Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Spring is the perfect time to explore artsy St Pete, Florida

Yesterday, a nor'easter wreaked havoc in the northeast (from Washington, D.C. to New England), bringing snow, sleet and rain to the region. Our weather in St Pete, Florida has deteriorated as well, with heavy rain Monday night followed by cloudy skies and 18-20 mph winds for most of Tuesday. Today's high is 57 degrees F, low is 47, and the wind hasn't abated much. Old man winter is not going away any time soon, even if Spring is less than a week away.

Not that we're complaining. We've had wonderful weather for the past three months. And we do need the rain. It's a good thing we had chosen to explore downtown St Pete this past Saturday.
Vinoy Basin (ferry to Tampa docked on the right)
stunning Sundial Shopping Complex
Downtown St Pete has grown leaps and bounds since we discovered this little gem about a dozen years ago. High rises continue to sprout all over town. There are restaurants galore. With a new ferry service connecting St Pete and Tampa, you can visit both cities without worrying about traffic and parking (call us biased, but boating on the Gulf side of Florida is the best!) We have fond memories of the iconic inverted pyramid at The Pier, which met its wrecking ball in 2015.
Inverted pyramid at The Pier
This past weekend, we were thrilled to catch a glimpse (albeit through the chain link fence) of the Grand Prix in action! The proof is in the video.

After strolling around the waterfront, we drove several blocks over to check out Chihuly's new location on Central Ave.

We wandered into an alley of cute shops and as we walked out the back, we were greeted with some creative murals.

Further up, we ran into some artists creating works of arts on dumpsters. Not sure if this was part of the Second Saturday Art Walk?
Mural artist at work
Every time we visit downtown St Pete, we come away feeling happy to have a neat place like this near us.

Hope you had a great weekend too!

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Rest and Relaxation in Orlando

Orlando is a great side trip from the Tampa Bay area. Filled with attractions and theme parks galore, it is a popular destination for families. But that is not why we came here. Thanks to my sister who's visiting from Canada, we're spending some time at her timeshare - the lovely Marriott Harbor Lake in Orlando.

We drove from St Pete, and our first stop was Ming Bistro, our favorite place for dim sum lunch. There was a line when we got there. A good sign, right? Unfortunately it was not, and we won't be going back again. Here's my review of the restaurant. A funny thing happened though. My cousin Jolene and her family, whom we haven't seen for years, were seated right next to us. This impromptu meeting was sheer coincidence. Here is a family who really knows how to travel, having spent last five years in Singapore and a month wandering around Europe before returning to Florida. Great to see you Jolene et al, and happy new year!
Then it was off to the Marriott Harbor Lake timeshare.
Key West cottage style timeshare (front desk and clubhouse)
Enjoying the pirate-theme swimming pool
gorgeous hot tub/spa
We were early and got our room right away - a lovely 2 bedroom villa on the 4th floor overlooking the lake. At the back of the building, a path leads to a BBQ/picnic area (complete with gas grills) and swings facing idyllic wetlands and lush flora and fauna.
Nice King size bedroom

After setting up the WiFi and Roku (for our Korean dramas), we went to our favorite supermarket Publix for some groceries. Our Super Bowl dinner party - NE Patiots vs Atlanta Falcons - was a simple steak and salad. To our friends in the South - you know we used to live in Boston, so y'all please forgive us for cheering for the Patriots. But seriously, may the best team win!
found this in the clubhouse of at 55+ community in the St Pete area
Both our steaks and the football game were outstanding. At half time, with the Falcons leading the Patriots 21-3, we thought the game was over. Lady Gaga managed to keep the excitement going; on Facebook, friends kept saying it's not over until it's over. True enough, the Patriots led an epic comeback in the fourth quarter, erasing a 25 point deficit to win the Super Bowl in overtime! One of the most exciting games we've ever seen.

The next few days found us lazing around the pool and the gorgeous hot tub, doing yoga exercise, and enjoying the beautiful sunny weather. Life is good!
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