Friday, January 1, 2016

Downtown Tampa, and New Year's Eve

Yesterday morning I finally got some exercise. Just after dawn I left our hotel and went for a walk through downtown Tampa. My friend Sue wanted me to take the Riverwalk, a new-ish pedestrian path years in the making that follows the Hillsborough River through the center of the city.

First I passed the Tampa Theater, an old-time movie house which was refurbished years ago and shows artsy films and hosts live shows. You can see the rooftop sign on the Hotel Floridan behind the theater. (Likewise, in my shot of the Tampa skyline from our stay in the Floridan a few days ago, you can see the theater's sign in the lower right.)

When I lived in Tampa back in the '80s, one of my newspaper colleagues wrote about how the city had turned its back on the river. Much of the land lining its shores was then occupied by buildings and the water was inaccessible, and barely even visible except from a few points. Since then the city has done a lot to change that.

Yesterday I found seagulls perched on a railing along the Riverwalk, with the famous Moorish minarets of the old Tampa Bay Hotel in the background. The hotel, opened in 1891, now houses a museum and the University of Tampa.

It was kind of a strange day, weather-wise. The sky was a bit foggy and the tops of the buildings were lost in the haze.

Like much of Florida, Tampa is an urban jungle!

I walked around the west and south sides of downtown on the Riverwalk, and then turned inland at Channelside, near the cruise ship terminals. I was happy to find...

...the new location of a huge modern sculpture by George Sugarman that sat for about 25 years near the cylindrical "Beer Can Building" downtown. The sculpture was famously dubbed the "Exploding Chicken" by a local newspaper columnist, and now that's pretty much what everyone calls it. It was moved to Channelside in 2013. I've always liked it.

Channelside is a mix of old and new, gentrified and not. I wound my way through the neighborhood and back to our hotel. It felt great to stretch my legs.

After checking out, Dave and I ran one last party-related errand -- returning the beer kegs -- and we were happy because we got a refund on the untapped one. Then we drove to my Dad's, where we're staying until our flight leaves this evening.

We had a very mild New Year's Eve -- gin & tonics and our last bottle of party prosecco (shared with my dad, stepmother, stepsister and her husband) and bed by 10:30. We watched a "Nova" episode about Einstein. We are old -- thank goodness!


  1. It is hard to understand why you created this elaborate cover story Steve when you know you were getting down and dirty with the dudes in Orlando. It was nice to meet you...and Dave. My God that guy can drink like a fish! Very impressive. Safe flight and once more Happy New Year!

  2. "Beer Can Building"... right. Tampa must have spent a lot of PR money getting people to call it that instead of what it really looks like--check out this link to Google Street view.
    I've always said some architect has one hell of a story to tell his grandkids.

  3. York -- I can't argue that point! LOL

    Kevin -- Yeah, I was trying to be polite. :) Maybe the architect took inspiration from the Florida State Capitol?

  4. Beer can??? I will say no more (LOL!) Nice to finally meet Dave, Kevin and other folks I've heard of for years. Do you think I could take a roll down there without frightening any UPS drivers?

  5. Sounds like a very laid back evening. I still stay up til midnight but now that we live in the country and have an acre and a half of clear space we have a fireworks display.

  6. Isn't it a relief to have finally grown past the need to get out there and have MANDATORY FUN? I say grown past, because it's not an age thing, but a common sense thing.
    Have a good flight. I loved following your adventures in Florida.

  7. I was asleep by eleven. Those pictures are eery and lovely. What a trip you've had!
    Happy New Years to you and to Dave. You have so many people in Florida who love you. And that includes me.

  8. I love all your photos today! What a nice walk you had. I spied that lady walking with a sleeveless top on and it reminded me that we can't do that here. It's way to chilly in the mornings to walk around without a coat on. I can't believe how different it is there. I like the sculpture too. "Exploding Chicken" seems a perfect nickname for it. My new year was an early night too. Dinner and drinks with friends and then home and bed by 11:00. I'm glad not to party so hard any longer. Happy New Year and safe travels!

  9. I guess you can safely refer to yourselves as an old married couple. G&T before bed, 10:30 new years eve snooze...We do become more wise I think. Glad you got to move around a bit, Nothing like a good walk with a camera, Great shots, Tampa is an interesting looking place- from your point of view. But then, I think that you could make anything look interesting. Olga will be so glad to see you two.

  10. Going for walk is a good way to get some excellent photos. All the best for 2016.

  11. I had too much caffeine & was awake until after 2:00 a.m.! Sheesh. I'm going to be so exhausted my first week back to work...

    I'm glad you guys have had such a nice time in Florida. Perhaps all that heat will make you appreciate London weather a little more. No?

  12. "Exploding Chicken" - ha ha ha! Lovely photos as always. A quiet New Year's Eve here, too - busy making pies to take to our daughter and her family today.

  13. Great shot of the beer can building, love all the swoopy curves. Happy new year Steve!

  14. I'm sure that old house would have some interesting and possibly hair-raising stories to tell.

    Happy New Year

    Ms Soup