Wednesday, April 29, 2009

LA to Tampa Roadtrip

My buddy who bought a condo in downtown Tampa at Skypoint is now back in Tampa from LA. I flew out Friday, and we drove back the I-10 route through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and finally Florida. Left at 2pm Friday afternoon, got to Tampa at 2pm Tuesday afternoon!!

So now he's moving in, and has lots to explore in an ever emerging downtown, which was once the epicenter of life in Tampa until the 1960's when surburbia came to town, but now is establishing itself with new establishments and people actually LIVING in the city center.

The 41st Birthday is ahead tomorrow, so LOTS to consider for the long Birthday Weekend...dinner at Malio's, A trip to the Tampa Bay History Center, Busch Gardens, MOSI's Body Works Exhibit, Asia Fest and Dragon Boat Races, Shakespeare in the Park, Rays vs Red Sox Baseball game, St. Pete's First Friday, ECO-lution "Paint the town Green", The beach, etc......and the weather should be perfect too!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Back in Tampa from NYC

Work took me to Somerset, NJ last week, then I decided to make a weekend out of one of my favorite cities, NYC. Staying at my companies apartment along 1st Avenue near 14th Street was very convenient, and its nice to feel like a resident in Manhattan when your just visiting. Some highlights included Vamos mexican for a few Happy Hour Coronas and some Chips and Salsa outside along 1st Avenue..then a trip up to Hell's Kitchen neighborhood for Sushi at Bamboo52, and some bar hopping to Barrage, The Ritz, 9th Avenue Saloon before heading back down to the East Village at finishing the first night along 2nd Avenue entertainment venues.

Friday, after a nice sleep-in, had some of the best bagels with Lox and Cream Cheese at Ess-a-Bagel along 1st Avenue near 20th...then we hit Midtown area went up to "Top of the Rock" at Rockefeller Plaza, for an amazing 75 sotry view of the city, it was sucha clear day, and warm you could see practically forever. Central Park was next to take advantage of the great day, LOTS of people playing hookie today on NYC first warm day of the year...a few NY hot dogs, and a great stroll around the park. The evening took us to Legends along 33rd Street at 5th Ave to meet some friends, then walked over to Chelsea neighborhood for eats at Ate Ave along 8th Ave near 19th Streets. It was another great night so we walked along 14th street back to the East Village, passing through Union Sqaure.

Saturday, an early breakfast of NY style egg sandwich's on a roll, and we rented some bikes to spend the next 4 hours biking around the island of Manhatten. There is a Greenway that allows uninterrupted biking along the entire island..we started on the East side along the East River, passing under the Williamsburg, Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, along Southstreet Seaport, Battery Park, and then up along side the Hudson River....everything was in full bloom for spring time, many many NY's out and about to take advantage of another great day...we made it to 100th Street, before heading back, and veering over to the Brooklyn Bridge on the way back, a perfect spot for some of the best views of the Manhatten Skyline from the Brooklyn Bridge over the East River. After returning the bikes and cleaning up a bit, we met some other friends for Brunch at Gemma in the Bowery Hotel down in the East Village...lots of outdoor seating along Bowery Street, perfect for people watching and enjoying was great too!! The a walk over to my friends place in the Lower East Side, to enjoy some wines on the rooftop of their apt building...and then we headed to the West Village to meet up with others...Duplex, Pieces, Marie Crisis piano bar, there was ALOT of entertainment this Saturday night....and we ended the night back in the East Village at quite a few more establishments.

The LIRR got us back to the plane in time to leave NYC from Long Island...and back to reality...

Leaving for Los Angeles on Friday morning, a buddy is moving back to Tampa, and I will be driving cross country with him....a looong drive with stops in Utah, Denver, St. Louis along the way...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Visitors again in Tampa

Visitors came into Tampa for their first trip ever here...I believe they had a great time lounging by my friends pool on the Bay, soaking up the excellent weekend weather..yet again!

Friday we all went over to Busch Gardens, there was a front that came through and produced huge rains for the morning, but by noon, all was cleared up, and it turned out to be an excellent day...with barely anybody in the park this past Friday, we were able to walk on all rides and attractions...FUN!! We miss the "free samples" of Anheiser Busch beer products that the park used to give out, and they have now turned the Hospitality House into a Cafe, SELLING beers as they do throughout the park..we also noticed prices for food have gone up by $2...the BBQ was great yet again near Sheikra...and its always nice being able to casually walk around and see lots of animals and exhibits between some of the best roller coasters ...I saw an exhibit I've yet to see all the times i have been to the Gardens, the Hippo Gorge near Egypt.

Saturday was a perfect day for yet another outdoor festival, the annual Hyde Park Art Festival, in the Village. Over 200 artisits from all over the world converged in the Village, excellent creativity...we were able to grab a nice table outside of Rastaurant BT for their sandwich's (Lemon Chicken and Sliced Tenderloin), served up on some of the freshest, soft warm baked bread(rolls), and served with a tangy Cucumber salad...Mojitos were on call for the afternoon, and they were excellently prepared here at BT. After walking through the village, and Hyde Park neighborhood, we stumbled upon the Tiny Tap on Morrison Ave near Howard Ave for a pitcher of beer and some socializing in this, one of the oldest bars in Tampa. Simple, plain, cheap bar with Pool tables, TV's, Foosball, a Juke Box and some video games...
Saturday night..Italian food was calling the visitors, so a trip to Ybor was on call for the Laughing I have written many times, THE place for Italian in Tampa. Before dinner, we visited a few places..Gaspar's Grotto patio was having a Great Dane Rescue charity party, then we went to a new Mexican place called Cinco de was the old Sushi place Sushi on 7th, and they did a great job inside the long stainless steal bar, where we had some Margarita specials, on the rocks, with Salt. The it was a trip to Columbia's bar, where there was a piano player and small band playing very cool tunes, and we imbibed on the Imported Red Sangria, and as my friends all said, it was PERFECT. Of course I was giving them a little history along the way to Laughing Cat restaurant...Peter was our server this time, and as usual GREAT SERVICE-GREAT FOOD, all were happy and very full, but not too full that we couldn't stop across the street at Streetcar Charlies for an after dinner drink, the Club Czar, where I had to take one of them cause he is a Liquor distributor, and LOVES his Vodka...and this is the place in Tampa, with over 50 varieties of Vodka from all over the world, he was in heaven...a few ice shots that they pour any brand of vodka in an ice shot, and then throw the ice shot against the wall...great DJ's were playing in both rooms of Club Czar.....then a stroll over to Reservior Bar, where Momma did what she does best(besides bartending), and took one of my friends, (the birthday girl), over the pool table while everyone watched, and gave her the Birthday spankings...a tradition in this place when Momma has the time. It was nice to see all the wait staff from Laughing Cat in the Reservoir Bar, we were able to have quite a few laughs there, before hitting up Green Iguana a few blocks down on 7th Avenue, only to find about 2 dozen people in the whole place...with no band(only acoustic) in the one room, and a DJ in the other room spinning dance tunes...we knew it was time to head home, but you cant leave Ybor without a slice of late night off to Demi's Market, where they usually have a band, but this night the bands ended there around midnight...and then a safe Taxi ride back home.

Sunday they all took off for Pass-a-Grille beach, my favorite in the area when you want a beach with some restaurants and shops, but not overwhelming, its a small town/village like just south of St. Pete Beach.