Friday, May 13, 2011

Cocoa Bliss

 I have been really busy lately traveling and setting up a new business i hope to tell you about soon.  But i thought i would use this post to share, and honestly to relive, my little beach excursion.

image copyright nomaicnester

 Living in the heart land of America during the winter can, on occasion, completely suck.  Everything is brown and gray and depressing.  I was beginning to get to the middle of the winter crazies and seriously jonesing for a warm beach.  However, i recently had the amazing fortune to "piggy back" on a trip down to sunny Orlando Florida. 

Sunny, sunny Orlando.  Aha! Also, very Hot Orlando!  So, sunny and sweaty, but who cares in the middle of February?  Orlando is the conglomeration of 4 or 5 huge Adventure parks, i.e. Disney World, Paramount, Sea World, etc.  Tons of fun to be had, I'm sure, but i was here with a low budget and a yen to discover a city i knew nothing about. 

So, what does one do in Orlando if you are not going to the parks? A question that completely stumped the person at the hotel information desk.  "You're not here to go to the parks?"  No, not really.  "Well, the parks are pretty much all there is to do."  Is the rather confused response i got.  When I asked her what she did for fun, she shrugged and told me she didn't have fun . . .  Okay, that part stumped me a bit.  In a last effort i asked if there was anything else one could do in Orlando, to which she shrugged and said that there was always the beach.  The Beach! Great, how do i get there?  Turns out the closest beach was about an hour away.  Good thing I had a rental car.

For all those planning to drive to Cocoa Beach from Orlando beware that once you go beyond the city limits there are absolutely no gas stations anywhere along the toll road until you reach the outskirts of Cocoa and Cape Canaveral.  A lesson unfortunately learned from experience. 

image copyright nomadicnester

Pulling up into Cocoa Beach is like finding yourself in a bright white, sweltering strip mall.  But turn left a the world famous Ron Jon's Surf Shop, and pay a reasonable parking fee and you come to the beautiful, cool waters of Cocoa Beach.  Say it with me now, Ahhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaa!  Unlike Daytona Beach the sand and surf of Cocoa beach are softer, but still firm enough for almost anything; biking, running, sunning, fishing, surfing (Ron Jon can set you up with lessons if you don't know how), walking, eating (restaurants on the pier) and, of course, swimming.  Best day I've had in a long time.  Already planning to go back.

image copyright nomadicnester

 Orlando itself does have many things to do, although you will want a car as it is not a pedestrian oriented city. Aside from the great restaurants and shops there are some very nice botanical gardens in and around the city, though they are usually hidden, even mapquest had some trouble locating them.  And be ready to find signs near bodies of water, large and small, that advise keeping dogs and children away as there are "very likely" alligators hidden within.  Being from the midwest that was nervy and bazaar for me.

Downtown is busy and beautiful and big, it might be handy to have a map on you just in case.  There is a great antiques "district," i only found one road, but the finds are amazing, just call ahead to be sure they are open.

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