Here’s the belated account of Florida, land of palm trees and beaches. This is a tag team entry!
Jac was in Florida attending back-to-back conferences and I was tagging along which is why it’s my job to write this one up! We flew direct from San Antonio into Tampa international, which is a surprisingly handsome airport. We were headed to St Pete Beach, which is on the other side of Tampa facing into the Gulf of Mexico. We stayed at the trashy Trade winds Resort, which boasted it’s own private strip of beach, complete with beach cabanas and a huge inflatable waterslide, which was a handy landmark when walking down the beach.
The high points were having a number of lovely pools to swim in, and a man-made lagoon/waterway running through the resort that you could navigate in a paddleboat. We had a couple of boating adventures and Jac navigated both times, which was probably a good thing. The worst bit was sailing under “The Flying Bridge” which was the bar built over the lagoon looking down on the pool.
We only ate at “The Flying Bridge” once, and swore never to do it again! However, we did sip cocktails there one night and they were a much better standard, although as Jac points out, it’s hard to make a bad bloody mary.
Each day Jac went off to her morning session and I would pack my bag and head for the beach. My favourite thing to do was to walk up to the non-tourist end. It was much quieter with only a few condos, most of which were empty, and instead of people there were masses of seabirds! Gulls, Pelicans, and Herons diving for fish. One day I saw a dolphin rise up out of the water not ten meters away from me.
Ok, it’s Jac here now… Jo appears to be having trouble remembering just how ‘fake plastic’ the whole resort experience really was. Poor thing must have been more jet lagged and confused than I thought! The resort was one of the nicer ones on St Petes Beach, which somehow allowed it to be even more tragically daggy, with towering fake palms inside the atrium and piped steel drum music throughout every inch of the place, including all outdoor areas. There was one tune that got stuck in my head for a full week after we got home. I needed steelpan detox. I’m sure it was only some local council rule that saved us from having the same aural nightmare follow us onto the beach.
We had one of the bigger rooms that looked out onto the ‘lagoon’…a disneyland style snake of water that circled most of the complex, fully equipped with paddleboats, koi, and a pair of indifferent swans. The highlight of the lagoon was watching a small but fierce bird (perhaps a heron) break the core rule ‘never eat anything bigger than your head’ as he spent a full 10 minutes swallowing a massive fish he’d pulled out of the water. The whole ‘fish still flipping while sliding down the tiny neck’ was a little much for the two ladies behind us, but we were loving it and have most of the carnage on film.
The room came fully equipped with big but saggy beds decked out in the brightest coloured linen I’ve ever seen (think children’s wards in the 80s). However, it did have a wide selection of cable (we overdosed on the food channel) and a kitchenette, which allowed us to stock up on real food type supplies from the supermarket down the road.
The best part of the resort, aside from the amazing diving pelicans and sea birds helpfully supplied by one end of the beach, was the deep, blue and heated swimming pool. There were multiple pools but that one was my favourite, partly because it was so deep and partly because it was totally neglected by almost everyone else. The temperature for most of the time we were there was lovely. 30-35 days, dropping to quite cool in the late afternoon-evenings. One day even hit 40, and luckily it was also the slowest day of the conference, so I got to bake myself a little (Jo on the other hand was well and truly lobster girl at this point and had to go buy some special blue burn gel).
On the second last night we were there a huge electrical storm hit just after we got back from dinner. We sat on the beach watching the lightning for a while and then had the sense to go back in before the rain hit, and hit it did! The storm turned out to be huge!! Heaps of rain, wind and lightning, with the most incredible thunder. Sadly that was the same set of storms that sent the tornados up through the Carolinas :( We were also under a tornado watch, but we didn’t know it at that point, probably for the best. The next morning the entire strip of resorts had no water! Kind of weird in a hotel. Jo discovered the weather channel and was instantly hooked.
We also got to catch up with friends of ours (Chris' relatives) and that was just wonderful, like hanging out with family again ^_^
All in all, it was a fun trip :)
4 months ago