Friday, March 30, 2018

Back on Clearwater Beach

The journey ends, appropriately, as it began, on Clearwater Beach.  Strolling up the beach brings yet more great experiences and views of this fabulous vacation area.  We walk over the Sand Key Bridge from Sand Key into Clearwater Beach and view the city on one side and Sand Key County Park on the other.

 Crossing from Sand Key County Park to Clearwater Beach

 Sailing school heading out under the bridge into the Gulf of Mexico

Entering Clearwater Beach, we spot a great seabird, just hanging out on the land near the bridge.

Hanging out

Passing by the beautiful beaches, we head over to Pier 60, the fishing pier on Clearwater Beach.  The pier offers great views back toward the beach, and friendly pelicans standing by, waiting for the people fishing to catch something (and share it).

 Pier 60

Friendly pelicans on the pier

 Views back toward Clearwater Beach

At the entrance to the pier is a great playground, with slides and all sorts of other inflatable delights.

 For play

In the Pier 60 Park, at the entrance to the pier, there is a statue to Theodorus Griego, "the first Greek in America,"  who, on April 14, 1528, arrived in the Tampa Bay area as part of a Spanish expedition.  He did not survive the journey, but was followed in later years by many Greeks, including Greek sponge divers in the early 1900s.

Theodorus Griego

Just past the pier, the beach continues, with volleyball, dining, drinking, and soaking up the sun.

 More beach

One the main street through Clearwater Beach, the original Clearwater Taffy shop is still making taffy and we must have some.

Clearwater taffy

One more great experience is yet to happen:  dinner at Columbia Restaurant, a Spanish restaurant owned and operated for over 110 years by 5 generations of family.  Originally a corner saloon in Ybor City (in 1905), Columbia is the oldest continuously-operating restaurant in Florida, the oldest Spanish restaurant in the US, and, with 6 locations and 1,700 seats, one of the largest Spanish restaurants in the world.

We start with their special Manhattan and it is great!

Two Manhattans

We share Empanadas de Picadillo and Queso Fundido to start, with tetillo cheese baked in a rioja tomato sauce, followed by Fideua de Mariscos, a Catalan dish of fresh seafood, prawns, shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, garlic, white wine, and chili pepper in a spicy tomato sauce, and Roast Pork "a la Cubana", with a delicious marinade and served with beans, white rice, yucca, and plaintains.

Empanadas de Picadillo and Queso Fundido

 Fideua de Mariscos, Roast Pork "a la Cubana"

We're full after all this (we can't believe we ate the whole thing) and add yet another great dining experience to our list.

The Clearwater area has been fabulous to explore, lounge on the beaches, and dine in the tremendous restaurants.  We have to come back here!

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