Paul grew up in Florida, and we’ve visited Pensacola a bunch of times now over the Christmas holidays, but I had never seen much more of Florida. Until now. And it’s huge, so I’ve only seen a small bit of it, but it was pretty awesome 🙂
After Christmas, we first drove to St. Petersburg (yes there is a St. Petersburg in Florida). It’s like a 7 hour drive, and that doesn’t even get you all the way to the other side of the state. But that’s fine. The main reason we went there is that it has the largest collection of Dalís outside Spain, but it turned out to be a really nice town. The centre is very walkable and they try to keep out the big chains, so there are lots of nice little boutiques and coffee places, which gives it such a different vibe from seeing the same chains again. So we had a nice dinner after we arrived, outside (because it’s Florida and the weather is nice 😉 ) and in the morning we found a nice tea & coffee place where we had breakfast before we went to the Dalí museum.
The museum is really epic. It’s a beautiful building and it has some amazing pieces. The temporary exhibition was Picasso/Dalí, Dalí/Picasso, bringing together two fabulous Spanish painters. Afterwards, we found a nice organic supermarket where we assembled a big salad, ate outside again (I could get used to that) and hopped into the car to go to Cocoa Beach, a little surf town on the Atlantic where we booked a cute AirBnB just steps away from the beach.
Cocoa Beach is an interesting place as it’s basically a long road with some houses on the sides wedged between a the Banana river and the Atlantic. We rented some boards and got to surf lots together (it was too small for the locals, but not for us). We had one of the best surf sessions ever on 30 December: it was just us, super mellow waves (a few party waves), the weather changed a bit, we had some sun, we had some rain, which also brought a rainbow, and we also saw some dolphins! So cool! Afterwards we refueled in town with some great food after which we decided to go to the Kennedy Space Center to see some space shuttles. It was pretty good, although I thought it was a bit nationalist which was unnecessary. Also, Paul and I would have liked a bit more in-depth information than what was on the little info boxes near the displays.
On the last day of the year, we went surfing again, super different from the day before, but still good to be out without gloves and boots and all that. We had a nice relaxed day around Cocoa Beach, and in the evening we took a little trip to Cape Canaveral, apparently that’s where it’s at. There were a few bars, some of which had people in them. We ended up at a fairly OK bar which had laid out a beach and had a redneck rapper name Bubba Sparxxx on the program. Never knew that such a thing existed, but the cocktails were decent and we got to dance 🙂
On 1 January, I first had a nice little New Year’s surf after which we drove to Orlando. We first shopped at an outlet mall, after which we went to have dinner at some friends. They have a smoker. I love pulled pork, it’s even better when it’s homemade! We also went to Disney World, to the Magic Kingdom! Thankfully our friends knew the way and booked us a few fast passes so we didn’t have to wait too long at some of the rides. I was a bit surprised that it was so similar to Disneyland Paris, so I kind of felt that I had already seen it. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, I just didn’t expect it.
When we got back to Pensacola, we still had a few more days to enjoy the Florida sunshine before we headed back to cold and dark Amsterdam (although the winters have been pretty mild the past two years so it wasn’t too bad).