After a few months of hard work, it was indeed time for a holiday!
I’ve recently returned from a two-week long adventure over in the Sunshine State, exploring some new and old places in one of my favourite American states. Having been pretty lucky over the years, this was my fourth time visiting Florida, and although I do love to explore new places in the world that I’ve never seen, there’s something pretty comforting about knowing exactly what to expect when you arrive at your destination…
The adventure began at Gatwick, and after a pretty relaxing 8 hours with Virgin Atlantic, we arrived at Orlando International.
Our first port of call was Clearwater Beach down on the west coast of Florida, famed for its warm waters thanks to its positioning on the tropical Gulf of Mexico. Despite feeling pretty tired upon arrival, we faced a 2-hour drive across to the coast but were excited to discover a new place!
Due to a flight delay and lots of faffing around with our hire car (you try playing Tetris with 4 giant suitcases and a car boot!), we didn’t arrive at our hotel until late, and pretty much headed straight to bed. Although this was frustrating because we wanted to have a snoop round (I only very briefly visited Clearwater back in 2003!), there’s nothing quite like waking up in a new place, ready to explore, and we were excited see some of the famous sunsets that the place is so well known for.
We were staying at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort, based on the exclusive Sand Key beach. Unfortunately, when we woke up, the weather was pretty stormy and our view over the Gulf of Mexico was grey and miserable! Not quite what we had hoped for on our first morning…
But soon it cheered up, and the sun peeked out. Perfect for hot-tubbing on the beach!
We even made a new friend!
Before the weather turned again, we set out to explore the main Clearwater Beach district. A pretty half an hour walk, we spotted wild dolphins along the way…
…before stopping off for a bite to eat on the main sunset strip.
One of the most popular beach cafes that is certainly worth a visit is Crabby Bill’s.
Famed for its gator bites, steaming buckets of crab and lobster, fresh shrimp, and bacon-wrapped steaks, it was easy to see why you have to wait for a table.
I went for the bacon-wrapped steak (a better combination than Ant and Dec) and lobster tail. Combined with crunchy broccoli and perfectly seasoned fries, I was anything but crabby…
The others opted for fresh tuna steaks. Having never been particularly keen on tuna steak, I was amazed at how tasty it was, and even had food envy. Delicious food all round.
An absolute Floridian essential is Key Lime Pie. Zingy yet creamy with a ‘buttery biscuit base’, the slices are large enough for you to share (and great ‘cos you don’t feel so guilty!).
Whilst we were eating, the sun started to set…
Once the sun had disappeared into the marbled blue sky, we headed back to our hotel for cocktails.
Clearwater, I think you and I are going to get on very well indeed!