2/13/18 – Xena and I got into Tampa Sunday afternoon and set up shop here at friends Madge and Susan’s, tho they aren’t here. They’re up in NC!! Sorry to miss them. Doreen is cat sitting and I’ll finish with the cats today and tomorrow after D left for a real job earlier today.
I’m not much into visiting cities, but when I have the chance to visit with someone familiar with that city to show me around I like it, and D did a great job planning outings for us. Sunday we drove around North Tampa Bay and went to Dunedin, a quaint small town on the Gulf Coast west of Tampa proper. We walked around the little town, and around the marina looking at a bunch of big fancy yachts and some not so big and fancy, some old vintage, watched the sunset over the Gulf from a pier with pelicans (insert photo with sun setting behind pelican here :), I know bad tease!), and had seafood dinner. Quite the contrast with where I’d come from, DuPuis Campground, but very pleasant in itself, as little seaside towns tend to be.
Yesterday we went into Tampa (I’m so glad she was driving!) to Ybor City. I’d never heard of it but perhaps you have. It’s historically a Cuban settled area where Cuban cigar makers set up rolling factories in the 1880s. Apparently it was illegal to import cigars but not the tobacco from Cuba, so they brought in the tobacco then brought in the workers experienced in rolling the cigars. Other immigrants followed and established a multinational community with “clubs” for each – Spanish Club, Cuban Club, etc – which contributed to the social success of the community. The area’s architecture and social structure resembles New Orleans, and apparently the wining and dining did (and does) also. It’s been through several downtrodden times and revivals. The most famous building is the Columbia Restaurant which is a most amazing piece of architecture and lavish decor. In addition to the cigars came tile makers, famous for hand painted tiles, and the Columbia has these amazing tiles everywhere – floors, walls, stairs. Many rooms of them. It can seat more than 1,700 in it’s 15 dining rooms. They’ve also won culinary and restaurant awards for their outstanding food as well as decor. Fascinating. (Insert another photo here). (I’m sure you can google it and see pictures far better than mine anyway, but I know it would be nice to have one right here with the story. You can also find more of the history.) Another fascinating thing about it is that it’s been owned by the same family – 4th and 5th generations now – since the beginning in 1905, a corner cafe now morphed to fill an entire block. We didn’t eat there – surprise!! – but at another restaurant that served the area’s famous Cuban sandwich and black beans and rice.
Then we took the trolley ride through Ybor, past the Port Authority and Cruise Terminal, the Aquarium, Tampa Bay History Center, ending up walking to and along the Riverwalk. Fun trolley ride and lots of interesting walking, but no time to hang out at the Aquarium or History Museum, and I love history.
From there we went to some friends of Doreen’s who live on a canal of Tampa Bay and have a boat who’d offered to take us on a boat ride around the Bay. Now that was special!! Seeing the Bay from the water as well as land. Plenty good reason not to spend time at the museum!! We must have been a couple hours or more on the water, at sunset again, but it was cloudy so not much to see. Lots of birds, but they said not as many as usual. Then back to their lovely house on the Bay for dinner and great conversation. Unfortunately Doreen wasn’t feeling well, so she didn’t join us. I had a wonderful time and met some new friends.
So, back to the beginning of today’s earlier post, here I am doing laundry, cleaning camper, paying bills, increasing my data plan (and finding out what all uses data) and catching up on a lot of communication. Now I need to go inventory my food supplies and do a little shopping before hitching up and leaving tomorrow morning. After I feed and love on the cats of course. I’ll be off to the Gainesville area where I have a number of friends, looking forward to a week or more of visiting and adventuring in the area. After that, Doreen and I will meet up again and go to Ocala National Forest for a few days.
Til next time, Happy Trails and Happy Tails,
Lynn and Xena