These Are a Few of My Favorite Things: Tampa

Tampa is a place I have loved, fell out of love with, and am learning to love again. Some of my favorite things about this growing  city are simple yet perfect. There are other things that are not included that keep me here such as the film festival and concert seasons, but those deserve their own posts.

  1. Treasure Island Drum Circle
    1. Better than church, every time I attend I feel more centered and at one with myself and the world around me.
  2. Flatwoods
    1. Best place to go for a nice long trek with the dogs, they love the trails and the smells of this park.
  3. Oxford Exchange
    1. Designed like a tudor mansion study, this coffee shop also sells books and other artifacts. They also hold events for all sorts of interesting things. Recently I went to a Book Fair for local authors as well as a Tampa Type event. You can read about that here.
  4. Indian Rocks Beach
    1. This beach reminds me of my hometown, I get a spoonful of nostalgia every time I park (for free) and walk across the quiet street to the beach access. This beach is much more residential than most in the Tampa Bay Area and thus much more relaxing.
  5. Felicitous
    1. Locally owned, purple building, has a yard with monthly open mic nights, and amazing coffee & tea. What more do you need to know?
  6. Thai Temple Sunday Market
    1. I didn’t expect to find this gem, the experience alone takes you to a far away place. Nestled along the Hillsborough River bed with temple services running while authentic Thai food is being served until it runs out – and it will run out so get there early.
  7. University of Tampa
    1. Albeit cheesy, my alma matter is hands down the most beautiful sight in downtown Tampa. The history that lines the halls and the grounds is an inspiration to students and visitors alike. I still enjoy a nice stroll in Plant Park and my breath still catches when my eyes take in Fletcher Lounge.
  8. Morris Bridge Road
    1. A quiet country road in north Tampa, lined by some of the most beautiful trees I’ve ever seen and pastures of heifers and horses. Something about this drive from Cross Creek to SR 54 captivates me. Perhaps it is the memory of a simpler time, driving down that old country road. Perhaps it is just my new found appreciation for country music.
  9. Gandy Bridge
    1. Bridges are beautiful for many reasons past merely the water it crosses. This particular bridge is lovely because  on the Pinellas side there are inlets on the bay where you can go and launch kayaks and paddle boards – even fireworks on the fourth of July. My favorite time to be here is on New Years Eve where we have made it our tradition to go build a fire out there and stargaze.
  10. Ella’s Folk Art Cafe
    1. If you like delicious food paired with amazing folk art, this is the place to go. Seminole Heights is an up and coming Tampa neighborhood, but this gem has been here for a while and has a fabulous reputation among the locals. Their veggie burger is heaven for your taste buds!
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The Poet of Havana

Me On The Red Carpet

The Poet of Havana‘s world premiere at the Gasparilla International Film Festival was an incendiary, sold out, production. Yes, production. The theater quickly filled with a sea of filmmakers and film lovers high on the festival buzz. Ron Chatman, the director, was introduced and proceeded to introduce the film itself. The lights went down and the opening frame hit; a perfectly shot view of waves rolling into the shore. The music that accompanied it had a soulful feel that you didn’t even need to understand the story to appreciate the emotion.

Carlos Valera sings the music of the people, he was born in 1963. During Cuba’s rolling blackouts in the 70s he would go out on a terrace with some friends and play music for his family and neighbors until the power returned.Benecio Del Toro says Carlos plays music that is grounded in truth and passes a message that makes you think. The phrase that resonated with me the most from his songs was:

“there can only be freedom when nobody owns it”

The images were crisp and equally as beautiful as Varela’s powerful songs. The final shots of the film were of the Havana skyline in the distance past some water and the Carlos and his guitar sitting on a sea wall. It was beautiful because to me it emphasized the theme of change in the film. Not just Valera’s transformation as an artist but also the political and social change that his songs speak of.

After the film there was a question and answer session with both director and talent. Everyone was happy to have the film in Tampa and touched by his words of love and Varela’s obvious passion. Later in the evening at the Bacardi Party, Carlos performed live. It was a beautiful performance, I don’t understand Spanish but I recognized the songs from the film and was moved to hear them performed live. Carlos is quite the performer.

Introductions Are Necessary!

Hello!

 If you have stumbled here perhaps you have had the good sense to start at the beginning of the journey. I bid you good morrow and good luck on your travels through my adventures.

First a little bit about me: I am a twenty-four year old woman with a passion for exploring, writing, and images both still and moving. As an adolescent I spent my time writing, climbing trees, performing in plays, and playing on the beach. While I attended a magnet program in my high school years for theater, I also pursued a position on the school’s Lacrosse team and a longstanding job at the local movie theater where I fell in love with the moving image and photography.

When first looking at colleges I thought I would be a psych major. I toured a few Florida schools, looking at their programs and still exploring their more artsy sides. When straying off from a guided tour at the University of Tampa, my mother and I stumbled into a tall man wearing a pair of combat boots, a trench coat and a fedora smoking a cigarette. He quickly introduced himself as Tom Garrett and began hypnotizing us with stories about the Film & Media Arts program and how you took classes in filming narratives and even documentaries and experimental film – not that I knew what that was at the ripe age of seventeen. He even mentioned an acquaintance he has in Cannes and how he takes a group of students over to do internships every year.

I remember the most amazing feeling sweeping over me. I knew that I must learn everything I could from this man. He had found a way to do what he loved, travel, and touch the lives of others. One could say he inspired my future in a way he may have never known. Eventually Professor Tom Garrett became my advisor and taught me many things about life, professionalism, and the film industry as well.To this day I treasure the time I was able to spend at the University of Tampa.

I have been abroad twice at this point in my life and visited France, Italy, Belgium, and Great Britain. I spent three months living in Bergen Op Zoom, Netherlands where I was employed as an Au Pair to a lovely family and learned how easily I could live abroad and love every second of it. These experiences have shaped me into the person I am today and I am beyond determined to take many more trips in the future and eventually visit every country in the world.

This blog will take you along on my adventures – past, present, and future – as well as through the planning process of what it takes to be a travel writer and live on the road which has always been a dream of mine.

Dreams are meant to come true, if you see it and you want it bad enough you can make anything happen. Now if you are still with me, perhaps a little about you? I would love if my readers would share a bit about themselves and travels that they have done or wish to do.

xxx Sam