Tampa, Florida

Tampa Travel Blog

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December 30th, Wednesday

The morning we were going to Tampa wasn't much of a morning at all. Malt D and I hung out the night prior until like midnight with plans of him coming back around 4:00 AM to go to airport. We met up with Steve-O, Alex, and Anna as they were on our flight. We touched down in Tampa after a crazy series of circles also known as "approach". We parked the plane up next to the Orlando Magic's plane, which looked really nice. We got the whole of the group together and headed to our hotel for check-in.
The Howard Johnson in Downtown Tampa was nothing to shake a stick at. It worked, for what ultimately ended up being 5 guys in a 2 double bed setting. I never went to college, but I am assuming that's what it is like. After getting prepared for the day we all decided to go check out Ybor, which would be comparable to South Side. We went there knowing we were going to the Green Iguana on New Years. We ended up at Splitsville, a nice, up-beat restaurant, bar, bowling alley. You could do it all and wasn't a huge place by any means. It was accentuated with the 15-ft tall bowling pin outside. Starting early, Steve-O and Pappans likened themselves to two 64 oz. margarita's with grain alcohol. Not my idea of great beginning, it was only noon. My mediterranean pizza was delicious, as was the vodka/cranberry.
After we split from Splitsville, two stores down was a margarita place with like 20 different kinds of alcoholic drinks. This would be my first of many visits to this great place, Wet Willies was the name. On the walk we went past St. Pete Times Forum, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the fun little joint across the street called the "Hot Tuna." That place was pretty cool with an awesome outside patio area for which to consume alcohol and grub.
After staying there for a bit we headed to Ybor City to check out the place we were goign to be partying on New Years. That actually didn't happen because we were trying to find a TV with the damn Pens game on, enter the Sports Bar and Grill. Let me first say no one in our group would recommend this place. We got our food late and apparently they dont clean their beer taps. Two gross pitchers of returned beer later... we left. After that we headed to the Coyote Ugly which had some fine ass women in it. Then came all the old creepy men coming to watch barely 21's dance on a bar top. After a decent amount of drinking we headed back to hotel, and consequently, the hotel bar. Numerous bought rounds and Pappins passing out outside were the main highlights to evening. The first of many sleepless, man snore nights that were just awful.

December 31st, Thursday - New Year's Eve

The first morning in Tampa was pretty good. We headed to the hotel breakfast area and for a semi-hot breakfast you get to pay $12. Yet another reason we don't recommend the Howard Johnson - Downtown Tampa. Can a brother get a few towels within 3 hours? Right before Noon I believe, my cousin, Beard-O, landed and Tampa and was on his way to get his luggage when he realized, it wasn't there. That is why you fly direct people! The whole day for Beard-O consisted of talking on the phone and bitching at airline employees, rightfully so.
After that it was time for some lunch, enter Five Guys pizza. This place had one of the nicest/funniest women ever working there, it made me appreciate my job a little more. Although Five Guys is known for their burger's I got the grilled cheese, because I am Nutz...
After that the gang went to the Florida Acquarium over in Channelside, again passing the Margarita Smoothie place. They had a pretty cool setup in the acquarium with a Penguin show. Well first off I should say, I persuaded everyone that we need to go to this Penguin show, $25 to pet the Penguins and take a picture. So the ad in the pamphlet and website said.... It turned out there were like 300 packed in to see some Penguins (ALL OF US IN OUR PENGUINS JERSEYS) and no one could touch the Penguins, except this guy. I ran to the bathroom and when I came out they were bringing the Penguins over to the showroom and some little girl asked if she could pet it and they said yes, so I snuck in and asked right atfer her. Score one for Paul. Everyone else left readily disappointed. Until we hit the Aquarium bar, go figure. But later in the evening, before we were to go to the Green Iguana someone strang, even mysterious came upon our hotel room.
Enter Man vs. Wild. You may have heard of him, perhaps you haven't. Maybe you've been at the business end of his rifle, you could never tell. Perhaps you dated him in a foreign country and played Kimmy Gibbler on Full House. If you have, your know Man vs. Wild. His real name was Jeff, but someone at some point decided he looked enough like Bear Grylls and in doing so, had to be named Man Vs. Wild. At any rate, he is a buddy of Beard-O's and Nate (Nate couldn't come on this trip unfortunately, duty calls) and a standup guy. We get to the Green Iguana and sit down for food and drinks around 8:00 PMish. Fantastic chicken salad by the way Green Iguana cooks, fantastic. It was at this point Big Red came through. She was a tall woman, about 5'11", with a slender build, and gorgeous red hair. Hence the name, Big Red. She was cool and fun to talk to, but I never did find out her name, so Big Red it is. She joins the group earlier at Five Guys, I thought she was someone Steve-O, Treats, and that guy met.
It's clobbering time! Ski's and being downed at a disgusting pace, shots being bought, pictures being taken, annoying ass bathroom attendant telling you 18 times in a night how their family died, I gave that guy like $30 and we still went on and on while I am pissing. Example conversation:
[Enter Bathroom]
Bathroom Attendance (BA): Evening sir, how are ya?
Me: Good buddy, how about yourself?
BA: Oh, I'm doing all right. Ain't one person showing me gratitude tonight, been here 3 hours. Made enough in tips to buy a bag of chips and a coke.
Me: Yeah people are rediculous sometimes. *shake* *shake* *shake* [proceed to sink]
BA: Yeah it's been hard scraping money, had to have 4 funerals last year. [i am officially uncomfortable]
Me: That's awful. [wishing he would hand me my paper towel]
BA: Yeah my sister, mom, father, and aunt passed in a car crash. [pulling out wallet]
Me: I hope when midnight turns your new year will look up. [Exit $10]
BA: Thank you sir, I hope so too.
[Exit Bathroom, Breath again]
And this happened EVERYTIME anyone went into the bathroom. One time he said "some guy looked me in the face, pissed on the floor, and then walked out like it was no big deal." Hustling son of a bitch, he was the equivalent to the guy who got my $100 in Chicago. So we proceed to party the night down and I notice a cigar bar down the street I had seen earlier. Lets go get some some cigars. We found these badass cigars that were three different types of tobacco rolled into thin cigars, wrapped around like a dreadlock. Smoking two of those and another one later caused my headache the next ALL DAY.
It's about 1:30 AM and most of us are starting to get bored, we've been at the Green Iguana for likr 6 hours. We grab out bill, a whopping $1200 tab and we peace out. Everyone is getting annoyed because drunk people are following drunk people and walking into the the 'not so nice' area of Ybor City, and at some point during that time some woman had her way with me. Me, Malt D, Beard-O, and Zivy grab a cab and head back to the hotel with the other 7 people that were with us.... except Pappans and Steve-O....
Apparently they got a ride back from a Gypsy, who wasn't so much as a Gypsy as he was a guy they threw like $50 at to drive them to the hotel. How about this deal, A cab ride back, and 4 packs of firecrackers. I wish I would've been there to see that deal go down. Back to the hotel for ski's at the bar. Then to sleep for what was easily the worst day of the trip.

January 1st, Friday

Oh it's bad, real bad, Michael Jackson. Yeah, as bad as that song is, that's what my head felt like. Throbbing pain from cigars, cigarettes, different types of alcohol, and more cigars. It was fucking terrible. The highlight of my day was breakfast with Malt D, Beard-O, and Schmitty at FirstWatch. It was a QUIET place with a smokin' hot waitress who gave us FirstWatch Potatoes, apparently no one can get enough. At some point Man vs. Wild did some recon and found a place playing the Winter Classic Hockey Game between the Bruins and the Flyer, the former winning in OT. Amidst this breakfast, was an even more smokin' hott waitress. She was dyn-o-mite, I know thats awful of me. But she was, and she knew it, hence the large... tip.
During lunch, I embarked on a blind journey to find a convenience store. Apparently impossible in Tampa's Downtown District. Actually turns out I zigged when I should've zagged, headache is still there in brute force. While we were off doing these things, Zivvy, Mrs. Zivvy (Lisa), Alex, Anna, and Pappans (Penn State Alumnus, all of them) were at the Penn State game at The Capital One Bowl in Orlando, getting rained on torrentially. Penn State won by the way, 19-17 with Collin Wagner's game winning field goal at 0:57 remaining. When they came back they were a tired, groogy, gross looking bunch, but they had spirit!! Papa Z (Zivvy's dad) brought me some Penn State Thundersticks.
Meanwhile, back in Tampa, Malt D and I head back to the hotel with Matt's trusty, trendy iPhone leading us to a store (albeit no chew for Malt D, and no bulk tylenol for me) we went to the hotel and checked out other things we could do, never actually doing them unfortunately, except for MacDinton's. After everyone washed up and got ready to go out (our 5 dude room only have 4 towels to use between the two showers we took that day, you do the math... I am being serious too, don't stay at Howard Johnson Inn - Tampa Downtown, it has ONE piece of equipment in its gym room, ONE!) Malt D, Beard-O, Schmitty, and I headed to MacDinton's over in Hyde Park. Had we known about the party scene over there, we might've just skipped Ybor completely. MacDinton's was badass with good cooks and a large amount of people partying outdoors, on a cold night. I was excited because someone in Tampa finally said "Fuck the Penguins" when they saw my jersey. It took like 3 days for this (I didn't wear my jersey everyday, someone in our group had pens stuff on everyday whether it was a hat, a shirt, a jersey, etc.). I ended up leaving because my headache was so much worse now with people screaming all around me, plus I saw a Walgreens up the street. I got my economy sized bucket of tylenol, and some gatorade and went back to the hotel.
There I found Pappan's lounging around in the room watching someone about a huge woman losing weight. It was a chill night we got some pizza and talked logistics of the Heinz corporation. My headache was finally gone, but my day was wasted feeling like shit so I headed down for a smoke outside and I heard this noise..... this loud ruckus. Remembering Boyz In The Hood I tried to duck, but it wasnt a drive-by, just a cab driver bumpin' the music coming up to the hotel. It was a minivan, but here is the list of occupants. Beard-O, Steve-O, Zivvy, Mrs. Zivvy (Lisa), Papa Z (Mr. Zivvy), Schmitty, Malt D, Man vs. Wild, and the driver, I don't know her name, but bless her soul she made them drunk people so very happy without baring the cost of her KrispyKreme donuts. That's 9 people in a 7 person van, it was definately riding low. The cab driver was so cool she got out and took an amazing photo with the group.
After that rediculousness, I went back up to the room to question myself about if that really happened or not. It was then Malt D told me to come down for shots. How could I resist such a good invitation, so like I bad friend, I come down, barefoot, take the shot, and go back to the door. I guess at some point they got Domino's and grubbed down.
Eck, a hangover all day, not a good way to start 2010.

January 2nd, Saturday

The Big Day! Penguins at Lightning at 3:00, what a weird time for a hockey game. We head to Hot Tuna around noon for eating, conversation, non-Heinz ketchup, and drinks. We found a woman selling Tampa Bay lightning colored beads (blue and white) and since I had my baby blue Pens jersey on my intoxicated ass thought I could pass it off... it's ultimately what caused the Penguins the game. Since the Hot Tuna was right across from St. Pete Times Forum, we went over around 2:30, giving us enough for a group picture and to check out our seats and talk to Tampa fans.
Malt D had two Lightning fans next to him that were all right the guy next to me was a Pens fan with amazingly odoress breath. I avoided most conversations with him. At intermission came the Seating Nazi. At sporting events they have people that stand at the top of stairs and help people find their seats. Well our seats were right in front of stairs, we step over our seats we are on the stairs. She forbade it with all she had in her. Made us walk around and inconvenience 15 people so my wide ass could get to my seat. I even once pretended to be real drunk and just stumble past her, like a bat out of hell, she directs me to the inconvienent path.
Our seats for the game were good, but the Pens unfortunately weren't, they lost 3-1 with Old Man Guerin being the only tally. After the dismal game we went to The Hut, located next to the Hot Tuna. We went there for one free draft with your ticket. I don't drink beer a lot, so I still have my ticket. This was annoying, there were so many people in there, it had to have been over capacity. I was outside people watching most of the time there, saw a lot of referee or hockey official looking people walking away from the stadium, they had suits and Lightning exec blazers and stuff. Most of our group went in different directions after this, but Malt D, Beard-O, and I hung together, which was a downfall. Exit Man Vs. Wild.
We went to this bar, and ordered food. Awful idea.... food selections include "Rediculous Nachos: Feeds 6 skinny people or 4 fat people." and "The Garbage Platter", we got the Rediculous Nachos, and they were rediclous. Probably a little bit of everything they had in the back put on nachos with melted cheese. I ate a little of that, but didn't eat much else. Malt D and Beard-O hammed them down like champs. Unbeknownst to any of us, we had just gotten food poisoning. When we got back to the hotel, we all felt like shit, Malt D and I didn't puke, but Beard-O hit the porcelain once or thrice. Long drive to Ft. Lauderdale tomorrow.
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Tampa Hotels & Accommodations review
Took 3 hours on average to get towels for the room. Awful view and discourteous service. Sorry HOJO - Tampa, it didn't work for us.
306 km (190 miles) traveled
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photo by: ejames01