miss the evenings on this beach

Goodbye, Isla del Sol. Had 3 awesome weeks here. Will miss this beautiful Pool area.

In conclusion, I’m a massive fan of this type of entertainment; I could have easily gone to these parks every single day and not been bored. After three short weeks, my time in Florida was up, and before I knew it, I was headed north to experience a Canadian fall. The timing of it all was perfect; a hurricane hit Florida pretty hard shortly after I left.

September/October is hurricane season in Florida, and there were no hurricanes while I was there, just a few showers here and there, but thankfully, no surprise storms.

All in all, I was really pleased with my time in Florida. I would definitely visit again in the future when I have a bit more time to relax and stay in one place.

As it stands at the moment, I’m actually banned from entering the U.S. because I’ve been to seven of the eight black-listed countries by their State Department. Nothing a simple visa application can’t fix, so I’ll soon be able to enter The States again. I am looking forward to that time; there is still so much more to explore in Florida and all of the other states.