S: Orlando, Florida - October 2011
FC: Orlando, Florida October 2011
1: Just before the trip, Steph was called to the Bar and became a full fledged lawyer. Phil just finished writing the UFE for his CA designation a few weeks earlier. This put all of us in a mood for celebration, and we decided to go on vacation as a reward for all the hard work throughout the past year. After a few debates on where to go, we finally decided that Orlando would be a great place to relax and have some fun with golf and sunshine. As it turned out, this one week trip was more exciting than any of us anticipated.
2: There is so much to enjoy in Orlando for a tourist. From the weather to the theme parks, shopping, International Drive, golf, even the world's biggest McDonald's, our schedule was action packed all week long.
4: We stayed at the Polynesian Isles Resort, which was situated in the middle of all the action. The resort had many amenities, although we didn't have time to enjoy most of it.
5: One of the amenities the resort offered was a facial package and massage for $5 each. It turns out they just provided a sample of facial products and we had to give ourselves facials and massages. While Chris and Steph enjoyed their massages, it was Phil's first time for a facial and massage and unfortunately his masseuse wasn't very good.
6: In our search for good eats, we found food forums that described Orlando as a "culinary wasteland." Not being discouraged, we connected with some locals who directed us to a popular food truck frequented by residents that had some tasty rice cake sandwiches
7: 1st day of golf was a Falcon's Fire. The day started a bit cloudy but it was great golf and a perfect way to kick-start the golf portion of the trip.
10: Despite the "culinary wasteland", we didn't give up on finding good food. Everyday, we drove by an advertisement for Jerusalem Restaurant on the main road by our resort. We decided to be adventurous and followed the directions on the sign, leading us to some amazing Lebanese food.
11: Also on the agenda was some high performance go-karts. It was a good day for Phil as he pranked Chris by changing his nickname which showed up on all the time sheets. Then Phil went on to beat Chris in both race sessions, though Chris argues that he was stuck behind traffic after over-taking most of the field.
12: The 2nd day of golf was in a town named Celebration, which was developed by Walt Disney. Celebration is this perfect community as if it came out of a Disney film, with big beautiful homes perfectly manicured lawns and even a quaint town square with retro styling. It won all of us over with its charm.
14: The course carried the community's character onto its fairways. The theme of Utopian suburbia was again demonstrated on its well maintained golf holes peppered with stunning mansions and a hint of Mad Men era styling, even though the golf club was only 10 years old.
18: In the evening, we visited Disney Downtown which was a few blocks of Disney inspired street festival. Live music was everywhere and life came from all the guests who were exploring the food and gift shops that stayed open late.
20: For our Disney day, we chose to visit Epcot Center which was holding its international food festival. Epcot showcased cultures from around the world, allowing us to travel beyond Orlando to all 7 continents. The Disney slogan of making dreams come true was evident throughout the park and the events.
23: During the entire trip, Phil couldn't stop talking about wanting a picture with Mickey. So when we finally made it to Disney, he was like a little boy on Christmas morning. We spent the whole day at Epcot checking out the sites, but Mickey was not to be seen. FInally, Phil found Mickey and his friends available for photos and we jumped in line with all the other 5 year olds. Phil got his Mickey Mouse photo, and even flirted with Mickey's girlfriend behind his back..
24: Our golf ended at Osprey Ridge which is a Disney golf course, designed by Tom Fazio. It was the most scenic of the courses we played with every hole being photogenic and a challenge at the same time.
28: We also had a chance to watch the Disney Classic PGA golf tournament, held at the Palm & Magnolia courses next to Magic Kingdom. We weren't allowed to bring our camera, so we absorbed as much as we could with mental snapshots. Tiger was supposed to play, but bailed two days before the tournament. Nonetheless, we saw Luke Donald, Justin Rose, Retief Goosen amongst many other top pros. Watching the pros hit the golf ball was inspiring and depressing at the same time. One of the most amazing shots we saw was an approach shot which seemed to float above the green forever then land softly 15ft from the hole.
29: On our last day, we went to hunt down Tiger Wood's house. Although we couldn't enter his gated community in Windermere, we were still impressed by the beautiful houses in the area. The community was also near Arnold Palmer's world famous Bay Hill golf course so we dropped in for a visit at this private club.
30: We had our last Orlando meal at Chick-fil-A, Phil and Chris's favorite fast food joint ever. Steph got dragged along but it did bring back memories of her time in Virginia. | We were all down about the Orlando trip coming to an end, particularly Phil who kept sighing when faced with the prospect of heading home alone while Chris and Steph were off to a cruise. Phil summed it up best: "I've never been so sad to go home because I had such a great time here."