The next day in Fort Lauderdale, we started the way every good day in Florida should start – with a breakfast of champions (at the Pelican Grand Beach).
I decided to go for something different this morning and skip the pancakes in favour of steak and eggs.
Steak and eggs isn’t really something you’d get for breakfast in the UK but like pancakes and bacon or chicken and waffles, it’s something I’ve really grown to love (so much so that I’d go out of my way to make versions of this back at home).
Done with breakfast, the rest of the morning was spent soaking up the sunshine and splashing around in the warm blue waters of the beach right in front of our hotel.
It’s safe to say – no holiday to Florida is complete without a jaunt to the beach. 😄
Later that afternoon, we decided to head over to the Everglades – more specifically, to Sawgrass Recreation Park, to go find ourselves some alligators.
Sawgrass Recreation Park also turned out to be the spot where I’d taste alligator meat for the first time! Actually, come to think of it, I have had crocodile meat before in a Mongolian restaurant in Edinburgh but it’s a different animal so I guess, yeah – Florida was my first time eating gator.
The first time we were in the Everglades, we went on a group tour and ended up seeing two gators (one in the distance and one which unnaturally swam up to the boat – gators are naturally quite skittish and wouldn’t usually just venture out to unusual things).
This time, we went on a private tour with just the two of us – driven around by the brilliantly named Gator Tim. 😀
Gator Tim knows everything about everything about gators (and the Everglades) and before long, we’d spotted our very first gator!
That gator didn’t stick around for long and so by the time I’d swapped lenses to get a proper photo, it’d just started to swim off. (Told you they were quite skittish).
We carried on through the Everglades, stopping every so often to be impressed by so many brilliant nuggets of information Tim had about the Everglades and its wildlife.
Turns out, alligators grow in terror of quite a few things that would eat them after they’ve hatched – including older alligators and even herons so the reason why they’re skittish makes total sense and it’s a natural survival instinct they would have had from when they were younger.
Don’t however, mistake skittish for not being dangerous. These animals are powerful creatures and if cornered can do some serious damage! They can also jump as high as 8ft in the air so do not mess with them.
Our very next spot was sitting right on the river bank and this time, I was camera ready! 😀
We moved closer and closer to it and boy was it incredible seeing a wild alligator in its natural habitat!
I was a tad scared when we got closer to it but after a few minutes there, all it took was the change in the wind and a rustle of leaves for that gator to disappear in what must have been micro-seconds (it certainly felt like it) into the water.
And so off we went to check out even more of the Everglades – at one point, almost being landed on by a rouge heron (Lloyd literally felt its feathers on him as it flew next to him – cheeky bird) and soon enough, we found ourselves another alligator.
This time, this one was female (Gator Tim knows his stuff) and after shutting down the engine and drifting in the wind, we got right next to her.
It’s the closest we’d been to a gator thus far and it’s just so strange intriguing to be able to take one in, in such detail as this.
Eventually, we decided to head back again, being battered as we went along by caterpillars which seemed to appear out of nowhere (they weren’t dangerous or anything – the most hassle they caused was when I mistakenly sat on one in my light grey shorts which resulted in an awkward stain I just couldn’t get rid of).
When we returned back to Fort Lauderdale, we picked up our stuff and headed over to The Diplomat – a totally different hotel and one that would be our new home in Fort Lauderdale until we left.
The Diplomat is a huge hotel in Fort Lauderdale and is a totally different experience to have here. It’s got direct access to the beach, which is also great and has quite a few amazing restaurants here (some of which, we’d been looking to visit a few days before realising we’d be staying right here anyway).
For dinner, we headed over to one of those restaurants – Monkitail.
I’d been looking forward to this one for a while and it did not disappoint one bit!
We started off with cocktails (mandatory for all Florida holiday, I reckon 😉) before going for the tasting menu.
The tasting menu is something I usually go for if I’m too curious to choose just one thing (or too lazy) but this one here is the best of both world as you get to try lots of different things (I think it’s about 10 meals) but you also get to choose them too!
And so it began – buns with tender pork, delicious freshly made sushi, ceviche, scallops, lobster tails – with pauses in-between for cocktail refreshes – and so much more.
It was a feast that still makes me hungry every time I think of it! It was absolutely brilliant!
By the time we were done though, I probably needed someone to roll me out of the restaurant as we’d eaten soooo much and were so utterly happy about finally getting to dine at Monkitail… and best yet, the rooms were just a stone’s throw from here… after a pit stop at the bar for even more cocktails, of course!
Food like this, is truly how every great evening in Florida should end (or perhaps even begin… 😉💃🕺).