As a Canadian, growing up I admired my friends whose families took a trip to Florida every Winter. These days our own family has fallen in love with Florida’s gorgeous beaches, friendly people and attractions. We travel to Florida often (possibly more than twice a year) and one of my least favourite aspects has been the travel.
We have travelled both by air and by car and we’ve established that the 20 odd hour drive just isn’t for us. Between the kids niggling, my back aching and my husband “making good time”…these road trips just aren’t for us. Onto the flights…we have approached this many ways from flying out of Buffalo (2.5 hour drive from our home) and out of Toronto Pearson (1 hour from our home) but in the end the one thing I’ll say is…it sucks.
Between leaving our home early, long waits at customs and the 4 hour flight where we are crammed in line sardines our travel day is usually a bust but what choice did we have? I’m adamant that I prefer direct flights so really this was the only choice until now.
I recently had the pleasure of joining Porter Airline on a media trip which had me flying out of Billy Bishop Airport for the first time..eek! They asked me to share my experience with you all. Seriously I was so nervous about driving to Toronto Island it was ridiculous. In reality it was a breeze and didn’t take me much more time than it would have at the other airport. I set the GPS and actually took a ferry over to the island and used the on-site parking. BAM that was easy.
If you are coming from the mainland there is an underwater tunnel coming from downtown Toronto. There is also a complimentary shuttle bus from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport to the Fairmont Royal York Hotel.
As soon as I walked into the airport I knew things were different! There were no crowds, there were plenty of people but they were moving through check in and customs so much quicker than other airports. Within 5 minutes of arrival I was through and heading to the public lounge to wait for my flight.
I’d heard many of my friends say that Porter is the Refined airline but I hadn’t realized what they meant until I saw the lounge. There are FREE drinks…water, pop and even coffee makers that brew everything from espresso to cappuccino! Porter you speak my love language…
The flight itself was different from my usual flights. Porter has leather seats which weren’t crammed in…I actually had leg room! Add to that the fact that all fights have complimentary snacks and beverages and you’ll begin to understand that Porter just feels different. The flight attendants seemed to have more time to be attentive and nobody was frazzled. This is a HUGE difference in my experience.
From December 16th – March 31 Porter has direct flights from Ottawa, Windsor and Toronto to Melbourne, Florida. Wait…what? Yup it’s true. We can now fly direct from Billy Bishop to Orlando-Melbourne International Airport (MLB). Never heard of Orlando-Melbourne International Airport? It’s ok, I hadn’t either. It’s located approximately 70 miles (110 km) south-east of Orlando city proper. It’s a much smaller airport which means that there’s less hustle, more attention and a faster in and out. If you’re heading out to a cruise, this is the closest airport for you!
What’s there to do in Melbourne? Well it’s an hour from the busy action at the Orlando theme parks with the glory that is the beach!
Honestly, we are the family who has done 5 trips to Orlando theme parks and when we do it next we will be staying in Melbourne and renting a car to go into the busy spots. Waking up with the sounds of the ocean and a slower pace is much more fitting for our family.
While I was there we explored a bit, I honestly think I’d need a week there to take it all in but here is what I saw in the course of this overnight visit.
Windemere Inn By the Sea
This is a lovely little boutique inn located on a barrier-front island. The owner is onsite and is a pleasure! They’ve thought of everything from wifi, great coffee, to super-important high quality bedding, pillows and mattresses.
There were treats everywhere; a reading nook in my room, shared kitchenette stocked with pop, water and coffee and even homemade cookies.
I didn’t have much time to spend at the Inn but I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in the South Beach Cottage room.
With books, throw blankets and a cozy patio this space would be glorious to enjoy the sound of the waves out the door.
Of course if you’re visiting Melbourne you have to head to the beach. Pull up a chair or book a surfing lesson…it’s a BLAST!
If you’re heading to Port Canaveral you should check out Exploration Tower. I had no idea it existed and it’s the perfect spot to pause before or after a cruise. Pose with an alligator, check out some art or ever stand on a surfboard…with 7 floors, there’s loads to check out about the area and you can wave at departing ships from the look out tower!
Kayaking at Sebastian Inlet
We spent our final few hours kayaking at Sebastian Inlet State Park where we were guided by some very experienced people. I was completely comfortable the entire time and was amazed when we saw dolphins playing in front of us!
I highly recommend this for anyone visiting the area, there is even a sunset kayak tour!
This was a quick visit, one which I plan to extend hopefully in 2018. I’m grateful to have the choice of flying with Porter Airline direct to Melbourne, and to arrive relaxed after being treated so well.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own.