Big City Tales

It’s Time for a Spring Break in Tampa

March 13, 2018
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In many parts of North America this year March rolled in like a roaring lion leaving residents beyond winter-weary and ready for a reprieve. Yes, after record snowfalls and too many blizzards to count, it’s high time for a well-deserved spring break and the city of Tampa, Florida is beckoning.

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Tampa is a family-friendly location that also caters to the party crowd. Its temperate climate, tropical beaches and topnotch attractions make it a triple threat vacation destination.

Temperate Climate

With average highs in the mid-70 degrees Fahrenheit and a 72 percent chance of sunny skies during the month of March, Tampa’s climate is ideal for anyone looking to be outside and enjoy splashing about in warm water and catching some rays. Humidity and precipitation is also low at this time of year meaning no sticky nights and little chance of outdoor fun being spoiled by a rain shower.

Tropical Beaches

Situated on Florida’s west coast near the Gulf of Mexico, beaches are plentiful in Tampa and opportunities for water recreation abound. Whether you want to charter a boat, rent a jet ski, or just stroll along a boardwalk jutting into the bay the city’s glorious waterfront will satisfy your desires.

Tampa is also part of the broader Tampa Bay Area that includes St. Petersburg and Clearwater. St. Petersburg is bordered by three bodies of water offering a tremendous amount of beach front areas and the most number of sunny days in the state earning it the nickname of Sunshine City. Clearwater is home to Clearwater Beach, one of the best beaches in the Unites States and the world known for its 2.5 mile long stretch of white sand on the Gulf of Mexico. Pier 60 and the Beach Walk are popular destinations for both sunbathers and night owls.

Topnotch Attractions

Be it a theme park, museum or historical landmark, Tampa offers several options for those seeking adventure beyond just being a beach bum.

Busch Gardens Tampa is an African-themed animal and amusement park that features exhibits such as the Serengeti Plain, Edge of Africa and Bird Gardens. The park is also known for its eight roller coasters and two water rides.

The SS American Victory is a museum ship that is permanently docked in Tampa’s downtown Channel District. The ship was formerly used in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War as a cargo vessel transporting ammunition and other goods from the United States to Southeast Asia.

Ybor City is a historical district in northeast Tampa that contains many landmarks listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The area is noteworthy for being the home of cigar manufacturers and thousands of immigrant workers who thrived in the region from the late 1800s until the Great Depression era. Ybor City was also known for its social clubs and mutual aid societies such as El Centro Español de Tampa and Centro Asturiano de Tampa that provided cultural gathering places to welcome and orient new immigrants to the city.

Russia’s Rustic & Rambling Cities

December 23, 2011
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My first introduction to the mystery and wonder of Russian cities was as a teenager  when I happened upon Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel, in my high school’s library.

As a wealthy socialite, Anna frequently traveled between Moscow and St. Petersburg and Tolstoy’s descriptive prose painted vivid and inviting images of these cities in my mind. I was hooked from the first page and my fascination with all things Russian continued into university.

In addition to taking as many Russian history/literature optional courses as I could, I also watched movies such as War and Peace, The Brothers Karamazov, Doctor Zhivago, Reds, Anastasia and Burnt by the Sun. As well, my reading expanded to include works of the other great Russian masters such as Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Turgenev, Pushkin and Pasternak. The more I delved into the world of the Tsars and communist revolutionary figures, the more my desire was fueled to one day visit the ‘motherland’ and explore its two main glorious cities.

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Harkening back to my initial introduction to Russian society and customs, the idea of a  Trans-Siberian railway adventure like Anna Karenina would have taken holds great appeal, but I am also open to a river cruise along the Neva, Svir and Volga rivers.

Whatever the mode of transportation I choose to take between Moscow and St. Petersburg, I am so looking forward to roaming these rustic and rambling Russian cities and soaking up every last bit of their collective histories!

Sights to see in Moscow:

  • Red Square/St. Basil’s Cathedral
  • The Kremlin
  • Lenin’s Tomb
  • Bolshoi Theater
  • Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
  • Pushkin Museum of Visual Art
  • Tverskya Ulitsa (theatre district)
  • Kuznetsky Most (former meeting place of Moscow’s elite)
  • Izmailovsky Park (where Peter the Great played as a child)
  • Cosmonaut Museum

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Sights to see in St. Petersburg:

  • The Hermitage
  • Neva River
  • The Winter Palace, The Summer Palace & other palatial places
  • The Bronze Horseman, The Alexander Column & other grand statues
  • St. Isaac’s Cathedral & other houses of worship
  • The Palace Bridge, The Bank Bridge & other river-spanning feats of engineering
  • Alexander Garden, Catherine Garden & other parks heralding the great tsars of the past

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