Visiting Tampa

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Greetings from Tampa, Florida.

I’m typing up this blog post on an outdoor patio of a local coffee shop, where I’m sitting in a t-shirt and shorts, sweating. So there may be a few typos in this one.

This is my first time in Florida and so far I’ve really enjoyed it. Tampa’s got a very relaxed, chill kind of attitude, the weather’s been great and it’s not an expensive tourist trap.

Trip In

To get here, I was able to fly out from the Ottawa airport. I’d never been to our local aiport, having always flown out of Montreal or Toronto. I had heard through the grapevine that Ottawa’s airport is great and it’s true. It’s neat, easy to get around and there’s free wifi throughout the terminal. Bonus!

Since I packed all my belongings into a carry-on bag, I was able to avoid the lineups and counters, going straight to the self-serve machine. For flights to the US, the Americans have set up their own customs operation at the airport, which works in our favour I think. There’s no customs hassle to go through when you get to your destination. I’d imagine that the custom agents based in Ottawa would be far more relaxed than those based in a major US city.

I transfered at Detroit Metro Airport, a massive airport with three terminals, two of which are connected by an indoor light rail system. Pretty neat! Although I was happy to walk around and stretch my legs.

 

My flight landed in Tampa about half an hour early at 10pm on Friday night. The airport was virtually deserted, all the shops were closed and there wasn’t much going on. I was able to hire a shuttle service that took me to my hotel.

Overall a really convenient and stress-free trip. I flew Delta airlines and everything went smoothly. A nice moment happened on my Detroit-Tampa flight. Once the plane got up to cruising altitude, the attendant got on the PA and announced that we had military personel on-board and thanked them for their service. Everyone on board gave the troops a round of applause.

Tampa

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Tampa itself has been a great place to unwind. While the weather forecast keeps calling for rain, I haven’t sen any of that so far. It’s been sunny and warm. A welcome change from the last few weeks we’ve had in Ottawa.

I’ve spent some time exploring Ybor city. It was pretty busy last night and has a definite Mardi-Gras vibe to it. It’s a bit like if Crescent steet in Montreal just went on and on and on. And if it was summer all year round.

I’ve been eating lots of bad American food, with Pizza and Chicken Wings leading the charge. I’ve tried to temper some of that bad and save a bit of money by hitting up a grocery store near my hotel for some fresh fruit and Gatorade, so that I can stay hydrated in this heat. Food here is far cheaper than in Canada.

My hotel, the Westin Tampa Harbour Island, has been very nice. The pool is most likely the warmest pool I’ve ever experienced. The coldest part is getting out. There’s no adjustment period when you dive in. Only complaint about my hotel is that they charge for wifi. $2.95/hour. Not a fan of that policy.

Later on today, I’m going to rent a car and take a trip out to the coast and St. Petersburg, I’ve heard good things and Hertz has a good deal on weekend car rentals at $14.99/day.

NHL Lockout

It’s funny that the lockout should end today. When you get to the airport in Tampa, the first thing you see are lots of ads for the Lightning. My hotel is right near their home rink and it’s plastered with huge posters of Lecavalier, St. Louis and Stamkos. Pretty remarkable to think that Lecavalier
has been here for well over a decade now.

This morning, I’ve seen a few people walking around the downtown core sporting Lightning t-shirts and sweaters. So even way down here, people are excited about the lockout being over.

I’m here until Wednesday, so I’ll make sure to add more when I get back to Ottawa. If you’ve got any advice about what I should see, feel free to leave a comment.

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