VACATION DAY TEN: ADVENTURES IN CLEARWATER

31 Jul

Sunday, June 29

For the very last night in the house Zach and I decided to put our fan in a different spot. I don’t know why we decided that but once we did I don’t know WHY WE DIDN’T DO THAT DAYS AGO! It made sleeping SO much easier and more tolerable and I don’t know why on earth we didn’t think of that before… When we got up in the morning Zach and I ran 2 miles for our last neighborhood run. Then it was all the last minute packing, getting the house totally in order and then re-hurricane proofing it. We said goodbye to West Palm Beach and headed northwest to Tampa to drop Hillary off at the airport.

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We hugged our goodbyes and then Zach and I continued on into week 2 of vacation! We were spending the night at a hotel on Clearwater Beach and had time to kill before check-in. We paid a visit to Cigar City Brewing, a huge one to check off Zach’s list of breweries. 🙂

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We got a sampler here and shared it. While good, nothing WOWED me the way I was at Funky Buddha and I didn’t have anything that I just had to have again.

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We were supposed to head to Cycle Brewing next but when we looked at the gps directions the traffic was insane. It was going to take us far longer than we had planned. Luckily we had talked to some people in Cigar City who told us about a newer microbrewery really close by called Rapp and we decided to check it out.

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SO glad we did!! Their stuff was awesome! They had several award winning beers and had one best new craft brewery in Florida the year before. We had a sampler flight here too and had a super delicious watermelon witbier, an awesome maple bock and a really good golden strong ale.

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I love that I can appreciate good beer now. 🙂 It was fun feeling like we had “discovered” a place since it was one Zach hadn’t heard of yet and it was such a great find! We got a growler of the watermelon to take home and then traversed the loooooong bridge over to Clearwater Beach.

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After frustrating delay in the parking garage of our pink Hyatt Regency (waiting ages for an elevator that refused to come) we said “Forget it” and took to the stairs with ALL our heavy bags. Usually we would take the stairs anyway but we were really trying to hold out for an elevator since we had so much stuff. Then we got lost in our giant hotel but when we finally found our premium king suite with balcony it was well worth the wait!

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Our view overlooked the Gulf of Mexico to our left and the intracoastal  to our right and it was water, water everywhere. 🙂

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We didn’t stay in our room long though because we had a cool pool to hit! On the way to the pool what did we get but complimentary champagne for checking in!! Yes, we liked this hotel. We also liked the view from the pool area…

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We only got in the pool for a quick second just to get wet and get pictures…

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Then spent the rest of the time laying out in our chairs and enjoying the sound of the ocean from the 8th floor of our hotel. 🙂

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We didn’t stay terribly long at our pool because we were on a time crunch to get ready for dinner. We did spend a few minutes enjoying our balcony and then it was showering and dressing quickly!

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Reservations had been made weeks before for Cesare’s on the Beach and they had been notified that this was an anniversary dinner (we like to have several of those on our vacations) :). We walked the decent distance to the restaurant and were greeted with a “Happy Anniversary” upon arrival. We were immediately excited looking at our super authentic Italian menu. A bottle of spicy zinfandel was ordered to complement all the Italian food we were about to eat.

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We started with a burrata appetizer that came with fresh tomatoes, basil and toasted bread.

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Wonderful and bright tasting and Zach even commented on how delicious the tomatoes were and gladly ate his half. I don’t know why but I still get mildly surprised when he enjoys tomatoes so much now… For dinner Zach ordered their pasta special of the night, ricotta stuffed pasta purses with pink vodka sauce, mushrooms, peas and prosciutto.

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I picked my meal specifically because it denoted that it was for the “pasta lover” (hello) and it said it had ravioli, agnolotti and get this, a PASTA SURPRISE. I love pasta! I love surprises! Haha When I ordered the server asked me if I wanted to know the surprise and I said no!

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The surprise ended up being linguine with bolognese and our meals were out.standing. I mean perfect. The freshly cooked pasta, the fresh ingredients, the flavors, it was just all crafted so well. Zach even remarked how much he loved his mushrooms! We got their dessert of the day which was a ricotta cheesecake that, while good, wasn’t that exciting. Especially after all the wonderful food!

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We were in for a shock when we got our bill and they gave us TWENTY PERCENT off to celebrate our anniversary!! I’ve gotten complimentary drinks and desserts but never a bill reduction. Cesare’s gets 5 stars in our book. 🙂 After dinner we walked to the beach to watch the sunset.

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It was a beautiful, clear evening and lots of people were gathered in the sand to watch.

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Zach and I picked a more secluded area on a little dune and took some pictures. It was fun being on the opposite side of Florida to catch a good sunset!

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Then we moved to a roped off area onto a bunch of rocks and this was the best idea ever because we saw dolphins!!! There were at least 2 dolphins jumping in the surf really close to shore! I tried to get a picture but barely got the slightest hint of one.

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If you could zoom ALL the way in and knew what you were looking for perhaps you could see the dark shadow in a wave in the direct center of the photo. That’s as much as I was able to capture but it was so magical. The rest of the sunset was spectacular and we watched the sky go through a series of colors.

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Our hotel is on the far right of the next picture.

 

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Gorgeous. The whole of Clearwater Beach was beautiful at dusk-

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We were so fortunate with the weather, especially because that night there was a massive storm! After the sunset Zach and I hung out in our room and balcony and were able to witness a crazy storm over the water that slowly moved into our area.

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It was beautiful to watch and I was glad that once again one of the few rains we had was at a time when it didn’t matter to our trip in the least.

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Our one night in Clearwater was WELL worth it. 🙂

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