Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thrill The World St. Pete - A New World Record

Last Saturday, 198 dancers filled the St. Pete Pier in an attempt to break the world record for the "Largest Simultaneous Worldwide Thriller Dance". At exactly 8:30 PM they began the iconic dance along with dancers from over 32 other countries. Although officials are still counting the number of participants, the current tally is at 23,000 people which shatters the previous record of 4,179.

The following is a video of the St. Petersburg performance of Thriller on the St. Pete Pier:

For those interested in breaking the record next year, plans are being made to make another attempt on October 24th, 2010.

On a side note: I am very disappointed that I was not able to make it to this event. I have always wanted to learn the dance to Thriller and have always wanted to be a part of a world record. With that being said... Expect to see me at The Pier next year!!!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks

Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks Whenever I have guests come to town, I take them to see the diverse array of attractions that the Tampa Bay area has to offer. The Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs is one attraction that always tops my list to highlight.

Tarpon Springs attracted many Greek settlers in the late 1800's because of its then booming sponging industry. These new settlers brought their sponging techniques and technologies to make Tarpon Springs the new "sponge capital of the world".

The sponging industry is not as strong as it once in Tarpon Springs, but this tourist attraction now stands as a tribute to the culture that endured. The sponge docks are a wonderful landscape filled with beautiful waterways, historic hook boats, fun tourist shops and authentic Greek restaurants. I always enjoy taking a stroll down Dodecanese Blvd to take in the very European atmosphere and to snap photos of the picturesque backdrop.

On January 6th you can come to the Sponge Docks to celebrate Epiphany, when the Greek Orthadox Church blesses the boats and the waters of the area for another successful year of sponging. This celebration includes a ceremony in which local boys (aged 16-18) dive into the bayou to retrieve a wooden cross. The boy that recovers the cross is said to possess good luck in the coming year. You can also find other celebrations that include Greek food and music on the docks.

If you come to the Sponge Docks for nothing else, I highly recommend eating at Hellas Restaurant. The food combined with the friendly staff and great atmosphere make for a memorable dining experience. This is my favorite Greek Restaurant in the Tampa Bay area, only 2nd to Athenian Garden, and I go as often as possible.

For more info check out the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks Website.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Columbia Restaurant: Ybor City

A couple weeks ago I was showing some friends from Austria around the Tampa area and was very lucky when we stumbled upon Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. I had heard a little about how good the restaurant was but had no idea how great it would actually turn out.

Columbia Restaurant was founded in 1905 when Colombian immigrants were making their home in Tampa's Ybor City. It is the oldest restaurant in all of Florida and has grown to become the largest Spanish restaurant in the world. The large dining rooms are extremely beautiful and very authentic. It did not take long before the atmosphere had me feeling like I was vacationing in Spain again as I sipped on my Sangria.

I know that I normally blog about attractions in the area that are cheap or free but this dining experience is worth every penny! I ordered the Boliche "Criollo" which is "Roasted eye round of beef stuffed with chorizo and roasted in flavorful gravy." The food was absolutely amazing! The beef practically fell apart in my mouth and was so full of flavor. I was very surprised by how much I loved something as simple as the black beans, rice, and plantos that came as a side dish with my meal. I also had the chance to try the Pampano en Papillot. The dish is described as a "boneless fillet of Pompano with seafood stuffing of shrimp, crab meat, artichoke, butter and white wine, wrapped in parchment paper and baked". I will admit that I am not a big fan of seafood, but I would order this dish in a heartbeat if given the opportunity. If the entrees were any indicator of how good the deserts would turn out to be, then I definitely wish I would have saved room for desert!

For those that are looking for more than just a dining experience, Columbia Restaurant Ybor also touts a cigar bar, live music and nightly traditional Flamenco Dancing shows Monday through Saturday. If you can't make it out to Ybor, Columbia also has locations in St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Celebration, St. Augustine, and Clearwater Beach.

If you are coming to visit the Tampa Bay area and are looking for things to do or live in the Tampa area and have never experienced this "Gem of Spanish Restaurants", I highly recommend doing so! Your taste buds will thank me...

You can find more information at the Columbia Restaurant Website.

Tampa Bay Attractions & Things To Do

The following is a list of major attractions and fun things to do in the Tampa Bay area. If you believe that something is missing from the list, please email to make a suggestion.

Adventure Island Website