Tag Archives: florida

Florida Gators

Ahoy! Evan and I are back from sunny Florida! I didn’t blog while I was away and we did a whole lot (and ate a WHOLE LOT) so I have a ton of adventure recapping I wanna do.

My dad and stepmom Mona have a condo/townhouse in Bradenton (gulf side) and they may not have it forever so Evan and I figured we should take advantage of not having to pay for a hotel while we can. The last time we did a Florida vacay was in March 2013 so we were due. It’s only about a two and a half hour flight from Toronto (if you fly direct, we had a stopover in Atlanta on the way over and in Detroit on the way back) and flights are also relatively cheap, so it’s an easy vacation. It cost less for both of us to fly, with a rental car, than it does for just me to fly to BC.

Anyway, we arrived around noon in Tampa last Friday, picked up our rental car (and we got a free upgrade with a sunroof so that was a nice bonus) and made our way south to Bradenton. I was so happy to be in the sunshine!!!

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And see the palm trees!

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We had wintry weather here the week before we left so I was excited to escape it (I heard it was beautiful here while we were gone though, of course).

Our first stop was Target.

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We no longer have Target in Canada (it was only here for a year, just a taste!!) and I am sad about it. Even though it wasn’t quite the same as the US Target when it came to prices and selection (this is actually why I think Canadian Target failed – they were always low on stock) they still had stuff I liked that I couldn’t find anywhere else. I really like their purses, for example. We happened to be visiting on Black Friday and I got a great deal on a new Fitbit (the Alta), a new purse (which is the same as a black purse I already own from target but in brown) and some other random things and various trashy snacks including candy corn Oreos.

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I can not believe how many different types of Oreos there were! We have a few now but nothing like that. We also stocked up on our beer for the week, which we hardly drank any of because we were so full from all our eating. Oh well, I’m sure my dad will appreciate arriving at the house this winter to a stocked beer fridge.

Our next stop was the Olive Garden!

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GIVE ME ALL THE SALAD AND BREADSTICKS!! And once again, the Olive Garden used to be in Canada and is now gone. I miss it and was happy we were able to fit it in. We picked up Jimmy John’s for dinner and spent the rest of the afternoon unpacking and hanging around the house.

Saturday morning we were up early to drive to Orlando to meet up with Paula and Fabian. Paula and I met through our blogs and decided that we wanted to be real friends, so we met for the first time in 2013 when Evan and I were in Florida.

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And Paula and Fabian also came out to visit us last spring.

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I love how Paula has switched up her hair a bunch of times over the years, but mine is still the exact. same. She is an adventurous minx.

I was really excited to see them both. I freaking love Paula, Fabian too, but Paula is like my kindred spirit and I’m so glad our blogs brought us together. I’m sad she lives so far away, but it is a good excuse to visit Florida in the winter.

We first stopped at Bradenton Donuts because we heard they had the best donuts of all time and we didn’t want to show up empty handed.

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Definitely a bit of a dive, but it’s the donuts that matter.

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I actually do think they’re the best donuts I’ve ever had. They’re made with potato flour or something. I don’t know but they’re spectacular and I wish I was eating them right now.

If you read Paula’s blog the rest of this might be a repeat for you, but hopefully you still enjoy yourself. Since we showed Paula and Fabian such a great touristy time when they were here, they wanted to return the favour. We dropped our stuff off at their place and then we all headed out to Black Hammock to take an air boat ride on Lake Jessup, one of the most gator-infested lakes in Florida!

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The lake was actually super beautiful and I wanted to swim SO BADLY, but I also didn’t want to die. Our tour guide was saying that problem gators are brought to this lake from other places in Florida so, much danger on the gator front. Fabian told us that some guy didn’t believe the gators in the lake were that big of a threat so he tried to go swimming and got his arm bitten off. I don’t know if that is just an urban legend but needless to say there was no swimming here.

We had some time before our boat left so we checked out the area a bit, had a drink, and took a bunch of pictures (another reason I love getting together with fellow bloggers, they are also all about the pictures!)

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At first I didn’t understand how that gator cutout worked and I put my head between the gator’s jaws, which meant my chest area was sticking out directly above the head spot. Thankfully someone told me to get myself together before they got a picture so that embarrassing image of my nungas isn’t floating around.

But this embarrassing picture of Evan is.

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He kills me.

And from the front.

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Then it was air boat time.

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I have always wanted to ride in one!!! Paula and Fabian were making my dreams come true. I did not realize that air boats are so loud you have to wear ear protection.

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Hair twins.

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We only saw a few gators, I guess because of the time of year, but still, the ride was awesome. I loved it. It is amazing the places you can go on an air boat that you wouldn’t be able to on a boat with a regular outboard motor. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on a boat that had to stop to remove tangled weeds from the prop, but that was not a concern on this ride.

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We were able to just go right in between the trees in the super swampy areas like it was nothing.

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Our tour guide was awesome and very informative and told us a bunch of facts that I can’t remember now. He was also a character so I quite enjoyed him and his magnificent American accent.

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Crossing the lake the boat went so fast that when I opened my mouth to say something to Evan a bunch of drool came flying out. Attractive.

Can you spot the sneaky gator in the grass?

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Here’s a baby gator that was just chilling by the shore.

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Just a little muffin.

After our ride we all got a chance to hold a baby gator.

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Fabian and his beautiful smile.

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Evan was a definite no on the gator holding. We had the chance to hold a crocodile in Cuba too and he took a hard pass on that also. Evan does not appreciate a reptile of any kind.

The Black Hammock restaurant is right there so afterwards we hit that up to eat some gator. I guess hanging around all the gators makes you hungry for gator. It was amazing in there, I felt like I was in Crocodile Dundee.

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It was also two for one margaritas so you know that’s a good time. Evan got the catfish nuggets to start and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be a fan – I had some really terrible catfish once and haven’t tried it since, but I ended up really liking it!

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10/10, would eat catfish again.

If you’re going to eat alligator I feel like this is the place to do it, so Evan and I ordered a two 1/4 pounds – blackened and cajun.

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My first time trying gator and I have to tell you it was delicious. It tasted similar to chicken but was chewier. I really enjoyed it and would also eat it again. Though probably not in Canada ’cause I don’t think it would be our forte…

Fun, fun times with Paula and Fabian!

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And that was just the beginning of our shenanigans!

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The LeBarge Booze Cruise

When I asked the people of Florida to recommend things for us to do before we left, Paula had a great suggestion.

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A booze cruise? Yes yes. That WOULD be some fun. Thinking about it immediately took me back to our amazing catamaran adventure in Jamaica. We definitely had to squeeze LeBarge in.

So on our second last day we called and made reservations, and made our way to Sarasota’s marina to check out LeBarge. We got the boats mixed up and accidentally went over to the fancy dinner cruise boat first. As the girl was looking for our reservation she asked for the last name we reserved under, but when we reserved we were only asked for a first name. When Evan explained this she was like “Oh. You want LeBarge. It’s on the other side of the marina. The boat with palm trees on it.” And she kind of said palm trees with disgust, like LeBarge was low class compared to their fancy dinner cruise. Like LeBarge wasn’t even classy enough for last names.

But I didn’t want no fancy-shmancy cruise. Palm trees and booze sounded like a good time to me. I expected cheesy decals of palm trees covering the sides of the boat.

Not quite.

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Real palm trees! And mermaids! After I saw the boat I knew LeBarge was not going to disappoint. We were excited to go aboard.

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LeBarge is two hours long, from 6:30 to 8:30, and it takes you all around the coast of Sarasota. We got a pretty sweet table up top, right beside the bar, and right in front of the live entertainment.

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Well hello there.

That guy was awesome. Apparently he has been playing on the boat for 30 years! I think I would describe his style as easy-listening dinner music, with a little bit of soft romantic strumming thrown in. He also busted out the harmonica a few times. And he doubled as a tour guide. Pretty talented. I snagged him during a break.

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He told Evan this was his favourite part of his job. It made me laugh hard. Also, I think my Dad has the same shirt as him.

As for the booze part of the cruise, they had BUCKETS of rum punch on LeBarge, and I love a good bucket party, so I wasn’t saying no to that.

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Check out the alcohol content of this bucket:

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That is a lot o’ rum. Seven shots of it basically. I was feeling pretty good after that. Just one bucket for me though, and then I switched to beer.

They didn’t really have food on the boat (not fancy enough remember), but they did have some snacks. Evan and I both got the nachos.

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Not my favourite cheese and I really wanted salsa, but I ate it all anyway while we enjoyed the gorgeous views.

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LeBarge did a little tour around the shoreline where the million dollar houses are, so we had fun fantasizing about living in them.

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I wouldn’t mind living there. Not at all.

The sunset was pretty gorgeous.

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And really just intensified by the dude singing in the background with his sultry voice. Tres romantique.

We had a lot of fun, and I am so glad we did this!

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If you’re in the Sarasota area and looking for something to do, hit up LeBarge! You won’t regret it!

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Have a great weekend!

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Da Beaches

Yep, I’m still raving on about Florida. Sorry about that. I want to talk about the beautiful beaches we visited, because we had several really great beach days. Although I wasn’t thinking about blogging at the time so the pictures I took aren’t ideal to show them off. They’re mainly just of us on the beach. Ah well.

My main mission on this trip was to be outside in the sunshine as much as possible, so we had three solid beach days.

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Evan and I checked out Lido Beach, Siesta Key Beach, Venice Beach, Nokomis Beach, and Anna Maria Island and Bradenton beaches. It was a lot of beaching, and we both have the sunburns to prove it. I have always tanned very easily and never really burned, and I have always thought of the sun as my friend and that it would never harm me. But the sun is bad now, as we all know, and it has never been so unkind to me. My back and shoulders are peeling so badly I look like I have a skin disease.

Anyway, I already mentioned Lido Beach, as we checked that out on our very first day.

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It was beautiful, but it was very cold and windy, so I was too chicken to even take off my sweater.

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Once it warmed up, we were ready to get our serious beach on, so on Saturday we had a beach hopping adventure on Venice and Nokomis beaches.

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Venice Beach

Evan really wanted to go to Venice Beach because it is famous for shark’s teeth and he remembered hunting for them and making necklaces out of them when he was a kid (aww). In the above photo the people who are on the shoreline looking in the water are searching for shark’s teeth and shells. That was the best spot to find them. We found a few, but I totally forgot to take a picture of them. They look like this:

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I guess it is kind of disturbing to find so many shark’s teeth on a beach, but they are all really old and fossilized. We didn’t see any of the sharks those teeth belonged to, not to worry. I was hoping to see some dolphins though, but that didn’t happen.

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Just fake ones.

It was really fun to look for the shark’s teeth, and this ended up being both of our favourite beach because of this. Though I love just leisuring on the sand, being able to go on an adventure while beaching definitely takes the beach up a notch for me.

The sand on this beach was really interesting also, as it was made up of tons of shells, and some were not small.

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I liked that I could sift through the sand from my towel and find a bunch of cool stuff. It was like I was treasure hunting while lying around and soaking up the sun. We saved a lot of shells from this beach.

Though it was beautiful and sunny, the water was pretty freezing and no one was swimming. But that was not going to stop me. I was there to swim in the ocean, so I didn’t care how cold it was. I was getting in there.

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Evan and I and that man above sitting in the chair were the only ones I saw who actually swam in the ocean and weren’t just in there looking for shark’s teeth. Evan and I were in before him, and he asked where we were from (because we must have been crazy to go in the ocean), and when we said Toronto he asked “Oh, is that in Canada?” Yes. Yes it is. And then he said that explained why we liked the water so much, being from Canada we probably thought it was warm. No sir. Cold water is cold water.

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Crazy Canadians

But our swimming time is limited over here and I will squeeze swimming in any chance I get.

Venice Beach also had a fishing pier that we checked out.

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You could buy live bait right on the pier (as well as hotdogs, I think the sign said “Live Bait and Hotdogs”), and people were fishing all up and down it. And then leaving their fish and fish heads lying around.

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At the bottom of the pier there was a restaurant/bar called Sharky’s that looked like a good time.

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Nokomis Beach was very similar to Venice Beach. I didn’t really get any pictures of it, so here’s one that I googled.

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Again, the sand here was full of shells.

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And it was also good for finding shark’s teeth. We spent the rest of Saturday here, and some more ocean swimming went down.

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Our next beach day we went to Bradenton and Anna Maria Island beaches, which are basically connected.

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They were beautiful beaches and the sand was gorgeous, but it was so, so busy.

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And we were so sunburnt from the day before that only stayed for a couple hours. But I squeezed in some more swimming. And I had the best hot dog of my life at the Anna Maria Island beach restaurant.

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Also the messiest.

On our last beach day we went to Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota. We had heard a lot about it and it also recently was awarded the best beach in America, so we had to check it out. It was GORGEOUS.

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But busy. Very, very busy.

Lots of people were swimming in the water here.

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It was the warmest day we were there, and the water was a bit warmer here so Evan and I swam for hours and hours.

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My dolphin impression

The water was so nice. And it was very wavy, so we had a good time trying to body surf.

And OMG the sand. The sand was like soft white powder. It was amazing.

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I wanted to live in it.

It was perfect packing sand also. Evan made a pretty awesome whale.

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The picture doesn’t really do it justice.

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Neither does that one, but it definitely shows how beautiful and white the sand was.

All the beaches we visited were gorgeous, but Siesta Key Beach definitely wins the beach award in the sand department. No competition there. It was the nicest sand I have ever had the pleasure of sinking my toes into. But Venice was my fave for adventuring.

So all in all, I had a really good time on the Florida beaches with my lover.

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Ahh, I want to live on the water.

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PSA: We didn’t just eat crap

I had a couple of very concerned comments on my first Florida post thinking that maybe we were just going to eat at all the buffets and fast food restaurants and call it a day without trying any of the good food.

Of course not! Not to worry, we didn’t just eat crap! Yes, we did eat a lot of crap, but we had to because of the novelty of it. We just don’t have anything like those places in Canada. We have the Mandarin, a Chinese buffet, but dinner is almost $30 a person. A far cry from Hungry Howie’s $6.99 special. But we ate at better places than Hungry Howie’s, IHOP, and Checkers. Oh right, and the Golden Corral… I’m not even going to talk about that because my Golden Corral plate is just an embarrassing disgusting mess of random items.

Anyway, we ate at a few nice places, so let’s talk about those.

Our first decent meal was at the Anna Maria Oyster Bar in Bradenton.

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It was my first Florida seafood experience and I loved it. They also had paper towels hanging above each table, just in case things got messy.

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It’s gonna get messy

And this was a good thing, as things tend to get messy for me.

Neither of us are big fans of oysters, so we started with the mussels.

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Hands down the best mussels I have ever had. The sauce they came in was so ridiculously good that Evan and I ordered bread just so we could dip it in the sauce. It was all garlicky and parmesan-y and I couldn’t get enough of it. I also loved the addition of tomatoes in there. I just can’t say enough about the mussels.

For my entree I ordered the pasta skillet with scallops. Which came with more bread. Delicious garlic bread.

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carrrrrrrbs

I was really sold on the pasta because of the Anna Maria Island sauce that was described on the menu. Typically I really prefer tomato sauce over oil or cream sauces, but when I read that it was a blend of tomatoes, artichoke hearts, basil, wine, and herb butter I just couldn’t say no. It was really good, especially the scallops, just melt-in-your-mouth good. But after all the mussels and all the bread I was pretty full so I ended up taking a lot of it home.

I also had a rum punch as it was on special.

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But just one, as those are dangerous for me.

Our next delicious dining experience was at Pop’s Sunset Grill at Nokomis Beach.

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We went there after a full day on Venice and Nokomis beaches, so don’t be judging my scraggly hair and shiny skin. I was swimming in that glorious ocean!

I really loved that they had outdoor seating right on the water, because patios are something I really love about Ontario and I noticed was lacking in Florida. I just love sitting outside, but I noticed most of the restaurants in Florida were indoor. Maybe because it just gets too hot to sit outside? I don’t know. I never realized how much of a patio culture Ontario had though until I visited here (in the summer, obviously we’re not crazy enough to patio it up in the winter).

Anyway, it was great to sit on the water and watch all the boats go by and be jealous of them.

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Evan’s Florida shirt killed me.

We had already had quite a lot of snacks throughout the day so we skipped appetizers and just went for the main course. And oh man is all I have to say about the main course.

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Whaaaat

We got the full steamship pot for two, which included 24 shrimp, two lobster tails, red potatoes, corn on the cob, onions and celery. Amazing.

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I LOVED the fresh seafood. There was so much of it, and it was pretty inexpensive also. The lobster was sooo good.

Our server told me they had the best pina coladas in the world also, so I obviously had to try one of those.

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I promise I am not wincing, I am just squinting from the sun. It was a good pina. Perhaps the best in the world, but I am not really a pina colada connoisseur so I cannot say for sure.

Dining experience #3 takes us to The Hub Baja-Grill, just outside of Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota, where we had spent the day leisuring on the sand and swimming in the ocean.

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I look really excited about it, but really I was just excited for food.

Evan and I started with the nacho dip sampler, which came with salsa, guacamole, and cheese con queso.

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I loved the dips! The guacamole was so good both Evan and I commented that it would have won the Guac-Off!

Margaritas were on special here, and our server really recommended them, so that’s what I went with.

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No disappointment here.

Pints of beer were only $3 until the end of happy hour (again unheard of in Ontario), so that’s what Evan stuck to.

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I ended up switching to beer after my margarita.

It was a really cute restaurant and I loved where we were sitting. Our table was on the patio just off the street, so it was perfect for people watching.

And we were also really close to the live entertainment.

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That guy was really good actually. I was impressed.

For my main course I decided to go for tacos, because I LOVE tacos.

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But I have to be honest and say they were only okay. Someone in the kitchen got a little excited with the taco seasoning and I felt like the meat was noticeably too seasoned. Otherwise good though.

I tried some of Evan’s fish tacos and I liked them much better!

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I had the meal envy going on for sure.

I just wanna talk about breakfast quickly now. Paula really recommended Cracker Barrel, and we had also both never tried it, so we went there twice for breakfast.

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Twice because I could barely eat the first time since it was after our first night out with Paula and I was not feeling the most fab.

It should be noted that this was my first time trying grits, and they were not nearly as bad as I thought they were going to be. Same with the biscuits and country gravy. Well not the biscuits, those were obviously going to be delicious, but that country gravy always creeped me out a bit. But I liked it a lot. I also liked the apple butter a lot, which is in the bowl on the plate with the biscuits and country gravy. I’m sad we don’t have Cracker Barrel in Canada. I didn’t even know what I was missing.

So see, we didn’t eat horribly the entire time. Some decent meals definitely went down. I think my favourite was the steamship seafood pot. I wish I was still eating  that right now!

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All the Paula Fun

As I mentioned previously, after the Harry Potter adventure Evan and I drove over to Paula‘s for a fun night out with her and her husband Fabian.

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As I have said to Paula many times, I love their love.

Paula and I have been following each other’s blogs for about two years, and we are Facebook friends (so obviously that means we are real friends), but we had never met in person. I have been telling Paula for at least a year that whenever I make it out to Florida I would be hitting her up for a fun time, so as soon as I found out I was going for sure I made a point to squeeze that sensual minx into our plans.

It was very trusting of Paula and Fabian to let us sleep over since we had never met before (especially Fabian, since to him I was a complete stranger), but I promised Paula we wouldn’t rob them and she relayed this news to Fabian and he said A-okay.

I was so excited to finally meet her, and of course her ridiculously cute one-eared bunny (who I also follow on Facebook), Georgina Bunnypants. Or just Pants.

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As soon as I entered her house I was all “Where is PANTS?!” and made a beeline over to her cage.

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Paula let  me give her a little treat to warm her up for a snugglefest, since she doesn’t usually like being held. I was excited that she let me pick her up.

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I told her to relax and just enjoy it, but she kept that ear slicked back in protest. It was a satisfactory first snuggle though. Such a little muffin. Our first meeting went just how I envisioned.

I can’t remember the names of all the places Paula and Fabian took us, but we went to all of Paula’s favourite hotspots in downtown Orlando. No more Hungry Howie’s! Paula took us to excellent local places. Our first stop was Mucho, a kind of Mexican pub, and I only know the name because Paula blogged about it.

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Paula made me order her favourite drink, Eola 101 (I kept wanting to call it Ebola), which included tequila and champagne and pure deliciousness. I liked it so much I had two more. And then our group had a tequila shot in celebration of…I don’t know, being awesome I guess. So I was feeling pretty good. So good I was in the mood for kissing roosters.

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We went to a couple of other bars with names I don’t remember, and drank several more drinks that I don’t remember. I will tell you a little secret about Paula. That girl can DRINK. Fun, fun times. And I brought a little gift for Paula, straight from Canada.

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Yes, the glasses. Paula now has her own pair. As you probably know, the glasses make a frequent appearance around here and Paula has commented about them before so I knew she liked them. It was time to pass them down, as they were passed down to me from my good friend Dawn.

Use them wisely Paula, they are hard to find even here! I expect to see them all over your blog, and you should probably wear them when you run your next race.

Fabian liked them also.

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And I gave Paula an example of how they are to properly be used. Here was the target:

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He liked it. I like his muscles.

I had a really, really fun night. I cannot picture it being more fun. Paula and I had so much to talk about and we felt like we knew each other for years. Evan also had a good time bonding with Fabian while Paula and I discussed boring blog stuff.

In fact, we had such a good time that on Saturday night Paula came out to Bradenton to see us!

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It’s over a two hour drive, so you know this means she liked me also. Bradenton is also coincidentally Paula’s hometown, so she showed us all the good places to go downtown, including a local bar the Lost Kangaroo.

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We be sunburnt.

It was the first time Evan and I went out in the downtown area, and I doubt we would have gone out like this ourselves. I was grateful she showed us such a good time.

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She showed us all the good food in Bradenton also. Our next stop included the most amazing garlic knots.

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And the most AMAZING pizza.

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We ate the entire thing. Not a slice left behind.

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Infinitely better than Hungry Howie’s.

And that is all the Paula fun. You can also read her recaps of our adventures here and here. And if you don’t already read her blog, what is wrong with you?! She has been one of my faves for a long time, and our hangouts just solidified this. She is so much fun, and I wish she lived closer to me! Oh well, it gives me an excuse to come back to Florida…

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Welcome to Frigid Florida, the Land of Cheap Food

Well alright, I am exaggerating slightly. It is not frigid, and it is very sunny. But apparently Florida is having record cool temperatures right now, and what is up with that?! It’s still warm, and still at least 10-15 degrees warmer than Ontario, so it’s all good. But everyone here keeps going on about how cold it is. And I was watching a local news channel on Tuesday morning, and the meteorologist was all “Cover up those plants! Make sure your pets are inside!”

Please. I was still considering laying out by the pool in my bikini.

Anyway,  it’s supposed to warm up for the weekend, which means beach time, my friends! Evan and I have been trying to squeeze in all the non-beach activities while the weather isn’t the greatest. I think it’s a good plan.

We arrived on Monday evening, and by the time we got out of the airport, drove to Bradenton, dumped all our stuff at my parents’ (super cute) condo, it was 9pm and I needed dinner, and I needed it ASAP.

We drove around for a while, but by then nothing was really open so it was looking like it was going to be a fast food night. My only stipulation was that we had to go somewhere we didn’t have back home.

Enter Checkers. We do not have Checkers.

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Actually we don’t have any fast food places where you can just walk right up and order from an outdoor window, so that was cool. Evan likes to double fist Coca-Cola.

I got a cheeseburger and fries and they were pretty good. Nothing to write home about (literally write home), but I liked it. And that was basically the beginning of my fat week, because let me tell you, if I was American I would be FAT. I cannot get over all the snacks you guys have that we do not, and how cheap the food is! It’s incredible! I’m so blown away that I am taking pictures of receipts.

Anyway, Tuesday morning we woke up and decided to go out for breakfast, since our dinner was less than stellar.

It is a DREAM of mine to go to IHOP. Dream. I see the commercials for it and it always looks so darn good and I’ve always wanted to go there. So, that’s where we went.

As I was perusing the menu, this caught my eye…

ihop

I wasn’t sure I was reading it correctly at first because that includes a double pancake with a bunch of goodies with it, PLUS an egg combo, for less than $7. Insane. I’m glad that someone was around to witness my reaction when I saw this menu because I practically peed my pants.

That’s obviously what I ordered. Though I did almost stray over to this…

chicken-waffles

Chicken and waffles! Such an interesting combination. Never would have thought of combining chicken and waffles, but looking at that picture it doesn’t look too bad at all. But it didn’t really hold a candle to the pancakes + bacon and eggs combo.

pancakes

Doesn’t look exactly like the picture but MAN it was good. I ate every last bite and I am not exaggerating. I loved the grits/hashbrowns, whatever they were.

After breakfast we were trying to decide what to do, so as per Julie from Peanut Butter Fingers and my friend Lexy’s recommendations, we went to St. Armand’s Circle in Sarasota.

armands

It was sunny and gorgeous, and actually really nice if you were blocked by the wind. The wind was killer though. I’m pretty sure there may have been an actual wind chill.

St. Armands is a pretty touristy and busy location, but it was fun to browse around all the shops. My favourite was the hot sauce shop because they had free samples of everything.

samples

With free tortilla chips! This is my kind of store. I was going crazy sampling everything, and then I accidentally tried some kind of ghost pepper sauce and I almost died. My mouth was on fire for about an hour afterwards, no matter what I ate to counteract it (mango peach salsa, yummmm).

We didn’t go in very many stores, since Evan and I were both not really in the mood for shopping, so we just walked around for a while and then we hit up Lido Beach!

linds-beach

It was within walking distance, so that worked out well. It was freezing and windy, but it was all turquoise and beautiful so that made up for it.

And I have a feeling it’s usually a lot more busy than this also…

evan-beach

We were nearly the only ones there.

After our Sarasota activities we headed back to Bradenton and hit up Smugglers Cove for some adventurous mini golfing.

ev-miniputt

Adventurous was right. There were live baby gators!

gators

I totally thought they were fake until they started moving. But aww, they are kinda cute. Look at the little baby.

gator

Can baby alligators still eat you? I’ll have to Google that.

They liked sunning themselves on the deck. Evan also enjoyed sunning his pale Canadian skin.

evan-sun

Smugglers Cove also had caves, and waterfalls, and a tropical mountain. It was pretty groovy.

smugglers-cove

cave

It was a hilarious and fun time. Definitely the most fun I have ever had while mini golfing.

I’m usually pretty inconsistent at mini golf. I’ll start off alright and then I’ll take a nosedive into “I suck” territory. But that didn’t happen! I probably played my best game ever, and I got FOUR hole in one’s. And I beat Evan though, so that’s all that matters. But only by one.

I was excited about this, because loser paid for dinner, which we had decided was going to be at Hungry Howies, an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet.

Good thing it was cheap.

hungry-howies-receipt

Evan and I saw this receipt and both burst out laughing. That much for all-you-can-eat pizza x2 and a PITCHER of beer? Allow me to put this in perspective for you Americans. $6.99 for a pitcher of beer in Ontario is UNHEARD of. That is ridiculous. It’s usually $6 for a pint! I really can’t get over this. And I was dying over this sign too:

beer-price

Cannot believe how cheap that is. I don’t know how you Americans aren’t drunk all the time. I just don’t understand.

Anyway, we went to town, since it was so cheap.

beer

pizza

cinnamon-roll

I also had a salad and a bunch of breadsticks that went unpictured. I was absolutely stuffed. It was so good, and I am still in awe over how inexpensive it was. So I will say it again. If I lived here I would be a million pounds.

Today we did some outlet shopping (exciiiiiting), and wandered around Anna Maria Island, but we’ll be going back there so I’ll talk about it later. Tomorrow is Orlando and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and a sleepover with Paula! I am dying of excitement.

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