Orlando airport looks more like a shopping centre than an airport to me. We got off the plane and made our way to the transport area where we luckily got the last two spots on the Cocoa Beach shuttle and an hour later were chilling at our hotel bar having a drink on Christmas Eve. Later that afternoon we called everyone back home to wish them a Merry Christmas. We were up early the next day so that Mark could hire a surfboard and head out surfing while I took my book and read on the beach. This is how we spent this first half of our Christmas Day. The second half was spent with Mark throwing up after lunch (we’re still not sure if it was the food or the smoothie that got him). He didn’t want to cancel our dinner at the hotel so we ate our dinner there in what we thought was going to be a decent meal. Mark spent half of the time in the bathroom being sick, while my steak was cold, and after waiting over an hour I thought it wasn’t worth it to send it back. I don’t think the hotel was expecting that many people to eat at the restaurant for Christmas dinner because the staff looked completely overwhelmed – Poor Mark didn’t look much better.
Our days in Cocoa Beach were spent by the beach and one night while we were deciding where to go for dinner an ad came on TV about popcorn to which I announced “I could easily go some popcorn right now”. We normally only really eat popcorn at the movies so we decided to combine something we each wanted to do – Mark wanted to watch the new Star Wars movie and I wanted to eat popcorn – and so we did both. I had never seen any of the Star Wars movies before but apparently watching ‘Star Wars: Rouge One’ first was going to be a good starting point. I admit that is was better than I was expecting which is why after 7 years together I finally said yes to Mark’s question “Can we watch Star Wars?” Each night after that we watched a Star Wars movie and one day when the weather wasn’t great, we stayed in, ordered pizza and watched 3 movies back to back.
We left Cocoa Beach after just under a week there and flew to New York City which was so busy it was ridiculous. New York City is unlike any city we’ve been to. Mark calls it a jungle because every day we left our hotel and even if we just walked around we experienced something different compared to the day before.
New Years Eve we went across to Brooklyn early in the morning and relished the lack of crowds and the quietness that came with it. We spent the afternoon in Soho and at the Chelsea Market eating lobster and drinking beer before heading back to our hotel to get ready for the night. We didn’t have any plans as such because we weren’t sure how everything would be working in the city so decided to take things as they came and we had an amazing night because of it. We got the metro to China Town to eat Vietnamese for dinner, went to a speakeasy bar afterwards where we drank amazing cocktails and met an Aussie bartender working there who gave us some recommendations for other bars. After our drinks we took the metro up to Central Park where we set out our small towel as a picnic rug on the edge of a pond and counted down the last few minutes of 2016. At midnight the fireworks started and we opened our small bottle of champagne, drank straight from the bottle because we forgot glasses, and toasted to the amazing year we had together. While sitting on the edge of the pond with the champagne in hand, looking at Mark while he was watching the fireworks I couldn’t help but feel so happy it took my breathe away. How lucky we were to have experienced the year we had and to know that the end of the year didn’t mean the end of our trip. After our champagne we each took a shot of vodka from the small bottle we took from our minibar, toasted to each other again, and set off back to the bar we came from. We didn’t spend too long at the bar again and then while we were at the metro station we took the train in the wrong direction and at 2:00am on January 1st 2017 we were sitting at a train station in Brooklyn, nowhere near where we needed to be so we got back on the train heading in the opposite direction and eventually made our way to our hotel.
We slept in on the first day of 2017 and when we finally woke up we completely unpacked our bags and re-packed them properly for our trip down to Colombia the next day. After this entire process we went back to China Town (because it’s so cheap) and ate lunch and then headed to Central Park – we were going ice skating! Once we got to the ice rink we saw how long the line was and decided it was best not to start our new year waiting in lines so we found another one up towards Harlem but still in Central Park and went there. At this one there were no lines and we were in straight away. I couldn’t remember the last time I went ice-skating and it was a lot harder than I remember but after a few laps (and Mark holding my hand) I was getting the hang of it. I honestly couldn’t have thought of a better way to start 2017 – ice-skating in Central Park, NYC with Mark, after nearly a year of travelling and with so much more to go. How lucky I am to be me, especially as we are heading to Colombia to meet up with a friend for a month!