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2023 - November - Florida - Day 3

Our internal time clocks seem to have adjusted ironically just in time for the USA Clocks to go back over the weekend. However, an early start was still required as we had a Segway tour booked for 10am in St Petersburg. We were in breakfast for 8am (back to scrambled eggs today) and in the car ready to leave at 9am.

It was only a short 20-minute drive to our destination which we found very easily. The meeting places for these Segway tours are always quite strange and today was a locked-up Pub a few blocks back from the marina area.

There was a parking area but it only offered a daily rate of $15 which I felt was too much. I moved it to a parking meter slot on the road which offered a charge of $1.50 per hour which was better, until I realised that you could stay in the slot for a maximum 2 hours. As we were early, we decided to drive round a couple of blocks to see alternatives and found a multi-story car park offering a daily rate for $6 and I was happier with that.

We walked back to the still closed pub and sat outside waiting. I didn’t have a good feeling about this but felt better when another couple from Ohio turned up to join the tour as well. We were having a good chat with them (as per usual they were many questions about the Royal Family) when we realised that it was now way past the 10am start time. The other couple phoned the Segway company and were told the guide was off sick and the tour had been cancelled. Nice of them to tell us. In subsequent emails they agreed to honour our ‘expired’ vouchers for future use which was the least they could do.

By now Karen needed a coffee so we walked to a nearby Starbucks to replan our morning. I discovered there was a large market taking place next to the Rowdies Stadium so we headed walking off in that direction. Normally these markets I find a bit meh, but this was large, noisy with a band playing, bustling and full of people. There were loads of interesting stalls selling all sorts of things from fruit we didn’t recognise to Kimchi and hats for dogs. It was obviously a big weekly event for locals and many had brought their dogs with them (some of which looked very dapper in their new hats).

We had a peek into the open Rowdies Stadium and saw a few people training on their pitch, but nowhere did it say that it was Tampa time.

Then we decided to walk along the marina to the pier area. The weather was perfect and within that small window of what Karen deems to be hot but not too hot. Even more pleasingly was that my knee was behaving itself today after causing some issues the day before. I was wearing a compression knee brace and the pain was bearable providing I didn’t try to push it.

We made it to the delightfully revitalised pier and wandered through more market stalls at the beginning. I was excited by one that had a sign offering free belly rubs until I saw in smaller letters that it applied to dogs only.

The pier is sufficiently long that there is a free train tram that offers rides at four points along it. We decided to walk it. At the end there were lots of people fishing but none seemed to be catching anything. We looked round a gift shop at the end and then took the elevator to the 4th floor to the Planet Teaki (sic) bar. It had a marvellous view but had no tables free, was in the shade and only served alcohol. Instead, we made our way down to the ground floor café which although still in the shade had alternative drink choices, although only fruit-based teas rather than proper tea. I just shook my head with disappointment. We shared a diet coke and ate some fruit we had brought with us.

As we walked back, we came across a Reggae Festival that was being set up to one side of the pier. I looked up who was starring and not being au fait with the USA Reggae scene I hadn’t heard of anyone apart from 2 of Bob Marley’s sons who were appearing on the bill.

After a short sit down under a beautiful pergola covered in red flowers in Pioneer Park we headed back to the car and back to the Hotel via a stop at a Five Below store. The day at St Petersburg hadn’t been quite what we had expected but we had thoroughly enjoyed it.

After a short time back in our room (which had been serviced today) we headed out for an early dinner at 5.30pm for our first visit to Outback this trip. It was less than 3 miles away. Because we were early, we were seated straightaway. It was a new Outback restaurant and we liked the changes. My food was to the usual high standard, although Karen wasn’t so happy with her steak. She hadn’t realised it was happy hour when she ordered and got a large beer for the price of a small. She struggled to finish it.

We then moved the car across the road as I wanted to buy a SunPass portable transponder from Publix. The car rental firms here use road tolls as a cash cow for them, especially as the tolls are unmanned and you cannot pay as you go through in most cases. They offer choices when it comes to toll roads – you can take out unlimited cover whereby they charge you a large one-off exorbitant fee for the rental period plus the cost of any tolls, or you can pay a daily charge of around $6 each day you use a toll plus whatever toll charges you incur.

Of course, if you do neither and they receive a toll charge the admin cost is even more ludicrously high.

Or as I have found out you can choose to switch off their transponder and buy your own. They don’t advertise that option at all. The $14 initial cost will soon repay itself even if the website to register it was not easy to navigate.

Back in the room I set up the VPN for Karen to watch Strictly whilst I caught up with some holiday admin. Then once we had heard from Neil that he was safely in his Heathrow hotel ready for his flight tomorrow we retired for the night.

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