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There is always a special kind of excitement in the weeks leading up to the race. Our city’s streets are turned into a 1.8 mile racetrack along the waterfront. The track has 14 turns and goes past the Dali Museum, Mahaffey Theatre, around Pioneer Park, along the waterfront past the St Petersburg Harbor & Marina and onto the runways of Albert Whitted Airport. The races include Verizon IndyCar Series, Pirelli World Challenge, Speed Energy Stadium Super Trucks, Indy Lights & Pro Mazda. It has been fun to walk down the middle of the downtown city streets with partial track walls closing in on both streets. I have lived here for 11 years now & I still find all of this so cool.

People come from all over the world to see this race. Some watch from the track stands, others watch from their boats, and some watch from their condos balconies. Of course, it will also be shown on national TV. I will go into the grounds on Friday where one can see the cars up close & sometimes even meet the drivers before or after their practice & qualifying runs.  On Sunday, I will be on the top floor of my parents’ condo building watching with great glee as the race speeds past the building on 2 sides with 2 hairpin turns. Yes, it IS noisy but oh, so awesome!

You can purchase tickets & get more info at  http://gpstpete.com/  in advance or at the gate.

 

IMG_1467

Le Louvre photo by Annalisa Weller, 2009

 

The following museums were found on several lists as the most visited in 2015 around the world. I was quite surprised to find out that I have visited 7 of the 10. My travels have not brought me to Asia yet so that removes Numbers 2, 8 & 10 for me. Better get to work on that! My daughter just returned from China so “we” could use the familial visits to check off  another one on the list-not really.

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National Gallery of Art, photo by Annalisa Weller, 2015

 

I would, however, like to add the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., which opened in 1937. As I a child I was lucky to live close to DC & so we visited it quite often. Last year while in Washington, DC for business, I spent the afternoon in the National Gallery of Art with my family. As I turned the corners, I would get a glimpse of some of my favorite works of art & felt like I was seeing dear old friends-Renoir, Monet, Manet, Degas, Cassatt, Cezanne, Picasso, Van Gogh, Fragonard, da Vinci and more. They make me so happy & speak to my soul. Another wonderful museum is the Salvador Dali Museum in St Petersburg, Florida which houses the largest collection of Dali’s works outside of Spain. Not only are the paintings & sculptures fascinating but so is the building. Stanford University in Palo Alto, California has a wonderful collection of Rodin sculptures in a garden setting that is definitely worth checking out.

So get out there and appreciate the beautiful things in life! Tell me which are your favorites.

1. The Louvre in Paris

8.7 million visitors in 2015.

2. The National Museum of China in Beijing

7.3 million visitors in 2015.

3. National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

6.9 million visitors in 2015.

4. National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

6.9 million visitors in 2015.

5. British Museum in London

6.8 million visitors in 2015.

6. Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

6.3 million visitors in 2015.

7. Vatican Museum

6 million visitors in 2015.

8. Shanghai Science and Technology Museum

5.9 million visitors in 2015.

9. National Gallery in London

5.9 million visitors in 2015.

10. National Palace Museum in Taiwan

5.3 million visitors in 2015.

 

Check this out-St Petersburg made it in the top 10 & Tampa is NUMBER ONE for coastal cities!! -Annalisa

Florida is the best place in America for tying the knot, according to personal finance website WalletHub, which just released (in time for Valentine’s Day!) its 2016 ranking of Best and Worst Cities to Get Married.

Heart shaped glasses on the beach

By Tracey Minkin in Coastal Living

The Sunshine State is home to 3 of the top 10 cities in WalletHub’s brand-new ranking: Orlando (which topped the list at #1), followed by Florida’s coastal cities of Tampa, which came in at #4, and Miami, which came in at #8.

To arrive at its nuptials numbers, WalletHub researchers compared the 150 largest cities in America in search of the cheapest and most convenient wedding destinations that also promised what WalletHub called “a memorable occasion.”  Researchers used 18 key indicators to judge each city, including number of venues, flower, and bridal shops per capita, hotel availability, and average cost of a wedding in that city.

While many of the cities were inland, we collected the coastal winners for getting the best bang for your bridal buck . . . at the beach. Because really: who would want it any other way?

Here’s how the top coastal cities fared:

#1 Coastal/#4 Overall: TAMPA, FLORIDA

Tampa, Florida, skyline

Bridal 411: One of Tampa’s greatest strengths overall was its diversity of attractions and activities, according to WalletHub.

(See which coastal cities were named the best places to retire in America, right here.)

 

#2 Coastal/#8 Overall: MIAMI, FLORIDA

Miami, Florida's Collins Avenue

Bridal 411: Miami, the city where every event is a party, scored in the top 5 overall as having the most bridal shops per capita and scored #1 for the most flower shops per capita. (See why Miami made our 2016 list of top luxury beach destinations, here.)

 

#3 Coastal/#18 Overall: NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

Riverboat in New Orleans, Louisiana

Bridal 411: Like Tampa, this romantic Delta city (hey, that’s coastal in our books) scored big in activities and attractions. (Check out how a trip to New Orleans can change your life, here.)

 

#4 Coastal/#18 Overall: FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Bridal 411: This true beach town scored highest on its overall wedding facilities and services ranking–20th among 150 cities. (Find out what more there is to love about Fort Lauderdale, here.)

 

#5 Coastal/#27 Overall: MOBILE, ALABAMA

Waterfront of Mobile, Alabama

Bridal 411: Talk about bang for your buck… this lively port city on the Gulf of Mexico was #5 out of 150 in most affordable wedding cost ranking. (You’ll never believe what this creative city drops from one of its highest buildings on New Year’s Eve!)

 

The other top coastal cities in WalletHub’s ranking were:

#6 Coastal/#32 Overall: Portland, Oregon

***#7 Coastal/#39 Overall: St. Petersburg, Florida ***

#8 Coastal/#46 Overall: San Diego, California

#9 Coastal/#53 Overall: Los Angeles, California

#10 Coastal/#73 Overall: Corpus Christi, Texas

– See more at: http://dailycatch.coastalliving.com/2016/02/09/best-wedding-cities-florida/?xid=socialflow_facebook#sthash.vynsS6MU.dpuf

By Tracey Minkin in Coastal Living

 

 

 

Whether you can attend in person or by Internet, this is a really cool event that you don’t want to miss.

Marvels of Illusion at the waterfront Dali Museum in St Petersburg, Florida, presents a sensational optical and intellectual experience while delving into the world of double images and illusions. This special exhibition showcases a variety of Dali paintings, prints and sculpture. It includes a very special work from the 16th Century from the School of Arcimboldo, on loan from the Ringling Museum. To help you experience this one of a kind exhibit, there is a great deal of explanatory material as well. A centerpiece of the Marvels of Illusion exhibit is an interactive installation titled “Gala Contemplating You” which places visitors inside one of Dali’s most famous paintings. The installation is inspired by Dali’s 1976 painting “Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea Which at Twenty Meters Becomes the Portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Homage to Rothko),” which proved that 121 pixels could identify a particular human face. A corresponding web application allows virtual visitors from around the globe to submit their photos and become part of the experience as well. The exhibit promises to entertain and fascinate people of all ages – visitors will not only come to the Museum, they will become part of it. I just love the Dali Museum!

Video:  http://youtu.be/2FP2hwOYIvM

At the Dali Museum, One Dali Blvd, downtown St Petersburg, Florida

– See more at: http://thedali.org/exhibit/marvels-illusion-2/#sthash.Zch4sGkb.pEJAExXL.dpuf

mexican-dancers

Flickr/haveclipperswilltravel

A quarter, or 23%, of travelers from around the world never tip while on vacation, according to a new Expedia survey of 11,165 people across five continents. When to tip and how much to tip are topics of endless conversation, especially when visiting a new country and learning about the customs of the new destination.

The chart below shows which percentage of vacationers from each country indicated that they tip service providers while on holiday

Travelers Who Tip The Most Infographic

Travelers Who Tip The Most Infographic
Skift

Food servers are the most likely to receive a tip with 50 percent of respondents claiming that they typically tip in a restaurant.

Hotel staff were less likely to receive with approximately 36 percent of respondents stating that they tip for maid service, room service delivery and bellhops.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/mexican-travelers-tip-the-most-2014-6#ixzz34MWCl5FP

Brightly costumed dolls representing Japan and Mexico in scenery from their lands at 'it’s a small world'

If you have ever visited Disneyland or Disney World, then chances are you have heard “It’s A Small World”. When you take the 12-15 minute ride in the little boats that meander throughout the various lands, you hear it many times & in many languages. In my case, I have been stuck in that attraction several times with my daughters in both Florida & in California. It was their favorite ride so we rode it as many times as we could possibly fit in each visit. The more you ride, the more likely you are to get stuck.  One of the fastest way to drive this mother crazy.

Fast forward 15 years and I have just purchased a new phone. My youngest daughter is helping me set up this new phone but with a few surprises unknown to me. Teenagers are so clever, aren’t they? So the first time of my daughters called me, the new phone rings with, can you guess? Yes, “It’s a Small World”!! They thought that it would drive me crazy-a short drive these days, I admit. That was 2 years ago & their little surprise has backfired because I love it. That song lets me know that it is one of my wonderful daughters calling. It brings a smile to my face every time and brings back some incredibly fun memories. It’s a blessing & a curse. LOL   SO thanks, my wee one! Or should I say Merci, Muchas gracias, Vielen Dank, Σας ευχαριστώ, Grazie, 感谢您, Takk, ありがとうございました。, Obrigado, Go raibh maith agat?

It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears. It’s a world of hopes and a world of fears. There’s so much we share…and a smile means friendship to everyone

To watch the video:  http://youtu.be/weZrqrN9Jp0

Written by brothers Richard and Robert Sherman

It’s a small world after all.

It’s a small world after all.

It’s a small world after all.

It’s a small, small world.  Thank you, Mr. Disney!

Walt Disney

 

 

10Best.com (a division of USA TODAY)
readerschoice-Clearwateraquarium

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium was voted best attraction in Florida by 10Best.com and USA TODAY readers.(Photo: Courtesy Visit St. Pete/Clearwater)

After four weeks of voting in 10Best.com’s Readers’ Choice contest, your votes helped identify the “Best Florida Attraction.” The winners are:

1. Clearwater Marine Aquarium

2. The Ringling – Sarasota

3. Everglades Holiday Park – Ft. Lauderdale

4. Discovery Cove – Orlando

5. Magic Kingdom – Orlando

6. St. Augustine Historic District

7. Seashells of Sanibel Island

8. Salvador Dali Museum – St. Petersburg

9. Castillo de San Marcos – St. Augustine

10. Beaches of Daytona Beach

10Best and USA TODAY congratulate the winners! A new Readers’ Choice contest category launches each week. Vote for Best Classic Cocktail and see previous winners and vote in all underway contests at 10best.com/awards/travel/.

This schooner Lynx is an interpretation of an actual 97 foot privateer named Lynx built by Thomas Kemp in 1812 in Fell’s Point, Maryland. She was one the first ships to defend America by evading the British naval fleet in 1812 who were blockading American ports. The Star-Spangled Banner was written by native Marylander Francis Scott Key while being held prisoner aboard a ship in the Baltimore harbor as the British bombarded Ft. McHenry.

Schooner Lynxphoto-Lynx under the Skyway Bridge-SCOTT KEELER | Tampa  Times

“““““

This ship will be docked at the Harborage Marina at Bayboro,  1110 Third St. S, St. Petersburg, Florida, for public tours and hands-on sails. The ship, however, is not wheelchair accessible.  Various dates & times between Feb 8th & March 14th, 2014  with prices of tours $10 for adults with 12 and younger free and  $65 for adults & $35 ages 4-12 for sails. Please call for details and confirmation of prices 1-866-446-5969. Schooner Lynx in St Pete 2013

The crew of the Lynx wears authentic early 1800’s maritime clothing. The ship was built to near-exact specifications of the original fast Baltimore schooner design.

The original Lynx was built at Fell’s Point in Baltimore, Maryland during the beginning of the War of 1812 for James Williams, Amos Williams, and Levi Hollingsworth by shipbuilder Thomas Kemp for about $9000-$10,000.  Kemp designed ships that were among the first to move away from the traditional European designs and that were better suited for the American waters. She was very fast and easier to maneuver which helped tremendously in outrunning the tradition British ships. Lynx was actually commissioned on July 14, 1812 within one month of war being declared. The ship was larger than most others at the time  with a crew of 40 men and six 12-pounder long guns.

I think that it is interesting that he Lynx trained the cast and crew of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. It has won awards for maritime and historic instructional-educational programs for students through the nonprofit Lynx Educational Foundation.

St. Pete Beach in historic Pass-a-Grille has been listed as the 15th best beach in the U.S by TripAdvisor.  We can’t blame them.  Whether you want to watch the sunset with a signature cocktail on the roof at The Hurricane Bar, grab a sugar cone with a scoop of vanilla at Paradise Sweets or the pulled pork special with a cola at Shaner’s, Pass-a-Grille has something to offer every beach enthusiast.  With over 30 vacation rentals, 30 hotels and 7 B&B/Inns, there’s room for every one to get stuck in the amber of this white sand utopia.
Not too far from the sands of the ‘Burg is Fort De Soto Park in Tierra Verde toppling the list at number 4!  With a well shaded picnic area, free parking and pavillion space for large group gatherings, Fort De Soto accommodates all of your getaway desires. While the secret may not be well kept about this sand and grass destination, it still offers a harmonious experience away from the rumble of city traffic and intene tourism.  The beach isn’t without its history. The Fort still harbors 2 of the original canons that defended the coast with a side room that acts as a museum with photographs from when The Fort was operational.
When you are in the St. Pete area, you’re never too far from paradise.
Photo via @harlanyoung Photo via Visit St. Pete/Clearwater – See more at: http://downtownstpete.ilovetheburg.com/article/St-Pete-Beaches-Rank-Among-the-Best-in-the-Country/4328#sthash.E2SD2Fel.dpuf

I think that not only will this help hotel owners and investors, as it states in the article,  but also all the restaurants, shops, museums, airports, rental cars, etc. and eventually the real estate market. The entire Florida economy will benefit from this..

By Michael Gerrity | January 13, 2014

The State of Florida’s official tourism arm will receive a record $100 million in annual funding to increase marketing to domestic and international visitors, a move that could prove beneficial to hotel owners and investors.

Florida-Gov-Rick-Scott.jpgFlorida Governor Rick Scott

Last week Governor Rick Scott announced VISIT FLORIDA will receive the record funding in the 2014-15 “It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget” for the marketing efforts.
“Last year, we secured more than $63 million in our ‘Florida Families First Budget,’ for VISIT FLORIDA and we made record gains in tourism,” Governor Scott announced at Orlando International Airport. “We are on track for another record year, and we hope to build on this incredible momentum and make the Sunshine State the number one travel destination in the world.”
Since every 85 visitors supports one Florida job, a growing tourism industry is important to the state.
Tourism is the states’ number one industry, providing the state with revenue from hotel stays and travel expenditures. In the first three quarters of 2013, Florida welcomed 72.6 million visitors, increasing 3.4 percent from the same period in 2012, according to the state’s government website.
Between January and August 2013 (last reported month) visitor spending in Florida totaled $51.8 billion, marking a 5.8 percent yearly increase from the same period in 2012.
The first three quarters of 2013 were the largest nine-month period in state’s tourism industry history.
“On behalf of the statewide tourism industry, I am grateful to Governor Scott for his recognition of VISIT FLORIDA’s ability to provide a significant return on the state’s investment in tourism marketing,” Will Seccombe, president and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA, said on the announcement. “[This] puts us in a position to make 2014 another record year for visitation.”

Annalisa Weller, Realtor®, Certified International Property Specialist

(727) 804-6566
AnnalisaWeller1@gmail.com

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