Friday, October 21, 2011

The Real 407

Okay, I know it has been quite a long time since I have written anything. I have not created any tasty treats as of late. What incentive is there to keep reading this post?!

Well, if you want to hear about how much a girl loves her hometown, then maybe this is for you!

Lately I have been surprised at all the haters of my stomping grounds, Orlando, FL. People talk about all the crap that happens there (Casey Anthony, anyone?). Many accuse it of being ghetto, which is one of the craziest things I have ever heard. They say it's a big, stinky tourist trap and that there's nothing else to it.

I want to take a few minutes out of my day to tell y'all how all of these things are bogus! Orlando is the town I grew up in and I just love it in my heart of hearts. And, furthermore, my lovely co-blogger Katelyn also grew up here and I am sure she can identify with my sentiments. And so, without further ado, I give you...

Orlando: An Ode

Oh, City Beautiful. Yes, we laugh at that stupid name because we are all pretty sure there are more beautiful cities... at least, to the untrained eye. But having lived in Orlando during all my childhood memories, it is a beautiful city to me!

I love downtown, with its pretty brick roads and old houses, swanky restaurants, parks, museums, libraries, and the only lake with a fountain that people freaked out about more when it was struck by lightening than they would probably freak out about a real natural disaster.

Yes, there are parts of Lake Eola that smell like dead fish and are covered in swan poop, but at sunset on a night that isn't hot as a mug, it is quite a lovely walk and a very nice piece of Floridian joy. Not to mention that there is some boss pizza within walking distance, in Thornton Park.

I love all my lesser-known hangouts and dives. There are some ridiculous little restaurants and cafes in Orlando that people miss all the time. I miss Pom Pom's when I am away at school, with their delicious sandwiches and cute little cupcakes. I miss the Drunken Monkey and their awesome coffee creations (I think the owner lives near my parents, too). I miss Dandelion and their vegan deliciousness and beautifully-decorated digs. I miss going to Elephant Bar for a good mojito and Chinese evening with my parents. They are all hard to beat.

I love the tourist-ness, too! I like having billions of sweet roller coasters nearby and friends who work at those parks who can slide you some tickets. I love hitting up Harry Potter world on a free day with my brother because we don't have anything to do. I love seeing weird stuff off of I-4 and wondering if people really pay money to visit them (Holy Land Experience and the former Dixie Stampede, for starters). I love going to Mall at Millenia and feeling like a cheapskate, or going to Florida Mall and seeing Japanese people take pictures in front of the hotel sign (why??).

Look how much fun we have! P.S. pretty sure this caption is wrong, this looks like Magic Kingdom. I would know. I am from Orlando.

I love the Orlando Magic and our little loyal band of fans, through thick and thin. I love seeing little kids with their Dwight Howard jerseys on. I love watching Stan van Gundy freak out on the sidelines.

I love our little celebrity-tastic moments, for that matter. I love hearing that Shaq is in town hanging out at some gym, or that Chris Kirkpatrick from N*SYNC will be at some restaurant opening (woohoo!).

Yeah, y'all, he is a VAL STATE GRAD! (Valencia, that is.)

I love turning on the air on Christmas Day because it's raining and 80 degrees outside.

I love all the fantastic Puerto Rican and Dominican stores, salons, and restaurants.

And Haitian.

And Vietnamese. (Little Saigon in downtown Orlando is fantastic.)

I love the crazy little lizards that run around everywhere, the furry Spanish moss dangling from the giant oak trees, the tangerines you picked from your neighbor's backyard, the gigantic cranes and herons gracefully walking around. I love the random peacocks that live in Conway for no good reason!


And life is only ghetto in Orlando if you make it that way. Is it a good idea to go walking around OBT at night around the motels and strip clubs? Probably not! But during the day time, if you want to, by golly that is just fine. In Girl Scouts we did a car wash once at the OBT Papa John's and found a nice homeless man in the dumpster! You never know what adventures lie ahead!

Anyways, this is the best Orange County of all the Orange Counties. I am from the real Orlando in the city limits and I miss it quite a bit! So, attention world: stop being so rude to O-Town. I will help you drink the Tampa haterade instead.

- Lara

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