And I’ve set sail again, this time to the largest gathering of like-minded maritime adventurers in all of the country, Gasparilla! This time I’m bringing the dragon who calls herself Stevie. The journey begins by first scouting out the local lands of Tampa Bay before the invasion, then it’s off on a ship of my own – well, it’ll be mine by the time I’m through – through the Bahamas before returning back to less foreign lands in Orlando for wizardry and magic.
Given the sheer number of events we’re packing for, including garb for both Gasparilla and a “bombshell” 30s and 40s era fashion cruise, we ended up with 3 full-size suitcases, 2 carry-ons, and 2 personal-sized items. So much luggage.
The morning’s travels were satisfactory, arriving in plenty of time despite traffic’s best efforts otherwise. The flight attendant taking care of us was incredibly friendly, and after we purchased our first drink – a Sun Liquor rum to get in the right mindset – she continued to bring us more free of charge. A good start to any trip!
Also, you should all know that Tampa has a serious shark infestation in their airport. It’s a problem.
We settled into our hotel room and both realized we hadn’t really eaten much today, and it was now around 7pm local time. Fortunately, the area we’re staying in has lots of places around it to eat, and we settled on the nearby Bonefish Grill. When in a port city, the local seafood is a must. Our server was the kindest individual and gave us tips on local places to check out: the Sail Pavilion, Hyde Park, and Ybor City. The couple behind us overheard our conversation and stopped to chat with us for a while on their way out too. I believe the husband said he was on the city council, and he was happy to talk to us and give us local tips on surviving Gasparilla. Such friendly people in Tampa!
After a delicious dinner with bellies full of tasty fish, we walked part of the way toward The Sail Pavilion for a drink, catching pokémon on Pokémon Go along the way. No joke, there are 3 gyms near our hotel, all of them level 10 Team Mystic gyms! Go Team Mystic! When there were no more pokéstops within visible distance along the way, we called a Lyft to drive us the remaining two and a half miles. Our driver was also exceptionally friendly, even though the suggested route to our destination took us through a massive road closure that looped us around a few times. He gave us a brief tour of Bayshore Boulevard, the main thoroughfare through which much of the parade on Saturday will cover.
We eventually reached our destination, though we didn’t stay long. We each ordered one drink and sat down at an outdoor table (seriously, it’s in the mid-60s here even in winter and at night), with Stevie getting distracted by every four-legged critter along the way. After finishing our drinks, we leisurely walked along the Tampa Riverwalk in the general direction back toward our hotel to get on the other side of the traffic congestion nightmare that delayed us on the way in before we called another Lyft to bring us back to our hotel.
We’re now back in our hotel room and about to call it a night. Tomorrow is the only real day we don’t have significant plans, so we picked up a bunch of tourist brochures in the vending area on our way in. My only real complaint about the hotel we’re staying in is that the wifi service is embarrassingly slow, and it’s taking what few pictures I did take are taking forever to upload. I’m running close to my mobile data cap this month, so that won’t be a sustainable option, but it’ll have to do tonight.