Sunday, October 7, 2007

Clearwater Beach by day to St. Pete Beach by night

Its been quite some time since I was over at Clearwater Beach, its typically a very busy beach, used to be the prime spot to go when I attended USF, and there are only a few great restaurants I like to visit there now(Frenchy's, Post Corner Pizza, Palm Pavilion, and Island Way Grille). Only about a 30 minute drive from my house in Tampa, I grabbed my bike and headed to the very northern end of Clearwater Beach, a small neighborhood of mixed homes, and private area at the very tip. Biking from one end to the other takes no time, but around the traffic circle you need to watch for novice drivers. I was amazed at the amount of construction on the beach front, towards the South end next to Spyglass there is a huge project, and a new Beachwalk being built. Seems Clearwater Beach is losing its mom and pop type places along the beach, but when riding back, there they all are a block or two away from the beach, some are closed, some in dire need of upgrading and repair. It would be nice to have a more upscale beach area(like a mini Fort Lauderdale Beachwalk) in the Tampa area. Clearwater Beach still seems very touristy and tacky at points, especially when you notice a huge difference going over the Sand Key bridge into Sand Key, with its High rise luxury condos along the beach front, and then Bel-Air. I'm glad I was able to make it back home to watch my Bulls for the USF-FAU game, was an aggravating game, but the Bulls pulled it out to go 5-0 so far for the season. I see them maintaining their #6 standing or possibly moving up one or two at most. GO BULLS!

Saturday evening we headed for a friends birthday get together at St. Pete Beach. He got a few rooms at the Travelodge on St. Pete Beach, which was nice so we did not have to drive back to Tampa after a few cocktails, even though its onyl about half hour ride back to my house in Tampa. The St. Pete Beach Travelodge was just what I had expected, no frills, paper thin towels and pillows, but it was clean. We had his birthday dinner in the attached Shells restaurant. Its been quite some time since I visited a Shells, and I wasnt too impressed. There were about a dozen of us, the service was great! Now for the food, we ordered Calamari, Buffalo Shrimp and Chicken and Onion Rings for starters. Calamari very breaded and crispy fried, Buffalo Shrimp and Chicken were sort of soggy, not as crisp as I thought it should be, the Onion Rings were winners. The bread they serve with dinner is amazing, veyr soft and doughy with alot of garlic butter. Now for the entree's, Shrimp and Scallop skewers on rice with veges consisted of three medium sized scallops and 7 medium shrimps, such a small amount for the price, and were just OK, the shrimp pasta, which they are known for, was very bland, and smaller shrimp than the ones on my skewer. Clam Chowder soup was full of onions, just not a good meal, but as far as service and the company we were with, things were good.

We then ventured to the Swigwam, which is the Tiki Bar behind the Travelodge located on the beach, the breezes were great, the drinks were cold, the crowd was a little less than desirable. It just seemed people had been drinking there all day and could hardly walk, and they just seemed a bit "laid back"..there was a very good raggae band playing, but the courtyard area was very brightly lit which seemed unusual for a beach tiki bar. The good news was that you can walk bar to bar along the beach, and we went next door to Jimi B's. I love this place, much better atmosphere and crowd, and the band playing tonight was Edge of Red, playing classic rock tunes, keeping the beach crowd on their feet and happy. Jimi B's is a grat large tiki area, with three bar area and different levels, and a nice boardwalk out to the water that is dimly lit. Great atmosphere, people and music, we spent most of the night here, before retiring back to Travelodge to sleep on the flimsy mattresses and pillows.

Its off the Madre's for dinner with the family, and watch the Bucs this afternoon!

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