Little Cuba, the beach and music...

Trip Start Oct 01, 2010
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Trip End Oct 01, 2011


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Where I stayed
Big B

Flag of United States  , Florida
Sunday, May 22, 2011

I had asked Lynn and my friend Nick, who's from Tampa, what there is to do there. Both mentioned Sunshine Skyway Bridge and checking out the beaches. Nick even mentioned a strip club? Another friend of ours, Lyle, recently called Tampa ghetto. Great...at least we didn't have high hopes going in!

We thought about Busch Gardens but from the sound of things a few coasters didn't seem worth our money. We went to the Convention Center but no one was there and the information that was there was pretty run of the mill, except for a pamphlet on Ybor, a small Cuban district. Sounds good!

While driving around I didn't get the sense of it being ghetto but maybe a bit boring. Ybor on the other hand had a bit more life. We found a few things to keep us busy and ended being there the entire day. With our money saved by not going to BG, we stopped in at Tampa Brewing Company to sample their beer, we watched a woman roll a Cuban cigar and since we weren't in the mood to smoke one, I found a man who allowed me to take a picture of him smoking a fatty. Then we found a joint playing live music outdoors that also welcomed Rusty. We drank sangrias, ate a Cuban sandwich and Steve had his first taste of boiled peanuts. That pretty much took all day. Time sure does fly when you're having fun...and drinking.

Next stop, Clearwater. The water and beach were beautiful but it was the weekend so it was crowded. We walked Rusty on the path along the beach instead of hanging out by the water. They had cute showers marked by turtles all along the way which helped keep Rusty cool.

Later that night we went south to St. Petersburg. We didn't know what was going on but there was traffic and then we started seeing people walking with their folding chairs. I saw a sign that read, "A Taste of Parnella." Not sure what that was but we found parking, grabbed Rusty and our chairs and started heading in the same direction.

Turns out that it's an annual event showcasing their local restaurants. They also had bands playing to boost the attendance for charity. As we walked closer to the entrance, we saw a huge line and as we walked further around the corner, another line. Before getting in line we needed details. So the gate guys said it's $15, totally reasonable, to watch/listen to Buddy Guy and Boonie Raitt, but dogs were not allowed. Bummer...

We walked a bit further and found a park in between the back of the stage and the water. We took out our chairs and enjoyed the music for free. (Kinda like camping out at Kapiolani Park to listen to bands playing at Waikiki Shell.) Since we didn't recognize the names, we looked up the event and I did recognize the country singer. I noticed another familiar face, Colbie Caillat! Steve loves her music and she was set to play tomorrow!

The following day we had planned on checking out the Dali Museum but when we got there, the lot was full for the Parnella event. So, we skipped it. Instead we looked around town and headed back to our spot to listen to Colbie. Since she was playing around 3 we decided not to get tickets so that we could bring Rusty along to the same spot as yesterday. Besides, we had seen her perform before and she's got a pretty mellow stage presence to match her music. Third Eye Blind followed her and after listening to a few songs we bounced.

On our way south, we took the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. We stopped at the rest area and watched the sun set. Then we didn't want to drive over this highly recommended (even in guide books) bridge in the dark so I asked the armed patrol if we could stay overnight (even though signs were posted NO OVERNIGHT PARKING). The guy said yes, as long as we didn't stay 24 hrs and we were gone by his next shift. Sweet! The bridge was a bridge but it got us to where we needed to be the next day...
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