…by Tropical Storm Bonnie, that is! The morning news today updated the local weather situation pretty much every five minutes. The prediction is that the rain is moving over the west coast Friday and early Saturday, but that we should just be seeing wind and rain. I can live with that. Glad it’s not a hurricane!
Once again, though, the timing of rain could not have been more perfect! I had planned an indoor day, anyway! I would spend the morning shopping at the huge mall just down the Tamiami Trail from my Ramada:
…then I would follow that up with my drive north to Sarasota, a trip of about 1.5-2 hours, I thought.
The goal of my mall tour today? Not so much to make purchases. I wanted to complete my department store comparison by checking out:
So how would I rate them overall? Let’s go in ascending order, least to most impressive:
4. jcpenny – reminds me of Sears (which I did not go into today since I don’t even shop Sears at home) – caters to an older demographic, middle-of-the-road trends, lower price points.
3. dillard’s – quite lovely, just not quite the selection of macy’s or neiman marcus; again, aimed at a slightly more mature crowd
2. macy’s - awesome selection of styles and designers for women’s wear, age 25-50 or so; prices still a little too high for me…
1. neiman marcus – if I had the dough, I would n.m. my wardrobe!
I spent a lot of time today in Forever 21:
This has been my best store find of the trip (I had read about it on blogs before my vacation). I’d equate it to h&m in terms of styles, target audience, and price point. I came away empty-handed; HOWEVER!!! …tomorrow I plan to go back to my Tampa International Mall – there were a few pieces there that I did not pick up on my first visit. If they’re still there, I’ll take it as a sign and indulge with some last-minute purchases. (Just like store locations vary in quality at home, I found the Naples Forever 21 less organized and smaller than the Tampa store).
Have to show you the family washroom in the mall cuz it was just too cute:
I exited the mall to find this:
I had a smooth trip from Naples to Sarasota despite very wet conditions. I think the splash-back from trucks was worse than the actual rain, but it was coming down pretty hard all the way in. As predicted, I arrived at my destination in less than two hours (I did debate driving straight up to Tampa since the weather was so gross – that’s about another 50 miles or so. But I decided to stick with my intial plan which was a SCORE as you shall see in a moment!).
But first…the hotel tour:
…and I can now say that I have SCORED on EACH hotel this trip! (Tomorrow night is a repeat visit). No icks! My SpringhillSuites suite tonight is larger than some apartments, clean as a whistle, and pretty darn cute:
There is a pool which I will not be using due to the rain, and a great fitness room which I will use tomorrow morning! Also, comp USA Today … AND the Wall Street Journal! And breakfast tomorrow a.m.! Smashing, I say!
I’ve determined that my hotel preference is really accomodation targeted to the business traveller. You get more amenities than in a tourist-focussed hotel location for a great price. Sure, you may have to drive in to beaches or shops, but for me, that’s no big deal.
I thought this would be THE END of the post for today…but no! There’s more!
On my drive to Sarasota today, I was reflecting on my trip and thinking that one of the best afternoons was when I accidently found the Pier in St Petersburg. Would you believe I was about to have another serendipitous sightseeing tour…
On a map, I had seen that the Ringling Museum was very near to my hotel – like VERY near. After I settled in, I noticed the rain had stopped (things work out as they’re meant to be, example #14!) so I went down to see it. And yup, it was a five minute walk from my hotel.
This is quite an artsy little corner: right across from the Ringling Museum and grounds is this:
I could not believe the size of the Ringling grounds!
I walked into the first building, very new and modern, and read that the museum cost $25 – ouch. I’ll pass, thanks. But I remembered reading in my hotel pamphlet that the grounds are free…I confirmed with a staff member that yes, you can wander the grounds for free until 6 pm. Yippee! What a discovery!…
The “formal Italian wagon wheel design” was absolutely gorgeous. Add in all the roses and sculptures and it was practically a walking meditational experience.
I just love how when I think I know how a day is going to play out…an unexpected treasure appears - especially after that dreary drive today.
While I couldn’t enter the Ringling mansion for free, I certainly could observe it from the exterior…
What fun. This will go into the memory bank as a total gift of an outing.
Now I’m watching MTV and various other mind-enhancing TV channels and knitting (I’ve not done too badly with knitting, actually, this trip! If you know wordpress, blogging photos takes aaaaages as they upload, so I tend to knit while the uploading occurs. I did bring too much yarn by one ball, though!).
Tomorrow I return to Tampa, and visit. the. mall. :) Will the weather improve enough to allow me to enjoy the Olympic-sized pool at one of my favourite hotels of the trip?!