2012 marked a milestone birthday, turning THIRTY! I had originally thought about going to Quebec City to ring in my 30th. After seeing that fares would be around $600 and that I only had 3 days off, I looked at other locales. I thought about Toronto and perhaps Montreal again. What can I say, I love going to Canada. :)
One of my co-workers/friends at the hotel, Laura, has always talked about Florida and how amazing (and warm) it is. She is from Florida and suggested that I check it out. I started to do some research, and found that Sarasota and Siesta Key has some of the nicest beaches in all of Florida. I also found that there was a beautiful Venetian/Mediterranean styled house called Cà d'Zan. It is part of the Ringling Brothers Art Museum complex. I looked up prices and I found tickets to Sarasota for only $240 roundtrip/no connections! After seeing fares to Toronto jump up to $300, I decided that the decision was already made for me and I booked my ticket to Sarasota. I also found great hotel deals on hotels.com and got an amazing King Studio for $70 a night! This is where I stayed:
I went to Florida from the 17th thru the 19th of December. I got to the airport early and after a half-hour delay, I was on my way! Flying there took three hours and I had a couple of really cool views outside my airplane window:
|Rainbow Sun. A good omen of things to come?|
|Cool balance of white and blue.|
I thought it was kind of cool to see the "rainbow sun" outside my plane window, so I took a photo of it. While I was flying, I also noticed how the clouds and the sky had this perfect balance. After getting off the plane, I headed over to Avis to get my rental car and talked to this nice gentleman. He noticed it was going to be my birthday the next day and for a really great deal, upgraded me to a black Mustang Convertible for cheap! I thought that was an awesome way to start my birthday. Thank you, Avis! :-)
I got back to my hotel later in the afternoon and dropped my stuff off and went to the beach! I laid out for a couple of hours and it got pretty cloudy. I decided to go back to my hotel and take it easy for the rest of the day. I wasn't feeling too well, so I ordered some Chinese Hot and Sour soup and passed out. The next day I woke up and felt considerably better. I was up early and walked the beach of Siesta Key and got to see the sunrise. Some shots from my walk on the beach:
|Sunrise in Siesta Key! I walked all the way to the area on the left. It was an hour walk.|
|Colourful sea foam on the beach.|
|Untouched white sand on the beach close to Siesta Key Public Beach.|
After my walk on the beach, I headed over to this great little coffee place called LeLu Coffee Lounge and had some Cuban Coffee and a Plantains Waffle. Downtown Siesta Key has some cute little bars and restaurants. I walked all the way back to my hotel and got ready to lay out on the beach!
I laid out for the rest of the day, reading Neil Gaiman's "American Gods". If you haven't read it, it's quite good. It blends old-world gods with Americana and a war between these old gods and new gods, like "technology" and "media". I had some Bud Light Lime (according to Laura, the drink of Florida) and enjoyed the sun for the rest of the day.
Later that evening, I went to a great Peruvian restaurant called Javier's. I had some Pisco Sour which was quite strong! Great place and great traditional food. The next day was going to be a busy one. I checked out of my hotel and in my convertible I zoomed over to St. Petersburg to go and see the Salvador Dali Museum. I definitely like the surrealism of his paintings and his work, but I was more excited to photograph the exterior and interior of the museum. The structure is built out of concrete and glass. The building is designed to be able to withstand a Category 3 Hurricane. Here are some shots below:
I headed back over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge (with amazing views of Tampa Bay) to Bradenton for my next stop, the South Florida Museum to see manatees! I have always had a weird fascination with manatees and I decided that being in Florida I should go and see them. Case in point: years ago when I worked at Starbucks in Seattle my coworkers bought me a giant stuffed manatee as a birthday present. I ended up seeing 3 manatees swimming around in a tank. One of them named "Snooty" is the oldest known manatee in captivity at 64 years old. Here are a couple shots below:
|Feeding time for the manatees!|
|One of the more clear shots I got through the tank.|
It was surreal to see how slow they were. The maximum speed they go is 5 miles per hour! After I spent an hour watching them swim slowly and eat lettuce, I went around and looked around the museum. Discovered this amazing Florida photographer named Clyde Butcher that has photographed the Florida Everglades for over 50 years. His purpose is to document the ever changing Florida landscape as more people move in and for people to protect and conserve the Everglades. A snapshot I took on my iPhone that I thought was cool was this:
|Ghost Orchid or bearded demon?|
This is a photograph that Clyde Butcher took of a ghost orchid, but I thought it looked a little bearded demon. Quite surreal and beautiful to me. After the museum it was time to go to one more place before heading back to New York: Ringling Museum of Art.
The Ringling Museum of Art is a giant complex with several museum's, the notable Ca d'Zan house, and a garden with several different kinds of roses. Here is the website to check out more info:
The museum is right next to the airport, so it's a great way to end your stay in the Sarasota area before you head back. I was most excited to see Ca d'Zan and see the Venetian inspired architecture. The museum is right next to the airport, so it's a great way to end your stay in the Sarasota area before you head back. I was most excited to see Ca d'Zan and see the Venetian inspired architecture. Check out this amazing mansion!:
|Beautiful detail at the top of the building.|
|On the ceiling.|
|The old parlour and bar area.|
|The magnificent main area and ceiling of the mansion.|
|A beautiful yellow rose.|
|On the balcony overlooking the bay..|
It was awe inspiring to walk in and see this magnificent place! The detail and time that was put in to this place makes me appreciate older buildings and the craftsmanship that was put into it. I walked to the Ringling Brothers Art museum and photographed the building, and then it was time to go home. :)
|The Ringling Brothers Art Museum.|
I loved my time in Florida and know that I will be back to check out other areas of the state. I would like to go to the Keys or even Miami.