Florida - April 2022 - Day 1
Here comes the Sun.
Well, if there is one thing you can count on in Florida it is the sun. And the rain. And in the summer the humidity as well. And then the sun again.
Today we were looking forward to a beach-based day in the sun. We would not be disapointed. We had hoped though the day would start later than 5am that jet lag meant we were both wide awake by. Karen complained that my phone woke her by pinging with messages, when in reality in it was her own phone. In the still dark we both checked our phones to pass the time before breakfast became available from 6.30am.
Breakfast was not too bad. The scrambled eggs were fine although the round pork sausage patties were a little bit strange. It amused me to read through the window a sign reading ‘Danger – Alligators & Snakes’, something you don’t see outside a Holiday Inn Express in the UK.
Just after 9am we were on the road to one of our favourite destinations – Anna Maria Island which was about 30 minutes west from the hotel. The traffic wasn’t bad but there did seem an inordinate number of traffic lights on the route which all appeared to take 3 days to change. Waiting at one of them gave me enough time to somehow coax the radio into tuning to a FM station. It pleased us enormously although by the time of the journey home we realised that they only appeared to have about 8 different tracks to play. Every other one was Ed Sheeran ‘Shivers’.
The approach to the Island was busy but we made it with only about another 10 minutes later than the Sat Nav initially suggested. We parked at the City Hall (a building less like the Norwich one as it could possibly be) and decided to walk the ½ mile across the island to the Pier. It was a lovely walk down a shop and café lined street. Or rather it would have been if I had worn the appropriate footwear. Before leaving I had opted for Flip Flops as I thought we would just be walking along the beach. I forgot to put any other footwear in the car. A schoolboy error for most people but potentially catastrophic for someone with my problematic feet. The trouble was my feet had not been used to wearing Flip Flops for any length of time. By the time we just got to the Pier both my feet were very sore and the skin had been rubbed and broken. Karen had some plasters in her bag and did her best to do some running repairs on me.
We walked out onto the pier which we were pleased to find had now been fully rebuilt after being lost in a hurricane a few years back. It was quite crowded with loads of people fishing but no one actually catching anything. We sat for a while in the sun watching and then moved back along the pier to sit again looking at the sea. It was simply lovely.
To break the journey up walking back across the island we stopped for a coffee break to top up Karen’s caffeine levels.
We then headed to The Sandbar’ restaurant on Beach Drive and hoped we were early enough to get a seat on the beach. We were and it felt like bliss sitting with our feet on the cool stunningly white sand. Karen had a beer whilst we contemplated what to order. I went for a bowl of Clam Chowder which was amazing. Karen had a really good-looking Caesar Salad. We shared some delicious fresh bread that had been ruined by the addition of Olives.
After lingering at the table for as long as we dared possible, we set off for a 30 minute walk up the beach.
The weather was perfect, the sea was a lovely green colour and the sand seemed almost bleached white. I believe it is almost pure quartz. It made all the efforts to get here so very worth it. We turned around after 15 minutes surprised at how far we walked. We needed to turn as Karen was concerned, that she was then starting to burn in the sun going in the same direction.
The car was a tad warm inside by the time we got back to it. Karen complained her seat was too hot again but for a different reason this time. Quite why they put leather seats in a car which is being used in Florida is a mystery to me.
We then drove down Longboat Key marvelling at the enormous beachfront houses and how people could afford them.
Eventually we arrived at St Armands Circle where we stopped for a couple of hours for a wander and to get a couple of drinks. Again, it was all rather lovely.
We drove through Sarasota to get back to the Hotel where we chilled out for a hour or so before heading out again. Here we learnt about how our Prime Minister and Chancellor had just both been fined for ‘partygate’. My opinion for what its worth is that I accept that they did not attend ‘parties’ as such, but they cannot be above the law that they themselves set. I do though find the hysteria around it from some people does not help at all. I think that whilst the PM & Rishi have much credit in the bank for many aspects of the handling of the pandemic, this issue on balance outweighs most of that and they should do the decent thing and resign. There is never a good time to do so and disapointingly there is no obvious person ready to take over (either as Tory or Labour). I suspect that if the local elections results are bad and that means more backbenchers think they may lose their seats in the next general election they may force his hand. I think that this issue will linger in the voter’s memory for a long time.
Our evening meal tonight was to be our first Outback of the trip. It was about 6 miles away. We were quickly seated and both ordered our usual Sirloin special. It was still good but not spectacular. There was something missing that we could not put our fingers onto. Not sure if it was this particular restaurant or whether something bigger within the brand had changed. We will just have to try another one in a day or so.
On the way back to the Hotel, Karen wanted to have a wander around Walmart. Fortunately there was one close by. For a Walmart it was both tidy, organised and quite empty. We got everything we needed and finally exhausted we retired back to the Hotel.
Another tiring but good day as we rediscovered why the love the Gulf Coast so much.