Our town might be growing in breweries but there is still only one winery in the city. Located on 1312 Wilfred Drive, in the Mills/50 District, it’s not far from the Track Shack. A great place to taste a vast collection or pick up the perfect gift. Now with extended hours open to the public, it’s easier to do just that. Enjoy!
Craft beer, independent winery, fried green tomatoes and camellias…Orlando has it all but you have to find them! Check out my latest post in TravelPulse about these hidden treasures.
Getting ready for a big trip in a few weeks, been trying to get into shape. Since moving back to downtown Orlando we have no excuse to lazily while away the summer. Charlie can’t run because of a torn Achilles tendon but our local Y provides a ton of other opportunities to get in a workout. My latest HypeOrlando blog is an homage to our area YMCA’s and why they should not be taken for granted.
My new passion is the Zumba class which is the best aerobic experience I’ve had in a long time…and I’m not the oldest one there. Has it really been 20 years since I took that dance class and had to learn intricate moves? Those 20 years have wreaked havoc with my brain-foot coordination but fun is had by all and the sweat is proof it’s a great workout. Move over 30 year old hard bodies, make room for grammy!
Having grown up in Orlando before the city was just a glimmer in the eye of Walt Disney, my parents would take family and friends visiting from the North to Lake Eola, in the heart of downtown. The lake’s green-domed fountain was a favorite of visitors and locals alike. A nighttime drive-by provided a colorful sight, complete with oohs and ahs as the jets of water shot to heights, not quite as soaring as Lake Geneve’s Jet D’Eau, but high enough to amaze and delight. A leisurely walk around the lake was usually in order during the day where one could hop on a Swan Boat to explore the fountain close-up and take in the sights along the shore.
Over the years the fountain has taken hits from lightning; the latest almost caused its permanent demise when funding was scarce to repair the electrical system and get the waterworks back in working order. However, successful fundraising got the job done and our showpiece was returned to its former glory, and then some.
Recently with the help of the non-profit See Art Orlando, private funds were collected to bring a gaggle of artistic sculptures along the perimeter of the lake, turning the area into a virtual arts-appreciation learning experience. See Art Orlando’s mission is “to enhance the aesthetic experience and cultural image of Downtown Orlando.” I’d say they achieved that worthy mission in spades.
My personal favorite, “Monument in Right Foot Major”, by Todji Kurtzman, resides in the southeast area of the park. Caste in bronze, it creates the look of determination but also might give one a feeling of being stuck in the mud, on a day when it is difficult just putting one foot in front of the other. Whatever the interpretation, I just know that it makes me feel good when I see it.
A few steps away you will encounter “Cedar of Lebanon”, by Jacob Harmeling of Orlando, a three-story high sculpted tree which is particularly impressive at night with its subtle lighting from within.
“Discovery Muse”, by artist Meg White, is an enormous body at rest with hand extended, as if inviting a weary traveler to rest in her palm. My visit on this day was during a cold snap which caused her to be blanketed with a sheet to keep the greenery covering her from the harsh temps. (Yes, Orlando winters sometimes dip into the twenties!)
Douwe Blumberg’s “Take Flight” represents a sight we have seen many times, a flock of birds, perhaps startled, suddenly flying into the air in a group. The visual experience of this sculpture changes with the setting sun and is dramatically lit at night.
The artist Ralfonso created “Union”, on the northeast corner of Lake Eola. He describes the sculpture as “wind-driven kinetic stainless steel/aluminum sculpture” with multiple “wings” moving with the breeze. A fellow admirer of this piece told me that he imagines the spirits of deceased loved ones causing the parts to move.
These are just a sampling of the many works of art surrounding our jewel of a lake in the middle of downtown Orlando. If you’re making the trip to central Florida for the I-Drive experience, you might enjoy getting away from the tourists and taking an afternoon to meet the “other” Orlando. The Swan Boats are still operating so hop on and experience Orlando like a local.
After seven years of “sort of” retiring to New Smyrna Beach, we have decided it is time to rejoin the living and move back to O-town. Not that beachside living is the place people go to die…it’s just that making a vacation town your full time residence is a bit isolating in terms of diversity. Depending on the time of year, the demographics of a beach town goes from snow birds to spring breakers to day-trippers to bikers…99.9% of which are white, Anglo and straight…not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Don’t get me wrong, the town of New Smyrna Beach is lovely and the full-timers made for wonderful neighbors and loyal friends. We were so grateful to have the ocean just a short walk away when we had our grandsons visiting, or living, with us. The beach is a giant playground where they can make as much noise as they want and expend enough energy to make them collapse into bed at night.
However, the culture of the area is different than that of Orlando. It was like a seven year vacation and we were ready to go home. Now, in the right place at the right time in our lives, we couldn’t be happier to be back in the middle of a diverse city among people who are in the business of living their lives and enjoying the downtown urbanity that the City Beautiful has to offer.
Below are a few photos of our new digs for anyone interested…