Chris and I have been in Florida for four months now and I thought I’d give you a little update on what’s going on and share with you those things that surprised us about Florida.

Just how pretty Orlando really is. If you’ve been seeing my Instagram or Facebook posts, you’ve seen what I mean. Previous to moving here, all I’d ever known of Orlando was International Drive, Universal and how to get to Disney. But now, I drive into downtown Orlando every day. There’s a mixture of modern and early 1900’s architecture going on. There are beautiful lakes all around. In fact, I work next to Lake Eola. The lake has a fountain in the middle of it, which is the symbol for Orlando. And we live near Lake Debra which is in the Metro West area of Orlando, a planned community built in the 1980s.

Looking across Lake Debra

How rare it is to meet a native Orlandoan. And yes, I looked that up to see what they/we are called. Seriously, in my office of 20 plus people, I only met one person who was actually born and raised in Orlando. Everyone else is a transplant from somewhere else. Mostly they are from other places in Florida, but we’ve also met people from other states, and other countries.

Commuting in Orlando is rough. If you are going anywhere, just figure it’s going to take a minimum of 45 minutes. Just to get to work, which is a little less than 7 miles away, can take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes. I leave an hour early each day–just to be on the safe side. Compare that to my last job in Connecticut where I lived 7.5 miles away from work and it took 15 to 20 minutes each day.

We became Disney Annual Pass Holders. Ok. Technically, Disney is not in Orlando, but once you move down here, there is something that compels you to go through the rite of passage of being an Annual Pass Holder. We didn’t get the ultimate Pass Holder ticket, ours was a lower cost and came with some date restrictions, which we’re fine with. What I love about the ticket is that we can just stop off at any of the parks for a couple of hours and then leave when the crowds get to be too much, or we’re too hot, or we have other commitments. We don’t have to worry about trying to get the most of our tickets. We can leave when we want to and come back on another day…did I mention free parking?

Guns are a part of everyday culture. Luckily, Florida is not an open carry state, that would be intimidating. But even women, in an office setting, will talk about their guns and going to the range to shoot their new pistol. Conversations that never would have happened in an office in Connecticut are about how they got a new gun for Christmas or that their daddy gave them their first pistol. To me, it’s so bizarre especially considering we work around the corner from the Pulse Night Club.

I’ve seen people wear winter coats. Florida has two seasons. From May to September, it’s hot and humid. And because of its location with the gulf on one side, the ocean on the other, and the hot temperatures, there are near daily afternoon thunderstorms. October to April is the warm (as opposed to hot) and dry season. When we first got here in January, there were some cool stretches where the temperatures got down into the 50’s during the day and 40’s during the night. And while Chris and I pulled out a sweatshirt, we saw people in down feather, quilted winter coats. I don’t understand how they weren’t sweating. It further astounds me when you read the next item.

I can’t get away from freezing cold A/C. Every building, every office, every restaurant, and movie theater has the AC set so low that I need to wear a thick winter sweater, and long pants to be comfortable. I don’t understand why anyone would live in Florida and then freeze themselves out of a building. There is one girl at work who wears sleeveless shirts and dresses and asks for the air to be set even lower. I just don’t get it. I came to Florida to be warm but it appears no one else wants to be warm.

We’re still getting to know the area, so if you have any suggestions on places to go, I’d love to see your comments. Up next on our agenda is a long weekend in Panama City Beach for our anniversary, along with a trip to Crystal River to swim with the Manatees.