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Dali, Warhol, and Chihuly: A Trifecta of Arty Awesomeness in St. Petersburg, Florida

Dali, Warhol, and Chihuly: A Trifecta of Arty Awesomeness in St. Petersburg, Florida | CosmosMariners.com

Over the next week and a half, I'll be diving into parts of our trip since I couldn't cram everything into my daily overviews. On the agenda: reviews of the places we ate, tons of pictures, and recaps of our favorite places, so get pumped!

First up is a look at the three amazing art collections that we visited. Seriously, if you even have a passing interest in the arts and you're in downtown St. Petersburg, make time in your schedule for these three art museums: the Dali Museum, the Chihuly Collection, and the Morean Arts Center.

The DalĂ­ Museum

I love all things modernist and post modernist, so you can imagine my glee when I discovered that St. Petersburg had one of the largest collections of Salvadore Dali's works outside of Spain. Landon, who minored in Spanish in college, is also a huge fan of Dali, and both of us were looking forward to experiencing the museum.

The museum absolutely did not disappoint. From the moment that we walked up to the building, we knew we were in for a treat, since it combined elements of nature, concrete, glass, and geometry into a unique, Dali-esque structure.

Dali, Warhol, and Chihuly: A Trifecta of Arty Awesomeness in St. Petersburg, Florida | CosmosMariners.com

Dali, Warhol, and Chihuly: A Trifecta of Arty Awesomeness in St. Petersburg, Florida | CosmosMariners.com

Dali, Warhol, and Chihuly: A Trifecta of Arty Awesomeness in St. Petersburg, Florida | CosmosMariners.com
Dali, Warhol, and Chihuly: A Trifecta of Arty Awesomeness in St. Petersburg, Florida | CosmosMariners.com

Dali, Warhol, and Chihuly: A Trifecta of Arty Awesomeness in St. Petersburg, Florida | CosmosMariners.com

Once inside, we wandered around the Dali portion of the museum, learning about his paintings and changing philosophies. I learned several things while listening to the audio guide:
  • Dali had an older brother who died before he was born. Creepily, the brother's name was also Salvadore Dali, and Dali's parents often treated the living boy as if he was the same person as his dead brother.
  • Dali is known for his surrealist works, but he actually broke with the Surrealist group due to their political differences. 
  • His later works reflect his growing interest in science and religion. The paintings from this period are still very symbolic, but don't have that dreamlike quality of his early works (i.e. he'd left the dripping clocks and oozing figures behind at that point).
Oh, there were a million other things that I learned, but I will spare you the full on art lecture. (Unless you're interested...)

My favorite painting was called "The Holographic Toreador" which had this trompe l'oeil quality to it, since the subject shifts between Venus de Milo and a bullfighter when you stare at it. It's also a giant painting, and, for some reason, I really love huge, room dominating artwork.

Dali, Warhol, and Chihuly: A Trifecta of Arty Awesomeness in St. Petersburg, Florida | CosmosMariners.com

After our jaunt through the wild mind of Dali, we headed over to the Andy Warhol exhibit on the other side of the museum. When Landon and I were first putting this trip together, we were disappointed to find out that the Warhol exhibit was closing before we would get there--BUT! we were delighted to see a billboard as we drove to the Dali Museum that said that the Warhol exhibit had been extended!

Dali, Warhol, and Chihuly: A Trifecta of Arty Awesomeness in St. Petersburg, Florida | CosmosMariners.com


I found it exceedingly odd that Warhol and Dali knew one another and ran in the same social circles in New York in the '60s and '70s. Plus, I found out that Dali was only 24 years older than Warhol--for some reason, I thought Dali was MUCH older than Warhol.

We enjoyed looking at collection, which included sketches from his Pop Art period (including the Campbell's soup can and the U.S. dollar bill), videos he shot, excerpts from his T.V. show, personal photographs, and prints.

Dali, Warhol, and Chihuly: A Trifecta of Arty Awesomeness in St. Petersburg, Florida | CosmosMariners.com
Warhol (in the chair) and Dali (standing)


I love interactive exhibits, so I had to participate in the screen test part of the exhibit. It was reminiscent to the three-minute-long screen tests that Warhol recorded: he even had one for Dali! Warhol would slow down the final tapes so that the pieces had a dream-like quality.

After we'd tinkered with all of the fun bits at the Warhol museum, we took a quick run around the gardens outside the museum. I would love to go sit out there, next to the water and the marina, and just read or write. It was so pretty!

Dali, Warhol, and Chihuly: A Trifecta of Arty Awesomeness in St. Petersburg, Florida | CosmosMariners.com

Dali, Warhol, and Chihuly: A Trifecta of Arty Awesomeness in St. Petersburg, Florida | CosmosMariners.com

Dali, Warhol, and Chihuly: A Trifecta of Arty Awesomeness in St. Petersburg, Florida | CosmosMariners.com




The Chihuly Collection

Next up on our jaunt of culture was the Chihuly Collection. I LOVE Chihuly's works, and I was so excited about seeing some of them up close. If you've ever been to the lobbies of the Bellagio or Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, you've seen just a taste of what Chihuly can do.

Dali, Warhol, and Chihuly: A Trifecta of Arty Awesomeness in St. Petersburg, Florida | CosmosMariners.com

The Collection was pretty great--and I was allowed to take pictures, which was even better.

Dali, Warhol, and Chihuly: A Trifecta of Arty Awesomeness in St. Petersburg, Florida | CosmosMariners.com

Dali, Warhol, and Chihuly: A Trifecta of Arty Awesomeness in St. Petersburg, Florida | CosmosMariners.com

Dali, Warhol, and Chihuly: A Trifecta of Arty Awesomeness in St. Petersburg, Florida | CosmosMariners.com

Dali, Warhol, and Chihuly: A Trifecta of Arty Awesomeness in St. Petersburg, Florida | CosmosMariners.com

Dali, Warhol, and Chihuly: A Trifecta of Arty Awesomeness in St. Petersburg, Florida | CosmosMariners.com

Dali, Warhol, and Chihuly: A Trifecta of Arty Awesomeness in St. Petersburg, Florida | CosmosMariners.com

Dali, Warhol, and Chihuly: A Trifecta of Arty Awesomeness in St. Petersburg, Florida | CosmosMariners.com


The Morean Arts Center

The Morean Arts Center, which runs the Chihuly collection, also runs a Hot Shop that does daily glass blowing demonstrations (which we had to do, of course!). I loved seeing how these skilled glassworkers turned a lump of molten glass into a gorgeous red bowl.

The demonstration lasts for about half an hour and is $8.95 per adult. The glassblowers were personable and explained every step of their process, which made the experience much more in-depth. You'll also get access to the hot shop store to purchase some of the works of these talented artists!

Dali, Warhol, and Chihuly: A Trifecta of Arty Awesomeness in St. Petersburg, Florida | CosmosMariners.com




Even if you have smaller children, the museums would be interesting. The Dali had cute art backpacks that the young attendees could use, and the Chihuly has so much color that any kid would enjoy it (just don't touch!!). The Hot Shop would be especially cool (ha--not literally!) for kids to see since the process is quick and gratifying for short attention spans.

Have you visited St. Petersburg's art museums? Which would you be the most interested in?
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History, Flamenco, and Good Eats at Florida's Oldest Restaurant: A Review of The Columbia, Ybor City, Florida

History, Flamenco, and Good Eats at Florida's Oldest Restaurant: A Review of The Columbia, Ybor City, Florida | CosmosMariners.com

I am bonkers about old things: castles, historical artifacts, books. If it's a little dusty with a few tales to tell, I'm intrigued.

When I found out that Florida's oldest restaurant was just over the big bay from us during our St. Pete trip, I immediately slotted it into our Friday night plans. When Landon found out there was a flamenco show option, he gave his vote for it as well. And when I heard two different Tampa sources recommend it, I was completely sold.

A Quiet Retreat on Florida's Space Coast: Tuckaway Shores Resort

A Quiet Retreat on Florida's Space Coast: Tuckaway Shores Resort, Indiatlantic, Florida | CosmosMariners.com

I love driving down Florida's A1A highway: the ocean is right there, and if you're not in a tropical state of mind before you get on the road, you will be within in the first quarter mile.

When my daughter and I head down to the Space Coast, we didn't arrive until after dark, but I could still feel those island vibes and hear the roar of the Atlantic as we hopped on AIA and headed towards our hotel: Tuckaway Shores in Indiatlantic, Florida.

What to Do in Jacksonville, Florida: 5 Activities You Can't Miss

What to Do in Jacksonville, Florida: 5 Things You Can't Miss | CosmosMariners.com

Poised on the Atlantic coast between the state line and St. Augustine, Jacksonville, Florida, has a little bit of everything: a rich history, an emerging tech scene, gorgeous beaches, and a beach-ready climate year-round. It's one of our favorite cities to explore on short weekend trips, as well as a convenient stopover when we're headed to Orlando, Miami, or the Florida Keys.

Here's what to do in Jacksonville, Florida, so start planning your itinerary for your own trip today!

Pecan Pie Bars: St. Francis Inn, St. Augustine, Florida | Tasty Travels

Pecan Pie Bars: St. Francis Inn, St. Augustine, Florida | CosmosMariners.com

I'm not one to stand still for very long, literally or figuratively. As a travel blog, CosmosMariners.com has grown beyond my wildest imagination, and I can't wait to see where it will take me in the coming months and years. Even though I love the narrative driven posts and the must-do lists that you see on here most of the time, I've had an itch to try something new that still fits into my travel brand.

Barefoot Beach Resort, Indian Shores, Florida: A Review

Barefoot Beach Resort, Indian Shores, Florida: A Review | CosmosMariners.com

Anyone who's ever traveled and had to stay overnight at a hotel knows that a lot rides on a good night's sleep. If you're not comfortable, you won't be at your best to drive another long stretch, put up with your crazy aunt at the family reunion, and/or make some great memories. (And yes, I know these are all first world problems. 'Tis the life I live.)

I was excited about our home away from home in St. Petersburg and had big hopes that it would be everything I needed it to be. Because if you haven't notice, we packed A LOT into those three days that we were there, and I needed to be relaxed, well-rested, and happy.

No pressure, hotel. No pressure.

How to Spend a Long Weekend on Florida's Space Coast

How to Spend a Long Weekend on Florida's Space Coast | CosmosMariners.com

Even though I live in a pretty mild climate--coastal South Carolina isn't exactly known for its polar vortex winters--I still get antsy for sunny skies and white sand beaches in those colder months. Every year about this time, I threaten to my husband that I'm moving somewhere warm (preferably next to an ocean) so I don't ever have to go to bed with freezing cold toes again.

Every time, he talks me down, and I'm back to dreaming about 80 degree weather 12 months out of the year. This year, I decided to preempt my usual mid-winter blues and head down to Florida's Space Coast where, in the middle of January, it was a balmy 82 during my stay.

Road Trip Stop #2: Cay Pointe Villas, Indian Rocks Beach, Florida

Your Beach Home away from Home: Cay Pointe Villas, Indian Rocks Beach, Florida |  CosmosMariners.com

The morning we were scheduled to move from the Coconut Inn in Pass-a-Grille to our second stop of the Florida Superior Small Lodging road trip, we battled through pouring rain to pack the car. Thoroughly soaked, Landon and I were glad of the 30 minute drive up to Indian Rocks Beach, where Cay Pointe Villas awaited us. 

Just as the rain was starting to let up, we arrived in Indian Rocks Beach to find our next place to try out. Would Cay Pointe Villas be the ray of sunshine we needed on such a dreary day?

Your Beach Home away from Home: Cay Pointe Villas, Indian Rocks Beach, Florida |  CosmosMariners.com


To make a long story short, it was everything we could have wanted and more! Read on to find out more about this great beachfront property and the people who made our stay so special.

History
Back in the late '60s and early '70s, developers began to purchase some of the area's old beach homes, knock them down, and use the space for large condo buildings. When a developer approached Lynn Timberlake's parents, they refused to sell their family's beach house.

The developer told the Timberlakes that he'd already bought the property to the left of the home, and that he was also going to buy the property to the right of the house, essential sandwiching their home in between two large condo buildings.

The developer ended up messing with the wrong family, as the Timberlakes outbid the developer on the property to the right of their home. With this extra space, the family decided to try and preserve a bit of this beautiful stretch of beach; in 1972, they opened Cay Pointe Villas.

Your Beach Home away from Home: Cay Pointe Villas, Indian Rocks Beach, Florida |  CosmosMariners.com
Cay Pointe Villas is to the left, and the Timberlakes' original home is the grey one to the right.


The original owners' daughter, Lynn, now runs the place, along with her two resident managers, Carol and Bill. The three of them make a stay here feel more like you're visiting a favorite family member instead of staying at a vacation property.

Your Beach Home away from Home: Cay Pointe Villas, Indian Rocks Beach, Florida |  CosmosMariners.com


Location
Indian Rocks Beach is a much quieter part of the St. Pete Beach/ Clearwater area--Gulf Boulevard narrows to two lanes, and the buildings don't reach the skyscraper proportions that they do further north.

Tucked among the personal homes, smaller condo properties, and locally-owned restaurants is this gem of a getaway: Cay Pointe Villas.

Your Beach Home away from Home: Cay Pointe Villas, Indian Rocks Beach, Florida |  CosmosMariners.com

Even though Indian Rocks Beach is quieter than Clearwater or St. Pete Beach, you're still minutes away from Frenchy's Rockaway Grill, Fort De Soto, and grocery stores.

Room
It's not fair to call what we stayed in a room--it was a complete apartment! In fact, the three bedroom, one bath apartment was close in size to our first townhouse. We loved the full kitchen and used it to cook throughout our stay.

Your Beach Home away from Home: Cay Pointe Villas, Indian Rocks Beach, Florida |  CosmosMariners.com


The three bedrooms were all nicely sized: there was a queen in the master bedroom, and a twin (with trundle) in each of the other two rooms.

Your Beach Home away from Home: Cay Pointe Villas, Indian Rocks Beach, Florida |  CosmosMariners.com

The bathroom was quite large, and I could've easily shared it with Landon, Britton, and another family member or two during a longer stay.

There were plenty of comfy chairs in the living room and a flat screen TV, which we didn't watch much since the beach was right there!

Your Beach Home away from Home: Cay Pointe Villas, Indian Rocks Beach, Florida |  CosmosMariners.com


And the best part of all? The wide porch that overlooks the ocean. There's a table in the kitchen, but we couldn't resist eating inside when there was outside dining space available. We ate every meal out there, relaxed after coming in from the beach, and looked at the stars--all from the comfort of our private porch.

Your Beach Home away from Home: Cay Pointe Villas, Indian Rocks Beach, Florida |  CosmosMariners.com


Service
When I went into the resident managers' office to check in, Carol and Bill not only greeted me to Cay Pointe, but also ushered me in for a quick tour of their apartment. Carol brought cold bottled water for my daughter while we were out on the beach, and let us borrow her sunscreen and snorkeling goggles. When Bill was in the apartment next to us, he come out onto the porch and chatted with us while we were sitting on our own porch.

When we left, Carol sent us off with hugs and well wishes. I'd come back to the property just for the hospitality that she, Bill, and the owner, Lynn, showed us.

From the moment we arrived to the minute we drove off, the team at Cay Pointe made us feel as if we were family or long lost friends who'd stopped by for a visit. They run it as a home, not as a hotel, and that makes a huge difference to the feel of the place. I don't know when I've stayed in a property where I felt so welcomed!

Amenities
When the ocean is just outside your door, you don't need many other amenities! While the beach access and view is definitely the major draw here at Cay Pointe Villas, Lynn and her team have done everything they can to make your stay as nice as possible.

Your Beach Home away from Home: Cay Pointe Villas, Indian Rocks Beach, Florida |  CosmosMariners.com

There are beach toys available for the little ones, several of which Britton gladly tested out while we were there. Carol, one of the resident managers, sweeps the beach in front of the property every morning, so you don't have to worry about seaweed or trash when you're laying out your blanket. The office also has sun hats, children's books, and paperbacks that guests are welcome to borrow.

Your Beach Home away from Home: Cay Pointe Villas, Indian Rocks Beach, Florida |  CosmosMariners.com

On the back porch, there are plenty of chairs on which to relax, read, or work (if you have to do such a blasphemous thing here!). Because the property is on a quiet, protected part of the beach, you might see some of the resident curly-tailed lizards or a beautiful heron, both of which frequent the patio area.
Your Beach Home away from Home: Cay Pointe Villas, Indian Rocks Beach, Florida |  CosmosMariners.com

Final Thoughts
Without a doubt, I would return here. While we were enjoying our time at Cay Pointe, Landon and I kept saying things like, "Wouldn't it be nice to bring our parents here?" or "Can you imagine having a family vacation here?" This was Landon's favorite property of the three we stayed in, and he's still talking about going back again, nearly two weeks later.

It really is the perfect spot for several families to all rent--and that's a popular way to rent the properties, Lynn told me.

If you don't have a beachfront home, Cay Pointe Villas is as close as you can get without buying a property yourself. Join the family on your next vacation, and tell Carol, Bill, and Lynn that I sent you!

What would you like about this property? Do you prefer to vacation with immediate family, extended family or friends?
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It's All Greek to Me: Tarpon Springs, Florida

It's All Greek to Me: Tarpon Springs, Florida | CosmosMariners.com

Weathered vessels bob in the river as men with tanned, lined faces throw nets of sponges onto the nearby docks.

Several blue and white flags flutter in the breeze while dozens of people wander in and out of the shops that are just a few feet away from the water.

If you listen carefully, you might even hear a shop owner call "Yassas!" to those visiting.

It's All Greek to Me: Tarpon Springs, Florida | CosmosMariners.com


Even though all signs might lead you to think otherwise, this tableau isn't found somewhere in Greece. Instead, Tarpon Springs, Florida, is a thriving village about 45 minutes north of downtown St. Petersburg, and holds the largest population of Greek Americans of any city in the U.S. Its residents specialize in sponge diving, another unusual profession in this area of deep sea fishing, spring break entertainment, and maritime recreation.

It's All Greek to Me: Tarpon Springs, Florida | CosmosMariners.com


On our short 2014 trip to the St. Pete/ Clearwater area, I read about Tarpon Springs, but wasn't able to include a visit since our schedule was already packed with visits to the Dali Museum, the Chihuly Collection, and Busch Gardens. On this year's FSSLA road trip, I had a little more wiggle room in our itinerary, so off to Tarpon Springs we went one day.

I hadn't done much research on the area before we set off on our day trip, so we ended up in the downtown area of Tarpon Springs instead of at the sponge docks (where all of the action is!). Once we got our bearings and discovered the way to the sponge docks, we started up North Pinellas Avenue--only to get very distracted by our grumbling stomachs.

When in Rome Greece sort-of Greece, you've got to have some Greek food, so Landon and I located the closest Greek restaurant: the Original Mama Maria's. As we walked in the restaurant, Greek folk music hummed over the loudspeakers, and an older woman greeted us in heavily accented English.

It's All Greek to Me: Tarpon Springs, Florida | CosmosMariners.com


The entire set-up looked so much like something out of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" that I half-expected to see Tula (in her pre-self-awareness phase) slogging around the kitchen!

It's All Greek to Me: Tarpon Springs, Florida | CosmosMariners.com


When Stella (who doubled as a hostess and the restaurant's only wait staff) brought out our food, Landon and I both nearly cried. My souvlaki platter and Landon's Greek Village Pasta were so good that I wondered where this restaurant had been my entire life. Even Britton's spaghetti and marinara kid's plate stunned us--no jarred sauce here!

It's All Greek to Me: Tarpon Springs, Florida | CosmosMariners.com


Even though we were stuffed to the brim, we managed to make room for some authentic baklava for dessert. The three of us managed to nibble away at one piece before we then waddled back to the car.

With full stomachs, we renewed our journey to the sponge docks, which were just a short drive past Mama Maria's. We headed to the very end of Dodecanese Boulevard and found some parking, then piled out to see what the sponge docks had to offer.

The stretch of real estate along Dodecanese Boulevard is dominated by shops, most of which offer at least a few types of sponges: larger bathing sponges, smaller makeup sponges, and tougher cleaning sponges were very popular. You can bypass purchasing anything labeled "Loofah/Luffa sponges" as these aren't sponges from the ocean, but rather are the fibrous fruit of a vine in the cucumber family.

It's All Greek to Me: Tarpon Springs, Florida | CosmosMariners.com


Although sponges have been harvested in this area since the late 1800s, John Corcoris, a Greek businessman, introduced the traditional Greek sponge diving techniques to the area in 1905, and the entire community began growing into what you see today. Corcoris brought sponge divers over from Greece (from the Dodecanese islands--hence, the street name) and established what would become a century-old tradition of Greek Americans here in this corner of Florida.

It's All Greek to Me: Tarpon Springs, Florida | CosmosMariners.com


There are a few points of interest in the area:

  • The sponge shops (of course). I particularly liked Lori's Soap and Sponge Market on the corner of Dodecanese Boulevard and Athens Street since they sold soaps that had local sponges already embedded in them. My family received a few of these as souvenirs. 
  • The food. While I'm partial to Mama Maria's (which isn't in walking distance of the docks), there were plenty of options for traditional Greek food here. Don't get too full, though, or you'll have to miss a stop at the two bakeries in town: Hellas and Parthenon. (And that would be a serious shame!)
  • The cruises. Spongeorama Cruises will take guests out on dolphin or local island tours, while the St. Nicholas Boat Line offers a glimpse into the life of a sponge diver and demonstrations on how the sponges are harvested. 
Experiencing a little bit of Greek culture on our road trip was quite a fun surprise, and I'd highly recommend it if you find yourself in greater St. Pete, Florida, with a little bit of time on your hands. Allot at least a half day to fully explore the area. 

Would you be interested in visiting Tarpon Springs? What's your favorite Greek dish?
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