At the end of February Gil and I ventured out on another recon mission for our pending relocation, this time all the way to St. Petersburg, Florida! It was a super quick trip, because we lose so much time traveling, but we made it work. We got to hang out in downtown St. Pete, see my family and high school friend, check out neighborhoods and houses all around the area and I got to see the beach!
For this visit time we had Gil’s mom come from Colorado to watch the kids for us. Our friends who watched them last time had already moved to Japan, which is a whole other story of combined sad + excited all at once. We were gone for less time, and I got an entire day without Gil to wrap up our mission.
My folks picked us up from the airport, took us to dinner and dropped us off at my cousin’s house so we could borrow his truck for the weekend. Graciously they had offered for us to stay with them AND borrow their truck, but as luck would have it my cousin’s wife came down with the flu 4 days before we arrived. So we booked a hotel. In the end it worked out, because we stayed in downtown St. Pete and got to see more of the area and experience the nightlife.
However, there was this huge festival called Localtopia where all the local food trucks, artisans, and musicians gather. Normally that would be incredible for us to stumble upon, but not this time. It made the hotel selection scarce with highly inflated prices. Of course, we had no idea about this festival; when we discovered it Gil was shocked, because he specifically searched to avoid this exact thing. I guess you can’t find everything on the internet as easily as we think!
Also, it was freakishly cold for Florida weather. I was so ill-prepared that we didn’t go out on Friday night, as planned, because a jean jacket does not cut it in low 40º weather. Instead we went over what open houses we would hit the next day and planned our attack route to make it to as many houses and neighborhoods as possible. Our dinner with my folks was delightful, I was very grateful they made the 2 hour drive down to see us and to have the use of my cousin’s truck.
We were eager to discover St. Petersburg, so we got an early start and headed to the tourist area. There was a farmers market with music that we later learned happens every Saturday. Drove by The Dalí Museum and saw the bay across from Tampa. It was incredible to see how much the area has changed from my childhood visits to see my grandparents.
Then we started the long day of seeing about 9 open houses. By the end of it we were beat and ready to enjoy a fun evening exploring the downtown. Which was so awesome! The food was amazing and the beer was delicious. The people were friendly and inviting and very helpful to give us hints and talk about the area with us. We hit up several breweries and a late night burrito place and had a great time.
This was the brutal day. Gil had to leave on one of the first flights out for the day to get back in time so his mom could fly back to Colorado, so we were up before 5am and I was back in the hotel bed before the sun came up. Luckily, I was eventually able to fall back asleep because I was incredibly tired.
Once I got up, for the second time I got ready, checked out and headed to St. Pete Beach. It was super cute and reminded me of Huntington Beach in Orange County. Then I went to a few open houses and met up with an old high school friend who showed me around some of the more suburban areas of the peninsula. It was great to see her since we figured it had been 25 years and basically neither one of us had changed, which felt really comforting.
Eventually, I made it back to my cousin’s to return his truck and hang out for a quick minute before heading to the airport. I enjoyed being able to chat with them a bit before leaving, we even looked up our grandparents old house in St. Pete; something I had been searching for and couldn’t quite pin down where it was.
In the end, I really enjoyed being there. It still felt familiar, even though everything has changed. Sunday was the best weather day so that was another bonus to make it to the beach, but a bummer for Gil. Florida really does have beautiful beaches, fun urban life and lots of outdoor activities with plenty of culture to offer. Plus, I never thought I would say this, but I appreciated the slow pace that was going on there. It’s a good reminder to take a breath, look around and appreciate what’s around you.
Up next, The Big Decision…