Florida 2012 – day 6 – Ponce Inlet (Daytona)

Day six in Florida, and we’re heading to another beach – this time the famous Daytona Beach! We’re armed with directions and it looks easy enough – head east along the I-4, then come off onto another road, change over and keep going to wind up at the seafront! What could go wrong?

I think you suspect something goes wrong.

Basically, we head over to Daytona and see the speedway, the airport and so on. It all looks fine and we’re looking forward to getting there, until either the directions we’ve gotten from Google go wrong, the signs are signposted incorrectly or we miss something. Or possibly all of the above.

Either way, we do get lost, but then we find the signs again! Daytona Beach, thataway! So we follow them like lemmings, down a very long, LONG road (which seems to be obviously going the wrong way, do a few double-backs or something and eventually find Daytona Beach.

Now, when we got directions for Daytona Beach we also looked up a car park that offers free parking. We even had a look at it on Google Earth and in Streetview. We should know what it looks like, only it does seem to have gone. Or, again, we’ve missed it. We’re not doing that well here, are we? So, after arriving basically in the centre of Daytona Beach, we drive south and keep on the lookout for it. Can’t find it. Drive north, back to where we started. Still no sign. So we go south again.

All throughout this, we’re looking around and can’t quite imagine that this is the Daytona we imagined. We can’t see any piers, any nice shops and restaurants, any greenery like palm trees for instance – no, it appears to be quite a sterile and lifeless collection of hotels stretching up and down the coast, all of them rising high into the sky. To be honest, it seems a bit disappointing really – not the high-spirited, active beach we’ve been led to believe. Perhaps we’re in the wrong bit, or maybe everyone’s hiding behind the hotels and there’s another bit of Daytona Beach, cowering away from us in fear of being discovered.

We do accidentally try to go into a car park at some point, before finding out as we’re about to enter that it’s a car park on the beach. Turning the car around in the sand (sorry car rental people – but hey, you didn’t notice) and heading back out, tails firmly between our legs.

So we drive south. We keep going south for a bit, looking for our mystery car park, until we find that we’re leaving Daytona and entering the amusingly-named Ponce Inlet. We also need some food. So we head inland a little bit and find ourselves at a place called Inlet Harbor.

Inlet Harbor (yes, American spelling) is, basically, a small harbour area. It seems pretty nice. There’s a few places that sell boat equipment (and indeed boats themselves), a gift shop with small ship outside for kids to play on, a restaurant and a few other bits and bobs. We get the customary fridge magnet and head to the restaurant for something to eat.

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Something that I like doing on holidays is sampling different foods, and I am always a bit annoyed that I didn’t get the perch taco when we were at Put-in-Bay back in 2011. Now, however, I would have a chance to redeem myself with some sort of strange fish taco, which was pretty nice – though very gooey with a weird and very viscous pink sauce. But, in any case, it was pretty good.

So we ate our respective meals outside, on a wooden deck area, and had a drink. It was a very pleasant place, and we asked the lady serving us for directions. She did say that she’s sorry we got lost and wasted all that gas (petrol), but at least we found Inlet Harbor – which was a genuinely nice place. At the idea of wasting the petrol, we remarked on how cheap their petrol was – to which she was aghast!

Now, at the time, gas in America seemed to be about $3.50 per gallon, or 95c a litre. This works out at roughly 60p per litre, in UK terms. Now, compare that to our prices at the time – £1.40 per litre, or $2 per litre, or $7.60 (something like that) a gallon. We did the rough conversions for her to illustrate just how cheap their gas is, compared to ours, to which she said she’d never complain about the price of gas again.

During the holiday we did actually see a few articles on the news about the “ever-increasing price of gas” and how it was crippling families. Believe me, they’re NOTHING compared to ours. One guy was complaining about having to pay $60 to fill his tank of his massive, family-transporting SUV. We pay about £60 for our small car and that doesn’t even fill it. Bunch of crybabies.

So we leave and head back to the road that runs up and down the beach, and eventually just decide to park up and go to the beach from there. It’s a nice enough beach, plenty of sea and some people seem to be getting ready to have a wedding on the beach. However, and this will probably be the shortest part of anything I say about a place, it just wasn’t that appealing. Whilst it’s nice having a relax, bit of a swim (running into the waves, jumping with them and seeing how far they’ll push you, piggy-back rides etc), it’s more defined by what you do, rather than the surroundings itself – at least here, where there were high-rise hotels and apartment complexes up and down the coast as far as the eye could see.

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After a time we leave and head back to the car, though at some point I did go into a convenience store and, remarkably, come across some Cadbury’s Creme Eggs – a treat we sometimes get back in the UK. They were the Halloween versions and we got one each. Odd, however, that they would be present in the US.

We head back to the villa and on the way stop in at a Wendy’s that is just on the route we take off the I-4, grabbing a quick take-out meal.

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Previous – day 5 (SeaWorld & Downtown Disney)

Next – day 7 (Magic Kingdom, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party)

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