Magic In The Sunshine State

Buckle your seatbelt and get ready to rumble guys, because away from bright lights and skyscrapers, we are spiralling down to Florida now, specifically known as the sunshine state! This is again, going to be an extremely long post, and even as I type, I have to wonder why I am bothering to write a warning when you all know.

You all know… 😛 

A few things you should know before tales of mayhem in humidity begin: 

  1. This is where I lose my luggage. For the entirety of my time in (mainly) Orlando I am without my luggage. Believe you me, once I have finished all my flights, I am going to publish a scathing blog post that’s itching to jump out of drafts right now!
  2. This post is 5 days worth of adventuring and fooding all neatly tucked away into one post, so stressing again, if you don’t have time, then don’t sit down. No one likes a cliff hanger 😛
  3. This will be the last adventure I have in the United States with a university friend before my exchange began (yes, I know, I’m still harking on about August, so time I stopped that right?) 🙂 


Mishaps and mayhems stemming from JFK airport. Tears, swearing in abundance and profuse praying to some random airport fairy to come save us. I’ll tell you about it later shall I?

But before the mayhem began, we had a hearty send off from JFK in terms of food. Look at this glorious pizza. Just look at it. I can genuinely smell it from where I am typing…


The granola ain’t half bad either!


But anyways… sorry always getting hung up on food…

After the longest day of my life, around 11pm, we trudged into the Marriott Hotel in Miami. We had been living in hostels, air bnbs and just felt that before living in a student house, we deserved one huge blow out – can you sincerely blame us??

My friend WC!

My friend WC!

No suitcases, no nothing, and emotionally drawn out, we didn’t really get the time we thought we would to explore Miami in the afternoon, or unfortunately, to really enjoy our hotel, which didn’t end up having room service anyway.

The next morning, trying to keep our chins up and our hair from getting too frizzy (it didn’t work, I made Monica’s hair look sleek as hell – that’s from Friends btw!) and boarded a bus on to Orlando. Why didn’t we just take a flight to Orlando from JFK you may ask? Well, you see, there is a stupid-ass rule that unless you are with an ‘adult’ of 21 years, you are not allowed on an American cruise :/

My friend and I were initially planning to be on a Caribbean cruise which left from Miami. Yeah, no, should have know. It was a total ‘murica’ moment… 😛

Arriving mid-afternoon to a balmy Florida day (where indeed, the sun was pretty high and pretty mighty), we checked into the Hyatt. Having been on the phone the whole morning (and as we would be majority of the evening) with the airlines trying to find our luggage, we totally had our priorities straight.



A gorgeous, huge room, a massive TV, and of course, we stopped off at the cafe in the reception and took up a nice large banquet for ourselves. If we didn’t deserve it at this point, who did??


Probably the most phenomenal cookie I've ever had!

Probably the most phenomenal cookie I’ve ever had!

Now, mind you, we had been in the same clothes for a while. If I could have hid away the stench, I would have totally loved to but I couldn’t so the following day, we were up to start buying some essentials till our luggage got found (as you shall see in the later article, that is a joke 😛 ) – We spent pretty much the entire morning at the outlet conveniently 10 minutes away from our hotel, and it while I couldn’t buy an exorbitant amount, I damn well tried to!



Then we had another lull day in the hotel, calling the airline occasionally, pigging out on food. Pretty usual really, and definitely no complaints here. I think we really did need to organise and brace ourselves, and let the emotional exhaustion drain away so we could be recharged – have any of you ever needed to just sit back like that before?


Another day dawned and now it was time. It was time to let my hair go wild (it was well on it’s way) and let it flow with the wind. As I rode a rollercoaster… or ten *SQUEALS*

Now I don’t know if you know this but I am a junkie. Being a very cautious, non-chandelier-swinging kind of girl, my adrenalin only peaks at certain times, which makes it all the more special.

  1. When I see/eat/smell chocolate. Or any other food I am craving.
  2. When I go on rollercoasters.

Spin me around, take me upside down, push me through the tornado before I hit the eye and come plummeting back to the ground, I love it ALL. I mean, you already saw this in NYC no? I could do it all day, everyday!

And before I even begin to dive into the two days worth of crazy that went on at Universal Studios, I’ll just show the sustenance we picked up at the hotel brunch buffet. Boy did we need it all! 😀 😀




Ok now where do I even BEGIN with the amusement parks?!?! So, you all know about how amazing Disney World is right? And I even went there with my parents years ago as a child (mind you, because I’m still a kid!) and remember thinking to myself ‘Hm… why in the world would anyone go to Universal Studios if they had Disney World?


Oh sweet and innocent child.

THIS is why.





Holy Mother of...

Holy mother of…

Universal Studios, I don’t know what you did but you are incredible. My fandom levels were beyond peaking when I came and explored every nook and cranny available of in both the Universal Studio Theme Park itself as well as its sister associated theme park, Islands of Adventure 😀


The rides, the 4D adventure rides you seem to excel at were absolutely AMAZING, as were the massive number of water rides and just the design of the park was, quite genuinely, insane! There were oodles of sections, Jurassic Park, Comic Book Marvel wonderland specifically aimed at people like me, a Simpsons entire WORLD, and then of COURSE, a Dr Seuss Land!



Over two days, I’m pretty sure my friend and I conquered both parks. And with our fast passes, absolutely nothing was going to stop us at all! It was pretty much the best thing ever, I didn’t even miss the cruise that could have been!


Now, you all know how much I adore talking. And writing copious amounts so that you all have to read it. Why, if you’re reading this, congratulations, we’ve already passed the 1000 word mark! When, what, how…? Give up, I’ve personally just stopped questioning 😛


But when it comes to rides. When it comes to amusement parks as intricate and perfect as this one, I don’t know what to say. I can’t describe the rides, NO WAY! I can’t even describe the atmosphere unfortunately. All I can say, is that in a place like that, there is definitely a sense of magic in the air that makes you want to run around and go crazy. We were darting (more my fault, I was SO hyper) around, trying to take in everything, enjoy each design of the park and go on as many rides as possible!!

And as friggin’ awesome as the Transformers section or the Minions show was, I have to say one thing took the cake…


All aboard?


Toot, friggin’, toot.

You can scream now, it’s totally fine with me. Internally (because I’m sitting in the quietest library at Boston College atm), I am having a little happy-dance party!!!

Because yes. I did go to THE Harry Potter Land – And I 100% fell straight into love with it. It was perfect. Absolutely everything I could ever have imagined, everything I could have hoped for. It was, for all intents and purposes, absolutely perfect 😀

The darlings put snow - they PUT SNOW!

The darlings put snow – they PUT SNOW!

And then looming... looming in the distance omg omg omg

And then looming… looming in the distance omg omg omg



Do you know what it’s like to have all your childhood dreams put into one place? Believe me when I say, the feeling is completely and utterly overwhelming. Beyond overwhelming, it catapults you into the very cosmos you’ve been dreaming about entering all your life.

It was complete and utter bliss, absolutely incredible. And the detail, oh dear god. You see, Hogwarts Castle contains one of the greatest 4D rollercoaster-esque rides in the entire world (Fun Fact: One of best exchange friends is actually in some filming done for the ride!) and as you wait in the abnormally HUGE line (jokes, not so abnormal!), you walk up spiralling staircases surrounded by moving paintings, pass by classrooms where hologram… I mean the real Harry, Ron and Hermione, are going about their business.


If I could have, I would have taken photos. But just be content with this butterbeer cart waiting at the entrance 😉

The entire atmosphere around Harry Potter Land was electrifying, probably from all that magical activity no? But it is a must see. A once… for me at least 5 times… must see in your life 😀


We ambled away (eventually) from Hogwarts and also got to take a gander into HoneyDukes. Of course, they had Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, why would you even ask? 😉




It’s magical non-melting ice cream. For real.

We also actually got to take THE Hogwart’s Express – yes indeed, a proper train journey from Hogsmeade (Island of Adventure) all the way back to Diagon Alley (Universal Studios) – HOW AMAZING IS THAT RIGHT? I won’t spoil it for you, because I know you all will go there, but the beginning of the train journey around the central lake is a scene straight out of my dreams 😀

Off we got at King's Cross Station to arrive here!

Off we got at King’s Cross Station to arrive here!

Complete with Olivander’s, complete with absolutely every shop in the real Diagon Alley, I fell even more in love than I could possibly imagine.

Then my jaw just collapsed. Because as you meander through all the witches and wizards getting ready for the next prospective year, you come across this on the corner of two long streets…


And it contains moving photos in newspapers, glass chandeliers and pathways deep into the tunnels of Gringotts where there is another 4D rollercoaster awaiting – and of course, it contains…


We also had the privilege of eating at the Leaky Cauldron because, when in Diagon Alley no?




Leaky Cauldron know how to do carbs. They so know how to do carbs 😀 But with magic wishing away the fat, I guess that’s totally cool right!?

Of course I drank it, ashamed you even doubted me!!!

Of course I drank it, ashamed you even doubted me!!!

Moving away a little now from Harry Potter World (because if you don’t make me, I never will!!!), here’s a different kind of magic I fell in love with.


What a magnificently innovative way of serving ice cream. Bring it to Australia I says, bring it back home!!!


We also had real ice cream you know, Ben & Jerry’s is bae for life. I just did want to emphasise dippin’ dots because we have nothing like that! Basically, those little balls? Each one is a nano-scoop of ice cream!!! 😀


Cute, beyond adorable!

Mind you, I wanted to only eat sweet, but we did have other savoury food.


Classic amusement fare 😉

The hummus was amazing!

The hummus was amazing!

Another item we need in the theme parks on the Gold Coast – sincere genius!!


We messed around, ate too much and basically lived in Hogsmeade – it was a perfect two days 😀

Guess which one is real?

Guess which one is real?


After all the excitement, all the games and all the fun, we did have to return to reality. A different type of excitement was bubbling up at this point – the idea that we were about to go on exchange. ON EXCHANGE!?! We were going to be alone. Alone.

So we then packed our bags (my friend had gotten her suitcases at this point!) and headed back to Miami to stay at the Crown Plaza near the airport till our flight the next day. At the airport then, I finally got suitcases bags back as well, but again, just you wait for that scathing post!


Our emotions were confused, we were scared and beyond happy at the same time. Instead of talking, we decided to room service eat-it-out like crazy. I was quite happy with that!




I am now drowning in memories of rich chocolate frosting and incredibly rich ganache dripping down the sides of a warm, fluffy but dense dark chocolate gateau.


The next morning, my friend left early. And suddenly, I didn’t feel 20 anymore. I felt 5. I felt alone. But then I ordered this:

Home fries are the greatest <3

Home fries are the greatest ❤

With my food courage intact, that’s all I needed. Because a mere 5 hours after this breakfast, I was sitting in a hostel in Boston.

But you know what? After all that food and all that excitement brought on by amusement parks, I think Boston itself is better left to another post… or another 10 posts or so…

Later mes amis 😉

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  1. WOW! What a trip. The funny – or crazy – thing is that I live in the San Fernando Valley,a suburb of Los Angeles in the OTHER sunshine state, California. I am a stone’s throw away from Universal City. It is perhaps a 15 minute drive from home, and I have never been there. I have been to “CIty Walk ” part of Universal CIty,lots of restaurants, shops, etc., but never to the theme park. And the really wild thing is that my husband worked for NBC, a subsidiary of Universal, for over forty ers. So inspite of discounts, inducements aplenty andlots of opportunities, we never went.

    It looks like you had a wild ride!. As much as I enjoy people’s poss about food and recipes, I also enjoy seeing what everyone does in his or her off-time. So thank for the peek inside your life. It looks like you know how to have a good time.


  2. I reckon you are a saint! You make even the most dreadful situations, okay. Impressive. 🙂 And totes agree re Ben & Jerrys…. Bae for life for sure. Ha! Hope you are enjoying all the fun, food and festivities of the season. Biiiiiiiig hugs from down under. xox


  3. Eva Taylor says:

    What a wild ride, glad you had a good time despite the luggage fiasco. Most credit card companies will allow $500 to replace necessary items lost in your luggage as long as it’s been missing for 8 consecutive hours (you would have had to buy your ticket with said credit card). I usually carry my necessary items and a change of clothes in my carry on.


  4. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef says:

    The minute I saw Sunshine State I knew where you were. I moved to Australia from the eastern side of Orlando. I’ve shopped at that outlet mall many, many too many times. So sorry about the luggage and the cruise.. that’s pretty crappy.


  5. Debra says:

    I’m so glad you got some sunshine and fun before heading back to Boston where winter is still waiting to give you a real thrill ride! And if you can find food you enjoy at an American theme park, then you are really fitting in. 🙂 So sorry about the luggage, but you still made the best of it, I think! Fun!


  6. agh I’m sorry so many bad things happened! I am TERRIFIED of losing my luggage so I can only imagine how you must have felt 😦 (sucks about the cruise too but yeah it’s because they serve alcohol and you can’t legally imbibe until you’re 21. Normally I’d be all scathing and scoff at ‘Murica! Buuuut I agree with the alcohol laws soooo anywhozzle) –but at least you were able to have fun! I’ve been to Disney quite a few times but never Universal (because I always had to choose and…how am I not going to choose Disney??!) but I reeeally want to go to both in one big Orlando trip someday! It looks amazing and you had so much yummmmyyy food!


  7. kitchenriffs says:

    Bummer about your luggage. But it sounds like you made the best of things. Fun adventure — love all the pictures. Especially of the food. 🙂


  8. A_Boleyn says:

    Losing my luggage is one of my fears … haven’t travelled often and been lucky but you never know, so lots of sympathy. You could all or only some back? I couldn’t tell for sure. Would have loved to visit Harry Potter-land. 🙂


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