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Complaints About Florida Travel Clubs Growing

February 27, 2009

Lured by the promise of a free vacation, retirees Elaine and John Chubbuck plunked down $7,900 to join a Coral Springs travel club that claimed it could get them deep discounts on cruises and exotic resorts.

But for several months after they paid the fee, the Boca Raton couple said they were consistently told by club agents that their desired dates and destinations were not available.

The Chubbucks are among 84 people who have filed complaints … Read more on the Sun Sentinel

Ban on Spring Breakers? Not This Year.

February 26, 2009

SPRING break is back. After years of shunning the traditional college crowd in favor of a more affluent, tamer clientele, hotels and resort destinations are once again rolling out the welcome mat for party-hearty students.

The Pro Family Spring Break Coalition of Panama City Beach, Fla., which in 2007 put out a press release about its efforts to “fight back against college spring break,” has disbanded, though the businesses that made up the group still actively market to families. For the second year in a row the city has teamed up with mtvU, MTV’s college network, with two weeks of live performances and undulating student crowds from March 8 to 21.

Read more on The NY Times here …

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AirTran Launches Fare Sale for Travel into Fall

February 25, 2009

In a sign of great uncertainty about demand for air travel this year amid the deep U.S. recession, discount carrier AirTran Airways launched a fare sale to all its destinations Tuesday for flights through the middle of the fall.

Read more on USA Today here …

South Florida Tourism Slump Worsens in January

February 25, 2009

South Florida’s tourism decline worsened in January, despite hopes that new hotel rooms and a college football championship would provide relief from the worst travel market since the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Occupancy rates dropped throughout the region compared to a year ago, even as hotels cut rates to fill beds, according to numbers from Smith Travel Research.

Read more on the Miami Herald here …

South Florida’s gay and lesbian travel hit hard by recession

February 25, 2009

In the aftermath of 9-11 attacks in 2001, gays were among the first to board planes and travel, providing a lifeline for South Florida tourism. Marketers swooned over the resilience of gay tourists, who tend not to have children and generally travel more than average.

But in today’s global recession, even gays are cutting back on trips. Read more on The Palm Beach Post here …

St. Petersburg Pier and Columbia Restaurant

February 24, 2009

We went apartment hunting all day in St. Petersburg without stopping for lunch. By 5 pm we were starving and headed over to The Pier where we ate at The Columbia Restaurant.

There are spectacular views and great food. I was so hungry and tired from the day that I ate most of the food forgetting to take pictures of it. Ooops.

We had fresh baked Cuban Bread.

Fresh Baked Cuban Bread

Fresh Baked Cuban Bread

The Cuban Bread that I am used in the Miami area to has a much lighter, almost white crust, so I asked my Cuban hottie, Laura, why this one had a golden brown crust.

I was suspicious that it was inauthentic. Laura educated me from her upbringing by Cuban immigrant parents in Puerto Rico. She told me that there are two kinds of Cuban Bread.

Pan Sobao - soft pale bread - this is what I am used to finding in the Miami area.

Pan Sobao

Pan Sobao

Pan de Agua - has the hard golden brown crust, more similar to Italian or French bread. This is the one the Columbia Restaurant serves.

Laura told me that for special occasions at her family’s gatherings they make sure there are both types of Cuban bread available.

I found an interesting discussion about the different styles of Cuban bread on Chowhound.

We accompanied our Cuban bread and the rest of our meal with table side, fresh-made Sangria.

Sangria Made Table Side at the Columbia Restaurant

Sangria Made Table Side at the Columbia Restaurant

The Pier in St. Petersburg is an inverted pyramid structure with five-stories. The Columbia Restaurant is on the fourth floor and wraps around for 360 degree views. We had a spectacular view of Tampa Bay.

View from The Columbia Restaurant

View from The Columbia Restaurant

There was a tall sailing ship docked there and we were told that it had a part in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean.

Ship had a role in Pirates of the Caribbean

Ship had a role in Pirates of the Caribbean

That was the best shot we could get of it from our vantage point above as there are parts of the building structure that obscure it.

We had a bunch of other food including …

Croquetas de Pollo
A Sunday dinner tradition. This is Carmen Hernandez’s special recipe for chicken croquettes. Six croquettes made with chicken and Cuban cracker crumbs and fried. Served with Columbia Hot Sauce.

Boliche “Criollo”
Roasted Eye round of beef stuffed with chorizo and roasted in flavorful gravy. Served with black beans, white rice and platanos.

Ropa Vieja
Originally introduced to Cuba by Spanish sailors. The name means “old clothes” because the choice beef is shredded, sauteéd and simmered with onions, green peppers and tomatoes. Served with platanos and white rice.

I am sorry I didn’t get pictures of these, but my appetite overruled my brain at the time.

After dinner we did a little shopping for birthday gifts for Miguelito and then headed back to our Clearwater Beach Holiday Inn & Suites.

Here is the view of The Pier from out front in the evening.

The Pier at Dusk

The Pier at Dusk

Columbia Restaurant
800 2nd Avenue N.E.
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
727.822.8000
www.columbiarestaurant.com

Moron Drivers in Florida

February 23, 2009

Every time I talk to someone from some other state, they always say they have the worst drivers, much worse than Florida drivers. Obviously, they don’t know what they are talking about. All of us Florida locals know for a fact that we have the worst drivers in the world, right here in Florida.

Florida drivers are MORONS, and here is proof.

We are now issuing license plates that say so.

Florida Drivers are Morons

Florida Drivers are Morons

Even though we have to put up with moron drivers in Florida, at least one of them is honest about it.

Britt’s Laguna Grill Clearwater Beach FL

February 23, 2009

For Valentine’s Day lunch, we went to Britt’s Laguna Grill in Clearwater Beach FL. Their tag line is; “A Superb Culinary Experience in a Light Casual Atmosphere”. Well, truth in advertising has returned! We completely loved this place and would certainly go back again and again.

Britts Laguna Grill

Britt's Laguna Grill

Laura thought the name Britt’s meant that it was going to be like a British pub. I think it was wishful thinking on her part, and a relief on my part when it turned out to just be the name. Afterall, there are two “T”s in it. Nothing against British Pubs, they just don’t do much for me.

Britt’s Laguna Grill has a nice comfortable atmosphere that makes you feel like you belong there and that you would be comfortable hanging out for several hours.

Inside Britts Laguna Grill

Inside Britt's Laguna Grill

We weren’t shy about trying several things on the menu.

First, we had the Almond Crusted Brie.

Almond Crusted Brie

Almond Crusted Brie

The Almond Crusted Brie consisted of imported Brie cheese baked with a tasty almond crust, served with apples, grapes and strawberry with crispy toast mounds. This was a good deal at $8.50.

Next, we shared the Sea Bisque.

Sea Bisque

Sea Bisque

The Sea Bisque was loaded with fresh fish, shellfish and veggies and simmered with sherry wine, which is a required ingredient of bisque. At the $4 price on the menu, we thought this would be a small cup, but we were surprised to receive a large bowl that filled us up after the Brie. Now we were wondering how we were going to eat the rest of the stuff we ordered.

Eh, we’ll just walk it off with some shopping afterwards.

Next came the Mediterranean Medley.

Mediterranean Medley

Mediterranean Medley

The Mediterranean Medley is an $8.50 platter with hummus, tahini, falafel, myriam salad and two pitas. We died and went to Greek heaven … but we weren’t done yet.

Our final indulgence were Oysters on the Half Shell.

Oysters on the Half Shell

Oysters on the Half Shell

I would go back to Britt’s anytime and every time I visit Clearwater Beach. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and have take-out available.

Britt’s Laguna Grill
309 S. Gulfview Blvd.
Clearwater Beach, FL 33767
727-445-1755
www.brittslagunagrill.com

Megan Paul The Zyrtec Girl is Super Cute

February 19, 2009

I just think that the girl in the Zyrtec commercial is super cute, so much so that I had to state it publicly.

Megan Paul in the Zyrtec Commercial

Megan Paul in the Zyrtec Commercial

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She just has the cutest face, the sexiest girlie voice, a tight little petite body, and a cute perkiness that is adorable.

Here are three commercials she is in.



 

Megan Paul Zyrtec Girl

Megan Paul Zyrtec Girl

Clearwater Beach Holiday Inn & Suites

February 16, 2009

For Valentine’s Day weekend I booked a 2-room suite at The Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites in Clearwater Beach. When I told Laura, she replied, “Holiday Inn?” I knew what she was thinking. She was thinking of the motel-like locations.

Luckily, the Holiday Inn on Gulfview Blvd. is more along the lines of a resort hotel. We arrived Friday evening just as the sun was setting. I captured some shots from the 4th floor balcony just in time.

Sunset onClearwater Beach Florida

Sunset on Clearwater Beach Florida

The Sun Kisses the Gulf of Mexico

The Sun Kisses the Gulf of Mexico

In addition to a great view of the Gulf of Mexico, we also could easily be pool voyeurs.

Poll at the Holiday Inn Clearwater Beach FL

Pool at the Holiday Inn Clearwater Beach FL

No tropical beach resort experience would be complete without a Tiki Bar.

Tiki Bar

Tiki Bar

Some more sunset as the “Little Toot” sails by …

The Little Toot Sails Past Sunset on Clearwater Beach

The Little Toot Sails Past Sunset on Clearwater Beach

Suns Sinks into the Ocean on Clearwater Beach

Suns Sinks into the Ocean on Clearwater Beach

The Original Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise is fun for both children and adults. You can see the “Pirate’s Ransom” sailing by Clearwater Beach day and night, firing their cannons at the beach as dolphins jump from the water.

The Pirates Ransom sails along the Clearwater Beach shoreline

The "Pirate's Ransom" sails along the Clearwater Beach shoreline

The daytime cruises depart at 10 am, 12 noon and 2 pm. Champagne Evening / Sunset Cruises are scheduled as well.  Times vary depending on the season.  More information is available at: http://captainmemo.com/

After we unpacked, we headed downstairs to Jimmy’s Fish House and Iguana Bar right on the water where you can see and hear the water lap up on the shore as well as see all different types of birds swoop down and glide through the air close to the water looking for their dinner. Obtaining our dinner was much easier.

My Lovely Valentine

My Lovely Valentine

Here’s Laura. I rarely ever call her by her name though. I think she inherits a new pet name from me every day, but I am not allowed to talk about that if I want to live.

The food at Jimmy’s Fish House and Iguana Bar was absolutely superb. We started with the Trio Sampler - a sampling of grouper nuggets, coconut shrimp and fish spread. Even though that was already quite an appetizer, I couldn’t resist the Buffalo Gater Bites. Then we ordered our entrees of fresh Grouper and Mahimahi. The fish was fresh, flavorful and fulfilling. As a matter of fact, the portions were huge. You can get any of the fresh fish grilled, jerked, or pan seared with any of the specialty sauces; Caribbean BBQ, Citrus Hollandaise, Mango Salsa, Garlic Cream Sauce or Lemon Butter.

Both Worlds Performs at Jimmys at the Holiday Inn

Both Worlds Performs at Jimmy's at the Holiday Inn

We enjoyed entertainment from the duo Both Worlds from 7 - 11 pm. These guys are extremely talented playing all types of pop, rock and tropical caribbean favorites like the obligatory Jimmy Buffet. They switch off on several different instruments and vocals and put a good funky beat on everything they play.

Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Clearwater Beach
521 S Gulfview Boulevard
Clearwater Beach, Florida 33767
Local: (727) 447-6461 - Toll Free: (800) 770-6461
http://www.clearwaterbeachholidayinn.com/

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