Monday, 2/6/12 - Today we visited Ybor City, FL (pronounced EE-bore) with our friends Larry & Juanita. They have a friend, Mike who works in Ybor City and invited them into have lunch at the famous Columbia Restaurant, established in 1905 and they invited us and that's our specialty, "tagging along."
Ybor City is a historic cigar city in Tampa that has many wonderful shops, restaurants and cigar shops where they sell and roll cigars on Seventh Ave. Actually we ventured into one of the cigar shops, while waiting for Mike, and the most expensive cigar they sell is $32.00 EACH from Nicaragua. Now that could be an expensive habit!! This area is really a hot spot at night, club after club line this avenue and I can't imagine what it must be like at night. Mike says, "don't go."
Shortly before 12 noon the five us headed across the street to the Columbia Restaurant http://www.columbiarestaurant.com/ for lunch. It was founded in 1905 and is Florida's oldest and the worlds largest Spanish restaurant. It started out as a small corner cafe known for its Cuban coffee and authentic Cuban sandwiches, frequented by the local cigar workers. The outside is gorgeous with Spanish tiles decorating the entire front of this place and inside is equally beautiful and very large and takes up at least a city block. We all had specialties of the house...Cuban sandwiches, salads and soups and all was delicious.
After saying our good byes to Mike, which by the way received "2 caw pictures" with Derek & Mariano. He suggested we ride the Teco Line Streetcar which ran about 3 miles with about 8 stops. We passed by the Florida Aquarium, the Tampa Bay History Center and got off at the Port of Tampa stop and walked around and then hopped back on to go back to Seventh Avenue to walk the rest of that street to where our car was parked.
After we started down Seventh Avenue it started to rain and I mean pour, thank goodness for the awnings in front of the shops. We went into Le France, a men & woman's shop and Larry purchased a beautiful hat for himself. While waiting for it to be sized and pressed we were hunting for an ice cream shop (which we didn't find) when I heard someone call out my name real loud.....Carole. I turned around expecting Derek or Mariano....but it was Simon and his wife Celine who are French Canadians from Quebec. Simon speaks wonderful English and Celine speaks none but is taking English lessons. We are all staying at the same RV park and I met Simon at the pool yesterday and we had a great conversations about RV travels in the USA. They are new to RV travel and have a C class and tow a scooter and want to see a lot more of the USA. The six of us visited for a short while there on the Avenue and they invited us to their place in Quebec where we could park our RV on their property, about 15 minutes outside of the city. Thank you so much and we hope to take you up on your invite someday.
After Larry picked up his hat we headed back to their car, still raining, and headed for our RV park in Clearwater, to be dropped off, which was only about 45 minutes in heavy work traffic. It was a very fun day and we were so glad we got to see that part of Tampa as I doubt we would have on our own. Much love to all our family and friends.