Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Snapshots of Tampa // July 2015

You may remember this post, where I touched on the difficulties of traveling with family, and flying through rain, etc.... well ... 

Wayyyyyyy back in July, KC & I visited Florida with his family for a wedding and a vacation. Like 9 months later... here's a post!

We spent 7 days in and around Tampa and the Gulf Coast of Florida... so let's start with Tampa.

Ah, Tampa. 

Most of our family activities (the wedding, BBQ the next day, etc.) were centered around the greater Tampa area. So, while we didn't spend a huge amount of time exploring Tampa, we did see a few really great places! I really enjoyed what we saw, but have a HUGE list of things we didn't get to! Next time, I suppose. :) 

Eat: Columbia Restaurant, since 1905. Frequented by greats like Marilyn Monroe & Joe Demaggio. We reserved our dinner during a flamenco show, because, why not? Where else will you get to see flamenco?! It was well worth the price! The mojito was amazing, we had the "Joe and Marilyn" and we liked it!

*we did not try these, but what I would have eaten in Tampa.* Guava turnovers at Alessi Bakery and Aloe Smoothies at Cepha's Hot Shop. We also didn't get to try Cuban Coffee.*

See: Ybor city, the Cuban/Spanish section of the city. It is filled with beautiful tiles and buildings, as well as cultural places like the Columbia, art deco architecture, cigar rolling, etc. Take a tour or see a show at the Tampa Theater. It was closed when we went by, but they offer tours starting at $5. I bet it is gorgeous inside!

Shop: Ybor city has a lot of shops and restaurants, great for souvenirs and normal shopping. We also went to Oxford Exchange, aka one of THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOKSTORES EVER! Ohmygoodness, I could live there. It was expertly curated. The most beautiful books, the best decor, a cafe, a coffee bar, a tea bar, a gift shop side.... just head to toe one of the most impressive bookstores I have ever seen. (yes, this is coming from someone who nearly exclusively buys used books!) I would 100% recommend this store for anyone who loves to shop, read, or for anyone who loves design.

Do: Explore Ybor City. See a flamenco show at the Columbia Restaurant. Watch cigar rolling. Take an art deco walking tour. See a show or take a tour of the Tampa Theater.

Favorites: The Mojitos and show at the Columbia Restaurant. Shopping and just staring at the store at Oxford Exchange.

New Experiences: Seeing a flamenco performance. Having a full Spanish meal. I've had tapas before... and sangria... but not a full Spanish meal! My first mojito too!

Random Tip: When you're traveling, figure out what the place has, that you don't have at home! Even better, if you haven't seen it anywhere else. For example, Flemenco isn't popular in Kansas, but seeing it in a Spanish restaurant, with the food and the atmosphere was priceless. That goes for food too. Guava turnovers, how exotic and delicious! (Next time guava turnovers, next time). You certainly don't want to look back on your trip and realize that you had Starbucks and went to a mall. (unless of course that's what you WANT to do while traveling.) We try to shake it up, for us that's the fun of travel! :)

Have you been to Tampa?

Do you like Spanish food? Have you ever seen a performance on a trip that you could never have seen at home?

Anybody else want to go to Oxford Exchange and shop for books... like right now?!?! 

Upcoming Florida Posts: Dunedin, Tarpon Springs, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Orlando/Winter Park, and "The Treasure Coast."

Happy Travels!


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