Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Nice Race and Sojourn in Orlando

My trek across I-10 to Florida is pretty much an annual event. Every year I head east the first week of December. For several years a while back it was to attend a get together on Cedar Key, now most years it is to stay at one of the very nice Marriott timeshare properties in the area.

This year I put together a trip to Florida to include a half marathon in the very beautiful downtown Orlando, followed by a week at my favorite Marriott property, Marriott's Cypress Harbour. I love this particular property for its beautiful forested grounds, wonderfully spacious and modern apartments, and very nice amenities on-site, including a Starbucks. It doesn't hurt that it's a very nice distance for many off-property amenities, easily reached by comfortable running distance....good way to get a nice 3-6 mile run in.

Suitcases and car packed, it was off to Florida! Enroute to Orlando I stopped for the night at a Quality Inn in Crestview, FL, had dinner at Cracker Barrel, then got up early the next morning and drove the rest of the way to Orlando and my lovely room at the Embassy Suites Hotel in the historic Orlando city center.
Tree-lighting in Orlando

Beautiful holiday at Lake Eola in Orlando

It was a fabulous location!! I could walk to the race start, walk to all of the great little cafe's in the area, even walk to the Christmas tree lighting and concert Friday night on Lake Eola, just a block away from the hotel.

Saturday, race day morning, I walked to the race start on the north side of Lake Eola just in time for the national anthem and then start of the race. Temperatures were in the high 50's, perfect for running a half marathon.
Brick-paved streets of Orlando

The race route started and finished along the north shore of Lake Eola, and took us through many beautiful neighborhoods in the near downtown area. Most of the streets were brick-paved and lined with oaks dripping in Spanish moss. It was a really beautiful race route!

Brick pavers and old Live Oaks, dripping with Spanish moss

Race route through Orlando

Finisher medal

On my way back to the hotel after crossing the finish line, I took a slight detour to a Starbucks to grab a Vente triple-shot cappuccino to bring back to my room. Showered and rested, I walked to a very nice pizza cafe and ordered a pizza - pepperoni, mushroom and anchovy - then bought a bottle of beer and brought it all back to my room to eat in front of college football on the TV.

Christmas concert in Lake Eola Park

After dark, I walked back to Lake Eola Park to browse the lights and listen to the concert for a little bit.

The next morning after breakfast I walked back to that Starbucks shop and then, as I returned to the hotel, noticed a farmers market taking place in Lake Eoli Park. I sipped my cappuccino and browsed the vendor stalls, taking time to sit and enjoy the views of the lake and the beautiful swans.

Market in Lake Eola Park Sunday morning

There were many vendors lining the beautiful shaded walking paths through the park. This orchid vendor was the most intriguing. Too bad I was on the road. I would have bought one or two to bring home with me.
Pretty orchid plants at the market in Lake Eola Park

There were so many swans on this lake! Mostly white swans but a few black swans as well. They were very tame, since there were vending machines selling feed for the ducks and swans and they were very accustomed to humans. It was fun and relaxing to just sit and enjoy their presence.

Pretty trio of white swans

Lake Eola

Then it was time to return to the hotel, pack up, check out, and retrieve my car to make the short drive south to Marriott's Cypress Harbour.

I delayed as long as I could checking out, knowing that I would be "homeless" for a bit before I could check into the Marriott. I dragged my feet as long as I could, took my time driving down I-4 and expected I'd be having lunch at the resort before I'd be able to check in, but fortunately they had a unit ready for me and I was able to check in by 1:00 PM. I drove to my unit, brought my luggage in, and then headed back out to the grocery store to stock up for the next few days.

Now for a relaxing few days in this very luxurious and spacious 2-bed, 2-bath condo-style unit with full kitchen, screened in balcony. I had everything I needed. Food. Wine. Beer. Comfortable digs, nice resort grounds on which to get some walks and runs in over the next few days. And, of course, a Starbucks!!

Tuesday morning run at the resort

On Wednesday I drove up to the Deland area to join a few friends for a lovely laid-back lunch at the very nice St. John's River Grille. It was a nice mid-week change.

My plans for leaving Florida are loose at this point. I may leave on Friday, or I may leave on Saturday. We'll see....

1 comment:

  1. Fun!! Orlando looks like a great venue for a half marathon, and one can never have too much Starbucks, can we?