Oh America, the land of the extremes and dreams. Being an adventurous gal, I snagged the opportunity to visit Tampa, Florida during the holiday weekend. A trip to Florida for most tourists would mean a visit to Florida Keys, Orlando, or Miami. Rarely does a visit to Tampa occur and if it does one would visit the amusement parks and the aquariums. However, instead of hitting up the tourist destinations I was able to spend the past few days as a local Tampan — all thanks to having a friend who resides in Tampa!
During my three full days in Tampa I ate, lazed, and jumped on puddles — sounds boring? In fact, I had a lot of fun, it was a relaxation to my vacation.
From my hometown there are discount airlines that offer quick and cheap flights to Florida. I chose Frontier and spent $122 round trip, which is quite a steal considering I booked at the last minute and had to check-in my luggage, as well.
As I arrived to Tampa, I was immediately introduced to Tres Leches and the famous Cuban Sandwich. Tres Leches, also known as Three Milk Bread, is a moist and soft sponge cake soaked heavily in a mixture of three milks: condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream. As you poke your spoon inside the cake not only does the bread break apart but a stream of milk flows out. Imagine eating a cake with melted ice cream. All your childhood dreams fulfilled in one dessert.
Cuban sandwich is a no-frill delicious grilled sandwich made with ham, pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard and Cuban bread. It taste best when pressed and warmed like a panini sandwich.
The notable activity of that night was the Silver Moon Drive-In Theatre. Are there any Riverdale fans? If so, I was saddened with the episode on the Twilight Drive-In Theatre as it was about to be torn apart. Luckily, before the future extinction of all drive-in theatre’s, I’m glad to say I can cross this off my bucket list now!
It was a fun experience and Wonder Woman was exciting. Who can ever deny a movie with Chris Pine? Although, the real winner of this film was the wondrous fighter Gal Gadot. The most intriguing part of this whole experience was how the audio would come through the radio. All this time I always wondered if there was an amplified speaker that would provide the audio but I was wrong. Also, the weather was a bit rainy but it suited the movie especially during the action scenes. However, the constant windshield could be a bother to people while watching a movie.
On to Day Two:
An early morning start to the day as I was able to cross off another item on my bucket list. I embraced my adventurous self and tried out an extreme activity — gun range. The sound is frightening; however, it is exhilarating. The gun range does give an extra kick of adrenaline. If you asked me five years ago if I ever would go to a gun range, I would have cried and shouted “no way.”
After numerous attempts, I semi-shot the bullseye!
The next stop of the day was Sonny’s BBQ! The amount of food that I ate was enough to recharge me for the rest of the day.
I indulged in a lot of BBQ that weekend but then what would Fourth of July be without the smoky hickory BBQ sauce slathered all over the ribs?
The picture on the left is a corn fritter, which is corn mashed together and deep fried with a layer of dough on the outside. The platter is perfect to be shared amongst two people. Out of the variety of the meat given I enjoyed the ribs the most! The best part of this restaurant is the different variations of BBQ sauce they have for us to slather onto our meat. The sides were just as yummy especially the corn bread and the garlic bread.
I enjoyed my Sonny’s BBQ experience and I’m hoping that it decides to expand outside of the Southern territory come to the North East! New Yorkers love BBQ just as much as the South does!
The morning was spent checking out a local flea market. After rummaging through a bunch of battered old dusty comic books, I opted to buy a jar of honey and handmade dreamcatcher instead. Since the weather was nice for once, I ate lunch outside in a Nathan’s Hot Dog stand — what a classic tradition for Fourth of July!
Do not fret, all 6 hotdog’s were not mines. I have no plans to enter the Hot Dog competition.
To end the last night, I visited the antiquated Ybor City. The pictures below show the deserted atmosphere of this short street. It would have been more fun on a Friday or Saturday night as there are a lot of bars and smoke shops. I can imagine the night life would be bustling but during the daytime it was quiet. After all, the chicken was bored and waiting for people to come entertain him.
Can I just mention how proud I am that I was able to snap a picture of a palm tree before coming back home. Since I was not visiting any beaches I was nervous that I would come back to the land of fading grasses and falling brown leaves without properly viewing the palm trees of Florida.
The Columbia Restaurant is located in Ybor City and is known to be the oldest (still-operating) restaurant in Florida. Along with being the oldest Spanish restaurant in the United States. They also have a gift shop and it was the only place in Tampa where I was able to find a postcard!
Instead of dining in Columbia Restaurant I dined at the famous food chain Waffle House. Not only is there a copious amount of food but it is also relatively cheap. Also, have you ever heard of the Waffle House index? If a storm approaches when every other restaurant closes, Waffle House will do their best to try to stay open — unless a dire situation arises then everyone should stay at home. It’s time for IHOP to step up their game, as well as, Waffle House to expand to the North!
There you have it, my three day trip to Tampa! Did I have fun? Yes, I did! The food I ate there was so delicious that I came back with 30 extra pounds. So much for summer shedding!