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A few notes for English first time visitors
A few notes that might help you to settle in a little more quickly and get the most out of your holiday. Groceries
Because this is a tourist area most British grocery items are available but at a price. Things that you may wish to take with you are :-
- Instant coffee – American brands are rather bitter
- Tea bags – most tea bags in America have strings and tags attached
- Brown sauce – I paid nearly $5 for a small bottle when we ran out
- Salad Cream
- Washing powder- I have yet to fully work out the mysteries of soap powders and bleach and stain removers. Basic American washing powder is useless so I usually take a small quantity of Persil bio tablets with me.
All these will travel OK in plastic containers.
Bread – Most American bread is very sweet, by trial and error we have found that the best bread to buy is the Chicago Italian Bread from the Publix in store bakery and the French bread from the Wal Mart in store bakery.
Butter – virtually unspreadable from the fridge, we usually buy the Land Lakes brand with added canola oil.
Sugar – generally sold in huge quantities for baking or in cardboard tubes with a pourer ( a little like old fashioned salt containers) for about 90 cents, this should last you for the duration.
Milk –Sold in percentage fat, semi-skimmed is roughly equivalent to 1% Supermarkets
Publix on the H27. Turn left at Sand Mine Road, there are lights at this junction.
This is a nice store with a bakery, hot takeaway counter and salad bar and a section for people with food allergies. British goods are found in the ethnic isle, you should be able to get everything you need here however it is a little more expensive than Wal-Mart which is about ten minutes further drive along the N27. Wal-Mart is visible on the right hand side of the road about a mile after passing the exit to the 192. Turn right at the lights at Cagans Crossing there is a sign post for the store.
Wal-Mart is huge and is open 24/7. Stay close together in store I once lost my husband and the kids for 40 minutes and is the reason why we purchased radio phones. This store sells everything from groceries to weight lifting equipment and clothes to tyres for your sports utility vehicle. Big culture shock, however if Wal-Mart sell something it is likely to be cheaper than anywhere else.
We usually pop into Publix on arrival at the villa and pick up a few essential items for drinks and breakfast plus some hot food from the hot deli counter. Early next morning when we wake before dawn, about 4. 00am, because we are still on UK time, we go to Wal Mart to do a big shop. The store is quiet at this time, the only other shoppers tend to be Brits who cannot sleep. Please note that alcohol cannot be purchased in the middle of the night, not sure of the exact licensing hours
Walgreens drug stores are all over place and sell basic grocery items so you can always pop in on your travels to pick up a bottle of milk. Some stores are open 24/7 others close at 11. 30 ish. First time visitors to the States are always fascinated by the drugs stores as they sell a huge range of medical goods over the counter. I once purchased a dental repair kit to glue in a crown, which did the trick until we got back home. Like chemists at home the pharmacy will offer advice on minor conditions and make recommendations. Eating Out
Dining out in America can be an obscene experience, portions can be huge however most places don’t bat an eyelid at people sharing deserts or asking for food to packed to be taken away. Most places are very child friendly, ask for a plate for your little one to share your food.
There are some restaurants nearby on the Berry Town Centre complex (same place as Publix supermarket) and many more places to choose from along the 192 catering for all tastes, Chinese, Indian, buffet restaurants, ice cream parlours and shrimp and steak bars. Steaks in the USA are great, two favourite steak houses are Logans and the Longhorn, both situated on the 192. Breakfast is always a good deal, but our favourite breakfast stop is Perkins, they also do good lunches and diners plus their muffins are the best on the planet. There are several of them about, there is one on the N27 near to the I4 junction however there is also one located on the 192 on the way to Disney. A good breakfast is highly recommended before a day in the parks as their restaurants tend to be a little more expensive. Take bottled water with you, you can refill from the water fountains.
Some other restaurants and venues that I can recommend that are also an interesting experience are :-
Bahama Breeze at Lake Buena Vista. You can choose to have bar food out on the deck where there is usually live music. The cocktails are fab here, non-alcoholic ones available, check out the drinks menu book. During the cooler months there is a fire pit out on the deck in the evening
Planet Hollywood at Down Town Disney is an interesting experience with good food. There are several other good places in this area that we intend to try at some point including the Rain Forest Café.
The town of Celebration is well worth a visit. The Disney Corp. owns the whole town and planning is strictly controlled. No fast food outlets or brash neon signs. Some nice non-tacky shops and several good places to eat can be found. The Diner on the corner of Main Street is good and we have received excellent reports of the pub next door. There are also a few fine dining establishments here. Lovely spot for a coffee in the rocking chairs on the deck on the side of the lake. Often at weekends there are special events held e. g. arts festivals and craft markets (check the local press). Celebration is signposted from both the 192 and the I4
Hard Rock Café at Universal is also a great experience and worth the trip. If you decide to go up to Universal Studios you can always pop out to the Hard Rock for a meal and a rest. If there are queues at the Hard Rock, pop into the shop, buy a privilege card for $20 and that gets you priority seating, go straight to the front of the queue and show the doorkeeper your card, it also has other benefits and discounts that they will explain to you.
A great way to raise anticipation of your forthcoming holiday is to use the internet. We enjoy looking up restaurants as they usually give sample menus and often pictures, check out The Longhorn, they display a steak as a big a Sunday joint.
There is a copy of an excellent guide book (Brits Guide to Orlando). We found it excellent for planning trips to the parks; it includes some useful information on the best days to do which parks.
Have a great time, take some time out to relax it is easy to try to do too much.
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