Getting to Florida – The December Roadtrip Begins in the Air

I had never been to Florida, so when JC and I started thinking about going somewhere warm for a week or two in December, I didn’t even think of it. But as the end of December came closer, and some of the vegan friendly hotels we found in fancy caribean destinations were totally booked up, we noticed there were some pretty decent flight sales heading to Florida, and the moment JC said something about DisneyWorld… I was sold.

It’s funny, during VeganMofo 2010, I took a fantasy trip to Orlando, Florida, and wrote up a little guide of things to do. We actually ended up referencing that little list a few times when figuring out what to do in town.

In typical fashion our vacation was almost wrecked by weather conditions (Please see: The time we went to Philly and SuperStorm/Hurricane Sandy 2012 happened.) The day we were supposed to leave for Florida, Toronto was hit by a huge ice storm, with associated power outages and related fun stuff. But we opted to go to the airport normally that afternoon and hope for the best.

Moments before we left, the power at our house went out just long enough for me to get worried about leaving, but it came back on again and seemed to stay on. I think one thing that really helped is that we had a petsitter arranged that we knew we could count on.

There were flights leaving the airport, depending on the destination/stop over, but after going through customs, through security, and waiting for a few hours or so, we were informed that the first leg of our flight & every other flight going through NYC was being cancelled. Well shucks. Everyone sitting at the gate was pretty disappointed, but I don’t think any of us were surprised that it happened, so good spirits stuck around despite the circumstances.

JC being a smarty pants, gave the WestJet customer service folks a call directly, and asked if it was possible to just get moved to a direct Orlando flight later that day.

Well. It worked! We felt pretty lucky to still be able to go that day.

The only problem was that the only direct flight was seven hours away. We had to go get our bags along with the two other flights effected by the cancellations (I felt bad for them – their flights were connecting in NYC but going to Bermuda and St. Lucia.) It would also be the first of many cancellations that day we’d see as we waited for our flight.

But for a festive twist, the airport had a group of a capella carolers in the baggage claim area to entertain us while we waited. It definitely seemed to dissipate the tension in the room.

In case you’re wondering about Vegan options at the Pearson/Toronto Airport – we were stuck in Terminal 3, after security and US customs – so other than the usual dried nuts, chips, and fruit you can find at Hudsons News or other airport convenience-like stores there is a Freshii you can access, (but as I know now, if you’re at A Gates, you can only get it before 5pm) and spot called Meteor Bar near A10.

Once 5 pm rolled around, I was hungry, and wandered over to the Freshii side of Terminal 3 – but an airport staff member was standing there turning people away. I’m not usually that enthusiastic about Freshii, but I was pretty disappointed. It didn’t seem to make much sense to close half the Terminal (and in my case, the only warm vegan option in the part of the airport we were in.) I wandered over to the Meteor Bar spot, and they had some vegan meal replacement bars, falafel ready-to-go meals, and a hummus, pita, and veggie container.

And if you’re in Terminal 1, a pal on Twitter found vegan grab-and-go options at Fetta Panini Bar.

Once we got on our plane, the flight was totally lovely, the flight attendants were funny, and I got to watch Turbo about a little snail that could. All around perfect right? We landed a few hours later than planned, but the airport was ready for us, the hotel had already checked us in, and the car that would be with us for the next two weeks, was ready to go.

It was hot. Humid. And I was ready to have a great time. Next up – our visit to Downtown Disney & Babycakes NYC, Ethos Vegan Restaurant & Kennedy Space Centre.

Great sources of Vegan information in Orlando: Central Florida Veg Fest - CFV Dining Guide

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