Monday, February 15, 2016

Winter Florida Getaway: Islamorada and Sarasota

Oh, the satisfying anticipation of heading to warmer weather when the city is a frozen mess. It's this annoying thing we do here : Bye New Yorkers, enjoy the frostbite!

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Then we come right back and join the misery. Ha ha. 

 Andrew had work in Sarasota, and we decided that a) I'd tag along- free lodging! and b) we would go earlier and check out the Keys. Well, our smug little happy dance got checked when we saw the 80 degree temps the day before our departure dipping to 50-60 degree welcome weather for our arrival. 

The snow also caused an 8.5 hour flight delay. At one point, we got on the plane, waited an hour on the tarmac, and turned back around because the pilots had reached their 14-hour duty limitations for flying. You should have heard the uproar on the plane. I thought there was going to be a riot. 

Good thing the JFK JetBlue terminal is pretty snazzy. There's even a Muji in there! I was so tempted to buy some notebooks and pens. Why are Japanese products so awesome?

There was even a nifty Mamava breastfeeding suite!  I believe women should be able to comfortably feed their babies in public with no harassment from others, but if mothers want their privacy, this is a really nice option. 

When we first arrived at the terminal, there were travelers bound for tropical destinations doing shots at 10am.  I'm not gonna lie; it seemed stupid- yet fun.  Andrew was not too thrilled when that bar ended up being the only place that had hot soup to soothe his sore throat.  He only had to sacrifice his eardrums from the deafening club music.  I had movie theater-caliber nachos.  You know, with those pickled jalapeno peppers. This can be good or bad, depending on who you ask.

The great thing is that JetBlue gave everyone on that flight full credit for the inconvenience. :)

We finally arrived at our hotel in Islamorada at 3am after a 3-hour drive from Fort Myers. 
Swings in the lobby of Amara Cay Resort.

Pretty art in the hotel
We got a special discounted rate online for this "resort", but I think it was way too pricey for what it is.  It's basically a motel that received a makeover.  I mean, it's a cute makeover- stylish and modern with a quaint pool area.  Just make sure to bring your earplugs. You can hear everything through the walls.

Reptile at the pool
We were lucky enough to get a couple hours of heat a day in the Keys.

I was trying to explain to friends how the beach was here.  It's a man made beach area that is like sand sprinkled on concrete. As you get closer to the water, it just becomes concrete and you have a drop-off/stairs leading to the ocean. Apparently, the coral reefs in the area prevent beach formation and sandy shorelines. 

That's why I was able to get away with wearing suede boots to the beaches. Not a lot of sand.  

First meal was at Green Turtle Inn

The Lobster Eggs Benedict wasn't spectacular, but the famous turtle chowder and grits were amazing!  The grits had the perfect amount of buttery creaminess to it. 

The snapping turtle chowder tasted like spicy beef stew.  I dug it!

I was really looking forward to feeding tarpons and holding baby alligators while in South Florida. But when I read up on those activities, articles mentioned alligator wrestling at the farms and how stressful it was to the animals (wrestling--stressful?) and how feeding tarpons disrupt the ecosystem.  Obviously, I don't want to support THAT. But I just love animals with the passion of Elmira. 

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It's like those elephant rides in Thailand. YES, I want to ride an elephant. But then I have to wonder about the dark side to it. Because there is one. Sad.

So we decided to just walk on the piers and not participate in any feedings. I know, what a staunch stand I stood against it. Hey, I was still curious!
We sent this pic to our friend Robbie, who had a birthday that day.  He thought we were at the Thirsty Tampon Bar. 

Taking turns on the dock. 

Totally cheesy- like my family vacation photos from the 90s.

A rare day of putting mascara on my bottom lashes. That Peripera Peri's Fitting Curling Mascara doesn't smudge! The smudging is what discourages me from ever using mascara on the bottom.

Sorry for the "too cool for school" look. I just really love these Forever 21 sunglasses.  My romper is also from Forever 21.  My mom thinks I need to upgrade to a more sophisticated brand.  But I can't let go of Forever's cheap, disposable clothes- it's like leasing an inexpensive outfit. And your outfit falls apart in the wash so you don't have to worry about it taking up space in your closet. Forever 21 products purge themselves out of our lives. 

Leaving Islamorada.  Holla to my bowlegged sisters!

The stone crabs were ok.  They were served cold the first time I had them on the trip, but I really enjoy my crabs warm with butter.  Unfortunately, these came out a bit dry. 

The plate of fried cracked conch was so delicious. We added Cholula hot sauce, which was a staple at every restaurant in the Keys.

The other dish worth noting is their VERY popular Matecumbe preparation of baked fish topped with tomatoes, shallots, fresh basil, capers, olive oil, and lemon juice.  It was featured on Food Network Food Nation with Bobby Flay.  Andrew loved it, and he tried the recipe yesterday! Two thumbs up!

A rest stop along the swamps as we headed up to Sarasota

The weather continued to get chilly.  One day I hope to enjoy Siesta Beach when it's warm.  That's my friend Beverly's finger. 

Here's a little more of Beverly. I've known her since college in Atlanta, and now she's married and pregnant with her first baby! Time is just flying by. The next thing you know we'll be calling each other from our respective old folks' homes.

Besides eating pho EVERY day in Sarasota, she and I got to catch up while swimming in the heated pool and watching CNN political shows /Teen Mom in the hotel room. 

We went to a really cute cafe called The Tea House.  Wow, I just realized that I went to The Fish House, The Tea House, and Yummy House on that trip.  Yummy House wasn't that yummy.

It felt like college days again.  Sipping on my Moroccan mint tea while writing in my notebooks.  In LA, Beverly and I would hit boba tea cafes. That girl loves her boba. No, seriously. Her dog is named Boba.

I've been loving my Passion Planner and ZLYC traveler's notebook.  The ZLYC is a cheaper alternative for the uber popular Japanese Midori. 

 Florida was fantastic. I should be back again in March.
Good to see you again, New York. 

Hope you're all enjoying Presidents Day. And got a lot of love on Valentine's Day! <3



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