On the West Coast of Florida

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Pambling Roads


On the road again: Sarasota and Tampa, Florida


Through the Everglades heading west we passed some Micossukee villages, watched an alligator strolling through someone’s driveway and various wildlife. Even with some of the construction, it was a pleasant drive, relaxing and beautiful.


We stopped for an overnight stay, in Naples, at the LaQuinta Inn on Bedzel Circle. It was a nice, clean hotel with pleasant employees.  The next morning we headed to Sarasota.


Golden Host Resort was our hotel for the few days that we stayed in Sarasota. It was close to the beaches and close to the John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art. It was a good choice and were we to return to Sarasota, we would stay there again. It was 5 acres of nicely landscaped grounds and had an excellent pool area, a must when you vacation in Florida.


We ate at the El Pescador Italian Restaurant on North Tamiami Trail. It was nice and quiet with a very relaxing atmosphere. Both of our meals were exquisite. Our server was Andrei and he could not have done a better job. Meraviglioso!


The Ringling Museum complex left us in complete awe. If it is not, it should be considered one of the most magnificent museums in Eastern US.


The Museum of Art had some breathtaking pieces of art and sculptures, a collection from all over the world. Some photography was allowed, depending on which part of the museum you were visiting.


The Circus Museums were fascinating, filled with history, artifacts, and memorabilia of the Ringling Family Circus. It immediately brought to mind the nostalgic memories of going to the circus with my parents, taking my own children, and an old friend of ours, Kilowatt, who was born and raised with the circus.


The grounds, courtyard, and gardens were absolutely beautiful. All around the courtyard are bronze and stone sculptures, including Michelangelo’s David from Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy. The rose garden, done in a circular Italian design, was in full bloom, the scents of the garden perfect, not one time did we feel the garden was overwhelming.  Our timing to visit the other various gardens could not have been better.


The Ca’D’Zan Mansion was included in the entrance price. If you wanted to see the second floor, there was an added fee. The gilded-age Venetian architecture was tastefully crafted throughout the house. About ten years ago, renovations and repairs to the palatial residence brought it back to the splendor in which it was built.   Don’t ignore the marble terrace that borders the Sarasota Bay, it is, in itself, a breathtaking beauty.


There are two restaurants on the property, The Treviso and the Banyan Café.


On to Busch Gardens:


Since we are Florida residents, and knew we were going to be there for almost a week, the first thing we did after we checked into the hotel was purchase the Busch Garden Fun Card. We stayed at the La Quinta on North 30th Street, which put us within walking distance (one mile) of the main entrance to Busch Gardens.



First thing we did was ride the train all the way around the Gardens, mentally adding sites to our Todo List. We took advantage of the train getting us to different areas when we wanted to go back and see a different section. We also did the Skyride a couple of times. I have to admit we pretty much went everywhere over the next four days, including the Sesame Street Safari of Fun area.



The Serengeti Plains (zoo) was all it was promised to be and more. Everyone sees the commercials advertising Busch Gardens, and what you see and get is more than you can possibly imagine.



We went through Egypt, Timbuktu, Congo, Jungala, Nairobi, Stanleyville, Bird Gardens, and of course, Sesame Street Safari of Fun. We ate everywhere. The food was excellent and the service top-notch. If you think about it, grab the All-day Dining Deal. It will be worth it.


The Rides:

 I actually got my husband in this picture! Bottom first full row all the way to the left.

Kumba and Cheetah were the best two rides in my husband’s opinion. (I do not do roller coasters) We were going to do the River Raft but it was getting late and we wanted to get over to the Pop-up.



 This is what I saw when I looked up!

The Pop-up Tiger View was my absolute favorite.

It was so awesome I wanted to keep going around to the back of the line. Alas, hubby decided he was tired of going in circles and dragged me away.



The Shows:


The Iceploration Show, at the Moroccan Palace, was entertaining and spectacular. We almost didn’t go and now, we are glad we did.

Rock-a-Doo-Wop, at the Marrekesh Theater in Morocco, was a blast! The music: perfection. Some of the singers were pure pleasurable to listen to and, in my humble opinion, Broadway worthy.

Dance to the Music, at the Desert Grill Theater in Timbuktu, was entertaining and upbeat.

Kareebu Jungala had entertainers in the plaza, taking pictures with the tourists and just having fun.


On our last day at Busch Gardens, we had decided to take the car because I wanted to buy some souvenirs. We were standing in line to get on the trolley. In front of us, was a young man (teen) with a young girl. For the two weeks that we have been traveling, his manner of dress stuck out like a sore thumb. I understand that it is the style for some young men now, but we were not the only ones who were taken aback. I wondered why the people in front of us changed isles until well...they were in front of us. I was afraid I would bump him with my bags and he would accuse me of trying to touch him inappropriately. (Lots of purchases—it was our last day) I backed away. The people standing in line for the trolley intentionally stayed away from them. Even teenagers, in the same age bracket, avoided looking at them and being in the same line. His pants were so far down, with the belt strapped just underneath the roundness of his buttocks--with grayish whitie-tighties showing, it did not look fashionable. It looked grungy. He looked poor and un-kept, as if he could not afford to buy a pair of pants or clean the ones he had. I sometimes wish someone would be honest with these young men and just tell them how bad it really does look.


Two restaurants pleasantly stood out while we were staying near Busch Gardens.

The Red Lobster, on East Busch Street, was absolutely exquisite. The food was A-1, service was superb, and the dessert was decadent.

IHOP, also on East Busch Street, was a repeat restaurant we liked it so much. I have to say it had been a while since we hit an IHOP and it was great! All the employees were friendly; made sure we were happy, joking around with us. The food and service was great.


I did read a few books while on vacation and one stood out that my sister had me read. It is a self-published book written by Joni Raycroft, I Love You More than I Love the Yankees  How’s That xxx

It is a true story about how every morning Joni would enter her kitchen and find a note from her husband, a loving husband who left her notes, precious gifts from a man dying from cancer. This author shares her precious gifts with her readers and the intricate thoughts of the last moments with her husband. The book is 28 pages; and those 28 pages are still with me. Never have I read a book that has so touched me and stayed with me. Not like this.


Countries/states of people we have met on this trip. Meeting the Americans has become Meeting the World.

Kansas Wisconsin France Ireland Australia Germany Florida Georgia


Next trip:

The states east of the Mississippi River!

Have some stories you can tell about your trips to Florida? Got something to add? Pambling Roads Comments and Blog 

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