We landed at Fort Lauderdale on Monday 22nd February. We’d planned to arrive back in Sarasota on Thursday 25th, allowing ourselves three days on the east coast of Florida.
The Atlantic coast
We spent one whole day in Fort Lauderdale, as we originally planned to do when we landed there a year ago, before news of a condo for sale sent us rushing back to Sarasota. We bought tickets for the ‘water taxi’, a boat (or rather a series of boats) that enables you to travel around the city, stopping off at points of interest. That’s the theory, anyway. We were staying close to one of the stops, so it seemed the perfect way to see the city sights. However, we had not realised that the distance involved, and the low max speeds permitted, means that it takes some time to do a complete circuit, even without stopping.
During the day, we stopped only once, at Hollywood (south of Fort Lauderdale), which is a real seaside resort – fun to compare and contrast with those we know in the UK. Some parts of the boat trip were frankly boring, but it was interesting to see the beautiful waterside mansions of the rich and famous. Unfortunately, the weather (although warm) was cloudy and dull. As the tickets were valid all day, we did another boat trip in the evening, and enjoyed that rather more.
Next day we headed north, making a number of stops en route. At Delrey Beach we went for a walk along the sands, and observed many jellyfish washed up on the beach – these were identified by a lifeguard as Portuguese men of war. We went for short strolls around the towns of Boynton Beach and Palm Beach. The weather was sunny, at least in the morning. In the afternoon we got stuck in traffic, and then there was a thunderstorm, which cut short our visit to one of Florida’s state parks.
Back to Sarasota
After an overnight stop in the town of Stuart, we drove west across Florida back to Sarasota. On the way we stopped in the town of Arcadia, and marvelled at the number of antique shops in the ‘historic district’ there.
It was good to be back in our condo. Ralph and Kitty (our Canadian ‘tenants’) were still there, and had prepared dinner for six, including a couple they wanted us to meet. It was a good homecoming!
We were not in Sarasota for long. After lunch on Saturday we said farewell to Kitty and Ralph, who were leaving next day. We drove up to Tampa and met our friend Caroline at the airport; she had flown over from the UK to spend two weeks with us. We stayed overnight in a motel near the airport, and on Sunday we headed back to Sarasota, pausing to visit three places en route.
First was Ybor City, and old and interesting part of Tampa which was once home to the cigar industry, and many Cuban immigrants.
Then across Tampa Bay to the barrier islands; we stopped in Clearwater for coffee, followed by a stroll on the pier and around the harbour.
Finally St Petersburg, where we had lunch sitting in the sun and walked along the waterfront. It was very pleasant, and we do like St Petersburg – but we particularly liked the inverted pyramid building on the end of the pier, and were shocked to find that it was no longer there. It had been demolished (since our last visit) to make way for a new pier, to be opened in 2018.