As originally posted on my Tumblr site while travelling around the USA in 2011…
St Petersburg (Florida version not Russian city) is part of the Tampa Bay area alongside the slightly larger city of Tampa, a zone probably most famous in the UK due to the NFL’s Glazer owned Tampa Bay Buccaneers, although the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team actually play in St Petersburg itself. I chose to stay in St Petersburg (or St Pete’s as everyone calls it) as it was meant to be a bit more relaxed than Tampa with a livelier nightlife so that sounded the best place in this part of Florida to visit en route to Miami. I ended up staying here 3 nights in all as I realised that leaving on Sunday morning as per my original plan probably wasn’t such a good idea; a decision made on the Saturday morning when feeling a little delicate really.
After arriving Friday afternoon and scouting out the city, I went on a huge bar crawl, starting at this great sports bar called Ferg’s, right by Tropicana Field where the MLB Tampa Bay Rays play. An old converted petrol station originally, this place is huge and I can imagine is very lively on match days. Met some new “buddies” there and had a great night moving all around St Pete’s, resulting in probably my biggest hangover of the trip yet. Also, saw some massive tropical storms on the same day that Glastonbury coincidentally (or not) started.
Come Saturday, I saw a bit more of the city and even got a bit of culture by visiting St Pete’s Dali Museum, which has the largest collection of Dali artwork outside Spain. Housed in a great new building too, really enjoyed checking this out and heard some fantastic criticism from a passing American, who I can only assume is their equivalent of Brian Sewell: “man, this is some crazy shit!”
After that, another night just hitting the bars downtown, all housed in a couple of blocks near each other so really convenient to just pop in and out and actually end up meeting people more than once. It was also good to see a higher level of interest in “soccer” than I expected; the USA were playing Mexico in the CONCACAF Gold Cup Final (their equivalent of the Euros) and there were quite a few people in USA shirts plus requests to turn off the baseball on some screens to watch this match. Despite taking a 2-0 lead, Mexico came back to win 4-2, including a brilliant goal from Giovanni Dos Santos, who played really well again. Always a mystery to me why he didn’t make it at Spurs when you see him play like that, but he’ll always be a hero down at Portman Road after his loan spell there.
Also of note was being introduced to the game of “beer pong”, which could potentially be an exhibition event at the much overdue Pub Olympics. One less welcome sporting development was coming across the first Brits that I have met since being in the US: a rugby team of ex pats all living in the Cayman Islands who had played a game against a US team that very afternoon. Cue the typical “rugger” loud braying/downing shots etc. I think the phrase that one uses in these situations is “I made my excuses and left” while also pointing out to some other locals that I’m not really a rugby lad. Not wearing a rugby shirt and being half the size of all the others certainly helped to prove this too.
My final full day in St Pete’s was a nice quiet Sunday, much as you may have at home really. Nice bit of beef, visit to the cinema to see The Hangover Part 2 (not as bad as the terrible reviews, not as good as the original) plus another visit to a local record shop and another 7 inch purchased (“Privilege” by Chain and the Gang, ex Nation of Ulysses/The Make Up). One unexpected treat of my trip has been remembering how much I used to love mooching around record shops, again when I had a lot more time on my hands, and it is quite heartening to see them surviving a bit better over here than the decimated UK.
Monday morning and it was time for the drive to Miami, my final day in an automobile here really before resorting to planes and trains to get around. A last pleasurable drive including dropping through the Everglades before arriving in Miami, which will be my last stop in the South before heading East for most of the rest of my time…
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