Buffalo tiger - Everglades Florida 2007

Continuing on our tour of Florida, we left the Keys behind us and headed left up the western coast of the state. The land is flat and wet and for the most part marshland, the perfect habitat for crocodiles. There is also an Indian tribe in residence called the Miccosukee. We were to meet the most respected and famous tribal leader Buffalo Tiger.

Buffalo tiger Airboat tours

For me this was a true honour and one of the highlights of my trip. My dad had told me many tales of his time with the American Indians whom he had spent time with in the US. Those moments were my dad’s spiritual highlights of his life and they comforted him tremendously when he went through the darker periods that would hit him later on in life.

everglades view

Buffalo Tiger was born in 1920, he lived in a ‘chickee’ with his parents. He has had an amazing life and achieved so much it’s worth a read up here in Wikipedia but the part I am going to tell you about today is the business he developed Buffalo Tiger Airboat Tours

everglades airboat

We drove all the way from Key West to the Everglades Florida with one short break and we arrived at a wooden barn like structure on the roadside. There was a short pier and two airboats waiting for us. Buffalo Tiger, although 87, was still working the rides of which he took great pride.

everglades sacred island

Once all onboard he set off slowly and as we passed the trails cut out of the long grass he pointed out various plants and told us there names. He gave us an overview of the history of his land and his tribe. He talked with much love and passion about how he had fought hard to retain this land.

crocodiles in the everglades

He took us into thick crocodile terrain and we watched mesmerised as they came right up to the boat spying us lazily from their position. People were standing to take photos and the airboat was swaying lightly under the movement, everyone was happy to be up close with the crocs but respectful of their strength and fearful of what could happen.

crocodile everglades

We were taken a bit further into the thick of the Everglades and Buffalo Tiger showed us the sacred island on which his tribe celebrated many rituals together, for a moment I wished we could go and visit up close this special area but it wasn’t to be, rightfully so.

crocodile smile

Plus it could have been a bit of a nightmare with no visible pier and the crocs keeping a sly eye on us.

crocodile eye close up

Once back at the start we were chaperoned into the barn where Buffalo Tiger’s much younger wife awaited us with plenty of handmade crafts to buy for souvenirs. I bought Buffalo Tiger’s book to bring back home with me as I wanted to find out more about this remarkable man.

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I’m reminiscing again and it’s from the same trip as the one we visited Miami only this time we are over the other side of the Sunshine State at the beautiful and very popular destination St Pete’s Florida. Here our tour was to stop for a few days after the hectic running around and Paul and I were ready for some lazy days in the sunshine. Road to St Pete's Florida The approach into St Pete’s if you are coming from the Everglades and Naples as we were, was fascinating. Long stretches of roads sweeping out over the sea for miles into the distance. It is a very exciting lead up. Pelicans on pier St Pete's Florida We stopped for a break at a pier to grab a coffee and stretch our legs. I was amazed at how brave the pelicans were coming right up to you looking for food. They were quite vicious as well so we stayed away from them. I must admit to preferring to see them living naturally like this rather than in zoo’s though. view from St Pete's hotel window Florida Our hotel was on the beach and what a view we had from the window, white sandy beaches and calm seas to take a dip in. In fact at a restaurant one evening we got talking to the couple next to us on their honeymoon and the bride told me to wiggle my toes in the sand as I was walking out to sea, I would soon come across a Sand Dollar which I could pick up, dry out and take home with me. I did and was fascinated by this sea creature I had never seen before. married couple on beach st pete's florida We soon discovered St Pete’s was a popular destination for honeymoon couples and also for weddings. As we sat sipping our beers one lazy afternoon we watched a beautiful beach wedding just in front of us, how lovely! St pete's beach florida What a glorious backdrop for your wedding photos? hotel games florida We spent time by the hotel pool and I was intrigued by the games available for the kids like this one above. Paul and I had a go later once the children had left. You have a stick and you shove your discs to land on the high numbers. It was fun! We had put our names down for the Dolphin Cruise as apparently it’s an ideal spot for seeing dolphin. A short walk to the harbour led us to our boat and off we went into the sunshine on a dolphin spotting tour. NOT ONE DOLPHIN was spotted! Millionaires row St pete's Florida However, look at the scenery, Millionaire’s row laid out in front of us. Beautiful villas with their boats at the end of their personal jettys. villa St Pete's Florida This villa on the corner was my favourite. rowing school There was a rowing school out on the water taking lessons. Paul and Mari St Pete's And of course we had our souvenir picture taken, looking at it, it seems so long ago now! karaoke Our evenings were spent eating in delicious restaurants, drinking in fab bars and erm … singing karaoke after one too many Margheritas. Fortunately for the other guests it was very late, most had gone to bed as my choice of song was Angel by Robbie Williams. I thought (as you do when your tanked up on Margheritas) that I did a splendid job but Paul said it was ‘a bit screechy‘ Needless to say I have left karaoke alone ever since. And luckily no one knew me! american car Two more snapshots I want to share with you, this fabulous American car outside the hotel one night sunset St pete's Florida and I’ll finish with this spectacular sunset.

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Miami beach hut

This is why I set up the Time Traveller linky it was to enable me to go back through my archives of photos and write a post about a place I had been to before I started blogging. I want to be able to remember that place, that time and by writing it here I can do just that.

miami beach date and temp

I’m taking you back to 2007, before I was even pregnant with twins. The year Paul and I ‘did’ Florida. We were on a coach tour that was pretty flexible in as much as, booked from the UK you had hotels and transfers reserved but you were able to use your time in each destination as you wished. We visited NASA, St Augustine’s and on the 3rd or 4th day we stopped off in Miami for an overnight stay.

Arriving mid afternoon we went for a stroll along the beach prom and I spotted these fabulous beach huts that are so typical to the area. They just make me smile and remind me of the colourful bagni in Rimini, Italy.

miami beach hut prurple

That evening we dined in a beach bar and drank beer with the locals, we had a lot of fun but you must remember to tip after every drink, we were being very British and saving it up for a big final tip but were quickly put right by other Brits who shared our table.

miami beach bar

The next morning after breakfast we checked out of the hotel as we were moving on to Key West our next destination, but first a stop off at Miami Beach.

miami beachfront hotels

I fell in love with Miami, I loved the art deco hotels lining the beach front. Each one different to the next but fitting in so beautifully as a whole.

miami colony hotel

I loved the cadillacs and other vintage cars strategically placed outside the hotels.

miami cadillac

Later on that day we were taken over to the port where there is a large shopping mall full of Miami t-shirts and other tourist merchandise, we enjoyed mooching around and people watching as they went about there daily activities. Is he teaching her? Is she teaching him? Have they just bought it and are trying to figure it out?

miami vice boat

We strolled around the port, watched a huge cruise ship come in and the passengers descend. We picked out our favourite yachts in the marina and decided which one we’d have if …

miami port

We ate our lunch at Hooters which is a scream. The girls are dressed in shorts, tees and trainers and the menu was very American. We had a fabulous time in there and our waitress was really lovely.

Miami hooters restaurant

Check out the message on the back of the waitress’s t-shirts :)

miami hooter waitress

Miami Beach PD car – it’s got to be done right? This is a proper holiday souvenir photo.

miami police car

Your turn to join in the #TimeTraveller Linky, I’m really excited to see what you are showcasing this week. I have loved travelling back in time to Miami and reliving the experience, I hope you did too.

All of the rules of Time Traveller can be found here, please don’t dump and run, take the time to read a few posts and leave a comment. It’s so much nicer when we all do that and here’s the pretty badge for you to display so others can come and read your posts too. I just need to get it resized now :)

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Florida, Florida, one day I’m gonna get me to Florida but right now I rely on the memories of our holidays taken pre-twins and information I find around the net. Talking of which take a look at the really cool video below which has been made entirely of visitors photos and videos, it’s really punchy and gives an excellent idea of what can be found over there.

Virgin know a thing or two about Florida, in fact I took a look at their website and the places they mention – I’ve been to most of them, I just wish I could go back and take better photos.

Naples Florida

naples florida beach

At Naples, I walked along the beach, actually Paul stung on his little toe on that very beach by a wasp.

naples pier florida

 

We ate in a really cool pub. I remember walking the quiet streets lined with massive houses and wondering who lived there thinking how lucky they were to live in such a beautiful place.

Fort Myers

banyan tree fort myers florida

Fort Myers, I was amazed at the Banyan tree that stood in the Edison and Ford estates, so amazed I brought home a mug with it on. Yeah, you may laugh but a cup of tea from that mug takes me back there….

Fort Lauderdale

I ate the best cheesecake ever in the Cheescake Factory, it was A.Maz.Ing. Triple chocolate … that really is a cheesy tourist snap isn’t it?

cheesecake florida

Disney Orlando

Food again but this time we ate in the fabulous Blues Club I tried my first ever Jambalaya and it was really really good

house of blues florida

St Pete’s

Aww I remember an American lady on her honeymoon, she was sitting at the table next to us in a scrummy fish restaurant with her new husband and they liked our accent, we got talking and she told me I had to go out in the sea, squiggle my toes in the sand of the seabed and I’d find sand dollars which are supposed to bring good luck. so I did, I found two and still have them to this day.

bride and groom beach florida

Florida Cruises – ahh, this one is still escaping me but we’ll get there one day and in the meantime I look back with fond memories at the other photos

florida memories 

You might like to have a look at Virgin on Facebook and get even more excited about Florida, just like me

Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Virgin, but all thoughts and photos are mine.

Now is the time to feast your eyes and plan your next holiday, right? We’re all cooped up indoors and outside the weather is grey and wet and windy too!

Well a good friend of ours has just invested in a self catering villa in Florida and husband has forwarded on the link for me to have a nose, you know, as you do.

charlottes villa florida

Charlotte’s Villa – Rotonda, Florida

The first things that strikes me is the amount of space available.

It’s a 3 bedroom villa with 2 bathrooms that sleeps up to 6. The living areas are interconnected and have sofas, cable TV and a music system.

There are three options for dining; the dining room, outside on the patio by the swimming pool or at the breakfast bar in the kitchen – will you take a look at that fridge! I love it. The kitchen is fully equipped and there’s even a laundry room with a washing machine and tumble dryer AND it’s stocked with beach towels too so no need to pack those.

kitchen - charlottes villa

 

The patio area is south facing, there is a gas fired BBQ and it looks out over beautiful landscaped gardens onto the freshwater canal that passes by.

It sounds like a dream doesn’t it? The perfect holiday. The one you never want to end.

pool dining

How to get there

Charlotte’s Villa is situated on Florida’s south-west coast, “The Gem of the Suncoast” in the quiet wooded area of Rotonda and is surrounded by lakes, canals and golf courses. The Cape Haze peninsula in Charlotte County is half way between Sarasota and Fort Myers and the nearest airports are

Tampa (96 miles – around 1.5 hours)

Fort Myers (59 miles – around an hour)

Sarasota (41 miles – around 45 minutes)

Miami (195 miles)

Orlando (168 miles)

What to do in the local area?

Fancy a bit of dolphin or manatee spotting? The local white sandy beaches are only 10 – 15 minutes away.

If it’s golf that takes your fancy then there are 6 golf courses in the area. You can go hiking or cycling, there are plenty of sailing and fishing opportunities or even try your hand at jet skiing, what do you think? Would you like to try a bit of jet skiing? I would.

If it’s calm you are looking for then Charlotte’s Villa is your answer as the Rotonda is a designated bird sanctuary. You can sit peacefully in the beautiful sunshine and enjoy the local wildlife whilst you recharge your batteries, bliss. I am so there on that patio, are you?

pool

For shopping, dining and fine arts Sarasota is only 45 minutes away and Port Charlotte only 20 where you can find shopping malls, restaurants and many other stores.

Food plays an enormous part in any holiday and Cape Haze will not let you down, choose anything from the ‘all you can eat’ buffets to delicious fresh fish and steaks, maybe eaten at one of the waterside restaurants whilst taking in some breathtaking, unforgettable views.

Theme parks

Less than three hours drive away you can find the famous fun parks Disney, Universal Studio, MGM, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Sea World and Discovery Cove.

Or only 90 minutes away you can find Busch Gardens.

How do I book?

That’s the really easy bit, all you have to do is go to Charlotte’s Villa and check the availability tab, if the weeks you want are free  just fill in the enquiry and booking form and our friends will get back to you with the finer details.

Don’t forget your camera!