The rundown...and pictures!
Travelling alone is very liberating! If you are comfortable with your own thoughts, meeting new people and small talk, I highly recommend it. Fuck it, even if you're uncomfortable with those things, take a solo mini-break somewhere close. You might surprise yourself!
If you do travel alone on a beach vacation, there are two things you should buy: spray sunscreen and a waterproof wallet. I used regular lotion sunscreen and missed a couple of spots on my back the first day. Spray sunscreen might work better. The waterproof wallet was the best idea I ever had; I didn't have to worry about someone stealing my shit when I went in the water.
Speaking of swimming, while I was definitely the palest person on the beach, I didn't feel self-conscious about my body. There were plenty of thinner girls wearing too small, unflattering bikinis. My one-piece may be granny, but it's appropriate for my size.
2. Miami and South Beach, 05/12/12 - 05/14/12
Bus: I read some bad reviews about mass transit in Miami, but I decided to try it anyways. I didn't want to spend the money on a rental car for it to sit at the hotel. I guess if you're not used to riding a bus you'd be frustrated, but I thought it was great!! The Airport Flyer took me from MIA to Miami Beach for $2.35. All other bus rides were $2 and covered every where I wanted to go. A tip: be sure to buy an unlimited day pass at the airport because the bus drivers don't sell them. Also, if you are a guy, DO NOT SIT. Almost every time I was on the bus, a local loudmouth berated any man who didn't offer his seat to a woman. Granted, healthy young men should stand for ladies and the eldery, but some of these guys were insane. Strangest part was some of the seat judgers were racist about it, which I didn't understand at all. Apparently dropping n-bombs is okay, as long as you are chivalrous. Half-jerks!
Baseball: Mets vs. Marlins, Marlins Park, #18! is in a gorgeous building, but the stadium was pretty ugly with this weird color green on the outfield walls. The infield wasn't any better; the natural grass isn't getting enough sunlight or water because of the roof so it looked dead and drab. The acoustics are awesome though - the roar of the crowd, the crack of the bat, the hundreds of Mets fans cheering the win! Woo hoo!
Hotel: I stayed at The Mimosa on Collins and 65th. It was a little out of the way, but fine for me considering I was in bed by 9pm both nights. I was exhausted! Next time, I'll pay a little extra to stay in South Beach.
Bars: Tobacco Road is Florida's oldest bar (it was a speakeasy during Prohibition), so naturally I wanted to check it out. I was hoping for a LaFitte's or McSorley's type place dripping with history; instead I got Eminem and pretty college girls behind the bar. Booooo. Mac's Club Deuce in South Beach was perfect - dark and seedy, filled with locals drunk at noon. Definitely my kind of place! I played pool with a shark who looked like a skinny Danny Glover.
Beach: Lummus Park was glorious. The beach was clean, the water warm with lots of manageable waves. The two drawbacks were the $15 umbrella rentals and no close bathrooms. It rained in the morning, so I ducked into a restaurant for breakfast. I met a girl named Kyree from DC and we ended up drinking until the sun came out. I was wasted before noon!! By the time I made it to the beach I had to pee so bad. I jumped in the ocean and peed in spurts for an hour and a half, even while talking to this good looking guy named Evan from Texas. I figured he had to feel it and would swim away so I can pee in peace, but he didn't. In fact, he invited me to dinner. I declined though. I went solo for a reason!
Serendipity: I've been looking for a chakra banner for a few weeks now to no avail. I thought it would be nice to put on the wall across from my bed, so I can see it when I wake up. Well I came across this store called 9th Chakra AND THEY HAD ONE!! Yay!
3. Fort Myers Beach, 05/14/12
Drive: Miami was super relaxing. The rest of the trip, not so much. I did a lot of driving, which was fun but exhausting. Monday morning I drove about three hours to Fort Myers. I haven't driven in about two years, so I was a bit nervous.I used to be an aggressive asshole road rage driver, but now I'm much calmer. I did get my Chevy Cruze up to 85, though. Boom! I'll never own a car in NYC, but I do miss the freedom of driving and singing to the radio at the top of my lungs.
My favorite part of the drive was going over the bridge from Fort Myers to Fort Myers Beach. It looked like a tropical mecca.
Hotel: I hung out on the north side near the Times Square section, which is a little area filled with bars and restaurants. Very quaint and chill town. Neptune Inn on the main strip is about a 10-15 minute walk to Times Square. The staff was very nice, the room was cute, and the view from my door was
Bars: The standouts were Shamrock's, which was right across the street from my hotel, Yucatan (I only had breakfast here, but it was delicious) and The Beached Whale. Shamrock's is a divey Irish bar with some fun characters, especially Breadman the bartender. The best way to describe him is Keith Richards and Ernest's lovechild. The Beached Whale is a typical restaurant bar with a really cool bartender named...wait for it...FORCE THOMPSON. I never put real names on Thighs, but I had to make an exception. Force Thompson, if you Google yourself and find this blog, I had so much fun hanging out with you!
Beach: The Gulf of Mexico is AMAZING. The water was warm, the sand a soft powder. I LOVED it and can't wait to go back!
Past: I haven't seen my mom's friend Roseann in about 20 years. Her son and I are the same age, so we used to play together when our families lived in Brooklyn. It was really cool to see her - she's exactly as I remember! It was a bit trippy for the both of us. All Roe kept saying is I look like my mom. At one point she was so candid with her life, I think she forgot I'm NOT my mother for a while. Later on she became my second mother, giving me a look every time I had a drink at dinner. When she dropped me off back at the hotel, I hid in the lobby and went back to Shamrock's when she drove away. In case you forgot, I am 34.
Roe's daughter Lisa is about 10 years younger than me, so I didn't remember her much. She's AWESOME though, I'm so glad she joined us for dinner! I already invited her to come stay in NYC. Check out her amazing photography.
3. St. Pete Beach, 05/15/12
Drive: After another three hour ride from FMB to SPB I was GRUMPY. I tried to cure my slight hangover- tiredness with loads of coffee, but it backfired. My body was exhausted while my mind was racing...
Hotel: The only thing keeping me from flipping out was my adorable room at The Postcard Inn. This hotel is FANTASTIC. My room was on the parking lot side, so I had no idea a beautiful garden, pool, bar, and beach was down the hall. For some reason I didn't take any pictures outside! Fail, but win because I would stay there again in a heartbeat.
Bars: The PCI Bar at my hotel on the beach was perfect. I wish I could live there. I hit a couple of bars a little north, but it was an older and boring crowd. Then again I was there during the off-season and drinking at noon on a Wednesday. FYI, rumrunners are disgusting.
I went out of my way a bit to hit The Drunken Clam, named after the bar in Family Guy. Chris (?) the bartender was a sweetheart and it turns out he has lot of family in Queens! (I met at least four people who used to live in Astoria!) I was talking to him for about 20 minutes when this loud, red, obnoxious guy called Whispers (no joke) walks in screaming about vaginas. Naturally he and I hit it off because he reminded me of someone. It took me a while to realize...it was me! We had the same personality, sense of humor, look, everything. He told people I was his sister from Nebraska. They believed it. There was a little incest as we did make out at one point, but it wasn't right. We might actually be related.
I made out with another guy that night. He ended up being a loser from Astoria who actually pretended to call the Irish Rover (a local bar) to get dirt on me. WTF??
Beach: AMAZING. How many times do I have to say it??
4. Clearwater, 05/16/12
Hotel: My friends Palmio and AC are the coolest couple of all time. First, they are both extremely talented writers and artists. Second, they are a ton of fun. Third, their home is gorgeous and creatively decorated. Last, they are generous and kind hosts! I'm so grateful I got to spend time with them! Unfortunately AC had to work on her next project, so we didn't get to spend much time together. I'll just have to visit again!
Baseball: Red Sox vs. Rays, Tropicana Field, #19! Truthfully I felt as meh about the field as I did at Marlins Park. I am so spoiled with Citifield. It's my second favorite ballpark after Wrigley. The inside hallways by right field is decorated as a carnival. It was really cute! We didn't walk around the whole stadium though, so I did miss the Hitters Hall of Fame and the Rays aquarium. Oops!! I was about five ciders in the bag from pre-gaming at the stadium bar. Post-game drinks there, too! Drunk!
Museum: You must go to the Salvador Dali museum. It's incredible! I really only knew a couple of his paintings like The Persistence of Memory with the melting clocks. This guy was absolutely insane, a mad genius with a paintbrush. I was blown away by pretty much everything, but this one got me most:
5. Fin, 05/17/12
That's about it!! I had a great time with friends old and new, beaching, drinking, eating, and smiling. There were quite a few "soul laughs", what I call the enlightened, grateful, and purely happy giggle that comes from within. I feel very blessed and fortunate to have the opportunity to take this trip on my lonesome. Truthfully I missed MDLL at times, but only because I knew he would have loved the beaches down there as much as I did. Whether I end up with him or not, I hope to make a solo vacation a somewhat regular thing. Next time I will sit still, though!!