My buddy Jeremy and I visited the city of Tampa last weekend. It was an event-filled blast from beginning to end. From countless conversation topics ranging from flat earth theories (for those keeping score, i’m still a round earther) to our place in the world, we had a throwback journey of sorts.
After a few last minute hiccups before leaving, we were off on the open road. Jeremy chose to drive, we pulled out of Georgia and the trip was on. The drive there was to take about 3 hours. Jeremy didn’t waste much time before bringing up ‘flat earth’ theories. This is a subject he has been passionate about for the last few weeks and I was open to having the discussion. He approached this topic quite interestingly though. His first question was: “prove to me the world is round.” I have my beliefs because we all are engrained with such. The world is round, the grass is green, the sky is blue, etc. So I understood where this was going. But interestingly, as I pondered his question, I came to the stark realization that all of my “1st hand, personally encountered” evidence of a physical round earth is mostly by faith in science and our intellectual higher uppers. Still, that didn’t change my opinion. But I am always open to information and the talk was fascinating if nothing else.
A side note here. You will notice that I mention a lot about “talks.” That’s because Jeremy and I always manage to have great, honest and open conversations about many, many things and various subjects. A bedrock of our friendship in many ways.
When we arrived in Tampa, the sun was shining and there was a cool breeze through the air. Another side note: Tampa is a gorgeous city. It’s super clean, like DisneyWorld clean. And everyone was super nice. We checked into our hotel which had an amazing skylight in the lobby and a lot of drunk military men. But i’ll get to that later.
We were starving, so we scoped out some local eateries and settled on an authentic french restaurant. The food was decent enough. I ordered a veggie melt sandwich with fresh salad (my 1st choice was not available). Jeremy had an ultra authentic french panini with like melted cheese and an egg on top. The real treat was desert though. Across the street we spied a little place with a colorful sign: ‘Dough Nation‘, what could this be? For those who know me, I am a cookie dough guy. And sure enough, this was a cookie dough and ice cream place. 3 scoops of cookie dough, 3 scoops of ice cream. The food dream was achieved.
After our eating endeavors, we realized we had a gap in the day. The bolts / Isles game wasn’t until 7:30 and here we were in the middle of downtown Tampa with 5 hours to kill. So we did what we always do. Find a movie theater. And boy did we.
The words CineBistro meant nothing to me before Tampa, now they are my life goal. If you didn’t gather by the name, Cine Bistro is an ‘upscale’ movie theater dining experience. I’ve been to these before. In Connecticut, Lindsey and I visited “The Gilson” and of course in Jax, good ol’ “Sun Ray Cinemas“. But this was a step up, everything at CineBistro was first class. Even after the film, exiting the theatre, they gave you a complimentary mint. Oh ya…..we saw Murder on the Orient Express, it was decent enough. But the CineBistro took the the prize.
After the film, it was Hockey time! The reason for the trip in many ways. We drove back to our hotel and walked to Lightning country. I was super excited simply because i’ve never been to a hockey game. The stadium was filling in with crowds and crowds of people. It was clear to me, Tampa was a hockey city.
My immediate impressions were as such: Hockey arenas are cold, hockey players are vastly underrated athletically, and hockey fans are awesome. The whole experience was such a blast. Jeremy’s knowledge of hockey helped a bunch with the aiding of my learning of the sport. To my surprise, my Islanders got a quick 2 – 0 lead in the first period and then padded on an insurance goal in the 2nd. This was borderline shocking considering the team’s records coming into the game. The Lightning had the best record in hockey, the Islanders are more of a middle of the pack team. After a major 3rd period scare, the lightning held on to 5 – 3 victory. The game was a fantastic time. We seat-hopped and ended up with some really spectacular seats also. It was an amazing experience.
After the game we were again starving and walk/ran to Bavarro’s Pizza. A place that Jeremy talked about for a long time. They closed at 10PM and we snuck through at about 5 minutes till. Their pizza was amazing.
We wandered back to our hotel only to be met by some drunk military peoples exiting their “Military Ball.” 1 man said some interesting claims about censorship and common day war practices. I would love to repeat his epic choice of words, but hopefully one day my son(s) will read this site, so I digress.
Back in the hotel room, more deep conversations occurred and I sort of watched a documentary on the Watergate Scandal while making a mental note to research more into Richard Nixon.
I woke up early and journaled my Day One entry, took a shower and read my daily bible amount on old fashioned paper, then a little Walden on my iPad. I headed downstairs to the Starbucks attached to out hotel and got some watered down Hot Chocolate and had a very interesting conversation about Pepe’s Pizza in New Haven, CT. I was wearing my Pepe’s t shirt and a man from CT saw and a conversation was sparked. He confessed to being more of a Modern Apizza guy. So ya, not everyones perfect. Nice guy, though
About that time Jeremy called me and was ready for some food. We went to a small breakfast place in the heart of downtown Tampa. I got the feeling this was a very “Tampa” place. Many locals, no thrills, good service, good food, huge Lightning flag reading: Go Bolts! on the back wall. I had an Italian omelette with home fries and some toast. Oh and a fresh glass of orange juice. Is there anything better than a free glass of OJ in the morning? Another great conversation ensued at the breakfast table regarding many topics. An excellent way to get the day started.
We set out to the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg. Admittedly, I knew close to nothing about Salvatore Dali, but whoever he was merited a huge museum. Walking through the Dali Museum I was struck by how talented the man was. I think the average entry opinion of Dali is how “crazy” and eccentric he was. Which is definitely true. But his fame wasn’t that shallow. Not even close. His work was simply amazing. I don’t mean he was amazing in the tortured soul/crazy looking paintings way. I mean, technically he was a brilliant painter that painted in ways my mind didn’t know were possible.
I was taken back by how thorough the Museum was with Dali and the details of his life. His backstory, origin, family life, wife and death all documented well. Even his transition from the Surrealism movement to more of a spiritual tone was documented impressively. The $24 price tag was well worth what I experienced. Also, the museum provided a VR tour of one of Dali’s painting which was the most amazing 3 minutes i’ve had in a long time.
Somewhere in the middle of all the this I realized how fortunate I am to have a friend like Jeremy. I would have never gone to Tampa on my own. Maybe, ever. But here we were eating the best foods and experiencing amazing things one after another. Honestly, buy all the goods and things you want, but nothing can replacement a good friendship and good conversation. Coincidentally, that’s a perfect transition into our last event.
So I haven’t really talked about this much lately, but I’d like to consider myself a minimalist. I know people hear that and get a super bujee feeling. But, really it’s anything but. The other main reason we came to Tampa is to see The Minimalists. They are a duo of two people who travel the world and talk about a movement called minimalism and how to simplify your life. Their movement has caught on and they now make a living in this lifestyle. On a personal note, they have inspired me greatly.
After we left the Dali Museum, Jeremy noted that the Minimalists coffee shop was actually somewhere near us. Sure enough, we looked it up and it lived about 9 miles away. Their show wasn’t until 7:30 that night, so we had a ton of time to kill. We pulled up at Bandit Coffee, I ordered a latte in an otherwise simple looking, clean coffee shop and we just talked. About everything: foods, diets, lifestyle. Why this, Why that. All in all, good stuff.
After a quick walk around a shopping area we both liked, we headed over to the Stratz Center, where the Minimalists would take the stage. We were a tiny bit early, so we hit up Bavarro’s Pizza again for an early dinner. We walked through downtown Tampa in the brisk, windy weather, sunsetting and reached our final destination.
What a show! The minimalists had some great advice as usual, and seemed committed to the cause as ever. I can’t speak for Jeremy, but I got an extra boost that I needed to do some more cleaning out for stuff I just don’t use. Their message is simple, but so hard. Get rid of stuff that doesn’t add value to your life. Seems easy, but good luck. Once you achieve some sort of minimalism in your life its like a drug. It keeps you coming back. Because its not really just throwing away or donating stuff, its living more efficiently and actually using 100% of your belongings. Crazy idea, huh?
After the show we hopped in Jeremy’s car and heading back for home. We both had long “back to the real world” days ahead of us. Looking back at Tampa, it was a great trip with an even better person. Sure, the sights were fun, the food was great and experiences was amazing. But the company of a great friend, having honest, open talks was my highlight. If I never get to go on a trip like that again, I am a better human for at least being able to have 1 trip that equaled 2 days in Tampa w/ Jeremy.