Double Your Five to Try Pleasure in Pinellas

Recently, the hubs and I took a mini-vaca in the Tampa Bay area after deciding that (a) we didn’t want to go far enough to need a rental car, (b) we weren’t willing to spend any of our vacation time sitting in an automobile for any length of time that exceeded a typical episode of “Big Brother,” and (c) we really, really needed to see a body of water up close and in person. Landlocked in Central Pasco, we live in a world where going to the beach is quite the endeavor and one requiring serious planning and a lot of gas in the tank, so we’re lucky if we even make it out to the Gulfshore once a year. (My followers in Pinellas are probably fainting right now.)

So when we decided to take a closer-to-home vacation, it sounded like a great opportunity to sneak in a few Five to Try activities, and that we did…

Five to Try for August #3 – The Chihuly Collection

I have always been fascinated with handblown glass, since I was a little girl watching the glass artists at The Shell Factory create their masterpieces down in North Fort Myers, Fla., just up the road from where I grew up as a kid in Naples. Many years later, I discovered the work of glass artist Dale Chihuly when I first spotted one of his works high above me as an elaborate chandelier at one of my favorite Biloxi casinos. The fact that I was even looking up when all I could think about was the roulette wheel was a feat in itself.  Then,  while working for skirt! magazine, I learned about the future launch of this creative fella’s collection of beautiful work in a St. Pete museum. It wasn’t until recently that I learned about the team approach behind many of his most acclaimed installments.

Just before we headed to the Chihuly Collection in downtown St. Pete, I checked the site online for info about hours and photography/video, and sure enough, I learned that you cannot take any pictures or video within the museum. I find this fascinating since unlike an archive of old paintings which could legitimately be impacted by flash photography, I find it hard to believe any of the glass pieces would be destroyed if I ran my little Flip or we snapped a few photos. But such is life.

So unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of vivid images I can share with you… only a few from outside the museum (if you can really call it that).

The pieces we saw inside were beautiful. The items on display outside, eh. Nice but not that attention-grabbing. 

I did sneak in one photo as we sat and watched a pre-tour movie alone and boned up on Chihuly 101. Rule-breaker that I am. Yeah, that’s right, I’m a rebel.

Pretty pieces, huh?

I think my biggest surprise of all was how quickly we were done at the collection. I’m not sure what I expected, but generally when I go to an art gallery or museum, I’m typically there for anywhere from an hour to two hours. We hooked on to a tour in progress to learn more about the artist and the way he went about his art, which was interesting, but had we not done that, I do believe we would have been finished exploring the small space in 30 minutes. We even walked back through the gallery not once but twice after joining the tour. And while I loved the pieces on display immensely, I think we did this more to get our money’s worth than for aesthetic reasons.

So be warned – if you love Chihuly’s work, go forth and enjoy. But whether you are familiar with his impressive array of work or not, go in with far more realistic expectations than we did. You basically have one beautiful central room with three or four gorgeous chandeliers, another three or four smaller alcoves of specialty series, a mesmerizing room of what on the surface appears as a large scale display of colorful marbles (but wait until you hear the story behind these beautiful pieces) and finally, a gorgeous glassy garden display that will truly knock your socks off.

All beautiful and worth a closer look, but I’m telling you – I’ll be surprised if you don’t find yourself, like us, wanting more… so “five to try” at your own risk with this in mind.

Five to Try for August #4 – The Pub at Indian Shores

Checking out glass art makes a tired blogger hungry. We had planned to eat in downtown St. Pete but it was far too early for lunch since our Chihuly Collection stop turned out to be a shorter visit than we anticipated, so we instead headed toward the beach. And after much searching up and down Gulf Blvd., we honed in on this quaint little place: The Pub in Indian Shores, Fla.

Now, keep in mind that we had two dilemmas as we searched for a place to eat: (1) – I’m a vegetarian so often my menu choices can be limited and (2) – Larry doesn’t eat seafood (and neither do I anymore), and up the coast, that tends to be the specialty – burgers and fish dishes. So I knew our hunt was going to be a difficult one, but after checking out the menu outside, this one looked promising. We skidaddled inside.

Most of all, we just wanted a nice comfy place to get out of the sun but still feel like we were in seaside mode.  And even better if it included sweet tea.

Check.

Our next order of business: tasty food and for me, most importantly, something vegetarian. Vacation means fun, so though I was still tracking Weight Watchers points, I knew I wanted something yummy and most likely, not in the online WW database. We ordered a side and this great, big, beautiful bounty of onion straws showed up…we approached carefully, dug in and never looked back.

And no, I have no idea how many points they were, and frankly, I really didn’t care. Would you?

After not finding anything beyond a basic salad, I inquired about the chef altering one of the existing chicken wraps into a veggie-only. The place was so accommodating and created this little beaut for me. I think it included about every vegetable they had in the building. But I wasn’t complaining.

We couldn’t have been happier with this place! The food was tasty and it was served quickly and as you can see, abundantly. The service was impeccable and that view, well, it was exactly what we needed and the whole point of this trip.

We were wanting a chance to get away, put hard work and other responsibilities aside for a few days and simply enjoy some time together in a peaceful, pleasant setting.

The Pub was a great way to get things off to a hearty, happy start. I highly recommend!

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