We are just back from Florida, where despite the heat and humidity we had a really good time. It helps that Florida understands central air conditioning.
We departed from White Plains airport. The airfare, with a connection flight in Atlanta, was too cheap to pass up. The airport itself in White Plains is such a rinky dink little place. They don’t have gates. They have doors! And you have to walk on the tarmac to get to your plane. . . . The waiting room isn’t much bigger than your standard McDonald’s dining area.
We stayed at a Residence Inn in Orlando. Between the two of us, Chris and I had earned enough Thank You points to cover the cost of the hotel. In the end, I owed the hotel a measly $2.72. It was a huge 2 bedroom room with a kitchen and 2 bathrooms. (Which is important when a certain someone often spends upwards of 20 minutes in the loo.)
First up was a trip to Aquatica, a water park run by Sea World. The very first feature we went to was Roa’s Rapids. Which is totally awesome. The first time we went, as we entered the rapid we passed people exiting. They were laughing and screaming. The rapids are very fast. It’s about 40 inches deep or so, and lifejackets are available for non/weak swimmers. Off you go! Your feet might be on the bottom, but you probably look like you’re skiing underwater. Stick to the edges and the jets will propel you a little faster.
And then. Then you decide you’re a little tired and you want to get out of Roa’s Rapids. There are 2 exits/entrances. First you have to remember if you want to get out where you came in. If that’s not the case, no matter. But if so, you may need to swing around the circuit one more time. You spot the exit. Get ready. Grab your mate and/or child and plant your feet firmly on the bottom. Link arms! It’s time to look like Cubans coming to shore (in Florida!). You start laughing and screaming, just like the people you noticed laughing and screaming as you were entering. Now you know why they were laughing and screaming. You can’t get out!
The first time we went a few years ago, we were struggling to get out when Chris let go of Monika’s hand. Monika and I had made it safely to shore. I sighed. “We have to back in to get your dad!”
We also went to La Nouba, a Cirque du Soleil show in Downtown Disney. Very good show. A little less kid-oriented than their usual touring productions (this is a permanent production), but still very entertaining.
Universal Studios was on our list for the next two days. Listen to me. This is key. If you have a multi-day/two park ticket: Go at 3 or 4 in the afternoon. At that time, most people are getting ready to leave, they’re fed up with exiting into gift shops and getting trapped in them for 15 minutes or longer. The lines are shorter AND it’s less hot.
Don’t forget that most areas of Florida are having torrential downpours at around 3 p.m.–this is another reason people are leaving.
After three days of fun in Orlando, down we went to Siesta Key Beach, the #1 beach this year (according to Dr. Beach). We had been two years ago and really enjoyed our time there and decided to go back. The sand is white, and it is so soft it’s like walking in flour. The water was warm and gentle. Ug, so amazing.
We stayed here, as we had the previous time: www.siestakeysuites.com
Our accomodations in Siesta Key were very comfortable and large. Fully stocked kitchen (in terms of instruments, not ingredients), beach towels, beach umbrella, chairs, etc. 2 pools to use. Central air conditioning. It was a little lonely there, though. We were the only ones in the compound.
Sorry for the vanilla update, but we just enjoyed ourselves immensely. It was nice to relax for two days on the beach.
But let me tell you about our rental car.
I was so excited when we got to the rental lot. We could choose any car from our rental category. There stood the new Fiat 500! I squealed, I clapped my hands. I got into the driver’s seat. I promptly got out.
“What’s the matter?” Chris asked.
“Oh, the rear window is like looking through a mail box slot. Blind spots galore!”
From there we argued over our remaining choices. I wanted a Nissan hatchback Versa, but there were none. Chris wanted a Ford Fiesta, but there were none. Our remaining choices: Chevrolet Aveo, Hyundai Accent and Toyota Yaris.
I’ve never driven an Accent and the Aveo just looked ridiculous beyond belief. So I was pro Accent. Chris and Monika loudly outvoted me for the Yaris.
The Yaris. Ah, the Yaris.
We spent five minutes looking for the button inside the car to open the trunk. Chris finally realized, *gasp*, we had to use the key. The trunk is extremely tiny. It is designed for paper grocery bags and at most would hold 4 of them. 5 if the bags are not fully packed.
Then we got in the car. And I spent another five minutes looking for the buttons or joystick to adjust the sideview mirrors. We then concluded that I had to roll down the window (yes, roll down the window!) to manually adjust the mirror!
Turned on the car, played with the windshield wipers (First thing I do always, ever since Mom panicked in a rental car on a foggy evening and couldn’t locate the vent switch or the wipers). Left the lot. We were a few miles into our road trip when I realized “This thing doesn’t have cruise control!”
Chris was willing to give the Yaris a chance. But I hated it instantly. This is a $13,000+ vehicle for the base model. Which clearly we were driving.
The Nissan Versa Sedan (I prefer the hatchback, but let’s talk base models) costs less than $11,000 for the base model. I drove this car in Arizona during my trip to the Grand Canyon with mom. Driving along at an average of 70 mph with cruise control and the ac on full blast we managed 39 mpg on the highway. Which is pretty terrific.
The Yaris we drove, on average, 75 mph with no cruise control and ac on blast and we averaged 30 mpg highway.
The Versa hatchback is a heavier car with a larger gas tank, greater horsepower and torque than the Yaris. It costs less and yet, ourperforms the Yaris.
Chris hates the Versa, so it annoys him greatly that the Versa is a better vehicle.
Did I mention that the console (spedometer, odometer, gas gauge etc) was in the center of the dash of the Yaris? It’s also incredibly noisy in the cabin. We had shouting conversations.
At one point, during a torrential downpour (it’s not rain unless the rain drops you see on the pavement are the size of tennis balls), we were sitting at a red light with the wipers on full speed. Chris and I both looked at each other at the same time, “Are the wipers shaking the car?”
I’ve never been so happy to return a rental car in my life. Even Chris voiced his unhappiness to the rental agent. If I have one good thing to say about this car: it would be the drug dealer’s favorite car. It has pockets and compartments everywhere.
Read this web page for proof that the Versa is superior to the Yaris: