After traveling for 24 hours from Liuzhou, China to Orlando, Florida I knew that I’d be tired and jetlagged. Instead of going straight home with family when my plane arrived late at night, since it seemed ridiculous to drive two hours to my mom’s condo in Vero Beach, I booked a hotel room near the airport so I could sleep.
In the morning my brother S came and took me to breakfast at Perkins Pancake House. This has always been a family favorite since Daddy had managed the local Vero Beach restaurant.
After breakfast, we went back to the hotel to meet Mom. I said goodbye to S, got my suitcase, then Mom and I drove the 45 minutes to Mount Dora. We ignored the GPS and chose to take 441 the whole way, but still arrived within minutes of the estimated arrival time.
I had chosen the Lakeside Inn for its peaceful back porch with the view of Lake Dora. My family has stayed there several times over the years and we really enjoy this historic hotel. Our room was on the second floor of the Gables, which is the building closet to the train tracks.
After checking in, we had a leisurely lunch on the porch with wonderful sweet tea. I had Cobb Salad, which was delicious, and Mom had the daily special which was a popover. She said it was good, but a bit too doughy. We then took a short walk in downtown Mount Dora.
We stopped to browse at the Naples Soap Company. My skin has been really dry in China, so I got a jar of their sea salt scrub and a jar of their body butter. I chose the Red Hibiscus scent, which smells wonderful and will remind me of Florida.
We only walked around the first block since I was still tired from my long voyage, so we went back to the room to rest and had an early evening.
The next day we had breakfast at the Windsor Rose Tea Room, which we had seen on our walk the day before. I had made an online reservation the night before and we were seated at a window overlooking the alley next to the restaurant. We were the first customers, but the place soon filled up. Mom had pancakes and I had the spinach and leek quiche. We both had tea, and I also ordered coffee to help me wake up. I was surprised that we weren’t given or offered honey with our tea. I only got my coffee after reminding the owner that I had ordered it and not yet received it. There were assorted teas for sale, and ironically, jars of honey. I got a small jar of mangrove honey.
After breakfast we walked around town some more and I noticed a sign advertising reflexology at the Hair Affair, which is only a block from the Lakeside Inn. I went inside and was able to get an appointment at lunchtime. It was wonderfully relaxing and I was very glad to be able to get an appointment so quickly.
After my massage, we decided to walk to a local restaurant that advertised itself as ‘just blocks from downtown’. It was more than a few blocks, it was a nice day and we took it slow. We saw a couple of bed and breakfasts walking uphill on 3rd Avenue. Jeremiah’s is more of a local place, but is well worth the walk outside of the tourist area downtown. I had the ribs and Mom had roast beef. Both were excellent and the portions were generous.
On the way back to our room, we stopped at the Gatehouse Gift Shop which is next door to the Gables and is part of the Lakeside Inn. I got a beautiful scarf which was hand died by a local artist – with Kool-Aid!
Our second morning we decided to have breakfast in the hotel dining room: Beauclaire restaurant. Our server was great and he made sure we got everything the way we wanted. The dining room is bright and airy, with large windows overlooking the garden outside. They have a Sunday brunch later in the morning.
Afterwards, we walked over to the Chamber of Commerce and got tickets for the train, which is new and replaced the older train that we had rode previously. We splurged and paid the extra fee for seats in the dome at the top of the train. It was definitely worth it! I did get a sunburn even though I was wearing a hat. The train stops a couple of times and you can get on and off all day, so it’s best if you start in the morning.
When we got back to Mount Dora there was a street festival with lots of booths and a band. We were surprised but had already decided to have lunch at one of the two Cuban restaurants, so we browsed the booths on the way to Copacabana Cuban Café. We chose it over the other Cuban restaurant because of its patio and the location being tucked away down a side alley, rather than on a busy corner like the other one. It was busy, but we didn’t have to wait long for a table. I had the roast pork which was amazing, and Mom had empanadas which were huge. We got coconut bread pudding and mango bread pudding for dessert, but they were more like flans than bread pudding, so we were disappointed.
We had hoped to spend time relaxing on the Lakeside Inn porch, but the band was pretty loud, even though it was several blocks from the hotel, so we ended up in our room the rest of the afternoon.
On our final day we chose another local non-tourist restaurant for breakfast. We drove to the Highland Street Café rather than walking. Our waitress Dee was great and our food arrived quickly. My eggs were really tasty and cooked perfectly. Mom said that the ham served with her eggs tasted much better than the typical breakfast ham.
After breakfast we went back to the hotel and checked out. We drove across the state and then down US 1 so that I could enjoy the view of the ocean.
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