We arrived quite late in the day, very tired after our longest journey yet: ten hours on the Greyhound bus.
I haven't actually got round to explaining how terrible they American Greyhound bus network is. I think it can most succinctly be summed up by the true story (look it up) we were told by one of our couchsurfing hosts. It's a charming tale of an encounter which took place on one of the infamous bus routes where a gentleman was, and I s*** you not, decapitated by the sheer number of knife wounds he sustained to the throat. The attacker then proceeded to throw the head from end to end of the bus! In my defence, I did ask him to turn his music down twice; a proportionate response I'm sure you'll agree. That is honestly a true story and so we understandably prepare for each bus journey by employing a cautious attitude and an array of firearms.
We were delighted to find that our couch surfing host was a lovely lady with a good sense of humour (she managed to convince us she had a pitbull as a pet, it actually turned out to be a shiatsu). We turned in early the first night in anticipation of the biggest night of the year. Not only is it a national holiday but at exactly 12.09pm, the whole country joints hands to thank god for what is universally considered to be the greatest possible gift to humanity. That‘s right folks, October 15th is my birthday. We spent the day at Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure. A few points to note. The park itself isn’t actually that good. Having been to Thorpe Park recently, the rollercoasters were nowhere near as good nor were there as many. In addition, it was $85 for a one day entry. Having said all that, it was a thoroughly good day. The evening arrived. I had hoped for debauchery. My birthday wish was granted.
Downtown Orlando is a cool place. There are an incredible number of swanky bars and clubs and our host and her friends were kind enough to get us on the guest list (they themselves were attractive enough not to need to bother with that kind of thing, check Facebook for confirmation). This is what I remember of my birthday. Case of beer contributed by Big Red (Ollies new nickname). Birthday present bought from the local 7/11: a little blue pill (legal) which promised to “better sexual performance” (needless to day I took 3). Host and friends generously bought us drinks. Ollie and I lose Ben and Kez. I lose Ollie. Being told to vacate an alleyway to which I was kindly contributing the contents of my stomach (blue pills looked even sketchier coming up the other way). Stopped to get pizza. Stopped to get hot dog. Realised home wasn’t a place for which I had an address. Miraculously found myself standing outside apartment complex without a key. Indiana Jones truly has nothing on me as I scaled the 3 fences required to make it back. Being woken up on host’s doorstep by the team. Ollie not sleeping in the same bed.
In conclusion, Orlando was amazing: nice people, nice food, good ales and above all, more to that part of Florida than just theme parks.