Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Edinburgh: the Fringe

There is more to Edinburgh than the Fringe but that's the focus of this short post.

Just over a year ago, we were staying about an hour away from Edinburgh and decided to spend a day at the Edinburgh Fringe festival so we went online and looked at what entertainment we might like to book tickets for. We chose Toby Hadoke's Dr Who inspired sequel about life with his step-son.

Meanwhile, wandering around the streets and parks of the City (we had good weather), we spotted minor celebs, including Toby Hadoke, the very funny Tim Vine and 'Ted' from Scrubs.

We couldn't get there last summer but look out Edinburgh, this year, we are coming back!

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Florida in January?

2014: New Year's Week in Florida was a mixed bag of temperatures: from mid-20s Celsius to mid-20s Fahrenheit! No rain, though. Mostly sunny and a cold, cold wind. The TV forecasts are quite accurate and allow you to plan your week, e.g. theme park, beach, shopping mall.

At the Theme Parks

Surprisingly busy. Parks schedule annual maintenance during the winter months so one of the rides in each park may be unavailable. With Disneyland Paris so easily accessible, we decided to limit our Disney time to the Animal Kingdom. We took the Jeep Safari and rode Expedition Everest, a slightly more intense version of Big Thunder Mountain.

We bought a 2-day, 2-park ticket for Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. We were stunned that Express Pass, their version of Disney's free fast-pass system was being offered throughout the parks for $60 per person!!! (And even more stunned that people had actually bought them.) Interestingly, a big new section is under construction where Jaws used to be, which looks like Kings Cross station. Wonder what it could be?

The Beach

We chose to drive to the west coast on a day where the temperatures there were predicted to be warm. Clearwater is a difficult drive but St. Petersburg Beach is really easy. There are also some good beaches on the east coast, as well as Kennedy Space Center.


Florida Mall is a massive indoor shopping mall if you need to avoid weather. Otherwise there are Designer Outlets along the i-4 that offer up to 70% off original prices. The outlets were quite busy but the mall wasn't.

Other Useful Information

The i-4 freeway connects all attractions. Expressways have tolls - in particular, all around Orlando airport (really useful for arrivals who haven't any coins!) If you're hiring a car, some companies have a toll pass arrangement for the toll amounts plus admin fee.
Tip: before your trip, print off detailed maps of your hotel/villa area because the free maps provided are totally useless.

And Finally

Florida or California can be hot or cold in January while most other areas are most likely to be cold. January weather watching on TV every morning was interesting, seeing reports from all over the USA with varying amounts of snow and temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees.