North by Northwest - Gulfport to Clearwater, FL
I especially enjoyed my Gulfport stay because I rented a whole VRBO house that came with a full kitchen, gas grill, and a shady side yard/porch where I could comfortably hang out with my coffee and read my book. (I’m working my way through Tana French’s The Witch Elm. I highly recommend it.)
After Gulfport, it was a hop back up to St. Petersburg on a leg of my journey that I’m calling North by Northwest since I was heading for Clearwater, FL at the end of it.
But I do love downtown St. Pete with all of its buzz, and it felt great to be back in the heart of it. The Pier and the restaurants on Beach Drive are wide open. The streets are full of people chattering in multiple languages, and music. It’s so lively and fun, I don’t mind that the new city bird is the (construction) crane because they’re everywhere overhead, just a part of the St. Pete landscape, even hovering over the historic Detroit Hotel on Central Ave as another high-rise goes up.
I stayed at the Ponce de Leon Hotel on Beach Drive for three days, an equally historic hotel with an amazing view across Tampa Bay and the St. Pete Grand Prix racecourse. Workers were dismantling the barricades this week which confused the heck out of me and the local and out-of-state drivers with detours that GPS didn’t capture. Luckily, everyone just took it slowly, giving a friendly wave as we figured it out.
Before I headed north for Clearwater, I stopped by The Fresh Market for supplies – roasted chicken salad, Super Veggie slaw, a dab of Greek pasta salad, and some 7 Grain bread. Then, sitting in a shady spot near Coffee Pot Bayou, I enjoyed my picnic lunch as the manatees swam by. It was a picture-perfect St. Pete day.