|Several months ago, the wife and I traveled to Florida and I forgot to write about it. This is me fixing that. We went to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios, snorkeled with manatees in Crystal River, spent time on the beach in Venice, and visited Big Cat Rescue in Tampa.
Harry Potter World was fairly amazing. I wasn't into the movies at first, but reading the books really got me hooked. The theme park was essentially a re-creation of several of the movie sets, complete with rides involving broomsticks and dragons. By far the best aspect of the park was the level of detail. Everything from the food choices to the bathroom to the ATM were all themed to mimic the movies. And the butterbeer was good, though it was just a variation on a root beer float.
Snorkeling with manatees was a cool experience. We booked a little private tour boat which brought us to several snorkeling locations. Manatees are pretty big up close, but they reminded me of cows just going about their grazing business, albeit underwater. We got to touch a few, which we were told is ok if done in a controlled manner.
Venice is where my grandparents lived for many years, and it's where our family used to go on vacation when I was growing up. Seeing it again as an adult was a little surreal, yet good. I had my first Bait Bucket Margarita at the local restaurant Sharky's, which is an experience I always watched the adults engage in and which I was now finally able to enjoy. My parents visited at the same time and stayed in the same hotel as us, though their trip extended both before and after our stay. Ah, retirement.
Big Cat Rescue gained internet fame recently by posting a bunch of videos on YouTube, mostly of giant jungle cats acting like small house cats. It was essentially a zoo for rescued exotic cats. Our tour group happened to include my childhood neighbor, which was totally out of the blue.
All in all, this was a fun trip, but with too little relaxation. Most of our drives were under two hours, but the multiple locations didn't leave a lot of down time. Plus Florida weather in October can be a little tricky. One of our beach days got turned into a miscellaneous day because it was cold and cloudy. I wouldn't mind going back to Venice on a regular basis to invest in some quality beach time. #travel