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St. Pete, Dali, and why you should make the trip

March 14, 2012

I had to take a hiatus due to the multitude of events going on around town that I had to cover (see: Virginia Key GrassRoots Music Fest), but I’m back with the next segment of the YoFlo series.

After a fun day at Cigar City Brewery, Lorie and I drove off into the sunset, crossing the Gulf from Tampa into St. Petersburg. Spontaneously booking our room at a bed and breakfast in the middle of the hour-or-so drive, spirits were high as we read up on the St. Pete scene in a local art-centric paper. As luck would have it, there happened to be a block party kind of thing going on that night in the vein of Wynwood’s Second Saturday Art Walk.

We checked in to our quaint digs for the night right by the water’s edge and went for a stroll down to the main street. The walk took us along the bayfront passing galleries, antique shops, craft stores and other odds and ends in an area reminiscent of Bayside, but more Design District-y. Eventually the sounds of music and people drew us towards the hustle and bustle going on down the main street. There was a stage set up on one end with vendors set up on the sidewalk of the bar and restaurant lined street. People walked around with drinks in their hands and just generally having a good time, either taking in the music or loitering outside the restaurants socializing.

Guided by Foursquare’s suggestion feature, we made our way to this restaurant off the main street, down a little stairway and almost underground. All I can really say to impart on you how awesome this place is: Duck Quesadillas.  And so the rest of the night went on in a blur of drinks at great little bars and intermittent music. Another great discovery was Crowley’s Downtown Grill & Bar where the bartender was super helpful and friendly and the “Dirty Nachos” made of thick cut little slices of potatoes hit not just the spot but the entire area.

While the food was definitely noteworthy, the atmosphere in this sleepy little town is what makes it idyllic to say the least; it comes alive just enough at night to let you know it’s got some kick to it. For someone like me who’s crazy about Miami, it was the perfect mix of art, music, and culture in a serene setting that lets you enjoy the days and relish the nights. It’s similar to the “vacation town” we live in, minus the feeling that everyone is on a constant grind trying to get one over on eachother. Granted part of this feeling might have had something to do with the fact that I actually was on vacation, but I don’t think too much of it did.

Another must mention from our time in St. Pete was our trip to the Dali Museum (especially relevant with the recent Dali-related shenanigans in Miami). First off, immediately reminding me of the forthcoming “Museum Park” project going up by the American Airlines Arena, it’s a striking glass building situated right on the water’s edge with a parking lot that juts out over the bay. You walk up to the front door and can’t help but marvel at the glass edifice sparkling in the sunlight with all it’s curves and subtle architectural oddities. After having spent a few hours in there, I can say with confidence that Dali would have approved of this home for his work.

I even had a surreal experience while I was in there; while walking around browsing the paintings, listening to the audio commentary when all of a sudden I hear the theme from Curb Your Enthusiasm blare out into the hushed halls. “Shit” I think, “I could have sworn my phone was on vibrate.” Oddly enough upon checking my phone, I see that it is on vibrate after all. That’s when I turn around and see this older (60ish?) woman answering her phone, silencing the musical interlude. Leave it to the Dali museum to be a setting for the surreal; I mean what are the odds someone else would not only have the same ringtone, but that they’d be old and in the Dali Museum at the same time as me?

As for the work on display, I can only say you have to see it for yourself to fully appreciate it; and follow that up by saying you definitely should. They have everything from his earliest pieces to a movie and a 3D laser sculpture of Alice Cooper. As dorky as you’re going to feel, I also have to recommend taking them up on their free audio tour mp3 players. It really helps you develop an appreciation for the artist, what he went through in his life, and how those variables ended up influencing his work. For extra points, listen to the version of the audio with the “Dali” accent for kids.

And so, much like this (longer than usual) account of my travels, our stay in good ol’ St. Pete had to come to an end. With a meal at the Taco Bus made famous by Adam Richman, we headed out to our last stop on the way home: Solomon’s Castle.

Stay tuned for the last segment from this particular road trip covering Solomon’s Castle coming soon!


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