A Travellerspoint blog

May 27 Orlando to Bradenton

STEVE ADAMS FOR PRESIDENT

sunny 35 °C

Our evening arrival in Orlando meant that we didn't see the great location of the Embassy Suites Hotel (but this seemed to be the only good location downtown).

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After a very late and long breakfast, we walked around Lake Eola before heading down Interstate 4 towards Bradenton where our old friend Steve and his wife Diane live. Half-way along, we decided to give the I4 the miss and headed onto some back-roads which went through countryside that looked remarkably like some of the farming areas of Australia. One of the reasons for leaving the east coast was that tropical storm Beryl was starting to cause a bit of damage; so we ran away

3 hours later we were pulling into Steve and Diane's drive and just 7 hours of talking later, and a beautiful meal by Diane, we hit the sack

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Steve Adams ran for President of the United States in 2008 and still has the souvenir mug to prove it

Posted by kforge 18:44 Archived in USA Comments (0)

May 26 Fernandina Beach to St Augustine to Orlando

BUGGER OF A DAY

sunny 32 °C

We started the day well enough with a tour around the extravagant historic houses in Fernandina Beach and also a look at the oldest saloon in Florida, the Palace Saloon (1878)

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From there we drove the length of Amelia Island, across on Talbot Island and Little Talbot Island and took the 5-minute ferry ride ($5) across to Mayport

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The drive down to St Augustine was fine but this town really is worth missing unless you can somehow sneak into town just to look at the Castillo (probably difficult as tens of thousands of people drive here). Founded in 1565 by Spanish, it is the oldest continuously occupied European-established city and port in the continental United States but it's really nothing more than a theme-park except for the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument which was started in 1672

And so that was the start of a long drive through ugly towns down through Daytona to Edgewater. There was virtually no accommodation available because of the Memorial Day weekend, so at Edgewater we cut our losses and headed inland to Orlando since we were heading that way tomorrow to meet up with Steve Adams near Sarasota and a tropical storm was due across the coast that night. Booking.com does not seem to be updated that quickly in the USA as the first three "available" hotels we visited were full and that was just as well, as their downtown locations were in very ugly areas (as is a lot of Orlando). We very found a good but expensive room overlooking Lake Eola at the Embassy Suites ($179 + tax etc) in a lively downtown area and as luck would have it, a really good Thai restaurant, the Napasorn, just a 2-block walk away. The Thai restaurant completely saved the day

Posted by kforge 05:29 Archived in USA Comments (0)

May 25 Charleston to Savannah to Fernandina Beach, FL

SAVANNAH?

sunny 28 °C

An early start today as we wanted to walk around a big chunk of the historic district before it got too hot. Breakfast was at the Bull Street Gourmet and Market Cafe in King Street. From there, we walked down Meeting Street to the White Point Gardens at The Battery next to the Ashley River, and then back up Church Street. I may have seen a more amazing collection of historic houses but I can't think where. I went a bit mad with the photos, so take a look in the gallery

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The 107-mile drive to Savannah was easy and through rural swamp-lands. All I can say is, why do people reckon Savannah is nice? We arrived around 1pm with an acrid smell in the air from the close-by huge industrial plants. The hotel we stopped to look at (The Marriot Springhill Suites) was supposed to be in the centre of the historic district - I doubt that, but nevertheless the area was outstandingly ugly. So we decided to drive the few blocks to Johnson Square and walk around that area. It had a couple of old buildings but overall it was just a big town mess. So we left. Now I'm sure we must have missed the most important areas but it's just not a very nice place

I had read that Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island just over the border in Florida was an interesting place, and so it is. We found possibly the last room available on the island - a suite at the Harborfront Hampton Inn where Ken's Hilton Honors membership worked perfectly ($195 on a holiday weekend!). After dumping the bags in the room, we drove across the island (2 miles) to Main Beach and swam in a very warm Atlantic Ocean. And, of course, we had to round it all off with a beer at the Sandy Bottoms Beach Bar

After watching the sunset (and the large industrial plant) from the pier across from the hotel, we had a very good Mexican meal at Pablo's Cantina just a couple of blocks away

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Posted by kforge 03:56 Archived in USA Comments (0)

May 24 - North Myrtle Beach, SC to Charleston, SC

FROM THE RIDICULOUS TO THE SUBLIME

sunny 28 °C

An early morning walk on the beach with an element of surprise when I looked back at the size of the hotel. Then an easy drive down to Charleston. We only realised yesterday that the weekend coming up is Memorial Day long-weekend when thousands over people head to the coast. We had looked to see what was available on booking.com and made a note of the few that were still showing rooms in Charleston. The first one we stopped at, Days Inn on Meeting Street, was a motel with free parking, a pool, wi-fi, located right in the middle of the historic district - we got one of the last rooms at $150 a night; a bargain. After a long swim in the pool, we walked around the French Quarter to the Charleston Harbour - what a lovely town this is. We then had a couple of beers and a burger (black bean) in the Blind Tiger pub. I was drinking Sweetwater 420 Extra Pale Ale (from Atlanta) and Ken assisted the pub's standing as the leading Newcastle Brown seller in the state - a real bargain at $2.50 a small bottle

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Posted by kforge 03:52 Archived in USA Comments (0)

May 23 Kitty Hawk, NC to North Myrtle Beach, SC

MAN'S MOON-LANDING JUST 66 YEARS AFTER THE WRIGHT BROTHERS FIRST FLEW

sunny 28 °C

The Wright Brothers flew their gliders and then the 1st controlled, powered flight at Kill Devil Hills (usually incorrectly named as Kitty Hawk). We visited the Wright Brothers National Memorial first thing Wednesday morning (a bargain at $4 each) and spent a couple of hours wandering over the whole site. It's one of the biggest pieces of history and we loved it

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Just a few miles further on is Roanoke Island, the site of the first attempted British settlement in North America, sponsored by Sir Walter "there's no way I'm going to America" Raleigh. The "Cittie of Raleigh" was eventually settled in 1587. The colony floundered badly and then completely disappeared by 1590, although there are stories of European slaves attached to Native American tribes. The on-site Waterside Theatre company has been producing "The Last Colony" symphonic play for 75 years!

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From Roanoke, we had a glorious rural drive through wheat fields, tobacco fields and pine plantations (and dozens of scary bridges - thanks Ken). We stopped along the way at an old river-side settlement called Pamlico and then continued on to the wonderful Surfers Paradise look-alike of North Myrtle Beach. With great alacrity, we secured a 7th-floor apartment in the boutique 500-room Avista Resort where we spent a very pleasant hour or two watching the Atlantic Ocean as the sun went down ($115)

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Posted by kforge 15:34 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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