US trip: 20 March 2017

21 03 2017

Today was a full ‘day off’. I had planned a lot to see and do in the Tampa/St Petersburg area, with contingencies if the timing wasn’t right, but I got everything on my list done.

First up was a visit to Blick’s Art Supplies near the Tampa International Airport. Think Office Depot (US) or Office Works (Australia), but for art supplies! Heaven on a stick 😉 I didn’t buy much (I have to cart it home) but I looked at EVERYTHING in the store.

Next I headed across the bay to St Petersburg and the Dali Museum, where there was also a Frida Kahlo exhibit on at the same time. The admission price ($24 for adults) gave access to both. The docent-led tour of the Dali works was meant to be 45 mins, but she had a really big group at 11:30 on a Monday (I think the tours are every hour on the half hour). This meant she was very slow getting through her spiel and answering questions, and waiting for all of us to get up close and personal to see some of the imagery she was explaining. I left the group after about 30 mins after realising I might have been better off getting the free audio handset/headset and being guided by that instead. That’s what most people were doing. What the docent said up to that point was interesting and useful, but I found it was too drawn out because of the group’s size. The paintings are pretty awesome.

I’m not sure what I was expecting with the Frida Kahlo exhibit, but those expectations weren’t met for me. There was almost none of her brightly coloured work on display; instead, plenty of large black and white photos, lots of text about her life, and quite a few of her smaller and more intimate pieces. It was hard to see, but if you looked up after the first two ‘rooms’ of the exhibit, there was a sign that said that the family-friendly part finished and the full tour kept going. The more graphic works were in the ‘full tour’ section.

This painting was HUGE and amazing. If you squint you can see a pixellated Lincoln portrait!

Next stop was Mazzaro’s Italian Market for lunch. This place had great reviews on TripAdvisor, and a personal recommendation from a friend, so I made the effort to get there. It’s not in either town and you’ll need a car/cab to get there. I had the HUGE Hot Italian sandwich (for an amazingly cheap $5.50) and it was all kinds of awesome.

From Mazzaro’s I headed south on I-275 over the super high Skyway Bridge across the bay to Ellenton where there’s an outlet mall. Did a small amount of shopping (I knew what I wanted) before heading north again (this time on I-75) to Apollo Beach and the Manatee Viewing Center (free admission) immediately next to the main power station for Tampa.

There were lots of manatees! They don’t do much, but they did move around a bit, surface for air every few minutes, occasionally give a glimpse of their tails. Mostly, they just looked like submerged logs in the water.

I didn’t get back to the AirBNB place until 6pm, so it was a long day of circling the entire Tampa Bay!