So for our finale we booked a 3 hour tour on jet skis. The plan was to go in the Gulf if it wasn’t too rough to Marco Island and then to return via the backwater. We only stayed in the backwater but managed to see 2 schools of dolphins within 20 mins of setting off. They came really close to us and we turned off the engines to encourage them closer. It was amazing to see them playing in their natural habitat so close.
We then had a 1 hour trip to the gorgeous island. I can truthfully say I was petrified. Whilst the boys were the wet and wild, I was of course the wuss! I knew I would never get up to the 30mph so I stayed at the back. This meant that I had to deal with the wake of 4 jet skis and the boats and by the time I got to the island I was refusing to get back on! I was asking for a helicopter (unrealistic) or boat (slightly less unrealistic) to take me back - I didn’t care if we left a jet ski on the island! Clearly neither boat nor helicopter were available so there was nothing for it but to climb back on.
Change of tactic for the return, I went at the front with our guide. Completely different story - I was bouncing over the boat wakes/waves at 26 mph and almost loving it! Needless to say being at the back gave the boys more opportunity to race. Jonathan overtook a boat that was going at its normal speed, and David got up to 50mph. Both did “doughnuts” (circles at great speed) at any opportunity. Both were reported to the water police, who thankfully did nothing!
Rachel was a star - she sat on the back of Stevens and it must be worse on the back. They managed to fall in - at 5mph - but Rachel got back on and even drove halfway back
Even though my camera came with, carefully wrapped in it’s own towel, plastic bag and life jacket to protect it from the bumps, there really wasn’t much opportunity for photo taking. Trust me I look much braver than I felt on the island
So the holiday is all but over, save for a final frolic in the pool, packing, letting out my jeans so that I can squeeze into them and a few hours to explore Miami looking for Horatio before we arrive at the airport at 14:20 (19:20 bst).
It’s hard to pick the “best bit” as so much has been amazing. For me it was the kids getting on, shock horror, and experiencing everything together as one big happy, yes happy, family
Another beautiful day, not a cloud in sight and a mere 93°F (34°C). Kids finally got up for lunch and we went to Tin City at the waterfront for a mooch. They had the most amazing wine made not of grapes but of fruit. Then splashing about in the pool for the rest of the afternoon
In the evening we returned to the beach and pier, via this amazing old “air root” tree that was shown to us on the Segway tour. They are every where here. The roots are so shallow - like orchids - they derive their nutrients from the air. This one is the biggest and oldest
A walk through glamorous Naples at night and then back home to start finishing the food - what an excuse
I can’t believe that tomorrow is our last proper day, it has flown by. We will be up early for our jet skis - should be an amazing, thrilling end to the holiday.
After all the expense we went to the bargain basement flea Market in Fort Myers. Car boot sales are not a patch on this - 800 stalls, they have a map - and you need it! It was fabulous
Weather was fabulous today. This afternoon we lazed by the pool in the sunshine and the kids frolicked like they were 5 again. The parents might have done too!
Evening to be topped off by a walk on the beach, still too come at time of writing!
Location:Fort Myers, Florida
Relax, relax, relax was the theme of the day. Being in an area of 10,000 islands (or so they say) we drove to Fort Myers - at least 4 islands away. A beautiful drive passing some beautiful houses in Bonita Springs especially. We learnt we were a long way from London! We saw some Pelicans on the beach and plenty of fish
After lunch we went for a walk in Naples and to our local beach. Clearly with 35-40 billionaires and significantly more millionaires living locally and house prices up to $48million, we fit right in! The place is beautiful and different class - not as ostentatious as Miami
Weather was gorgeous today and I even sneaked in a few minutes of sun worshipping! This evening we went to the local mall which had enough to occupy Rachel - Forever21 (only 1 more purchase), Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch, Sears, Maceys, Victoria’s Secrets - the list goes on and on!
Spent up, it’s the Flea Market tomorrow!
Another earlyish start as we set off for the Everglades National Park and our airboat tour through the alligator swamps. For 90 minutes we went through the swamps, sometimes at break neck speed with the boat almost vertical as we took tight corners around the foliage, slowing down to crawl speed in some of the backwater where the alligators were. Yes we saw real alligators - the spooky bit was not seeing them in the water, it was when they looked you in the eye and then slowly sank and disappeared below the surface. There are no photos of the alligators in the wild because the heavens opened - there are photos of another boat in their rain ponchos! To be honest the rain didn’t spoil it all, it was a brief 10 minutes when we were in the backwaters not in open water. In truth it made it more exhilarating. Ok I’ll be honest there are no pictures of me holding the 3yr old alligator because I didn’t! However I did stroke it - my bravery only goes so far! For our added amusement, our captain was Captain Hook!
I know it’s the rainy season in Florida but to be honest we have been so lucky it’s not spoiled the holiday at all. Today the heavens really opened so there was flooding just north of us, but we were inside having lunch and then shopping (nowhere exotic - Rachel was desparate to go to a Walmart superstore!). By the time we’d finished shopping the rain had stopped and we had a great couple of hours in the pool. That’s what relaxing is all about
So yesterday we said goodbye to New York City. And what a goodbye it was. Our early morning 5am rise was rewarded with a limousine transfer to JFK - a definite WOW end to our time in the big apple. JFK is certainly looking better than when Steven and I were ther last - not a buildernor cockroach in sight, and checking in was so hassle free and speedy
We had a great flight to Miami courtesy of American Airlines and thankfully Hertz gave us the same type of car as previously. The satnav is a lifesaver or we would still be driving around the airport looking for the exit (and arguing) 24 hours later
We found “Alligator Alley” a.k.a Interstate 75 and travelled west across Florida to Naples. It made us feel as if all of Florida was a swamp. We finally got to our villa at around 17:00. I have to say that North American Travel has done us proud - everything has gone like clockwork and the accommodation has been all that we asked for. The villa is top class. The boys have their own individual double beds, Rachel has her own bedroom and we have a walk-in wardrobe that makes our daughter jealous! The rest of the villa and pool is fantastic and the neighbourhood is so peaceful
However the swamp like feeling cintinued at the villa. There was a tiny snake swimming in the pool but the funniest was the frog in the kid’s toilet bowl. I have never heard Jonathan scream so loudly and seen him move so fast, pulling up his shorts! To be fair both boys were screeching and it occupied our minds for a couple of hours as we pondered what to do. David even showed the checkout lady at the supermarket the photograph and asked her advice! By the time we got home it had climbed out and was on the wall, so Steven could be the hero and release it into the wild. We all now look very carefully when we lift that lid and before we sit down!
We slept so well. The beds are soooooo comfortable. Today we did a novel guided tour of Old Naples - by Segway. It was amazing and even more amazing, I did it! I didn’t fall off, not even once, although there was a lot of wobbling! There is video to prove it too! The kids and Steven took to it very quickly. Jonathan managed to alter his balance despite his massive camera bag on his back, Rachel managed to continue looking glam and David was our boy racer doing all the stunts - even reaching the maximum speed limit, going backwards! I didn’t take any photos on the tour as I left my camera behind as I was petrified I’d fall and break it. However Naples is beautiful and I know I’ll get them in the next few days
After lunch we did a quick drive to Naples and back but we are so shattered it was a play in the pool late afternoon/early evening followed by supper and a quiet night in. Despite this being our “chill” week before we return, the temperature is 85-90°F and humid
Tomorrow we have an earlyish start as we’ve got our speedboat tour of the alligator swamps - exciting!
Our last day in New York was all about doing what we wanted to make sure we got we wanted out of the big apple.
The boys did their own thing - Jonathan relaxed and photographed. David watched the match in an Irish pub with a load of Reds and one City family and then went on an adventure around the city. Steven watched the triathlon and relaxed before his next stressful bout of driving.
For me the day was all about shopping, shopping, shopping with my Darling Daughter (DD). So the photos are all about the brands! She needed her energy so conveniently she had a lie-in till after we had beaten the noisy neighbours at Wembley. Then we did nearly 5 hours of solid shopping. She did so well - we stuck to the shops we didn’t have in England and she has bags of stuff for half the price we would have paid in the UK. We even went to a sample sale on 5th Avenue - Becky Bloomwood eat your heart out!
Tomorrow we are up at 5am to get to JFK for our flight to Miami. So it’s good night and goodbye from New York City
Location:New York City
Today was a rest day. After a big big lie in we had a lazy lunch and a wander around central park. It is hard to imagine it’s location in the middle of the busiest place on the planet. It was so diverse - there were artists, street performers, people playing volleyball, baseball and rollerblading. The children’s play areas were phenomenal. Rachel found turtles in the lake. The horses were beautiful although the smell was off putting at times. David came into his own today and clearly does not have his mother’s sense of direction. Like the name on his shirt (MU knowledge required) he has earned the name “satnav”
The plan was then to go to the top of the Rockerfellar centre to see sunset. There were no crowds, mainly because it started raining on the way
Tomorrow is our last day here and I know I have a fabulous day shopping with my daughter to look forward to … as long as it includes Grand Central and The Apple store!
Location:New York City
Today we took the ferry to Liberty Island. Tickets to go up the statue are booked till November so we just walked around the island and enjoyed the view - looking across to Manhattan is amazing
We then walked the Brooklyn Bridge like all good tourists! Jonathan and David then wandered off on their own. They managed to find the Porsche and Ferrari “shops” but thankfully didn’t buy anything!
We went to Chinatown and declined all the fake Louis Vuitton and Gucci
Location:New York City
I can’t believe we’ve been away for a week already. Thankfully the weather was much better today as we spent the day on an open top Grayline bus doing the complete upper and lower tour. So lots of photos of random large buildings and fire escapes! Lots of opportunity for Rachel to point out all the shops she wanted to go into - she is a little concerned that we won’t have enough time … . 3 days clearly isn’t enough!
Finally this evening we made it up the Empire State Building. It was a bit of a rush bit we made it for dusk - a truly fabulous sight.
You should be proud of me - the girl that gets seasick in the bath sat in the New York Skyline Simulator- albeit my eyes were closed a lot of the time!
Location:New York City